London Gaelic Choir celebrate 120 years

Còisir Lunnainn, the London Gaelic Choir, is celebrating 120 years of music-making with the release on Saturday of its latest CD, Sia Fichead – togail na brataich (Six score years – raising the standard),at the Origins Festival of First Nations.

With music spanning six centuries, the CD offers an eclectic selection of the choir’s repertoire, demonstrating the riches and variety of the Gaelic musical and poetic heritage and the innovative vitality of modern composers and arrangers. The CD’s songs come from all parts of the Highlands and Islands and beyond, including Cape Breton, and are a mixture of old and new, traditional and anything-but!

The CD contains laments, love songs, and celebrations of homeland and the Gaelic language as well as toe-tapping, tongue-twisting puirt a beul (mouth music) and orain luaidh (waulking songs). The mood ranges from sad and spiritual to tongue-in cheek and fast and furious.

The choir is proud to have commissioned and premiered various songs and arrangements and these take their place alongside much-loved classics. Alan Munro, conductor 1994-2010, and conductor for the CD recordings, said:

“Our CD shows how the choir has expanded the Gaelic choral repertoire, with new arrangements commissioned from some wonderful modern composers. It also showcases our characteristic sound: projected, balanced, sustained, and attentive to the bàrd’s message”.

Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones, Còisir Lunnainn’s current conductor, and Executive Producer of the CD, said:

“Our anniversary year is an exciting time to have taken up the baton. We hope our CD gives as much enjoyment to others as we have had from researching and recording the songs”.

The choir has flourished in the past 20 years, winning numerous prizes at the Royal National Mòd, appearing on the TV programmes ‘Co-Sheirm’, the BBC’s ‘Songs of Praise’, and being broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Choir’, Radio nan Gaidheal recently broadcast a profile of the choir – which continues to fly the flag for Gaelic south of the border.

Sometimes informally known as the “choir of the exiles”, Còisir Lunnainn draws its membership from Scotland and beyond. See Notes for Editors 4 for a breakdown of local connections you may wish to feature.