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Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 1341
Location: Portland, OR

Goldenhair: Brian Byrne & James Joyce, feat. Kurt Elling
Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:54 pm
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Goldenhair, a new recording by Golden Globe-nominated and IFTA award-winning composer Brian Byrne, will be released on Bloomsday, June 16, 2017 on Node Records.

Byrne has written new songs arranged in a variety of musical styles for 21 selected poems from James Joyce's 1907 collection, Chamber Music.

These poems have a natural musicality to them, a lyricism that could only come from a writer (James Joyce) who was hearing melody. — Brian Byrne

On Goldenhair, Kurt performs the title track and three other tunes.

Kurt sang "Where Love Is" (in Chamber Music titled "Dear heart, why will you use me so?") in guitarist John McLean's beautiful arrangement of Byrne's tune on Passion World, his 2015 recording,

Listen to Kurt Elling's "Where Love Is" from Passion World

On Goldenhair, Prince's singer/songwriter protégé Judith Hill performs it.

Watch "Where Love Is" featuring Grammy winner Judith Hill

Kurt is one of Brian Byrne's heroes, and he says that Kurt inspired the song "Goldenhair."

When asked in an interview what he thought one of Ireland's greatest literary heroes would make of his musical interpretations, Byrne said:


"I think he'd love Kurt Elling, because Joyce himself was a tenor who famously threw his bronze medal from the Feis Ceoil into the Liffey after losing. I don't know. I'd hope he'd like it, but maybe he'll turn in his grave when he hears one or two of them."

James Joyce, in a letter to his brother Stanislaus, discussing his yet to be published collection of poems, Chamber Music, wrote:


It is a young man's book. I felt like that. It is not a book of love-verses at all, I perceive. But some of them are pretty enough to be put to music. I hope someone will do so, someone that knows old English music such as I like. Besides they are not pretentious and have a certain grace.

Ranging in style from adult contemporary to jazz, bluegrass, opera, spoken word and more, Goldenhair features world-renowned artists, including Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, Golden Globe-winning actress Glenn Close, Prince's singer/songwriter protégé Judith Hill, British musician/songwriter Julian Lennon, Irish singer and composer Gavin Friday and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Watch Kurt Elling perform and speak about James Joyce & Goldenhair

The digital version has 21 tracks - including 4 Bonus Tracks not available on the CD.

One of those Bonus Tracks is "Bid Adieu," performed by Cara O'Sullivan and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. James Joyce wrote this song himself. It's his only known composition.

The full track list is here.

Goldenhair is available for pre-order now on Amazon and iTunes as digital downloads.

The CD will also be available at Amazon close to the June 16 release date, as well as at Musicroom (UK) and Eason's in Ireland.

For many, these words (from James Joyce) resonate at different levels and depths… But I feel like they speak to 'The Self' within us all… The fire that sometimes overwhelms us all, and the need to breathe and be in the now. — Julian Lennon


Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 1341
Location: Portland, OR

Finding the Music in James Joyce's Words
Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:26 am
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Here's a fascinating piece in which Brian Byrne explains for ASCAP how he captured the music in Joyce's words.

He describes two tracks, "Strings in the Earth and Air," performed by Gavin Friday (spoken word) and Kurt Elling, and "Why Have You Left Me Alone (I Hear an Army)," performed by Andrew Strong and Phil Robson (guitar).

Check it out!

Finding the Music in James Joyce's Words
June 16, 2017


Joined: 19 Jul 2006
Posts: 133
Location: LaGrange

Mon Jul 10, 2017 11:13 am
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This sounds so interesting! I'm going to check it out.


Joined: 15 Jun 2006
Posts: 1341
Location: Portland, OR

Like a film score // short intro videos
Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:22 pm
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iqpilates, you're going to love this recording!

I've been listening to it in the car when I have the time to hear the tracks in sequence, and I've been delighted to discover musical themes and words threaded through it and repeated in different contexts.

Brian Byrne is a very gifted composer (also pianist, arranger, conductor and producer) who scores films, among his musical creations. When I approached Goldenhair more as a film score with different genres and moods, rather than as an album in one basic style with variations, it made more sense to me.

It's a little like this wonderful quote from Erik Satie:

"Every morning with a medium soft brush,
clean your brain of all that it has
eaten the previous day."

For me, when I can clean my aural palate between songs and just go with the music as it changes, the shift from the more traditional "Strings In the Earth and Air" to the big band "The Winds of May" is fun rather than jarring.

Before its Bloomsday release, Brian Byrne produced a series of short videos (all under 01:30) to introduce Goldenhair. His YouTube playlist is here.

Short version of link to share with friends:


~ Trudy Cool

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