Christmas: It’s not just for December!

Late May may seem like an odd time to be thinking about Christmas music, but putting on this kind of show is a year-long job.

2010 Cór Ainglí, taken in the sanctuary of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Aptos

2010 Cór Ainglí

Cór Ainglí typically gives between two and four performances between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but preparation begins long before.

In fact, arranging for the next year’s performance venues and for accompanying instrumentalists starts almost immediately after Christmas, and recruitment for prospective new members begins in March.

Workshop and group auditions

In the intervening months, Mary works on acquiring, arranging, and translating new material. A workshop and group audition for prospective members is held in early June each year, and mandatory weekly workshops for all choir members, new and returning, continue through July.

The choir itself takes a brief rehearsal break in late summer (during which individuals are expected to practice on their own, using the extensive materials they’re given during the summer workshops), but that’s also when the promotional effort gets started, going into full swing late in September.

Victorian sanctuary of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Santa Cruz

Cavalry Episcopal Church

Weekly rehearsals begin again in the fall, and continue up to the date of the first performance.

Alive and growing

In the early years, Cór Ainglí’s main Santa Cruz performance and rehearsal venue was the lovely gas-lit Victorian sanctuary of Calvary Episcopal Church in the heart of downtown area.

After the second year, however, it became clear that the concerts were more popular than the small historic church could handle, and the Santa Cruz performance was moved to 400-seat Holy Cross Catholic Church – a city landmark that sits on a hill above the downtown area and is renowned for its excellent acoustics.

America is embracing choral music in Irish

Holy Cross Catholic Church, Santa Cruz

Holy Cross Church

The choir also performs in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay areas (past venues have included churches in San Jose and Morgan Hill, and even a mausoleum in Oakland!).

A year after the move to Holy Cross, the rehearsal site was also moved, to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in the town of Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz.

In 2007, Mary accepted an invitation to form a second Cór Ainglí in St. Louis, Missouri, which also performed to sell-out crowds. And in 2009, Community Television of Santa Cruz recorded the California group’s Holy Cross performance and broadcast it throughout the Christmas season.

Clearly, choral music in Irish is something America is willing to embrace…stormy weather or not! Read more on Cór Ainglí.

Find out how you can feature in Irish Music Forever’s Video Showcase.

Cór Ainglí main page
Cór Ainglí Membership
Cór Ainglí Videos

See our series of articles on singing in Irish by Cór Ainglí member Audrey Nickel. Click the links below.
Part 1 “Singing in Irish: yes – it’s a language
Part 2 “Singing In Irish — The Sean-Nós Tradition
Part 3 “A listener’s guide to irish song: a taste of sean-nós

Did you know?


Singing Cork barman has fans across the world - a video of the Irish music loving barman singing while he poured a pint went viral as people became enchanted by his easy going style and great voice. Check out his video.

Have you heard about…

Irish people warned about the ‘Celtic curse’ - a potentially deadly blood condition, that harms the liver, heart and pancreas, has been labelled the ‘Celtic Curse’ because more people in Ireland are prone to it than people from other countries. Find out more.

What about this…

‘Irish giant’ Tom Crean was one of the bravest and toughest explorers of the early part of the 20th century. Thanks to his positivity and faith, he managed to not only survive horrific conditions but also save the lives of his colleagues. Find out more.

Personalised framed prints

Illuminated Letters

Stunning Illuminated Letters based on the ancient Book of Kells

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