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Stage Magazine UK

The following review of Anúna's London concert in April 1997 appeared in 

St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. 18/4/1997 

Review by Graham Gurrin


Full marks to Michael McGlynn for both stepping back from Riverdance and turning down Michael Flatley's request to join Lord of the Dance, and concentrating instead on putting Anúna back on the concert platform. Anúna is a group of nine men and nine women who sing a mixture of traditional songs and religious and Medieval texts in exquisite harmonies arranged by McGlynn. As well as having a beautiful voice himself, he has also managed to encourage some 80 singers through the group since it began in embryonic form at Trinity College, Dublin ten years ago.

 

Christopher Wren's glorious 17th Century building in Piccadilly was the perfect venue for the group's first headlining London performance. In song after song they displayed not just the ability to hit the right notes, but also to achieve that exquisite blend of dynamics and tones that sets the hair on the back of the neck tingling.

 

There were many highlights, such as Quis est Deus, during which the men sang a bass drone standing in a line before the altar, back-lit, the women walking slowly around the church, candles lighting their faces. The effect was extraordinary, both aurally and visually. Jerusalem - not the Blake hymn - was another set-piece. The women sang alone, walking around the church, and singing out of time with each other - heterophony - and the mixture of skill and beauty was rewarded with tumultuous applause. It sounds heavy, but McGlynn's amiable and light-hearted introductions kept the mood elegantly uplifting.