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The Red Book Of Ossory

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The Red Book Of Ossory
The Red Book Of Ossory


'The Red Book of Ossory' is the debut album from Anakronos, a ground-breaking new ensemble devoted to offering compelling performances of ancient music from an original and modern perspective. 'The Red Book of Ossory' takes its title from the 14th century Irish manuscript of the same name, a collection of texts that includes sixty poems by Richard de Ledrede, Bishop of Ossory, here set to medieval music from England, France, the Netherlands and Italy.

Anakronos is comprised of leading interpreters of medieval music, contemporary classical, traditional and jazz: Caitriona O'Leary, voice, Deirdre O'Leary, clarinets, Nick Roth, saxophones and Francesco Turrisi, keyboards and percussion. Anakronos gave the first performance of The Red Book of Ossory in February 2019 to an SRO audience at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. In April 2020 the group will tour The Red Book of Ossory throughout Ireland.

Fourteenth century Ireland was a time of invasions, war, lawlessness, famine and plague. A time of fear, violence and almost unimaginable mutability. In 1317 Richard de Ledrede - an English Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor - arrived in Kilkenny as the new Bishop of Ossory (1317 - 1361) and immediately set about challenging the secular authorities and making a name for himself as a zealous moraliser and "scourge of heresy". He was responsible for the famous witchcraft trial of Dame Alice Kyteler, composed a fantastical and nightmarish list of charges against her and others, and caused the first person in recorded history to be burned at the stake for the heresy of witchcraft; Dame Alice's servant, Petronilla de Meath. The Red Book of Ossory was compiled in Kilkenny in the 14th century and is housed there in St Canice's Cathedral. Pre-eminent among the manuscript's texts are sixty remarkable Latin verses by Bishop Richard de Ledrede, who instructed that these lyrics be sung by the priests, clerks and choristers of St Canice's "on the important holidays and at celebrations in order that their throats and mouths, consecrated to God, may not be polluted by songs which are lewd, secular, and associated with revelry, and, since they are trained singers, let them provide themselves with suitable tunes according to what these sets of words require". Accordingly, Caitríona O'Leary the singer and founder of Anakronos, has set de Ledrede's esoteric and imagistic poetry to music from a multitude of medieval sources. O'Leary is recognized as an expert in reconstructing collections of early Irish song and has often found or speculatively reconstructed important historical texts and music. Her edition of The Wexford Carols saw the rediscovery of many of the melodies which were reunited with the texts.


"The music is processed with plenty of electronic support and ambience in a range of musical styles from mock-medieval to ethnically toe-tapping to jazzy, with the instruments delighting in arabesques drawn around the more considered movement of the voice." 5 STARS, Michael Dervan, The Irish Times

"O'Leary has a proud background as composer and singer in not just exploring roads less travelled, but of discovering paths not travelled at all Surely, national treasure status cannot be far away." Dick O'Riordan, Sunday Business Post

"My anticipation soared when I opened the CD booklet, a beautiful production in all the key areas of design, historical background, musical intention and musicianship -- particularly the latter....Its jazz-like instrumental fluctuations with medieval, contemporary and even African echoes providing music both innovative and enthralling" Dick O'Riordan, Sunday Business Post

"One of the best albums I've heard this year. Musically the gang are firing on all cylinders; thematically it's fascinating; and historically it is horrifying and illuminating in equal measure." Bernard Clarke, RTÉ Lyric fm

"The Red Book of Ossory" was written by a 14th century Irish Bishop for his trebles. Now this spiritual collection of songs enchants us to sinfully beautiful effect on the debut recording of the medieval jazz quartet Anakronos. The bell-like voice of early music chanteuse Caitriona O'Leary charms her way through between keyboards, a clarinet, the saxophone, and the folksy Irish bodhrán like a cat between the legs of the assembled party guests." Winifried Dulisch, Audio Magazine (Germany)

"Caitríona O'Leary has a lovely, bell-like voice with clear articulation and sensitivity to the Latin text. The performances are interesting, the sound is quite attractive, and not to be dismissed - a recommendation for this enjoyable collection." Michael Wilkinson, MusicWeb International

"O'Leary has taken music from a variety of medieval sources to create the settings for Ledrede's texts, and around them Anakronos has woven a striking blend of Medieval, jazz and contemporary...Anakronos has woven the music into something seductively original, neither completely new nor completely old." 4 STARS, Planet Hugill

"This brilliant suite of songs practises its own apparent witchcraft, seducing you more or less straightaway with its beauty which doesn't fade after repeated listens. But as the debut album from Anakronos grows more familiar, it reveals and revels in layer after layer of sinister chills and thought-provoking arrangements and effects." - ARTMUSELONDON

"Exquisite and divine poetry that came from the same mind, of the same man, who in 1324 would be responsible for the first woman burned at the stake in Europe for the crime of witchcraft The album succeeds mightily in its intent to explore the dualistic nature of Richard de Ledrede through its genre-bending stylistic conceits. The combination of live, acoustic instruments and the merging of medieval music, Celtic music, jazz, world beat and even contemporary electronic-inspired styles like trip-hop result in an anachronistic yet musically cohesive work It's undeniably beautiful, but always with some dissonanceoften subtlesleeping beneath" Irish Philadelphia

"O'Leary's voice fits perfectly, alluring with just a hint of menace... A treat, performed with conviction and nicely packaged, the blood-red sleeve design suitably eye catching." - The Arts Desk

"The range of the album is one of its most impressive features...In terms of achieving a fusion between medieval music and jazz, the album certainly breaks new ground...with The Red Book of Ossory [Anakronos] have set a very high standard for themselves and this work will be hard to surpass." - Journalof


  1. Name
  2. Canite, Canite Ultu Iocundo
  3. Artisson's Dance
  4. Jhesu Lux Vera Mencium
  5. Maria Decoquit Panem Salvificum
  6. Consendit Salamon Ventrale Ferculum
  7. The Flight of Dame Alice Kyteler
  8. Regine Glorie
  9. Ecce Sacerdos Magnus
  10. Amoris Vinculo
  11. Christe Redemptor Omnium
  12. Maria Noli Flere
  13. En Christi Fit Memoria
  14. Ubi Iam Sunt?
  15. Summe Deus Clemencie
  16. Da, Da Nobis Nunc
  17. Verum Est
  18. The Burning of Petronilla de Meath
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