As a child growing up in Canada, Loreena trained in classical piano and voice and she also learned to dance in the highland style. During a brief period studying at the University of Manitoba, she frequented the folk clubs of Winnipeg, which helped to hone her skills as a performer and strengthen her love of traditional music. After relocating to Stratford, Ontario, she eventually began capturing her haunting, high voice on recordings, at first releasing cassettes on her own label, Quinlan Road. By 1989, Loreena broke through with Parallel Dreams, and by the early 1990′s, with the release of her fourth album, The Visit, she achieved the kind of acclaim that has followed her ever since, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, and earning the first of her many Juno awards, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammy, as did McKennitt’s next recording, The Mask and Mirror, in 1994. Ms.McKennitt’s latest CD, her seventh, An Ancient Muse, continues her long term exploration of the international sounds that influenced the traditional songs of Ireland and Scotland. As typified by the multi-million selling hit The Mummer’s Dancer, from The Mask and the Mirror, the music on her latest album is infused with sounds more usually associated with Mediterranean cultures like Turkey, Greece, and Spain, as well as the distinctive flavors of Scandinavia. This record is a little like equipping yourself with a Eurail card, she said of her new CD, It’s like saying, I don’t know where I’m going on this trip. I’m just going to get on board the train, and allow each encounter to lead to the next. This musical travelogue has already garnered sales of over 500,000 copies, no doubt boosted in large measure by her excellent PBS television special, “Nights from the Alhambra.” Viewers of that program saw for themselves some of the exotic instrumentation Loreena features on An Ancient Muse, such as the zither-like kanoun from Arabia, the Persian lute called an oud, the Norwegian resonating Hardanger fiddle, and the Swedish hurdy-gurdy contraption known as the nyckelharpa. The new CD reaffirms Loreena McKennitt place as one of the great creative forces in Celtic music today, with an encompassing sense of grandeur and history and one of the clearest voices ever heard.

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