The traditional music trio Grosse Isle was born out of the “absolutely magical” collaboration between three exceptional musicians from Quebec and Ireland (The Irish Music Magazine). Together, Sophie Lavoie du Lac-St-Jean (fiddle, piano, vocal), André Marchand the legendary (guitar, vocal), and Fiachra O’Regan, Irish champion (uilleann pipes, whistle, banjo) shine with their rich and enveloping music. These musicians all have a national and international reputation as a duo mainly in the case of Sophie & Fiachra and within several groups for 40 years as far as André Marchand is concerned (La Bottine Souriante, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer and others).
In 2016, the first album of the duo Sophie & Fiachra with André Marchand, entitled Un Canadien errant, was hailed as “a striking musical experience” (Le Devoir). In 2018, the group dazzles with Portraits, “a work of art in itself” (Roots Music Canada), “a real treasure” (Folkword) unanimously applauded by critics. Both albums received a nomination at the ADISQ awards in the category “Album of the Year-Traditional”. The latest album Le bonhomme sept heures / The Bonesetter was launched in 2021 by this three-artist group, who henceforth bear the new name Grosse Isle. All three albums have been nominated in the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
The band name refers to the story of the mass arrival of the Irish in the 19th century, on Grosse Île in the St. Lawrence River, as they fled the Great Famine. It is a striking encounter between two peoples and two cultures.
Fusing Irish and Québécois repertoire with original compositions, Grosse Isle presents pieces from the album The Bonesetter as well as many surprises on stage! The harmonious blend of the two cultures, the authenticity and the immense talent of the artists give a sublime result! From laments to more rhythmic songs, the concert is varied and showcases the 1001 colors of the band.
In addition to performing at several traditional music festivals in Quebec, the musicians have also performed in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, France and of course, Ireland!
Sophie Lavoie is a musician (fiddle player, pianist and singer) and ethnomusicologist from Lac-Saint-Jean. She was born in Alma in 1982 and traditional music was to be heard often in her home. Sophie started learning music herself with classical piano at the age of 10. In 2004 Sophie graduated from the University of Montreal with a Batchelor degree in Classical Piano and in 2019 she submitted her thesis Les violoneux du Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean : style et répertoire des derniers de leur lignée and obtained a Master’s Degree in Ethnomusicology. In parallel to learning the piano, Sophie taught herself traditional fiddle, which led her to play in multiple groups and eventually to spend 6 years living in Ireland. Sophie has recorded on numerous albums such as L’Attisée (2010), Sophie & Fiachra (2010), Rewind (2014), Un Canadien errant (2016), Au bout du rang (2016), Portraits (2019) et Le bonhomme sept heures/The Bonesetter (2021).
Sophie obtained three nominations (2016, 2019, 2022) at Canadian Folk Music Awards in the category Traditional Singer of the Year. She has been described as a “sublime composer” (folkworld) and an “expert fiddler” (songlines magazine). She has given talks and workshops in most prestigious institutions, such as Université de Montréal and the world recognized Irish Word Academy of Music and Dance, in Ireland, where she taught for a full semester.
Sophie’ repertoire of songs and tunes is made up of a mixture of traditional québécois and Irish music as well as many compositions. ON the fiddle, a repertoire comprises of many tunes which employ alternative fiddle tuning (A-E-A-E & A-D-A-E).
More info can be found on her website: sophielavoie.ca
A leading figure in Quebec’s Trad scene, André’s career is punctuated by artistic projects that have marked the history of traditional music over the past 40 years. Guitarist, singer and composer, he began as co-founder of La Bottine Souriante. From 1976 to 1990, he traveled throughout Quebec, Acadia, Canada, the United States and several European countries and participated in the recording of the first six discs of La Bottine Souriante.
From 1990 to 2009, he was a sound engineer and director. He contributed to the birth of nearly 200 projects, thus giving voice to several emerging artists and other well-known productions, actively contributing to the emergence of the traditional music community. During this period, he collaborated with the Marchand-Miron-Ornstein trio that recorded Le Bruit Court dans la Ville in 1996, which attracted praise from the community. He also teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Gray Larsen, with whom he traveled extensively throughout the United States. Together, they recorded The Orange Tree in 1993 and Les Marionnettes in 2004.
In 1993, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer was born, an a capella vocal quintet that produced a firestorm on the Quebec scene. The band produced six albums, three of which won Félix Awards in Quebec. They toured extensively and recorded La sacrée rencontre with the great national poet Gilles Vigneault.
Possessing a deep voice, warm and recognizable, André is an endearing character with a lively mind and boisterous humor. His unique style of guitar accompaniment–nuanced and finessed– influences several generations of guitarists evolving today in the Quebec Trad scene.
Fiachra O‘Regan, from Connemara, on the West Coast of Ireland, plays Irish music on the Uilleann Pipes and Whistle, He is a senior All Ireland Champion on both these intruments. Fiachra has performed throughout the world, touring in his own group as well as with many other artists and groups. He is also saught after as a teacher in private lessons and at festivals. In 2008, Fiachra recorded Aisling Gheal, his first solo album, and has since recorded three albums with quebecois fiddler Sophie Lavoie, as well as appearing as a guest on many other albums. More info can be found on his website: www.fiachrapipes.com.
« un super mariage de trad québécois et de musique irlandaise. Trio qui est composé de la musicienne Sophie Lavoie, qui vient du Lac-St-Jean, qui est une formidable violoneuse. »
Le 15-18, Radio-Canada (2021)
« Un trio dont le talent n’est plus à démontrer »
Le peuple Breton (2021)
« This album is nothing short of fantastic. It gives us history, tragedy and joy. It gives us the old and the new side by side, and it represents the musical best of two great cultures. »
Roots Music Canada, Canada (2021)
« This is another delightful album from the Quebec trio. I really like the freshness, musicality and fine production on this album and highly recommend you get hold of it, play it and enjoy the experience. »
The living tradition (2021)
« Grosse Isle pourrait bien devenir une référence en musique traditionnelle. »
C’est jamais pareil, Radio-Canada (2021)
« one of the most downright enjoyable albums to come this way for a considerable time »
fRoots, Royaume-Uni (2019)
« It is hard not to tap your foot to the music on the disc – an enjoyable listen ! »
The Fiddler Magazine, USA (2019)
« Portraits is a giant and beautiful listen that combines the best from the folk traditions of both Québec and Ireland. It is a work of art in itself »
Roots Music Canada (2019)
« Portraits is a hugely enjoyable collection, a real treasure for those with ecclectic taste. […] sweet and pleasant voice by Sophie Lavoie, who also storms through some impressive Irish and Québécois dance tunes on fiddle »
FolkWorld, Alex Monaghan (2019)
« A trio of Québec-based traditional musicians revel in one anothers’ exceptional talents »
Marc Bolduc, Penguin Eggs, Canada (2019)
« Really exceptional stuff »
Andy Nagy, Black Jack Davy Show, USA (2019)
« Absolutely amazing »
Radio Clare FM, Irlande (2018)
« this is pretty splendid stuff… …Lavoie’s vocal performance is especially impressive on the title-track »
Kevin Bourke, Songlines Magazine (2017)
« One of the rising stars of Québécois music »
Vic Smith(writing of Sophie), fRoots Magazine (2017)
« It’s refreshing to hear a traditional band reference the present with such subtlety and finesse. »
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times (2016) read article
« Le trio trad brille autant par l’intensité de son élan musical que par le raffinement de ses arrangements et de ses interprétations »
Louis Cornellier, La Devoir (2016) read article