May We Never Have To
Say Goodbye - TARA 4017
In 2003 Shaun Davey composed music for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin. The event was staged in Croke Park, the biggest Gaelic Games stadium in Ireland, before an audience of 80,000 people. With guest appearances by Nelson Mandela and Muhammed Ali and performers including U2, the event was televised by RTÉ and became the focus of enormous national commitment and pride. Working in collaboration with percussionist Noel Eccles, Shaun Davey created music on a scale and emotional intensity to match the occasion. It featured some of Ireland’s most outstanding traditional musicians, singers, pipers, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, and no less than six Dublin choirs. Although this music was recorded at that time and the anthem,‘May we never have to say Goodbye’, topped the Irish charts for 6 weeks, this is the first time all the specially composed music has been included on one CD. It has been made possible by a special collaboration between the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Tara Records and the artists themselves. It is accompanied by specially recorded excerpts from Shaun Davey’s large-scale concert works, including the revised  ‘Pilgrim’ suite and music adaptapted from his theatre and film scores, unavailable until now and all of which celebrate life, its welcomes and farewells.
COMPOSER’S NOTES ON THE MUSIC;
1. THE BATTLE OF CUL DREMNE; I composed this in 2000 as the new opening to ‘The Pilgrim’.The title refers to the battle thought to have been provoked by Colm Cille, a possible cause of his pilgrimage to Scotland, and hence an appropriate beginning for a musical depiction of the wanderings of an early medieval saint. Not an easy piece for the pipers who are literally involved here in a musical confrontation with the orchestra, in partnership with Noel Eccles who plays military-style 'rope' and lambeg drums. This is one of several pieces specially composed for a revised version of ‘The Pilgrim’, first performed at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre in 2000, and inspired by Sean O’Beachain, principal of Coolmine Secondary School.
2. MUSIC OF THE SPHERES; composed in 2002 for Adrian Noble’s RSC production of ‘Pericles’ at the Roundhouse, London, and re-arranged in 2006 for full orchestra. It features handbells, originally rung by the cast, dispersed around and behind the audience. The music accompanies a vision of the goddess Diana who presides over the miraculous reuniting of Pericles with his family, a music audible only to Pericles and which he describes, in Shakespeare’s phrase, as ‘The music of the spheres’. Special thanks to Hong Soon Har for the loan of the set of bells, played with aplomb by Noel.
3. PILGRIM’S SUNRISE; composed in 2000 for inclusion in ‘The Pilgrim’, featuring Galician Gaita and Uilleann pipes in C, and inspired by an unforgettable day’s recording on Liam O’Flynn’s ‘The Given Note’ album in company with members of the Galician group, Milladoro. The title refers to the Galician ‘Alborada’, a form of music designed as a greeting to the sun, traditionally performed by pipers at sunrise on Fiesta days as they walk around the town. In this performance this sense of movement is provided be Edelmiro’s approach to the microphone from a distance.
4. FILL TO ME THE PARTING GLASS; a song of farewell composed for the closing scenes of the film ‘Waking Ned Devine’, specially rearranged for the opening of The Helix Concert Hall, Dublin, 2002, and on this recording sung by Seamus Begley. Rita and I are on harmonies, with Liam’s pipes and Nollaig Casey’s fiddle in close attendance. The words are based on the traditional song of farewell ‘The Parting Glass’ [most famously performed by The Voice Squad], newly set to an original air. Both the orchestral harp [Andrea Malirsch] and Triona Marshall’s smaller Irish Harp can be heard on this recording.
5. THE IRISH SEA; another addition to the Pilgrim suite, an air for Liam’s sweet sounding uilleann pipes in Bb, Triona on Irish harp, Cor Anglais played by Debbie Clifford and strings, accompanied by the composer on harmonium. As a boy living on the Belfast Lough I witnessed a vast array of shipping which, daily, linked that part of Ireland with Scotland, the Isle of Man, and the English ports of Heysham and Liverpool. Though this traffic has waned the title is a reference to the Irish Sea as a traditional means of connection between the Celtic peoples.
6. TWO GALICIAN DANCES; added to ‘The Pilgrim’ in 2000, featuring Galician Gaita, traditional Irish fiddle, bagpipers, harp, percussion and orchestra. The first tune is led by Gaita in C, followed by a bridge with pipeband which allows Edelmiro time to change instrument to Gaita in Bb for the second . This may be one of the more effective vindications of the concept for bringing bagpipes of different types together with a symphony orchestra; it is certainly one of the loudest. Underpinned by Noel’s big drum percussion, it is always exciting in concert, especially where the pipeband join for the final time.
SUITE from THE 2003 SPECIAL OLYMPICS WORLD SUMMER GAMES The following pieces were specially composed for the Opening Ceremony in Croke Park, Dublin on June 23 2003.
7. DIA DO BHEATHASA; on visits to Kerry one hears the phrase ‘Dia do bheasatha bhaile’, often used to acknowledge safe arrival after a long journey. It seemed the perfect greeting for the 7000 athletes as they arrived in Croke Park, after journeys from all parts of the World, and forms the basis for this overture. After the orchestral fanfare, the lyric is stated by an onstage chorus [including Kerry singers - Seamus and Breanndan Begley and The Voice Squad ], strongly followed by the entry of the pipeband; the words of welcome are then distributed among the choir. Irish traditional soloists follow in succession; Nollaig, Triona, Liam on flat set, with the distinctive Kerry button accordion style of Seamus and Breanndan. The piece concludes with the return of the pipers and orchestral fanfare, combined with chorus and all instumentalists.
8. THE PRESIDENTS WELCOME; button accordions, uilleann pipes, whistle, fiddle, choir and orchestra. This was used to accompany the President of Ireland, Mary MacAleese, as she walked among the 7000 Special Olympics World Games athletes, to greet them as they arrived on the pitch in the centre of Croke Park. A memorable moment of grace and warmth.
9. THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLAG; massed percussion and orchestra.This unique percussion score was composed by Noel Eccles to choreograph the parade of the Special Olympics flag around the arena. In Croke Park the score was performed by an assembly of 100 percussionists. A series of sections depict different percussion traditions of the World; Irish, Arabic, Latin American, Japanese and African; [all] performed here by Noel and, at the end, joined by the rest of the orchestra in a long fanfare, building to a climax designed to coincide with the raising of the flag on stage.
10. MAY WE NEVER HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE; a song specially composed for the beautiful and unique singing of my wife, Rita, and designed to mark the gathering of 7000 Special Olympics athletes and 80,000 spectators in Croke Park. At its heart this song attempts to salute the bravery and commitment of the athletes, and their families. In addition to the dedication of the Special Olympics movement, the athletes received tremendous organisational support from people all over all over Ireland, and the event was the focus of huge public warmth and goodwill, as evidenced by the voluntary participation in this song by six Dublin choirs.
11. THE ARRIVAL OF THE FLAME; The Olympic torch was carried into Croke Park by a team of runners from the Garda Siochana and escorted by Gardai and Police Service of Northern Ireland personel on motorbike. It was to be handed by them to a relay of Special Olympics athletes who would run a circuit of the arena. In the event the Garda runners overshot their mark, and the unfortunate Greek athlete who was standing first in line watched in dismay as the torch swept by.Thanks to the presence of mind of his escort they were halted and the torch handed over.This music, led by the uilleann pipes and orchestra and joined by all the traditional soloists, accompanied the torch’s triumphant circuit of the arena and its progress up onto the stage to the cheers of all in Croke Park .
12. THE LIGHTING OF THE FLAME AND FIREWORKS; the Opening Ceremony concluded with the lighting of a giant onstage torch and a fireworks display. The first is musically represented by the crescendo at the start of this music; the second, loosely, by what follows. A driving 12/8 rhythm propels a robust tune played by the orchetra, pipeband and soloists, the same rhythm continuing under the return of the choirs with the ‘Presidents Welcome’ theme. A massive, sustained ending concludes the Suite for the Opening Ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics World Games.
13. FAREWELL TO NANTES; the words to this song were composed in 2000 in Breton by Gilles Servat, at the time of his role as narrator in ‘The Pilgrim’; it was first performed by him at that year’s Lorient Interceltic Festival. For this recording Rita takes the lead and I have added choir to the chorus. The melody of the verse derives from ‘The Irish Sea’. The farewell in this case refers to the narrator’s persona as medieval saint who here embarks for Galicia. That year the Pilgrim soloists themselves had a taste of the sea, sailing from Arisaig to the Isle of Skye for a performance at Sabhal Mor Ostaig.
14. PILGRIM'S FINALE; this melody was first composed for Trevor Nunn’s workshop of David Almond’s play ‘Skellig’ in 1999. As a tune it seemed to suit the bagpipes, so a short time later I offered it to Liam O’Flynn [ who performs it as ‘The Irish Sea’, see above] and also arranged it as presented here, for the larger forces of pipeband, full orchestra and choir; it worked so well that by 2000 it had found a permanent home in the revised Pilgrim suite. However, two years later at the Young Vic Theatre, London, this music was put to its originally-intended use and, during that Christmas period, helped an angel to fly.
Musicians Orchestra: RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by David Brophy, led by Alan Smale and Elaine Clark. Choir:
members of The Guinness
The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
Gerhard Markson Principal Conductor
The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra plays a central role in classical music in Ireland, through live performance, broadcast and touring. As an integral part of RTÉ, the orchestra reaches a great number of listeners through its weekly broadcasts on RTÉ lyric fm and through its association with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). In addition to its annual subscription season at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Horizons contemporary music series, Irish national tours, residencies and summer concerts series, the orchestra continues to make a name for itself internationally through its recordings with Naxos, Marco Polo and on RTÉ’s own label. In 2004, the RTÉ NSO won the Orchestra and Concerto: CD Première category of the Critics’ Awards in the 2004 Cannes Classical Awards for its recording of Joly Braga Santos’s Symphony No. 4 under conductor Alvaro Cassuto.
Recording and Production:
FILL TO ME THE PARTING GLASS [words traditional]
All the money that e’er I had
All the comrades that e’er I had
MAY WE NEVER HAVE TO SAY GOODBYE [words Shaun Davey]
KENAVO D’AN NAONED [words by Gilles Servat]
Daw dit mont kuit c’hoazh
Me wel da vag war al Liger e’hell
Daw dit mot kuit c’hoazh
FAREWELL TO NANTES [translation]
You must go once more
I see your ship on the dark Loire
You must go once more