My Gentle Harp: Julian Loida Celebrates His Grandmother on New Video
Five years ago today, the world lost Bridget Patricia Albright (Foody), a beloved grandmother to percussionist, composer, and HPPR-showcase artist Julian Loida. We asked him to join us on High Plains Morning today to discuss his latest project, “My Gentle Harp.” It launches today as a short video documentary, featuring choreography by Kieran Jordan, as well as the audio compositions of the piece.
Today’s High Plains Morning is dedicated to the memory of Bridget Patricia Albright (Foody) ~ September 12, 1927 - March 4, 2016. Thanks for encouraging Julian to keep making music. We cannot wait for the symphony.
Check out the video here, and hear the full interview with Julian on the link below.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT (from Julian Loida): “It’s been five years since I lost my grandma. Her name was Bridget and she was born in Belfast, Ireland. A story all to common to musicians, I missed her funeral because of a big show I was producing and playing that involved a large cohort of artists. It's always been a hard reality for me that I only came to fully realize weeks after the fact.
Only after she passed did my life become centered around Irish and Celtic music.
I started a band Night Tree that in its first 6-months led to me opening for SOLAS on St. Patrick's Day. I became the festival manager for the Boston Celtic Music Festival and Brian O'Donovan's Assistant Producer on his Christmas Celtic Sojourn and St. Patrick's Day Celebration concerts/theater productions.
I recorded two albums with Seamus Egan producing and Maeve Gilchrist produced my debut solo record. I've played on the same festivals as John Doyle in Sweden, curated Liz Carroll, Karan Casey...even Winifred Horan was my ensemble coach at NEC. The list goes on...
All this happened just after her passing and prior to her death Irish music was just something that I loved, but didn't really know where to find...meanwhile all along it was inside of me.
After she passed, I met her twin brother Paddy at my older brother's wedding and he told me that I was not the only musician in the family. He told me that there was a whole family of musicians back in Ireland that I'm related to...most well-known of which is Conal O'Grada who has toured in the U.S. and to Boston many times.
Sometimes the world stops being a random sequence of events and the stars align, energies meet, and something much greater happens.
I sent this video to my family in Ireland who are musicians and it turns out Conal O'Grada knows Kieran Jordan (the dancer featured in this video) "quite well".
When I revealed to Kieran that I was Conal's distant cousin, I told her that she had met me and my family years and years before her and I had met.
I've struggled my whole adult life with accepting myself as a musician because I only started when I was 17, truly. I thought I was never meant to play music, it just happened...it chose me.
Through the pandemic, I've questioned my existence as a musician more than ever. Through creating this work and seeing how my distant family in Ireland that I only learn about 4 years ago was already in friendship with a women who would later take on the project of sharing my grandma and I's story with the world...only to find out she had already met my family years ago...that we discovered by chance well after finishing the project...
Well, somethings are just meant to be. The universe has a plan for me and I'm here, listening and waiting to do whatever I'm called to do.
This mini-doc, though short and small, is a proud and possibly divine work...much like the story of the Irish.
The chances I'm born, the chances I become a musician, the chances I move to Boston (where I never wanted to move to originally), the chances I get into Irish music and find success, the chances I meet Kieran Jordan, the chances Kieran and I worked together...the chances Kieran Jordan is friends with my distant family in Ireland that happen to be musicians...those chances are slim-to-none.
...but that's the fact and without this work, without sharing this vulnerable story that I've carried great shame about for years...I would've never known so truly in my heart and soul that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing and that my ancestors on US soil and Irish hillsides agree and have possibly placed me here to do this exact work.
Please share, reflect, and enjoy.
So many people have lost loved ones in the past year...so many have not been able to bury them, attend funerals, and properly grieve. This work is secondly dedicated to those families."