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Title: Anúna  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Music of Ireland, Michael McGlynn, Deirdre Shannon, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Julie Feeney
Collection: Chamber Choirs, Irish Musical Groups, Musical Groups Established in 1987
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Background information
Origin Ireland
Genres Choral, World Music, Classical
Years active 1987–present
Labels Danú
Website Anú
Members Michael McGlynn Artistic Director
Past members Hozier
Julie Feeney
Lynn Hilary
Méav Ní Mhaolchatha
Eimear Quinn

Anúna is an Irish choral group. In 1987 Dublin composer Michael McGlynn founded An Uaithne,[1] a name which describes the three ancient types of Celtic music, Suantraí (lullaby), Geantraí (happy song) and Goltraí (lament). One of the group's stated aims is to explore and redefine this music.[2] An Uaithne became Anúna in 1991 and in 2010 adopted the name "Anúna, Ireland's National Choir".[3] Most of the material they perform is written or arranged specifically for the group by Michael McGlynn. He also has reconstructed and arranged a substantial amount of early Irish music, which has been recorded by the group. McGlynn's choral arrangements are written specifically for their combination of classically trained singers and untrained voices. Anúna do not work with a conductor in performance, and move throughout the venue at different points in concert.[2] Their standard line-up is twelve to fourteen singers.[2]


  • History 1
    • An Uaithne 1987 to 1991 1.1
    • Anúna 1992 to 1996 1.2
    • Anúna 1997 to 2010 1.3
    • Anúna 2011 to date 1.4
  • Notable Performances 2
  • Selected current members 3
  • Selected past members 4
  • Discography 5
    • Albums and DVD releases 5.1
    • Recorded Collaborations 5.2
  • References 6
  • External links 7


An Uaithne 1987 to 1991

McGlynn formed the choir An Uaithne in 1987, with their earliest concerts featuring medieval Irish and European music, contemporary choral pieces by Irish composers and Irish folk arrangements. He has stated "My interest in traditional song stemmed from my schooldays in Ring College in Dungarvan, and I also felt a need to explore and communicate my enthusiasm for medieval music, most particularly Irish medieval music, to the general public. The eclectic repertoire that characterises the music of Anúna was born in this way".[4] McGlynn re-set and rearranged historical texts and reconstructions of medieval Irish music. These included the 12th century pieces "Dicant Nunc" and "Cormacus Scripsit", both of which come from Irish manuscripts and featured in the repertoire of An Uaithne. Other reconstructions including "Miserere Miseris" from the Dublin Troper and "Quem Queritis" from The Dublin Play continue to feature in the repertoire of Anúna. McGlynn has said "I think that one of the purposes of Anúna has been to open the door of obscurity to some of the many medieval pieces that we've recorded".[5]

An Uaithne featured a number of traditional music arrangements done by McGlynn as part of their repertoire. He has stated "One of the misapprehensions about my music is that I am not actually concerned with saving Irish traditional music; I am not a traditionalist. The only exposure I had [to traditional Irish song] was during my year at Coláiste na Rinne in Dún Garbhán. The songs that I set are not from a specific collection; they are more impressions of the songs I remembered."[6] McGlynn also created new compositions that could be perceived as arrangements of Irish songs but were, in fact, new melodies composed to traditional texts. These works are not arrangements and they became a feature of An Uaithne's repertoire and continue to be part of the Anúna canon. McGlynn has stated "People just assume that I have just found a “living” version. In fact I have done what has made solo traditional music so viable: I have created a new version. I take the songs and reinterpret them in a new way. My priority is always to create a choral version that works." [6]

The genesis of the choir's vocal sound derives from a number of different sources including Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, although he has stated that Anúna are not an expression of their culture in the same way as the Bulgarian choir because, when creating Anúna, there was no point in his pretending that there had been a culture of part-singing in Ireland.[7] McGlynn has stated : "What I have done is to try to always create an accessibility using the concept of fragility in the voice to allow the audience to access music that otherwise they might find overtly and harmonically complex or technically demanding to listen to." [6]

Anúna 1992 to 1996

In 1991, An Uaithne officially became Anúna. Once a group of classically trained singers, Anúna morphed into a choir of less trained, but still gifted, singers who could produce the earthy, raw tone that McGlynn was seeking. "This is the ‘Anúna’ sound – powerful and fragile, immediate and human. When I developed it, it was almost as a protest against the artificial nature of choral groups I had been part of, where singers appeared to sing for themselves, never as a genuine unit and never for the audience."[8] In 1993 they released their disc "ANÚNA", a sixteen-track CD followed in 1994 by the album "Invocation".[9] Both albums were licensed by the Irish label Celtic Heartbeat and released in 1995 [10] The album "Anúna" achieved a modest Billboard World Music chart placing at number 11 in 1995.[9] Both albums were licensed by the Irish label Celtic Heartbeat and released in 1995.

Anúna became associated with Riverdance from 1994 until 1996.[1] They gave the first performance of the piece at the Eurovision Song Contest, spending 18 weeks at number 1 in the Irish single's chart and reaching number 9 in the U.K. Singles Chart.[11] They featured on the CD and DVD "Riverdance" and "Riverdance: the Show". They sang the opening choral section entitled "Cloudsong" with a solo by soprano Katie McMahon[12] Anúna won an Irish National Entertainment Award[13] for Classical music in 1994. In 1995 they released "Omnis" and in 1996 "Deep Dead Blue". The latter album gained an international release on the Gimell/Polygram label in 1999.[14] and was nominated for a Classical Brit Award in 2000.[15] The group left Riverdance in 1996.[14] Anúna soprano Eimear Quinn won the Eurovision Song Contest in the same year in Oslo.[16]

Anúna 1997 to 2010

In 1997 Anúna released the CD "Behind the Closed Eye", an orchestral collaboration with the Ulster Orchestra, Northern Ireland's leading symphony orchestra.[17] The choir appeared at the World Sacred Music Festival in Morocco in 1998 returning in 2002.[18] In 1999 Anúna performed at the first ever Irish Prom at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London.[19] 2000 saw the release of "Cynara" followed by "Winter Songs" (U.S. Release title "Christmas Songs") in 2002. The same year the group appeared at the "Proms in the Park" in Belfast, an open-air concert featuring The Ulster Orchestra in the grounds of Belfast's City Hall.[20]

Their album Sensation, released in April 2006, was an eclectic collection, with settings by McGlynn of texts by Cardinal Henry Newman, Arthur Rimbaud and Hildegard von Bingen. The title track featured a spoken recitation of the Rimbaud poem "Sensation" by the Breton singer Gilles Servat. 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. The album "Anúna: Celtic Origins" was released in the same year. It was the number one selling album in the World Music category of Nielsen Soundscan in August of that year.[21] November 2008 saw the release in the USA of "Christmas Memories", a CD and DVD release coupled with PBS Broadcasts nationally in November and December. The album entered the Billboard World Music Charts at number 6 on first week of release and spent 10 weeks in the Billboard World Music top 20 albums.[22] The single "Ding Dong Merrily on High" reached number 26 on the Billboard "Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks" chart in December 2008.[23]

In June 2009, Anúna released the CD "Sanctus" and DVD "Invocations of Ireland". "Sanctus" featured four previously released tracks that have been remastered and in the case of one track, "Nobilis Humilis", have had parts re-recorded and added to the original song. Also featured are McGlynn's "Agnus Dei", Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri and Crucifixus by Antonio Lotti."Invocations of Ireland" was a 56 minute DVD filmed throughout Ireland by Michael McGlynn, and featured the music of Anúna sung in the Irish landscape. The DVD was released on Columbia in Japan and was broadcast extensively on the Ovation Channel in Australia and New Zealand.[24]

In July 2009, Anúna gave the first performance of "Behind the Closed Eye" in the Republic of Ireland at Dublin's National Concert Hall with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The group performed again with the orchestra in July 2010, with Finnish violinist Linda Lampenius.[25] The programme included a number of new pieces and arrangements including the nine-minute McGlynn fantasia based on the songs of Thomas Moore "The Last Rose".

Anúna 2011 to date

In June 2010, Anúna collaborated on a new CD and DVD project with The Wiggles scheduled for release in 2011.[26] In September 2010, Anúna recorded an arrangement by Michael McGlynn of "Away in a Manger" with ex-Celtic Woman soloist Órla Fallon for her Christmas PBS special, which also featured David Archuleta and another ex-Anúna and Celtic Woman soloist Méav Ní Mhaolchatha. The special was filmed in Dublin, Ireland. No fewer than four of the soloists who have been featured on Celtic Woman since 2005 (Órla Fallon, Méav Ní Mhaolchatha, Lynn Hilary and Deirdre Shannon) have been members of Anúna.

On 27–29 January 2011, Anúna joined Irish musical pioneers Clannad for three concerts at Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral for the Donegal group's fortieth anniversary celebrations. They collaborated on five tracks, "Dúlamán", "Caislean Óir", "Theme from Harry's Game", "In a Lifetime" and "I Will Find You". Anúna also performed a version of "Media Vita" as they came onstage, integrating musical elements of "Caislean Óir".[27]

Anúna made their Chinese debut in June 2011. Cities visited included Chengdu, Wuhan and Hangzhou. In Beijing they performed at the Beijing Poly Theater and in Shanghai at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.[28] In July 2011 the National Concert Hall in Dublin presented the first Anúna International Summer School. The event took place between 5 and 9 July, and featured a team of international facilitators including Matthew Oltman, then musical director of Chanticleer.[29] In September their album "Christmas Memories" débuted at 95 in The Billboard 200.[30]

To finish the year, Anúna visited Japan, a trip which included concerts and workshops in Tokyo, Niigata, Hyogo, Kagoshima, Sasebo and Shiga. This tour also included a high-profile visit to the area affected by the tsunami of 2011 and Fukushima.[31] In April 2012 Anúna participated in the premiere of Philip Hammond's "Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic" at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast.[32]

In June 2012 Anúna released their new album Illumination, a fifteen track CD [33] and in May featured on the soundtrack to the video game Diablo III. Blizzard Entertainment's audio director, Russell Brower says "Working somewhat against conventional expectations, Hell is a beautiful and seductive sound, provided by Dublin’s uniquely astounding choral group ANÚNA".[34] As of February 2014 the game has sold 15 million copies across all platforms.[35] In China in October the choir gave a workshop at the Shanghai Conservatory and in November they hosted a series of public choral workshop events across the Netherlands. 2013 marks the first tour of Canada for the group, and included a workshop series.

Notable Performances

Anúna have performed all over the world including Poland, Morocco, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Chile, Argentina, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, France, the U.K., China, the U.S.A. and Germany.[36]

  • 1987 : Debut performance, Trinity College Dublin Chapel.
  • 1991 : First performance of McGlynn's "Celtic Mass", Dublin.
  • 1994 : Eurovision Song Contest from Dublin. Performed the opening "Cloudsong" from Riverdance.
  • 1994 : Performed Riverdance in The Royal Variety Show from London.
  • 1995 : Performed at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Meltdown Festival. The group were invited to participate by Elvis Costello.
  • 1996 : Premiére performance of excerpts of "Behind the Closed Eye" with The Ulster Orchestra at The Ulster Hall, Northern Ireland. Participated in the opening ceremonies for Ireland adopting the EU Presidency in Dublin.
  • 1998 : The first Irish performing group to take part in the World Sacred Music Festival at Fés. The group were invited back in 2002.
  • 1999 : Recorded a live PBS TV special in Lillehammer, Norway as guests of Secret Garden. BBC2 Television film a full performance of "Behind the Closed Eye" at Belfast's Waterfront Hall. They opened the State of the World Symposium at the same venue in May. In August Anúna performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London at the BBC Proms as part of the first-ever Irish Prom.
  • 2000 : First solo performance at Dublin's National Concert Hall.
  • 2002 : Performed with The Ulster Orchestra to 14,000 people in Belfast as part of the BBC Proms.
  • 2004 : The group tour Chile and Argentina as guests of President Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
  • 2007 : Artists in residence at Festival 500, Newfoundland, Canada. First Japanese tour included a performance in Tokyo's Sumida Hall. Live recording of TV special "ANÚNA - Celtic Origins" in Cleveland USA for PBS TV with Elevation Group. The programme was carried by in excess of 220 PBS Channels, and this was followed by a nine-week tour of the full group, with guest violinist Linda Lampenius, of the USA in Autumn of that year. Venues included New York City Town Hall and Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis.
  • 2008 : The group debut in Amsterdam with a solo performance in the famous Concertgebouw.
  • 2009 : Anúna give their first performance with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland at the NCH Dublin in a concert of Michael's work. In 2010 there was a repeat performance with the orchestra. The group embark on their first Irish tour.
  • 2010 : Anúna adopt the name "Anúna, Ireland's National Choir" as their official title and inaugurate an Education and Outreach programme.[37] They appear as a guest on the Orla Fallon PBS Special, also appearing on the DVD and CD "Orla Fallon's Celtic Christmas".
  • 2011 : Collaborate with Australian super-group The Wiggles on a Christmas DVD Special and CD release for 2011. The group tour China for the first time.
  • 2012 : Celebrate 25 years and release the album "Illumination". May saw the release of Diablo III on which the group appear portraying the voices of hell. Other events included a tour of China which featured a workshop at Shanghai Conservatory and a series of choral workshops across the Netherlands in November in advance of their visit there in December.

Selected current members

John McGlynn is a tenor with Anúna and an Irish singer-songwriter. He is also Michael McGlynn's identical twin brother. His distinctive guitar style features on many of Anúna's albums. Originally an architect by trade, he currently acts as a director of the choir, touring in that capacity throughout Europe and the USA. He released his solo album Songs For A Fallen Angel in 2000 and has formed a trio entitled Sweet June. His arrangements and original songs appear on a number of Anúna releases. "If All She Has Is You" appears on the Celtic Origins album and concert DVD and has been covered by Celtic Woman soloist Lynn Hilary on her debut solo album. Other arrangements and original pieces include "The Fisher King", "Buachaill ón Éirne", "Siúil a Rúin" and "O Come All Ye Faithful". He features as a soloist on the albums Christmas Songs, Invocation, Anúna, Deep Dead Blue, Christmas Memories, Celtic Origins and Cynara. He appears as a soloist on the DVDs Invocations of Ireland and Celtic Origins and Christmas Memories.

Lucy Champion is an English singer. She currently holds the position Education Co-ordinator with Anúna and is a featured soprano soloist with the choir. She appears as a soloist on the albums Christmas Songs, Invocation, Sensation, Anúna, Sanctus, Cynara, Deep Dead Blue, Christmas Memories, Celtic Origins and Behind the Closed Eye. She appears as a soloist on the DVDs Invocations of Ireland and Celtic Origins. She was Concerts and Events Manager for The Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Administrator and Education Manager for the Wren Orchestra in London, Education Manager with the National Concert Hall in Dublin[38] and is currently a choral clinician and educator, most recently giving a series of workshops at Dublin's National Concert Hall in 2009/2010.

Miriam Blennerhassett is an Irish mezzo-soprano, and is the current Chorus Master of Anúna, also featuring as a soloist on CD, DVD and in performance. She features as a soloist on the albums Omnis, Invocation, Sensation, Deep Dead Blue, Celtic Origins and Behind the Closed Eye. She appears as a soloist on the DVDs Invocations of Ireland and Celtic Origins. Miriam is a founder member of Anúna.

Selected past members

A number of singers who have left the choir have gone on to achieve international recognition in their own right. Hozier, also known as Andrew Hozier-Byrne, was a member of Anúna from 2009 to 2012, and appears as a soloist on their 2012 release Illumination singing "La Chanson de Mardi Gras". He toured and sang with the group internationally including performances in Norway and the Netherlands.[39] Julie Feeney is a successful solo female artist and she sang alto with Anúna from 1997 to 2001. Ian King is a British song writer working in the English Folk music genre. His debut album, Panic Grass and Fever Few gained him four-star reviews in the Guardian and Observer newspapers in the U.K. and he was featured on the 2009 thirtieth anniversary cover of the influential fRoots magazine. Ian was a tenor with Anúna from 1996 to 1997. Eimear Quinn is a soprano, and won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996 while she was a member of the group. She was part of Anúna from 1995 to 1996.[40] She has recorded numerous solos with the choir, including "The Mermaid", "Diwanit Bugale", "The Green Laurel", "Gaudete" and "Salve Rex Gloriae". She appears on the albums Omnis and Deep Dead Blue.

Four of the singers who have featured in the successful Celtic Woman are also ex-members of the choir. Órla Fallon is a solo recording artist traditional music who was a member of Anúna in 1996.[40] In 2010, her PBS Christmas Special "Órla Fallon's Celtic Christmas", also released as a CD and DVD, features Anúna on the track "Away in a Manger" performing with her.[41] Deirdre Shannon began her professional career in 1996 when she became a member of Anúna and features as a soloist on the original album release of "Behind the Closed Eye" as a soloist on the track "1901". Méav Ní Mhaolchatha is a soprano recording artist. Between 1994 and 1998, Méav was a member of Anúna.[40] She has recorded numerous solos with the choir, including "Midnight", "The Lass of Glenshee", "Geantraí", "When I was in My Prime" and "The Mermaid". She appears on the albums Omnis, Deep Dead Blue and Behind the Closed Eye. Lynn Hilary was a full-time member of Anúna between 2000 and 2007.[40] She has recorded numerous solos with the choir, including "Midnight", "Codhlaím go Suan", "The Last Rose", "The Road of Passage" and "Annaghdown". She appears on the albums Christmas Songs, Invocation, Sensation and Behind the Closed Eye. In 2012 she featured as a soloist on two tracks, "Siosuram So" and "Summer Song" from the Anúna album Illumination.


Albums and DVD releases

The group has released several albums and DVDs:[42]

  • 1991 – An Uaithne (cassette only)
  • 1993 – ANÚNA (re-recorded 2005)
  • 1994 – Invocation (re-recorded 2002)
  • 1995 – Omnis (Irish edition)+
  • 1996 – Omnis (entirely re-recorded international version of the 1995 release)+
  • 1996 – Deep Dead Blue (remaster 2004)
  • 1997 – Behind the Closed Eye (remaster 2003)
  • 2000 – Cynara
  • 2002 – Winter Songs [released as Christmas Songs on Koch Records in 2004]++
  • 2003 – Essential Anúna (UK only release on Universal Records)++
  • 2005 – The Best of Anúna (European edition, different track listing to Essential)++
  • 2005 – Essential Anúna (US only on Koch Records)++
  • 2006 – Sensation
  • 2006 – "Celtic Dreams" : Méav Ní Mhaolchatha with Anúna Valley Entertainment[43]
  • 2007 – Celtic Origins [CD and DVD]
  • 2008 – Christmas Memories [CD and DVD]
  • 2009 – Invocations of Ireland [DVD]
  • 2009 – Sanctus
  • 2010 – The Best of Anúna (New Edition)++
  • 2010 – Christmas with Anúna
  • 2012 – Illumination
  • 2014 – Illuminations
  • 2015 – Revelation

+ Both albums amalgamated into a single remastered release in 2003.

++ Indicates compilation

Recorded Collaborations


  1. ^ a b Allmusic Biography
  2. ^ a b c Anúna Official Site: Biography
  3. ^ The Anúna Official Website
  4. ^ The Journal of Music in Ireland : January/February edition 2002
  5. ^ Hot Press : 27 November 1996
  6. ^ a b c Rossow, Stacie Lee, "The Choral Music of Irish Composer Michael McGlynn" (2010): [8]
  7. ^ The RTÉ Guide : 6 December 1996
  8. ^ Marrolli, Karen, "An Overview of the Choral Music of Michael McGlynn with a Conductor’s Preparatory Guide to His Celtic Mass" (2010): [9]
  9. ^ a b All Music Guide: [10]
  10. ^ Billboard, 13 May 1995: [11]
  11. ^ "ChartArchive - The Chart Archive". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  12. ^ The Irish Times : Friday 23 December 1994
  13. ^ "King Gaybo wins top award by a landslide". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "Anúna at the Celtic Cafe". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Michael McGlynn at The Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland
  16. ^ Interview with Eimear Quinn
  17. ^ Irish Music Magazine : December 1997
  18. ^ Al-Mushahid Assiyasi [vol. 4 Issue 115] 24–30 May 1998
  19. ^ The Sunday Herald: Classical touch to send Riverdance into the deep, deep blue
  20. ^ The Irish News : 7 September 2002
  21. ^ Elevation Website
  22. ^ All Music Guide [12]
  23. ^ All Music Guide [13]
  24. ^ Anuna website "About Us"
  25. ^ gravitate (4 August 2010). "RTÉ Orchestras: RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra The Seven-Thirty Summer Evening Concert Series". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  26. ^ The Wiggles Official Website
  27. ^ "Anúna to join Clannad in Concert » Irish Music Magazine". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  28. ^ [14]
  29. ^ National Concert Hall website
  30. ^ "Chart Moves: Beyonce's 'Love' Doesn't Last, Drops 20-70 on Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "Tohoku kids to get Irish cheer". The Japan Times. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Anúna Website News
  34. ^ "Exclusive: Meet Diablo III's sound team, samples included". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  35. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (7 February 2014). "Diablo 3 sales hit 15m as WOW subs rise".  
  36. ^ The Anúna Official Website
  37. ^ The Anúna Official Website
  38. ^ Interview with Lucy Champion, Musical Discoveries
  39. ^ "Hozier - Interview". GoldenPlec. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  40. ^ a b c d "Past Members of Anúna 1997 to 2009". 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  41. ^ Orla Fallon Official Website
  42. ^ Allmusic: Albums
  43. ^ "Valley Entertainment Celtic Dreams". Retrieved 8 February 2015. 

External links

  • Anúna's Official Site
  • Anúna on iTunes
  • Michael McGlynn's webpage
  • interview with Michael McGlynn, Choralnet USA
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