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Suggested Albums: Loreena McKennitt writes about the music on her album "The Visit" - (1991)

Recorded in the late summer of 1991, "The Visit" is Loreena McKennitt's fourth album. It expands on earlier celtic musical and cultural influences in a fresh and contemparary way. The album includes an unusual version of Greensleeves, a setting of Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, and a number or original pieces including All Souls Night and Tango To Evora (from the NFB film The Burning Times).

" Loreena McKennitt

writes about the music on The Visit "

Official Press - All rights reseved by the author -

The long considered the creative impulse to be a "visit"—certainly it arrives (often unbidden!) in my life, usually after knocking on the door a few times. I wait for its arrival, and do my best to prepare for it.

Then, of course, there are the ingrained beliefs and rituals of the Celts, built around birth and death which treated the land itself as both holy and haunted; for so many people, this life itself is a "visit".

And the visit—any visit—is a time of discovery; new places, new people, new ideas. A thing of mystery: "Who is this, and what is here?" wondered King Arthur's knights at the sight of the Lady of Shalott.

Thank heavens, most people will find their own individual "meanings" in the music on The Visit. And I don't want to define those meanings for them; however, people may be interested in some of the inspirations which visited me as this music was made.

All Souls Night

Japanese tradition celebrates the souls of the departed by sending candle-lit lanterns out onto waterways leading to the ocean, sometimes in little boats. That tradition, along with the imagery of the Celtic celebrations of All Souls' Night—with huge bonfires lit to mark the New Year, but also to warm the souls of the departed—was in my mind when this piece was written.

Bonnie Portmore

The destruction of oíd growth forests is not, alas, a new phenomenon. Over the centuries many of Ireland's grandest oíd oak forests were destroyed (as they were in many other European countries) for commercial and military use and shipbuilding; only recently have there been efforts to re-establish these great forests. The Great Oak of Portmore used to stand in the grounds of Portmore Castle, on the shore of Lough Beg.

Between the Shadows

Originally, we were going to cali this Persian Instrumental, but eventually it acquired a more enigmatic title. It certainly is a little more exotic than many of my pieces, thanks in no small part to Rick Lazar's percussion; Brian Hughes, who played balalaika as well as guitar; and Hugh Marsh's ethereal fiddle playing. I played both the harp and keyboards.

Lady of Shalott

This Tennyson poem has long been a favourite of mine, and I rediscovered it just before the sessions for The Visit. For the thousands of people who learned the piece when they minutes of it!—may come as something of a surprise. I jokingly tell people that this was my attempt to get a hit, now I'm signed to a "major" record company—and an edited version of it is indeed getting radio play!


I had always wondered how Tom Waits would sing Greensleeves. When I was in the studio making my previous record, Parallel Dreams. I sat down at the piano—while I waiting to do something else—and spontaneously began to play this song. Brian and George joined in, and thank goodness the tape was rolling. Some people say Henry VIII wrote this song; in any event, Tve always heard it as a much sadder piece than most people who hum it as a pleasant Christmas melody. So, here it is, Tom!

Tango to Evora

This piece was originally conceived and recorded for the National Film Board's The Burning Times, directed by Donna Reid. Although this was written long before I visited Portugal recently, when I hear it again it reminds me of my visit, and a Sunday afternoon in a park with a group of local musicians and singers, who invited me to visit with them.

Courtyard Lullaby

Half way through the recording of The Visit. I took a week off to travel to Portugal to take the photographs that accompany the album. I stayed in a 16th century hunting lodge, half an hour outside Lisbon, and enclosed within it was a courtyard, marked at each corner with orange trees. That courtyard reminded me of the Unicom Tapestries which hang in the Cloisters in New York, which are so rich with the earthy images of the mysteries of the life and death cycle of the seasons.

The Old Ways

Some years ago, I spent a haunting New Years' Eve in Doolin, County Clare. The antiquity of the place—and of some of the ways in which the celebrations were marked—particularly moved me. And yet, I was constantly reminded that the celebrations were the remnants of an older world meeting the new one.


And so, to end, some of William Shakespeare's thoughts on this earthy "visit" we are all making. They come from Cymbeline. a play set at the time when the Romans were invading Britain, then inhabited by the remainder of the older Celtic order.

The Visit Collector's Edition
( 1991 )
Bonus Disc 48:03
Greensleeves 4:26
An Interview with Loreena 34:12 By Tim Wilson
Stolen Child 5:07
Huron 'Beltane' Fire Dance 4:18

U.S. Release (1992) w/different cover

Track list

All compositions by Loreena McKennitt except as noted.

  1. "All Souls Night" – 5:09

2. "Bonny Portmore" (Traditional, arranged and adapted by Loreena McKennit) – is an Irish traditional folk song which details the centuries of Ireland's old oak forests, specifically The Great Oak of Portmore , being leveled for military and shipbuilding purposes. The song laments the destruction of the Ornament Tree, an old oak which is believed to have stood near Portmore Lough. - 4:21

  1. "Between the Shadows" – 3:42
  2. "The Lady of Shalott" (Lyrics by Alfred Lord Tennyson adapted by Loreena McKennitt, music by Loreena McKennit) – 11:34
  3. "Greensleeves" (Traditional music arranged by Loreena McKennitt) – 4:26
  4. "Tango to Evora" (Tango to Evora" was used in the National Film Board of Canada documentary The Burning Times. A cover to the song has been recorded by one of Greece’s most popular and respected singers, Haris Alexiou, entitled "Nefeli's Tango", with lyrics written by herself. Another cover to the song has been recorded by Turkish singer, Nilüfer, entitled "Çok Uzaklarda".) – 4:10
  5. "Courtyard Lullaby" – 4:57
  6. "The Old Ways" – 5:44

8. "Cymbeline" (Music by Loreena McKennitt, Lyric by William Shakespeare) – 5:07

For further information please contact to: Quinlan Road (official website of Loreena McKennitt)

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