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Published on May 23, 2007
Footage from a performance of Shaun Davey's 'The Pilgrim' at the Lorient Festival, Brittany 2001. Featuring With Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes), Rita Connolly (vocals), Liam O'Maonlai (vocals), Triona Marshall (solo harp), Edelmiro Fernandez (gaita), Josik Allot & Bernard Pichard (bombardes), Giles Servat (vocals & narration), The festival orchestra, conducted by Guy Berrier, a 150 strong local choir, and the Bagad de Lorient Pipeband. The theme of this powerful suite is the spread of Celtic Christianity during the dark ages, a theme as Shaun says "when people we today call saints journeyed either as ordinary passengers from one Celtic region to another, or as voyagers into the unknown, traveling as wind and current took them, placing their fate in the hands of the gods." The saga of these hazardous sea voyages - with all their fears and exultation - is brought to life on the concert stage by a Scottish pipe band, Irish and Welsh harpists, Galicia gaitas, uilleann pipes, the bombardes of Brittany, two vocal soloists and a narrator together with a 120 strong choir and the orchestra. In stunning progression, players and instruments representative of the seven Celtic countries and regions - Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Cornwall and Galicia - are highlighted against the backdrop of a classical orchestra. Several passages evoke the wild power of the sea, the connecting element between Celtic people. Amongst the most evocative of them are 'Storm at Sea' sung in medieval Irish and 'A Walk in the Water' featuring uilleann pipe master Liam O'Flynn. 'Ymadawiad Arthur' with lyrics from the Welsh epic poem, describes the death and last journey of King Arthur. Cor Gardrer Garth, the Welsh choir who first performed this piece in Lorient has since added this song to their regular repertoire. The stirring musical confrontation between the City of Glasgow Pipes and Drums and the Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra, 'Briochan and Columba', has similarly become a popular annual fixture in Glasgow. Two songs specially written for Rita Connolly are placed at the end of the work, movingly reinforcing its spiritual dimension, 'The Deer's Cry' and 'A Ghrian' (Hymn to the Sun). The sense of journey and the setting are given further expression through short readings of poetry from medieval times, translated from Old Irish and accompanied by the unique sound of the metal-string Irish Harp. In recent years The Pilgrim has had a number of high profile performances including, 2 performances at the Lorient Interceltique Festival, 2 performances at Chicago's Symphony Centre, Dublin's Blanchardstown Centre and the Irish College on The Isle of Skye in Scotland.