Aware that St. Brendan’s May 16 feastday naturally stirs up images of heroic adventure, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite all those charting new pathways during this month of graduation and end of the semester studies to immerse yourself into the dramatic Celtic sound of The Wonderful Sea Voyage of the Holy St. Brendan by Alison Brown. May you find Christ before, behind, beside, beneath and within you, but especially in the hearts of all that love you.
I was inspired to write “The Wonderful Sea Voyage” after watching a program on the Discovery Channel about the wanderings of the early Christian monk Brendan the Navigator. According to legend, Brendan made a voyage from the west coast of Ireland to Newfoundland around 550 AD possibly becoming the first European to travel to the New World. Brendan and his company of 14 monks traveled for 7 years in a small leather curragh enduring many hardships but experiencing many fantastic adventures as well. I tried to capture the feel of the sea and some of the drama of Brendan’s adventure in this tune – I hope you enjoy it!
Alison Brown has taken an unlikely path in establishing herself as an internationally recognized banjoist. The former investment banker (she has a bachelor’s degree in History and Literature from Harvard and an MBA from UCLA) toured with Alison Krauss and Union Station and Michelle Shocked before forming her own group, The Alison Brown Quartet. She has recorded 10 critically-acclaimed solo albums including the Grammy winning Fair Weather (2000 Best Country Instrumental Performance). Alison has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s All Things Considered and in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She is also co-founder of the internationally recognized Compass Records Group which oversees more than 600 releases from the Compass Records, Green Linnet and Mulligan Records catalogs and which has been called by Billboard Magazine “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade.” Alison currently serves on the Board of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and as Treasurer of the International Bluegrass Music Association as well as on the adjunct faculty of Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music. She lives in Nashville with her husband Garry West and their 2 children: Hannah (7) and Brendan (3).