Gavin Brennan 


Sound is all around us. Music, as one form of sound, is everywhere in our daily lives, influencing us both consciously and unconsciously.

I was always fascinated by music and what it can do. As a child I couldn’t resist reacting to the sounds I was hearing, responding to every beat, phrase, or colour with movement. Although I don’t come from a musical family, I come from a creative one. My parents encouraged my natural response to music initially through dance before I took up playing the saxophone at age ten. 

As a saxophonist, I went on to study Music Performance at undergraduate and masters level. I was always drawn to performance of new, or ‘contemporary’ music, particularly music composed in Ireland. It was an exciting prospect to be a part of something. To create as opposed to recreate. I always felt Irish music shouldn’t be restricted or defined by genre. I went on to curate a number of concerts designed to blend traditional and contemporary Irish music. Michael McGlynn’s instrumental music wasthe perfect way to link everything together, transcending the boundaries of genre. 

My first interaction with Michael’s music as a performer came back in 2013. I was nominated for the Irish Young Musician of the Year Competition and I felt it would be fitting to perform a work by an Irish composer. Discovering ‘From Nowhere to Nowhere’ was a special moment for me. Although it’s a short piece, it said so much. It did what I always felt music should do. It told a story. Over the next few years I often included Michael’s pieces in my performances. His writing allowed me to say what I always wanted to say as a performer. 

As a saxophonist I’ve always been drawn to Michael McGlynn’s compositions. They transcend a musical space within which I love to perform. This in turn led me to explore the vocal music of ANÚNA, a wonderfully diverse community of expression upon itself. As a singer the majority of my experience, a college choir aside, has been sitting at my piano singing pop songs. However from my first rehearsal with ANÚNA I felt at home. 

The members of ANÚNA come from a diverse array of backgrounds, but all of them are musicians in their own rights. The way the group rehearses and performs really resonated with me. Each voice is unique, but unified with intent. Two things in particular define ANÚNA for me; storytelling and the breath. These two aspects are so crucial to, and natural in our daily lives, but yet are rare to be held with such importance in music. These two factors, both of which I always tried to harness for my own performance, were my gateway into ANÚNA. 

The breath is key. It's such a fundamental aspect of life. And it informs the music, linking performer, composer and listener in a moment.

I'm a huge believer in the ability for music to tell a story without words. Even though the most beautiful texts in the pieces we perform, ANÚNA does just that. The music and intent alone can tell the story. When combined with the words, it can then be extremely powerful. Despite being viewed by many as strongly linked with the island of Ireland, ANÚNA don’t exclusively perform in the Irish language. Although many of the group’s singers come from the island of Ireland, many of the members are drawn from other nationalities. Michael’s compositions are strongly influenced by the history and mythology of Ireland and beyond. However, no matter what language ANÚNA perform in, there is still a connection or experience to be found for each listener.

ANÚNA to some would represent the landscape, philosophy and the mythology of the island itself. Michael McGlynn’s compositions showcase these images through the eyes and stories of ordinary people. These aspects of Ireland can be ancient and are in some ways timeless. 

If the island of Ireland could sing, I really believe ANÚNA would be its sound.