Ryan Garnham

BASS BARITONE

I was fifteen and at Wallace High School when I first encountered choral music. I was thrown into the deep end with the basses of the school choir Capella. Thanks to David Falconer our teacher, Michael’s music was a big part of our repertoire and the very first piece I learned with Capella was his ‘Dúlamán’. The Irish language was very alien to me and I couldn’t understand why our choir was singing in it. Why we couldn’t just make life easier for ourselves singing in English! But as I looked into Anúna further online, I realised that this group had already achieved so much and were an internationally renowned ambassador for Irish music. I particularly enjoyed the rhythm that the Irish pieces in their repertoire had. When I was about eleven I joined a pipe band as a snare drummer, I believe that the ingrained sense of the traditional idiom of reels, jigs and hornpipes was invaluable for me to properly appreciate and understand the Irish/Scots-Gaelic pieces Michael has written.

 Image Michael McGlynn

Image Michael McGlynn

Anúna is unique in that it brings together singers from many different musical backgrounds whether - traditional, classical, opera and instrumental musicians. When I joined first this was a real surprise to me. Surely to be a world-class vocal group the priority should be that each singer had a very high standard of classical vocal training? But no, this is not the case. For me it is this point that sets Anúna aside from many choral groups. ANÚNA don’t try to sound like someone or something else, and we don’t hide from the ‘imperfections’ of the individual voice. It is this that makes us sound human and allows us to be accessible to our audience. I think that a classical vocal education is a huge bonus, but it is possible for some to lose what comes instinctively to them as singers. 

In one of my final school concerts I sang the solo of Michael’s arrangement of the Spanish hymn ‘Ríu Ríu’ and just under two years after I sang the same solo with ANÚNA on our Dutch tour in April 2018. This was a surreal and special moment for me. As the youngest member of the group I am very grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have already gained, in particular at the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ in September 2017 where we sang in front of thousands of people in Enniskillen.

A big part of my life and identity is my Christian faith, and I try to celebrate that through my performance. I sincerely believe that my gifts and talent are given to me by God, and I am very happy to continue to develop them as part of this very special ensemble.