American member with a Doctorate in Curriculum Development. Creator, founder, workshop director of the READERS™ Program (Rapid English Assimilation Developing English Reading and Speaking). Anúna scholar turned member.
I’ve never been one to consider myself a professional singer by trade. In fact, it was my ambition to be a music educator/choral conductor from the age of 16, when my high school choir director introduced me to Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, and as I sang the tenor note that stayed on one pitch while the other voices flowed up and down around me, that I realized the power of dissonance, vocal flow, and community created through singing. That was my turning point. I became a choral director and for 20 years have been working with ensembles, both large and small, as a conductor and clinician on choral sound and techniques.
Years later, while living in Shanghai, China and teaching at an international British school, Anúna set a China tour and Michael contacted me, asking for a sound bite to see if I’d possibly be able to tour with the group. I’ll never forget when he said “that sounds great, now send me a sample of you sounding like YOU, not like what you think Anúna should sound like.”
That is Anúna, and that is what I call a “McGlynn-ism.”
Michael McGlynn gathers those around him to sing as themselves, and not once has he ever manipulated voices into a sound he desires. Rather, he uses the approach of organic mixture of sounds, and that creates the unique and singer-owned sound that sets Anúna apart from all other ensembles.
My ideology shifted 10 years ago when I moved overseas and began my doctoral studies in curriculum development, with the desire to reach third-world countries with a technique in rapid language assimilation. I have used techniques that I developed during this to to further my own understanding of adapting to other languages, such as Gaelic, and as an American member of Anúna, I have soaked in the information that both Michael and other members of Anúna offer during rehearsals, and as feedback after concerts.
As I travel the world and engage in workshops with the READERS program, I always bring to the forefront of my delivery those ideals that Michael instills in the members of Anúna: be yourself but be willing to change and evolve. You see, Michael’s approach to music is not just about creating the unique sound that is Anúna; Michaels approach to music is holistic, and one that is in line with my desire to develop as a whole person, not just a vocalist. It is evident in the text he uses, the influences he pulls from, and the invention that he shares constantly.
To me, Anúna, despite what others may say, is not a choir. Anúna is a community, where every performance varies, adapts to the makeup of the particular members of that ensemble at the time, and presents powerful and meaningful music with the sound of many breathing as one. With each tour is a different sound, and the members come together with the same mission: to embrace each performance as its own unique happening.
From a conductor who studied Michael’s music, a director who programmed his music in my own ensembles, a workshop leader who introduced directors to his music, and now a member of Anúna for the past four years, I can say the development of my own approach to music has steered away from the “American approach” to choral environments, and has delved deeper into a sense of performance… one that is about sharing a breath, delivering a unique sound, and developing the spirit, thanks to this rich experience with Michael's ensemble. Anúna has helped me to embrace what I uniquely offer, and stop fretting over what I assume others expect of me.
We breathe as one, tell stories old and new, and embrace each experience as its own unique opportunity of expression. And we sing as ourselves, coming together to create a concoction of sound that is Anúna.