Mckennitt,Loreena - Ancient Muse
Ancient Muse
New Age
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Notes / Reviews
Finally, a new full-length studio album from this musician extraordinaire comes our way! As with her earlier albums, McKennitt takes her inspiration from the Celtic peoples, fusing the melodic sensibility of Scottish and Irish balladry with musical traditions from Greece, Turkey, Spain and even Scandinavia. The album, which was recorded at Real World Studios in England and features a host of internationally acclaimed musical guests and evocative instrumentation, takes the listener on a journey from the Scottish borders to the caravanserais of the Silk Road and the wine-dark seas of Homer's Odyssey. As with her earlier albums, McKennitt takes her inspiration from the Celtic peoples, fusing the melodic sensibility of Scottish and Irish balladry with musical traditions from Greece, Turkey, Spain, and even Scandinavia. Produced by Loreena McKennitt, An Ancient Muse continues McKennitt's exploration of Celtic themes on a journey that sweeps across eras and musical genres, from the British Isles to ancient Greece and Byzantine- and Ottoman-era Turkey. As McKennitt herself describes it, 'This record is a little like equipping yourself with a Eurail card. It's like saying, I don't know where I'm going to on this trip. I'm just going to get on board the train, and allow each encounter to lead to the next.' The nine tracks take the listener on a timeless journey: a return home in The Gates Of Istanbul; the wonder of nomadic wandering in Caravanserai; star-crossed love and the Crusades in The English Ladye and the Knight based on a poem by Sir Walter Scott; and loss and longing in Penelope's Song, which takes as its subject Odysseus' wife, waiting and worrying while he was off having the adventures immortalized in Homer's Odyssey. Despite the wide array of instrumentation (including oud, lyra, Swedish keyed fiddle and viols da gamba), all the performances derive from similar inspiration: the sense of landscape McKennitt brings to all of her work: a visual set of images, organically connecting the piece to musician and instrument. The recording is McKennitt's first new studio album since 1997's The Book of Secrets, a multi-platinum success worldwide.

An Ancient Muse is the seventh full-length studio album of the Canadian singer, songwriter, accordionist, harpist, and pianist, Loreena McKennitt. It was released on November 20, 2006 internationally, and November 21, 2006 in the United States and Canada. It was her first studio album after a 9-year gap. It has now sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide


Work on An Ancient Muse started in 2005. According to reports on McKennitt's Quinlan Road website, most of the inspiration for the tracks of the album came from the music of Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and the Far East. Most of the tracks, with the exception of three revealed at the mid-September concerts in the Alhambra of Granada in Spain, were completely unknown until the release.

An Ancient Muse debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200 at number 83, with about 22,000 copies sold in its first week.Katie Hasty, ,, November 29, 2006. This was also its peak position on the chart.,


* Tal Bergman – drums (2, 3), percussion (5, 8)

* Stuart Bruce – vocal drone (1, 8), percussion (5)

* Clive Deamer – drums (8)

* Panos Dimitrakopoulos – kanoun (2, 3, 5, 7, 9)

* Nigel Eaton – hurdy gurdy (3, 5)

* Ben Grossman – hurdy gurdy (5)

* Ed Hanley – tabla (5), udu drum (5)

* Jason Hann – percussion (8)

* Steáfán Hannigan – Turkish clarinet (1, 5, 8), vocal drone (1, 8), uilleann pipes (8, 9)

* Brian Hughes – electric guitar (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9), guitar synthesizer (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9), vocal drone (1, 8), oud (2, 3, 5), Celtic bouzouki (2, 3, 5, 8), nylon string guitar (5, 8, 9)

* Charlie Jones: acoustic bass (5, 6)

* Manu Katché – drums (5)

* Georgios Kontogiannis – Greek bouzouki (2, 3)

* Tim Landers – bass (2, 3, 8)

* Caroline Lavelle – cello (2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

* Rick Lazar – percussion (1, 5, 8)

* Annbjørg Lien – nyckelharpa (6)

* Hugh Marsh – violin (3, 5, 6)

* Loreena McKennitt – vocals (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9), keyboards (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), accordion (3), harp (4), percussion (5), piano (8)

* Marco Migliari – vocal drone (1, 8)

* Donald Quan – viola (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9), vocal drone (1, 8)

* Hossam Ramzay – percussion (2, 5)

* Sokratis Sinopoulos – lyra (2, 3, 7, 8)

* Haig Yazdjian – oud (2, 3, 5, 6, 7)

* Choristers of Westminster Abbey; Alex Pott, Elliot Thompson and Nicholas Morris – vocals (4)

Chart performance


This text has been derived from An Ancient Muse on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0

Artist/Band Information

Loreena Isabel Irene McKennitt, CM, OM, (born February 17, 1957) is a Canadian singer, composer, harpist, accordionist and pianist who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined, warbling soprano vocals. She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide.

Early life

McKennitt was born in Morden, Manitoba of Irish and Scottish descent to parents Jack (a livestock dealer) and Irene McKennitt (a nurse). She moved to Stratford, Ontario in 1981, where she still resides.

When Loreena was young she wanted to become a veterinarian but she found that music chose her rather than she it. Developing a passion for Celtic music, she learned to play the Celtic harp and began busking at various places, including St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in order to earn money to publish her first album., L.A. Times, November 29, 1994


McKennitt's first album, Elemental, was released in 1985, followed by To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), Parallel Dreams (1989), The Visit (1991), The Mask and Mirror (1994), A Winter Garden (1995), The Book of Secrets (1997), An Ancient Muse (2006), A Midwinter Night’s Dream (2008), and The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2010). All of her work is released under her own label, Quinlan Road.

In 1990, McKennitt provided the music for the National Film Board of Canada documentary, "The Burning Times" a feminist revisionist account of the Early Modern European witchcraft trials. The main theme would later be rerecorded by her and her band and called "Tango for Evora," a track which appears on her album, The Visit.

In 1993, she toured Europe supporting Mike Oldfield. In 1995, her version of the traditional Irish song "Bonny Portmore" was featured in the Highlander series. McKennitt's single "The Mummers' Dance" received airplay in North American markets during the spring of 1997, and was used as the theme song for the short-lived TV series, Legacy.

Her music appeared in the movies The Santa Clause, Soldier, Jade, Holy Man, The Mists of Avalon and Tinkerbell; and in the television series Roar, Due South, Ever After, and Full Circle (Women and Spirituality).

Personal life

In 1998, McKennitt's fiancé, Ronald Rees, his brother Richard (not the British actor), and their close friend Gregory Cook, drowned during a boating incident on Georgian Bay. She was deeply affected by the event and subsequently founded the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety in the same year.

At the time of the incident, she was working on an album of two live performances called Live in Paris and Toronto. The proceeds from the sales of that album were donated to the newly created fund, totaling some three million dollars. After the release of the live album, McKennitt decided to substantially reduce the number of public performances and did not release any new recordings until the studio album An Ancient Muse in 2006.


*Juno Award, Best Roots/Traditional Album 1992, for The Visit.

*Juno Award, Best Roots/Traditional Album 1994, for The Mask and Mirror.

*Billboard Music Award for International Achievement, 1997.

*Headline performer for HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Prince Philip at The Golden Jubilee Celebrations, Province of Manitoba, 2002.

*Honorary Doctor of Letters, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2002.

*Member of the Order of Manitoba, July 2003.

*Member of the Order of Canada, July 2004.

*Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Manitoba, June 2005

*Canadian Ambassador, Hans Christian Andersen Bicentennary, June 2005

*Honorary Doctor of Laws, Queen's University, October 2005

*Investiture as Honorary Colonel, 435 Squadron, Canadian Air Force, December 2006

*Nominated for a Grammy award, Best Contemporary World Music Album, in 2007

*Western Canadian Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, September 2009

*Performed at Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, Opening Ceremonies, February 12, 2010

*Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business, George Brown College, June 2010

Genre and work

McKennitt's music has generally been classified as World / Celtic music even though it contains aspects and characteristics of music from around the globe and is sometimes classified as Folk music in record stores.

Before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in considerable research on a specific subject which then forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams, she traveled to Ireland for inspiration from the country's history, folklore, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots. The result was an album that included elements of Celtic and Arabic music. According to the jacket notes, her album An Ancient Muse was inspired by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road.

McKennitt is compared to Enya, but McKennitt's music is more grounded in traditional and classical invocations, using literary works as sources of lyrics and springboards for interpretation such as "The Lady of Shalott" by Lord Tennyson, "Prospero's Speech" (the final soliloquy in William Shakespeare's The Tempest), "Snow" by Archibald Lampman, "Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross, Dante's Prayer, William Blake's "Lullaby", Yeats' "The Stolen Child", "It was an English Ladye Bright" by Sir Walter Scott and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.

Court case

In 2005, McKennitt was involved in an acrimonious court case in England when her former friend and employee, Niema Ash, published a book which contained intimate details of their friendship. McKennitt argued that much of the book contained confidential personal information, which Ash had no right to publish. The English courts found that there had indeed been a breach of confidence and a misuse of McKennitt's private information, and the case is likely to set important precedents in English law on the privacy of celebrities. The House of Lords affirmed the lower court's decisions in 2007.

2006 and later

In September 2006, McKennitt performed live at the Alhambra. The performance premiered on PBS and in August 2007 was released on a three-disc DVD/CD set titled Nights from the Alhambra.

In 2008, McKennitt wrote and composed a song she titled "To The Fairies They Draw Near" as the theme song for Disney's direct-to-video animated film Tinker Bell. She also provided the narration for the film.

In early 2008, she returned to Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios to record A Midwinter Night’s Dream, an extended version of her 1995 mini-album A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season. The album was released on October 28, 2008.

Since the release of An Ancient Muse, Loreena has toured consistently, with a European and North American tour in the spring of 2007, an extensive cross Canada and United States tour in the fall of 2007, a summer tour of Europe in 2008 and a Mediterranean tour in the summer of 2009 with stops in Greece,, (Greek) Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Hungary and Italy.

On September 17, 2009, McKennitt announced that she planned to release a two-disc album titled "A Mediterranean Odyssey" in the fall of 2009. The first CD, "From Istanbul to Athens," consisted of ten new live recordings made during McKennitt’s 2009 Mediterranean Tour, including songs she had never before recorded in concert. The second CD, "The Olive and the Cedar," had a Mediterranean theme which McKennitt herself curated. It contained previously released studio recordings created between the years of 1994 and 2006.

November 16, 2010 saw the US release (November 12 for Europe) of McKennitt's latest studio album, "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Recorded at the Sharon Temple, Ontario, it consists of nine traditional Celtic songs. "Every once and again there is a pull to return to one's own roots or beginnings, with the perspective of time and experience, to feel the familiar things you once loved and love still," says Loreena.


Late in the 1990s, McKennitt created No Journey's End, a half-hour documentary, for American television. In it, she discussed the influences behind her music. No Journey's End contained excerpts from several songs from the albums Parallel Dreams, The Visit, and The Mask and Mirror. It also shows live performances of the songs "The Lady of Shalott," "Santiago," and "The Dark Night of the Soul." It was later released on DVD and VHS, the former also containing music videos for "The Mummers' Dance" and "The Bonny Swans." A bonus copy of the DVD was included with the 2004 remastered versions of McKennitt's CDs.

In 2008, Loreena released A Moveable Musical Feast, based on her 2007 An Ancient Muse tour. The DVD included interviews with Loreena, her band, crew, fans and professional colleagues from the Canadian music industry.


Studio albums

Live Albums



Boxed sets

*The Journey Begins (2008)



*H.M.S. Pinafore Live performance recorded during the 1981 Stratford Festival in Stratford Ontario, Canada, starring Michael Burgess, Katherine Terrell, Eric Donkin, Kenneth Pearl, Jim White, et al.; Loreena McKennitt performed in the chorus. (CBC VHS 1986)

*The Mummers' Dance (1997)

*The Bonny Swans

*Nights from the Alhambra (2007, Live concert in Spain premiered on PBS)

*A Moveable Musical Feast (2008, A tour documentary from Loreena's 2007 North American Tour)


*No Journey’s End (half-hour profile, aired on PBS; DVD)

*Heaven on Earth (TV Movie 1987 - played "Lady Traveler")

*Highlander III (Soundtrack contribution)

*The Santa Clause (Soundtrack contribution)

*Léolo (Soundtrack contribution)

*Una casa con vista al mar (Soundtrack contribution)

*The Mists Of Avalon (Soundtrack use)

*The Burning Times (Soundtrack contribution)

*Due South (Soundtrack use)

*Northern Exposure (Soundtrack use)

*Tinker Bell (Direct to DVD movie, 2008 - Narrator)

*Soldier (Soundtrack use)


This text has been derived from Loreena McKennitt on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0

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