Anúna (Anúna : Ireland's National Choir)
Irish choral music has little or no history before the latter part of the twentieth century. In 1987 Dublin composer Michael McGlynn founded ANÚNA. The name derives from the collective term for the three ancient types of Irish music, Suantraí (lullaby), Geantraí (happy song) and Goltraí (lament). One of the choir's stated aims is to explore and redefine Irish choral music from ancient times through to the present. Anúna have created a unique choral voice for Ireland and have been widely accoladed and acknolwedged for the originality of their performances and recordings.
The group is Dublin-based and includes singers from all parts of Ireland. They are an a cappella choir performing with between eleven and fourteen singers drawn from a larger group af approximately thirty members. Anúna do not work with a conductor, and use the entire space of a concert venue at different points in a performance. Most of their material is written or arranged for the group by McGlynn, and includes reconstructions of early and medieval Irish music. These songs are created specifically for the choir's unusual combination of classically trained and untrained voices.
Anúna have succeeded in dispelling any pre-conceived ideas about Irish music and choral music performance. An Anúna concert is a true “show”, a combination of movement, elegant costume, candles and ethereal and haunting music sung in a unique way. This has gained the choir a justified reputation for the natural quality of the singers’ voices. Together with relaxed introductions by the director and other singers, Anúna’s style of presentation allows anyone of any musical persuasion to appreciate their performance despite the esoteric nature of their material.
The group have a very diverse international audience, developed through seventeen years of touring and slip easily between Classical music and Irish/World music genres. Their audience can be as diverse as the musicians that they have collaborated and worked with see here.
The choir have appeared twice at the Fez World Sacred Music Festival in Morocco in 1998 and 2002, gave the first ever Irish Prom at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1999 and have toured twenty countries since 1993. They accompanied the President of Ireland Mary McAleese to Chile and Argentina in 2004. In January 2007 Anúna recorded a series of live performances in Cleveland which have been broadcast extensively on PBS across the USA. The group undertook a two month tour of the USA in Autumn 2007. In 2008 Anúna gave their début performance at the renowned Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam. In July of 2009, Anúna combined with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland for a major concert of Michael McGlynn's compositions in Dublin's National Concert Hall.
They became closely associated with the Riverdance phenomenon from 1994 until 1996, giving the first performance of the piece at the Eurovision Song Contest 1994. Anúna sang the opening choral section entitled "Cloudsong". They feature extensively on the Grammy Award Winning album of the show, and have been feaured artists on two other Grammy Award winning albums with the Chieftains in collaborations with Sting and Elvis Costello. The choir won an Irish National Entertainment Award for Classical music in 1994 for their album Invocation, and were nominated for a Classical Brit Award in 2000 for Deep Dead Blue'''. The group have recorded ten albums and been signed to many major record labels including Decca, Universal Classics, Polygram, Philips and Koch International.
The CD Anúna: Celtic Origins became the number one CD on the US World Music Charts in August 2007 according to Nielsen Soundscan and is also an award-winning PBS show and DVD. November 2008 saw the release in the USA of Christmas Memories, a CD and DVD also broadcast nationally in November and December. It achieved in excess of 80% carriage over the Christmas period on the PBS network. Both specials continue to be broadcast across the USA. The CD of Christmas Memories entered the Billboard World Music Charts at number six on first week of release and spent ten weeks in the top twenty.
2009 & 2010 includes performances and tours of Japan, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden. Currently on release is Invocations of Ireland, Michael McGlynn's self-made film. This is due for broadcast extensively in Australia/New Zealand throughout 2010 on the Ovation Channel with the DVD to be released on Australia's DV1 and Columbia Music Entertainment in Japan. The group's latest album Sanctus is a spiritual album which includes Miserere mei Deus by Allegri.
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