Renée Anne Louprette and Ivan Goff will perform selections from the album at New York City’s Church of St. Ignatius (Park and 84th) on this Sunday at 3 p.m. PHOTO: ANNA COLLITON
By Daniel Neely
Renée Anne Louprette and Ivan Goff are just out with “Bright Vision,” a brand new CD that is certain to raise more than a few eyebrows. Combining the sounds of the pipe organ and the uilleann pipes, “Bright Vision” delivers music that is gorgeous and stirring, taking on an almost spiritual tone from start to finish.
Organ and uilleann pipes is an unusual combination and there aren’t many precedents. Other examples (not all of which have been recorded for issue) include David Bremner & Mark Redmond, Eliot Grasso & Julia Brown, Paul Halley & Davy Spillane (with others), but the most notable and brilliant of them is surely the great Liam O’Flynn with Catherine Ennis, the daughter of the legendary piper Seamus Ennis. And yet, while there is much to recommend in each of those prior collaborations, Louprette and Goff’s new project tries new things and seems to move the ball quite a ways further than in that earlier work.
The musical gravitas here is stunning. Louprette (www.reneeannelouprette.com) is an acclaimed organist as respected and admired in liturgical settings as she is on the concert stage. Her resumé is quite stunning. She is the University Organist and Coordinator of the Organ Department at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and has been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, and the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. In addition, she is involved with the sacred music programs at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola (Director of Music), at Trinity Wall Street (Associate Director of Music and the Arts), at the Unitarian Church of All Souls (Organist and Associate Director), and at the Church of Notre Dame (Director of Music).
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Goff (ivangoff.com) is a similarly accomplished. Originally from Dublin, he’s a uilleann piper player (studied under Dan O’Dowd, and later Mick O’Brien) and flute player of great renown. A true first call musician in the Irish world, he’s performed with many of traditional music’s finest players (a list that includes Míchéal Ó Raghallaigh, Tony DeMarco, Tom Morrow and Patrick Ourceau, to name a few), is a former member of groups like Green Fields of America and the Eileen Ivers Band, and is current member of Danú (www.danu.net) and Ghost Trio (with Iarla Ó Lionáird and Cleek Schrey www.ghosttrio.com). He has also worked with jazz musicians, classical orchestras, electro-acoustic ensembles, and has played for films. His academic background includes a PhD in musicology (NYU, 2016).
All of this artistic brilliance comes to bear on this album. Filled with variety and imagination, “Bright Vision” constantly moves the listener in directions that make the familiar timbres of pipes, organ and flute sound fresh and unique. The album’s opener “Aisling Gheal I (Bright Vision)” is a fascinating introduction to the combination’s possibilities, with beautiful harmonies and rich layering enveloping the listening space. “Lament for Limerick / Rolling Wave” is quite familiar in its delivery, in that the organ gives harmonic support to the piping, however, Louprette’s introduction of languid countermelody in the jig add incredible depth. I find a similar experience in “The Coming Of Spring/At Home In The Kitchen/When I Can’t Sleep,” where whistle and organ begin in familiar melody/harmony arrangement, but build into a crescendo as pipes are introduced and the organ goes full bore, adding – quite surprisingly – ringing bells to the texture at the end. It’s superb. Goff plays flute on “Clancy’s Farewell To Whikey/Dance Of The Little Boats,” where he gives lovely color to Louprette’s impressive organwork. Flute also features on “The Angel’s Share,” a beautiful, brooding composition written by Goff himself.
A couple of compositions are brilliant and stand out in many ways. “Mirage” is a chaotic piece that explores different meters, challenging both musicians because of the individual peculiarities of recording organ and pipes. It’s interesting musically and worthy of admiration for Goff and Louprette’s ability to pull it off. “Dark Slender Boy” is brilliant as well. The organ introduction creates a complex harmonic texture over which Goff’s piping soars. The end builds to a mighty organ swell that flows in across Goff’s melody and passes over it, with the power of an incoming tide.
This is an astonishingly beautiful album. Goff and Louprette are each a top performers on their instrument and together they’ve delivered something quite magical. The deep tones of the organ and the reediness of the pipes positively melt into each other, creating lush, deeply evocative textures that sail along in deeply satisfying ways. The music here is elegant, graceful, and moving – this is music to nourish the Irish soul. Standout album, rush out and get it.
Louprette and Goff will perform selections from the album at New York City’s Church of St. Ignatius (Park and 84th) on Sunday at 3 p.m. This is an excellent opportunity to experience the power of these instruments in person. More information is available at www.stignatiusloyola.org.