Goldenhair: Brian Byrne sets up Close encounter with James Joyce

James Joyce, in a letter to his brother Stanislaus, discussing his yet to be published volume 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.”
Well, someone has now put those poems to music. Someone who knows his music – Navan native LA-based composer, Brian Byrne, who will launch the Joyce-inspired album, 'Golden Hair, in his hometown on Bloomsday, Friday 16th June.

Golden Globe-nominated and IFTA award-winning composer Byrne is also a conductor, arranger, pianist and producer, and composes in all media and across all genres. Byrne co-wrote 'The Mystery of Your Gift' with Josh Groban for Dustin Hoffman's film 'Boychoir'. He also wrote the end title song 'The Cry Inside', for Jim Sheridan's film The Secret Scripture, recorded by Kelly Clarkson.

Among those performing on 'Goldenhair' is Academy-award winning actior, Glenn Glose, who reads a number of James Joyce's poems to the music of Brian Byrne on piano and the vocals of Kurt Elling and Declan O'Rourke.

Byrne and Close have remained great friends after he worked on her Oscar-nominated movie, 'Albert Nobbs'.

He says: “I thought it would be wonderful to have some international voices on the project and I'm so thrilled that Glenn lent her incredible talent to the album. She is simply brilliant!”

Glenn Close said: “I absolutely loved working with Brian, as his lyricist, for 'Lay Your Head Down' so was thrilled to be asked to read something for 'Goldenhair'. He is a consummate musician who is fluent in multiple genres. He has masterminded a hauntingly gorgeous album. I'm proud to be part of it.”

The 21 songs on the album originated as a collection of chamber works for which Byrne, inspired by select poems from Irish writer James Joyce's Chamber Music (1907), set Joyce's words to original music. Byrne collaborated with over 20 artists, in addition to The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, to record his songs. The album covers a range of genres – from adult contemporary, to jazz and big band, spoken word, classical, and bluegrass

Joining Close and Byrne are Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Judith Hill, singer Andrew Strong, singer and composer Gavin Friday, British musician/songwriter Julian Lennon, and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

On Friday night, 16th June, a special launch concert takes place in Solstice in Navan, Ireland where Brian Byrne will perform a selection of songs from the new Goldenhair album, with special guests and friends, including Oisin Leech (The Lost Brothers), William Byrne, Lisa Lambe, Lucia Evans, Anthony Cregan and guitar UK virtuoso Nigel Clarke.