Arthur Freed once brilliantly put it: ‘I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain; what a wonderful feeling, I’m happy again’. To me, singing is freedom. Singing is happiness. I have been singing as long as I can remember. Growing up in Bavaria, I learned a lot of German folk songs from my family, particularly my mom, from a very young age and then participated in all sorts of musicals and choirs when I came into school. I played the piano and the cello as well, but singing always got ahead those other two. I noticed when I grew older that every summer holidays when I wasn’t singing with these groups that my heart started sobbing.
Something was suddenly missing from my life. I realised that strangely, singing with other people was almost like a drug to me. The moment you make music together a bond between you and everyone else emerges. The longer you practice this bond it’s like you’re becoming part of one family. When you really feel this connection with the people around you it’s almost ecstatic, addictive. After experiencing moments like that I felt like my heart could burst, like I’d imagine Arthur Freed would feel, singing outside in the rain with no other care in the world.
When I moved to Ireland in 2012, I didn’t have any family here, but I found one first in the Maynooth University Chamber Choir, various other ensembles in and around Dublin and then in Anúna in 2017. I think this sense of a family is because all our voices unite to convey one message, one story together. We feel together, we breath together, and if this is done right, it’s been proven that even singer’s heartbeats synchronise. It is such an intimate and delicate thing to do, that brings you closer to the people around you on an emotional level that no other art form ever could. Music and particularly singing is an universal language that is understood by all. When I joined Anúna, this became more prominent to me than ever before. My singing and my understanding of singing has entirely changed since.
The importance of the collective breath, feeling and understanding of story and music has become more significant than ever, as we don’t have a conductor. I think that this makes the expression of Anuna’s music more honest and real than any other vocal ensemble with conductor ever could. There is no blockade between us and the audience. That is what touches the audience and makes it so special to them. Going to an Anúna concert means becoming part of this intimate circle, for those short moments they’re are part of the family: Listening to a story that is told to you, reaching out and understanding. In fact, audiences help us when they breath with us, after all it is what unites as all. Breath is the start of the circle of life that keeps Fortunas’ wheel moving. In that sense Anúna concerts are more interactive than one might think.
To me Anúna is this incredibly special group of people that keeps one very important and intimate part of Irish culture alive that is based on the sean-nós tradition: To tell stories and connect with the people listening. As a foreigner I consider myself so very lucky to experience and be part of this.
After singing with different vocal ensembles for most of my life I don’t think I could ever be happy without being part of a vocal family. I’m a lost cause, without it my life would be empty. It is the emotional bond built through music that makes it so addictive, and so far Anúna is the strongest drug of that kind I have yet experienced.