A Celtic Christmas with Orchestra

An Evening of Irish Music, Dance and Storytelling
for orchestra, story teller, soloists and Irish dancers

Story by Tomaseen Foley
Orchestration and arrangements by Barry Phillips
Artistic direction by William Coulter


1 flute/piccolo
1 flute
1 oboe
1 English horn
2 bassoon
2 horns in F
1 harp
1 percussion
violin I
violin II
double bass
Orchestral score and parts available


Demo DVD and CD available


Debut performance by
UCSC Orchestra
Nicole Paiement, Conductor
Nov. 4 and 5, 2005
Music Center Recital Hall
University of California, Santa Cruz
(Additional support by a Porter Distinguished Artist and Lecturer Grant) 

Tomaseen Foley, storyteller
William Coulter, guitar, bodhran, whistle
David Brewer, uilleann pipes, whistle
Deby Benton Grosjean, fiddle
Moira Smiley, voice
Kathleen Keane and Bethany Duff, Irish dance


Audio Clips:
Lilting Banshee:

Cooley’s Reel:

The Heart of Christmas:
notes on the music and the songs by Williiam Coulter:
The Darkest Midnight is a traditional Irish Christmas carol which comes from the Kylemore Abbey in Connemara.We have chosen to use some of the traditional lyrics, and blend them with new lyrics by Moira Smiley.


The Lilting Banshee/The Mountain Road/The New Mown Meadow are three well-known Irish dance tunes.


The Candles of the Baby Jesus is a new song that was composed by Caoimhín Kennedy from County Kerry in 1965.


The music that accompanies Tomáseen part 3 is an arrangement of an old Irish hymn called Gabhaim Molta Bríde– A Prayer for St. Bridget.


The three reels Christmas Eve/The Congress Reel/Cooley’s are also very well-known dance tunes.


The Wexford Carol is perhaps the most beloved of all Irish Christmas carols. It has been in the oral tradition for a very long time and was first transcribed by William Grattan Ford (1859 – 1928), who was the organist and musical director at St. Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorty, County Wexford. In 1928, the song was published in the Oxford Book of Carols.


The Kid on the Mountain is a slip jig, which is a dance tune in 9/8 time. When there were no instruments available, the Irish would sing or ‘lilt’ the tunes for dancing. Daley’s Polka comes from County Kerry. Polkas are widely played tunes in Kerry for set dancing. This tune was named for a man called Maurice O Daley who lived on the Great Blasket Island on the west coast of Kerry. Either he wrote the tune or it was given to him by the sea. Peg Ryan’s Polka is one of the first for many children in Ireland learning to play the whistle.


The Heart of Christmas accompanies the end of Tomáseen part 4. This melody was written in 1998 by William Coulter, and recorded on an album called Celtic Requiem.