LIAM O'FLYNN QUOTES
"Laoi na Pibe (The Irish
language version of The Piper's Call television documentary) looks at
the life, work and music of Liam O'Flynn, one of Ireland's outstanding
This hour-long programme portrait of Liam O'Flynn was
too short by half. I must say, that as we become swamped by more and more
incredibly bad television stations RTE and TG4 fly the flag when they
transmit programmes like this.
Paddy Murray - The Sunday TribuneThe wood paneled wall of Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall opened like the ribcage of a Leviathan. And two giant voices emerged. One the drone of the pipes, the other was the human tongue, the decibels of high and low that make poetry. Both were ancient, borne into the present and burrowed deep in the listener's bones. The audience hushed. And then the cotton-haired one spilled his glass of water. All laughed at the sprinkle, but by the end of the night we would all be doused in the spirit that flowed through the master's lips. When Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney and renowned uilleann piper and founding member of Planxty Liam O'Flynn take the stage together, to call such a night a mere poetry reading or concert is inadequate. The moment is immense. Of course, neither would admit to their being the cause of all the goosebumps in the room. But they may indicate the other to be the reason. The sheer down-to-earth quality of these two men is refreshing and awe-inspiring. Each is as humbled by the rhythms he weaves as those fortunate enough to hear. Their mutual respect is endearing and was apparent as Heaney later read a poem he wrote in dedication to O'Flynn, who is considered a living embodiment of a tradition stretching back 300 years. The poem, entitled 'The Uilleann Pipes' reads in part:
Liam O'Flynn says"On Saturday, May 13 -AN ENTHUSIASTIC audience was treated to the spectacular playing of one of the masters of the Uilleann pipes (The Irish bellows-blown bagpipes), Liam O’Flynn on Saturday evening. With Australian Steve Cooney on guitar, Rod McVey on keyboard and Liam Bradley on percussion, the programme consisted almost entirely of Irish traditional Irish music, except for O’Flynn’s own ‘An Droichead’ (The Bridge), composed at four days notice for President Mary McAleese’ inauguration, a piece by Glasweigian Phil Cunningham concerning Govan shipyard, and two sets of Galician tunes. It seems that every Celtic musician conducts a love affair with the music from at least one other Celtic region and O'Flynn seems enamoured of the music of Galicia (North West Spain), with which Ireland has historic links. The arrangements of ‘Marcha de Breixo’ (a pilgrim’s March and ‘Marcha de Lousame’ were particularly beautiful. Naturally, most of the melodies were reels , jigs and slow airs from the Emerald Isle. The dance music was impeccably played, although at times the quality of the keyboard sound tended to be muddy the texture, but to me the best moments were the slow airs, in which the melody passed between O’Flynn’s plaintive whistle, Cooney’s sensitive guitar and McVey’s piano. As well as his appropriate and lively accompaniments to O’Flynn’s pipes and whistle, guitarist Cooney was given solo spots which he accepted with lighthearted difference, playing arrangements of pieces by the 17th –century harper and composer, O’Carolan with clarity and dexterity. ‘Si Bheag, Si Mhor’, taken at a quiet a lick, was a special gem. Throughout the evening Liam Bradley’s discreet percussion added colour to the ensemble and O’Flynn warm and witty introductions to the places, stories and people behind the fine tunes added to the enjoyment. The whole atmosphere was informal and the audience were entranced throughout."
that the only English rhyme For the word "uilleann" -
From Irish uile, meaning
Elbow - is the word "villain". Ag seideadh, pronounced "Ig-shade-oo" (or near enough) And meaning "blowing" - Used of great biblical winds - Means also "to play the pipes". The solicitor Questioned the dying master One last time: "You want To leave your pipes to that man? Why?" "Because he can play them"
Thursday evening, May 29th was the first in Lincoln Center's celebration of Seamus Heaney, part of the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center, and the line outside gave it all the appearance of a premier. The sage-like Mr. Heaney, after knocking over his glass of water, said of the concept of the evening "It's very simple. He plays some tunes, I read some poems" Simple idea; the effect was transporting. The presence these men brought with them is not easily named. It was a presence that could be best subscribed as a link, a tangible link if music and words be tangible. O'Flynn and Heaney certainly form the link between worlds, of here and there, of past and the present, the spirit and the material. It was a theme introduced immediately by Liam O'Flynn's rendition of 'Song of the Spirit'. Fittingly, O'Flynn explained that the tune is said to have come from the spirit world, carried by the breeze off the Blasket Islands. Heaney follows and speaks of a 'sunken kind of love' that permeates Irish literature and thought, such as the love between a farther and son. He talks about his own father and reads 'A Kite for Michael and Christopher', a poem about his relationship with his own sons. The sunken love theme surfaced again in 'Mossbawn' from North: "And here is love/like a tinsmith's scoop/sunk past its gleam/ in the meal-bin". Perhaps the best pairing of the evening came when O'Flynn played the soulful 'Brendan Voyage' a piece that captures the mystical journey of the sixth century saint. O'Flynn's pipes seemed to be sending Brendan's adventurous spirit itself whipping through the auditorium. The kind of presence that Heaney describes perfectly in 'Lightenings': "When the monks of Cloinmacnoise were all at prayers inside the oratory, a ship appeared above them in the air". The poem speaks of a man whose anchor is stuck, who "can't bear our life here and will drown". The abbot responds "unless we help him". Released, "the man climbed back out of the marvellous as he had known it". Like two shamans, like two monks, Seamus Heaney and Liam O'Flynn freed a small corner of upper Manhattan that night, allowing our ships to soar to where, as Heaney writes, "the soul cloud-like roams". thank you, Mr. Heaney and Mr. O'Flynn. We've not yet touched ground.Back to Top
ELIZABETH RAGGI - Irish America
Seamus Heaney & Liam O'Flynn, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Poetry and piping. Poems about piping. Piping that was sheer poetry. It would be easy to go into poetic overdrive about this meeting of Ireland's best-known poet and, arguably, the country's leading uilleann piper. But it wasn't like that. This was about two quiet masters of their respective arts performing on a stage but at the same time not being on a stage at all.
In Seamus Heaney's down-to-earth world, writing is work, honest toil. It wouldn't have been seen that way on the family farm, he acknowledged, but as he wrote in Digging, the poet digs out the words just as surely as the tattie-howker digs out the spuds. So when he reads out his words, he simply talks to you. Of digging. Of childhood memories, where a tragic accident leaves his young brother in a 4ft box - a foot for every year of his life. And of Homer. Simpson, that is. Or the other one.
The poet's self-effacing comments about having the neck to add verses to a Sophocles masterpiece are complemented by Liam O'Flynn's references to "lumps of piping", a kind of "ach, it's nothing" preface to magisterial playing of the classic Fox Chase or the unutterably gorgeous music of the spirits.
It was another Seamus, Ennis, another piper and a zealous one, who grudgingly referred to all meritorious performances, piped or otherwise, as "good piping".
On a night when words soothed, touched, and entertained mightily, especially an ingenious, rude rhyme with abducted, and tunes sang, "good piping" would have been right on two counts. Rob Adams - Glasgow Herald Jan 19th 2001
"Musical friendships can span years and seas. That was the underlying message of this showcase concert as memories were evoked of making music together while still wearing short trousers and "on location" in Galicia.
And if ever a musician took his rightful place on the Royal Concert Hall's main auditorium stage, it was Liam O'Flynn, the prince of uilleann pipers. This was the man who was asked, at short notice of course, to supply a tune for the inauguration of Ireland's new President - and delivered the suitably regal-sounding The Bridge, its keening optimism suggesting the influence, and perhaps even the hand, of another old friend, this one absent, Shaun Davey.
The friends who were present made this concert special enough. Built on O'Flynn's band of the past few years, The Given Note Band, it encompassed, respectively, the lucid driving guitars of Arty McGlynn and Steve Cooney, Tommy Hayes's judicious percussion, and Rod McVey's apposite keyboards.
Their playing of tunes both Irish and Galician was masterful and when Galicia's own prince of pipers, Carlos Nunez, was introduced, the masterliness simply grew.
Nunez is a young friend of O'Flynn; Sean Keane and Matt Molloy of the Chieftains go much further back, the former fiddling with a steely verve that nearly drew sparks on Scott Skinner's Iron Man, the latter's flute dancing effusively on a set that recalled the colourful joie de vivre of Planxty's heyday.
With O'Flynn central, but never domineering, on pipes and whistles, this was music full of flavour, passion, and vigour, with gravitas where required, yet with intimacy and good naturedness of a pub session."
The Herald (Glasgow) Jan. 25th 1999 - Rob Adams
"A huge roar of applause greeted the very sight of
Liam O'Flynn and his band at the Whitla Hall on Friday and the mood continued
throughout a mighty concert.
"Without compromising his strong traditional lineage,
Liam O'Flynn has in his three solo albums and session projects successfully
managed to take the uilleann pipe's sound into other contexts, like rock,
European folk music and movie soundtracks. O'Flynn has always been equally
respected for the charisma of his live performance, a charged mix of cool
delivery and unhurried fluency. Add to that an empathetic band that includes
Arty McGlynn and Rod McVey, and it's only natural that the Whitla Hall
audience should expect something unique.
"Uilleann pipes maestro Liam O'Flynn and his friends
took the Whitla Hall by storm last night. This was a vintage performance
which captivated the appreciative Friday night audience, the Co. Kildare
piper led an all-star quintet through a one-and-a-half-hour traditional
music session of the highest quality. And what a band it was - ace guitarists
Arty McGlynn and Steve Cooney, keyboards player Rod McVey and percussionist
Tommy Hayes. The other three did a sound job, but it was O'Flynn and McGlynn
- 'the rhyming couplet', as I like to call them - who stole the show.
They were the main men as we were taken through a delightful set of Irish,
Scottish and Galician dance tunes and airs. I have been listening to both
of them now for upwards of 30 years, and I still marvel at their sensitivity
and feel of their music. McGlynn was in majestic form, matching O'Flynn
note for note in even the most demanding of fast Irish reels. And the
piper was at his virtuosic best too, notably on tunes like The Bridge,
which he composed (at her request) for Mary McAleese's inauguration. All
in all, a superb night's entertainment. ."
"Five master craftsmen of the Irish tradition treated
their audience to a stunning display of peerless musicianship and professionalism
at Vicar Street last Night.
"The mature O'Flynn piping style is a refined and
stately thing, and this meditative fifth solo album (The Piper's Call)
sees him out with Mark Knopfler and Galician piper, Carlos Núñez;
great session men, Matt Molloy, Sean Keane, the pacepushing Steve Cooney
and Arty McGlynn; with Micheál O'Súilleabháin and
the Irish Chamber Orchestra thrown in on one track. As such, with little
need of the chord-barps of the regulators, O'Flynn concentrates on his
beautifully controlled chanter work. The best tunes kick up their heels
a bit, like McKenna's Reels and The Humours of Carrigaholt, showing O'Flynn's
authority on the pipes at its most gorgeously alert; wrestling with Núñez
in the jig-like muineiras; or the madness of Keane's fiddle cutting across
The Gold Ring. It has its own moods and humours, but like the pipes themselves,
this album very much grows on you."
"This is gloriously relaxed and confident music making by a group
of established players who have nothing to prove. Consider: the musicians
are Arty McGlynn and Steve Cooney with Rod McVey on Keyboards and Liam
Bradley on percussion, and the guests are Mark Knopfler, Sean Keane, Matt
Molloy and Carlos Núñez, plus the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
The Piper's Call - "Probably the finest
uilleann piper of his generation, and a founder member of Planxty, Liam
O'Flynn has played with the best of Irish traditional musicians as well
as classical orchestras and many other musical traditions. All this experience
comes through on his new recording: solo Irish piping alternates with
orchestral arrangements and ensemble pieces including a Scottish strathspey
and two sets of Galician tunes.
The Given Note - "To be perfectly frank,
I have not had the easiest of relationships with Liam O'Flynn (I mean
with his music, before any tabloid journalist reading this, thinks they
have a new "scoop" on there hands). I still regard Liam playing "Tabhair
Dom Do Lamh" (at the end of the Raggle Taggle Gipsies) as one of the great
pieces of piping, of any kind. Yet his collaborations of a orchestral
nature leave me colder than the Minch in January. So it was with trepidation
I started to listen to this CD.
"Through an expertly controlled selection of jigs,
reels and slow airs O'Flynn built up an emotive, expressive mood of music
that is both of its time and timeless. Cynics might argue (and occasionally
I might agree) that between the jigs and the reels all traditional music
sounds the same. Experience a Liam O'Flynn concert and you will have to
"The Liam O'Flynn band played with a classical symmetry
and precision indicative of the early formality of Irish dance music.
Liam himself is of the inscrutable school of Irish pipers - impassive
as music of pure soul flows from his fingers."
"Liam is never flash, never over-plays his hand, and never uses the pipes as a vehicle to dominate the music. So that when he does open up and let rip, the earth moves. Such is the mark of a true master." Colin Irwin - Folk Roots
"When Liam O'Flynn plays the uilleann pipes he creates
a forcefield which surrounds his listeners and seems to envelop them in
something almost mesmeric. "
"O'Flynn himself has taken the uilleann pipes on
many a musical adventure, be it traditional, classical or pop. He has
done as much as anyone to ensure the uilleann pipes a continuous, living
place in Irish music."
"If you're told that uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn
got a 15-minute standing ovation after playing Shaun Davey's The Brendan
Voyage in London's Royal Festival Hall, you'll get an idea of how powerful
a piece it is."
"Liam O'Flynn brings to the pipes a spirit and richness
that other pipers can only strive to."
"Though a very private person, this quiet, gentle
musician is a superb public performer. In the best meaning of the word,
he is a great showman, but never a show-off."
"With the Given Note Liam O'Flynn has re-affirmed
his primacy among the piping fraternity, has yet again revealed his gift
for reinvention of ancient muses, and created in the process one of the
albums of the year"
LIAM O’FLYNN. Palau de la Música Catalana. 16 de abril
Liam O’Flynn regresó a Barcelona con su gaita irlandesa para presentar su nuevo disco, The Piper’s Call. Lo que hace tiempo parecía quimérico -que la música tradicional tuviera un hueco en los recintos de más alto prestigio- se va convirtiendo en norma, gracias a algunos intérpretes cuya calidad ha sido internacionalmente reconocida.
Un concierto de Liam O’Flynn siempre es algo más que el escuchar una serie de piezas musicales; nuestro protagonista acude acompañado de la aureola de una leyenda que se ha depositado en él (Planxty, sus instrumentos, sus maestros); él lo sabe y enmarca su música en un lugar apropiado para no traicionar a nadie; en los tratamientos y en el modo de presentar su música casi no ha cambiado con el paso del tiempo. Lo que ha variado es que ahora él es el solista, el centro principal de atención.
Mucho se puede hablar sobre cuál es el sitio más apropiado para la música instrumental irlandesa, sobre cuál es la formación ideal y cuál el modo de presentarla. En la particular opinión de quien escribe, ni el Palau ni todas las opciones que eligió O’Flynn son lo mejor. Arty McGlynn (guitarra) cumplió con la misión encomendada, que por su capacidad debiera ser mayor. Liam O’Flynn, con la gaita y con el whistle, ejerció de solista en todo momento, y ejecutó la música con su precisión técnica habitual, pero con emoción desigual; en ciertos momentos se echó a faltar algún instrumento melódico que lo acompañase. Los arreglos del directo dan un amplio papel al sintetizador de Rod McVey, que apenas dejan oír el sonido real de la gaita. En contraste, la percusión del galaico Méndez, que los acompañaba, no llegó a oírse en todo el concierto, dando un toque extraño a la actuación. Tanto McGlynn como O’Flynn son dos grandes músicos que pueden expresar más de lo que vimos este día.
CULTURA Martes, 9 de febrero de 1999 EL MUNDO
Intérpretes: Liam O'Flynn (uillean pipes, whistle), Arty McGlynn (guitarra acústica), Rod McVey (teclados), Tommy Hayes (bodhram)./ Escenario: Sala La Riviera./ Fecha: 6 de febrero
MADRID.- Desde Irlanda, y aún con cierto retraso histórico, nos va llegando la flor y nata del folk de aquel país, sede y cuna de buena parte de la mejor música tradicional de Occidente, Estados Unidos incluidos. Y es que, con la moda de celtismo que nos inunda, se cuelan algunos gazapos modernistas, pero también se repara en algunas figuras realmente históricas.
Este es el caso del gaitero Liam O'Flynn, veterano actor de la escena musical desde hace más de un cuarto de siglo.
Liam no escatima reels y energía si ello es preciso, pero lo suyo, ante todo, es la rendición ante la melodía bien construida y serenamente conjugada. En el insólito marco de una discoteca pop, la sonoridad de O'Flynn y su cuarteto no sólo no desentonó, sino que ofreció algunas pautas ejemplarizantes. Respeto sumo, en todo instante, para el material interpretado, y también para la propia audiencia. O'Flynn y su mano derecha, Arty McGlynn, guitarrista de altos vuelos y carrera prolífica, construyen un entramado básico donde tienen cabida el arrebato comedido y el lirismo exaltado. Además de algunas piezas de la tradición gaélica milenaria, el cuarteto hizo hincapié en el nuevo disco del maestro, The Piper's Call, en el que han colaborado Mark Knopfler y nuestro Carlos Núñez.
Liam O'Flynn Interviews;