The Irish composition The Brendan Voyage is loaded with exciting lore and significance. It was written to commemorate the adventurers who braved sailing into the terrifying and mysterious North Atlantic in an ancient type of wood-framed sailboat clad with nothing but the sewn skins of ox-hide leather.
There are those who believe that St. Brendan sailed as far as North America from Ireland in such a boat, a thousand years before Columbus. In 1976, Tim Severin proved it was possible by making the journey to Newfoundland in a similar craft, and Shawn Davey celebrated Severin’s success with his first symphony.
The symphony itself is a groundbreaking first. Davey was the first to take the rare Irish traditional bellows-blown bagpipe, the uilleann pipes, and feature them with a symphony orchestra. He and uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn collaborated closely, and together they explored uncharted musical waters.
I am absolutely thrilled as a traditional uilleann piper to make my own maiden voyage with the renowned Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and to share this wonderful music. I hope you will join us on March 2 in Denver for Smilin’ Isles, as we experience this beautiful music, and imagine the leather boat on the churning ocean, the whales, the icy gales, the skies spinning with gulls, the stark cliffs of the Faroe Islands, and the joys of sailing.