My Anúna journey began at the 2018 Anúna Summer School. In truth, at this point I had had little prior exposure to Anúna. I was a new (but awed) listener and had only experienced Michael’s music online. I didn’t believe that the summer school would be much different to any other ensemble singing experience I had had before. I also didn’t foresee the extent to which Anúna would impact my life from that week on.
Pre-Summer School I believed ensemble singing required two things:
A conductor. An external party who dictates the pace, dynamics, and overall sound of the group.
To blend. Even if achieving this “blend” compromised my natural way of singing.
Anúna’s approach to singing proves that neither of these are prerequisites. What is required is an awareness of oneself, of one’s fellow singers, and of the words one is singing. Rather than rely on a conductor, we rely on our unified breath. Our breath sets the pace and allows us to communicate without words or physical gestures.
As someone who spent years struggling to make the transition from soloist to chorister and back again, Anúna provides a unique singing experience in which I can simply sing as myself. I am neither soloist nor chorister. I am simply Deirdre. I do not need to change how I sing to meet the expectations or standards of my fellow singers. Perhaps this is also largely to do with the fact that there is no standard. Part of the beauty of Anúna is that its members come from various types of musical backgrounds. We all bring our own unique sound. But we bring it with sensitivity and awareness to those we sing with, and to the words we sing.
Looking back to that first immersive week with Anúna, it is interesting to see how my outlook on singing, both as an ensemble member and soloist has changed. I perceive music and words differently. I approach singing differently. With every rehearsal, it’s hard to not get more immersed in the words, the music, and the people with whom I sing. As we approach the 2019 Summer School, I am encouraged by how much I have learned in the year that has passed, but even more excited about how much more there still is to learn and experience with Anúna.