riverdance   10

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Riverdance  from twitter
december 2011 by docrock
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Cartoons  Dance  Ireland  Landscape  Riverdance  Travel  from google
march 2010 by olive
Riverdance
I recently stumbled on a performance of the original Riverdance on YouTube. This video comes from the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. It’s interesting to read retrospective assessments of this six-minute segment, and it turns out that it is sixteen years old in 2010.



Anúna and my part in Riverdance consisted of creating an atmospheric introduction to the two-minute segment that makes up the beginning of the entire work using the music of Bill Whelan. He was very familiar at that time with both my own compositions and the specifically unique sound we make. I remember having a conversation with him in January of 1994 where he described his vision of the opening segment of the piece as a helicopter shot, with the choir on a raft in the middle of the Liffey – mad but brilliant. In the end we were filmed at 3am on Howth Head overlooking the city of Dublin [rather a nightmarish experience], and it still managed to look like a studio shot.

I had been exposed to the supersonic tones of English singers like Emma Kirkby, who came from a cathedral tradition, and the vocal sound I favoured in Anúna very pure and unadorned with unnecessary affectation. This is the “Anuna” sound – with the added element of humanity that I particularly strive for. We were powerful and fragile, immediate and human. When I developed our sound, 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, rarely as a genuine unit and rarely for the audience. The short vocal section, also known as “Cloudsong” still resonates with many people today, particularly those interested in choral and vocal music. Many people have informed me over the years that Anúna’s contribution to Riverdance was the highlight of the Show [which debuted in 1995]. This continues to surprise me, but I do know that the impact of our voices played a part in the world-wide success that followed.

Ireland took off after this performance. Summer 1994 was the crest of a great wave, and we were 18 weeks at number one in the Irish charts and in the upper reaches of the U.K. Top Twenty for much of it. I remember walking through the streets that year listening to “Riverdance” blaring out of every car stereo and shop in the city. Strangely enough Sinéad Ó Connor released a song “Famine” at the same time which exposed a rotten underbelly to society that was largely ignored at the time. She seemed to be saying something different to us, and I think with time her view was much more grounded in reality than the rest of ours.

We were overnight household names, which meant very little to me but the singers had a great time on the back of it. Despite the initial success it was with a light heart that I pulled the group out of the show in September 1996 and I have never looked back since with any regret at all. There were many reasons for leaving the Show, but the main one was that I had not been trained to participate in the music industry, nor had any business background. I had little interest in the financial gains, and huge interest in maintaining Anúna as a vibrant and developing group. More importantly, I am a composer, and I needed to use the instrument I had created to develop my craft. During the year and a half I was part of Riverdance I released three records of my own work, Invocation, Omnis and Deep Dead Blue, and I think that is why I survived the experience intact.

Sixteen years later the name Anúna rings much less of a bell with many Irish people than it did then. The version of Ireland that Riverdance was the figurehead for has come crashing down spectacularly around our ears. Despite the huge boost it gave to Ireland’s cultural brand it sadly had no effect on Irish choral music, and Anúna remain “unique” in every sense of the word. There is no development of an Irish choral voice beyond what we do, and that is disappointing. Ireland Inc. has fallen so far and so quickly that it seems we were obviously not the little pig that built his house of stone.

The Ireland that Riverdance came from was one built on hope, patriotism and a good education system but it was also built on dynasties of mediocre parochial politicians, business nepotism and greed. The vast bulk of our population is made up of hard-working decent people, with strong values. It amazes me how they tolerated the abuses of these type of people. So often as a nation we used to complain about petty corruption and a government system where no one resigned due to incompetence. Here we have a term – “cute-hoorism” – it sums up much of what went on over the past decade and a half. Those with the right connections made untold millions while everyone else fed into the artificial bubble that they were blowing up. Coupled with a “spend, spend, spend” mentality, we were on our way to a disaster.

I have to say I hated that Ireland. It is hard to explain to non-Irish people the current mood of the ordinary citizen of this country. Our society is now littered with people whose lives have been shattered by incompetent politicians and greed.

For all of that, I think that in the long run we will be a better society as a result of this and far less tolerant of our inequitable State, so maybe it is appropriate to look back on Riverdance and try to remember what it was that made us so proud of our country and our spirit that night in 1994.
Articles_about_Anuna  anuna  celtic_tiger  michael_mcglynn  riverdance  from google
november 2009 by mommybird

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