1987 - 1993
An Uaithne was founded by Michael McGlynn in Dublin and their first performance was in September 1987 in Trinity College Dublin. The first television performance was an arrangement of the traditional Irish song "Máire Bhruinneal". Initial repertoire is mainly focussed on medieval and contemporary Irish music.
In 1990 a debut album is recorded and released on cassette only entitled An Uaithne. In December the choir record a track with Grammy winning Producer/Engineer Brian Masterson. This leads to a relationship that endures to today. Brian has co-produced all subsequent Anúna album releases.
In November 1991 the group sing "Mysterious Ways" by U2 on Grafton Street with John McGlynn on guitar who joins the ensemble. His priority is use of space as he is a qualified architect. It is at this point that concerts begin to feature some of the spatial effects that have become strongly associated with the group. A concert at Dublin's Project Arts Centre yields the first performance of the now classic "The Rising of the Sun", a specially commissioned work by the theatre.
1991 also features the first performance of "The Celtic Mass" by McGlynn at Trinity College, Dublin, with renowned classical singer Bernadette Greevy. In October 1992 the first solo recordings in Windmill Lane Studios yields the tracks "Salve Rex Gloriae" and "The Rising of the Sun". They record "Mo Ghille Mear" with Sting and the Chieftains and the soundtrack of Sullivan/Bluth's classic animated film Thumbelina with Barry Manilow.
In 1991 they transliterate the name An Uaithne to ANÚNA.
February 1993 Anúna record their first CD entitled ANÚNA in four hours and make their first international television appearance on the BBC TV programme The Hungry Eye.
Over-confidence results in an abortive recording in November of the second Anúna disc Invocation. This is abandoned mid-way through the session and none of the material is subsequently used, although all of it survives. The music is so different to the first CD that Michael realises that a whole new approach to recording would be needed to this second release.
1994 - 1996
Anúna give their first performance outside of Ireland at Mayfest, in Glasgow, Scotland. Anúna feature on an advert for a cider on RTÉ television. The campaign features the track "Media Vita", but is withdrawn after objections from the church. It is re-recorded as a secular piece.
In May "Riverdance", a seven minute interval segment written by Bill Whelan featuring the voices of Anúna with a solo by Dublin singer Katie McMahon and a troupe of Irish dancers is broadcast as part of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin and later that year at The Royal Variety Performance in London.
The Riverdance single spends 18 weeks at number 1 in the Irish charts and goes top 10 in the U.K. Charts. Anúna are confirmed as one of the headline acts for a full show that will begin in 1995, but fail to reach agreement with label Celtic Heartbeat over inclusion on the soundtrack of the Show. Initial pressings of the CD do not feature Anúna, but subsequently agreement is reached and the choir feature on the CD that is released again in 1995 internationally. The new album sells in excess of one million copies and wins a Grammy Award in 1996. Anúna sing with the show in London, Belfast, Ireland and New York, but Michael does not seek to renew Anúna's contract in September 1996. Most of the singers remain with Riverdance and the group reboots itself.
Meanwhile, Anúna release the second attempt at Invocation in August 1994. The release subsequently goes on to gain a National Entertainment Award for Classical music that December.
In January 1995 they make their first of many appearances at Celtic Connections, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, winning an award for "Most Popular Public Performance of the Year". In January 1995 they record "Media Vita" and "The Blue Bird" for PBS in the USA as part of a show called "A Celtic Celebration". This is the first time Anúna come to the attention of the US public.
In June they are invited by Elvis Costello to perform as his guests at Meltdown on London's South Bank. There Michael meets the singer Jeff Buckley, sharing a stage with him as a soloist, and his tragic death inspires the later album Behind the Closed Eye. Omnis is released in October '95. ANÚNA is released on the Celtic Heartbeat/Atlantic label worldwide placing at no. 11 on the Billboard World Music Charts.
1996 begins with the first performance of excerpts of Behind the Closed Eye with The Ulster Orchestra at The Ulster Hall in Belfast. Performances include first tours of Sweden, Spain and France. In Madrid they perform with Basque singer Benito Lertxundi. A further connection to Eurovision is made when Anúna singer Eimear Quinn wins the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo in 1996. Invocation is released on the Celtic Heartbeat/Polygram label. Anúna perform on "Later with Jools Holland" at the BBC in December. The album Omnis is optioned so Michael decides to re-record the release using the current ensemble, as so many of the singers that featured on the original release have departed to sing with Riverdance. The second recording of Omnis is then released worldwide closely followed in Ireland by Deep Dead Blue.
1997 - 2005
First visits to Norway, Germany, Canada and Morocco where the group are the first Irish performers to participate in the World Sacred Music Festival at Fés, returning there in 2002. They sing at the inauguration of President Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
Record and release Behind the Closed Eye with The Ulster Orchestra, record two projects with The Chieftains in collaboration with Elvis Costello, Oscar winner Brenda Fricker and Chinese singer Dadawa for The Long Journey Home and Tears of Stone. Anúna sign an exclusive recording deal with the Gimell/Philips label, home of The Tallis Scholars, who release Deep Dead Blue internationally achieving chart placing in the top 5 of the U.K. Classical Charts. In January 1999 they record a PBS TV special in Norway with Secret Garden, and appear on two of their albums as guests, including the first recording of what would become one of the most successful songs of the decade, "You Raise Me Up".
In August, Anúna perform at the The Royal Albert Hall in London at the BBC Proms. BBC2 film a performance of Behind the Closed Eye at Belfast's Waterfront Hall with the Ulster Orchestra and in January 2000 the work is repeated at the opening of Celtic Connections at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera.
First visits to Poland and Italy. Deep Dead Blue nominated for a Classical Brit Award and Cynara is released in November.
Cynara is very different to previous releases with much less emphasis on solo singing. First solo performance at Dublin's National Concert Hall. Release of award-winning programme "The Work of Angels" featuring a score of McGlynn's work performed by Anúna. First performances in the Netherlands. Perform with The Ulster Orchestra to 14,000 people in Belfast as part of the BBC Proms.
Over 2002/2003 Michael re-records Anúna and Invocation, remasters Omnis to include the best of both versions of the disc, re-masters Behind the Closed Eye and Deep Dead Blue with new vocals added to a number of tracks.
The album Winter Songs (aka Christmas Songs in the USA in 2003 on Koch International Records) is released in 2002 and is immediately successful, breaking a long drought for Anúna since departure from Riverdance.
First US tour in 2003. Derek Bell Memorial Concert in May at Dublin's Olympia Theatre with The Chieftains. First visit to Wales, Belgium and Finland where the group perform with Finnish chart-toppers Rajaton.
Release of compilation Essential Anúna on Universal Classics in the U.K. results in a placing at number 6 in the U.K. Classical Charts. This compilation is released in 2004 on Koch International (later transferring to E1 with Christmas Songs). Undertake first U.K. Tour and tour Chile and Argentina as guests of President Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
Recordings begin for Michael McGlynn's Invocations of Ireland film. First visit to Switzerland and first German tour. Release of Christmas Songs on Koch International Records in the USA which is immediately successful.
Release of "Essential Anúna" on Koch in the USA. First visit to Japan performing at Rappongi Hills in Tokyo.
2006 - 2008
CD Sensation is released - the first official CD since Cynara in 1999. This album marks a turning point for the group. It features the compositional work of Michael McGlynn exclusively. Guest artists include Breton singer Gilles Servat who takes a narration role on the title track.
US show Celtic Woman becomes massively successful in the USA, and features, over the next few years, five Anúna singers in leading roles including Lynn Hilary, Orla Fallon and Éabha McMahon. Artists in residence at Festival 500, Newfoundland. First substantial Japanese tour and release of Cynara there.
Recording of TV special ANÚNA - Celtic Origins in Cleveland USA for PBS TV with Elevation Group. The programme is carried by in excess of 220 PBS Channels and the album titled Anúna : Celtic Origins is number one on Soundscan for World Music. Eight singers from Anúna, led by John McGlynn, travel across the USA in August on a promotional tour of Border's stores. 2007 ends with a nine week tour of the full group, with guest violinist Linda Lampenius, of the USA in Autumn. Venues include New York Town Hall, Orchestra Hall Minneapolis and Berklee Performance Centre, Boston.
Recording begins in June 2008 for a second Elevation collaboration Christmas Memories with Maryland Public Television for PBS. Six singers travel across the USA for a month promoting the Special at Border's instore performances. The programme achieves 80% coverage on PBS Channels, and the CD peaks at number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100 Album Charts. "Ding Dong Merrily on High" reaches number 26 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Charts. Anúna - Celtic Origins wins four Telly Awards. The group debut in Amsterdam with a solo performance at the Concertgebouw, one of the most famous classical music venues in the world. This continues a special relationship with audiences in the Netherlands.
2009 - 2011
Release of Invocations of Ireland, Michael McGlynn's self-made film on DVD. Licenced to Columbia in Japan and released with Japanese version of Sensation in December for Japanese tour. Invocations of Ireland released on DVD and broadcast across Australia and New Zealand. Anúna give their first performance with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland at the NCH Dublin in a concert of Michael's work. The group set up an Education Programme led by Lucy Champion.
The group embark on their first Irish tour...
2010 recording of a DVD and CD with Australian group The Wiggles, the most successful children's entertainers in the world. Anúna dance with dressage horses in Kristiansand, Norway.
2011 begins with an invitation from Clannad to be their special guests for their Dublin performances at Christ Church Cathedral, celebrating forty years in the music industry. It also marks Anúna's first tour of China, and they receive a rapturous welcome. Other performance include Tours des Sites in Belgium in front of an audience of 7,000 people. They record the soundtrack to the video game Diablo III, representing the voices of Hell. The video game subsequently goes on to be massively successful in 2012, selling 3.5 million units on its first day of release and 12 million units in its first year. Anúna's contribution earns them a Game Audio Network Guild nomination.
The most significant event that year occurs when Anúna visit Iwake, Fukushima just after the tsunami and give a workshop 40km from the stricken reactor. The group returned to the area in 2014 to a revitalised and renewed prefecture.
2011 marks a significant turning point for Anúna. The first Anúna International Choral Summer School takes place with delegates coming from five countries. By 2016 they attend from 16 countries. That same year as Michael's first visit to the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Chicago thus opening up an enduring connection with the choral music fraternity in the USA for the first time.
These events begin a process that takes some years to complete - the creation of definitions for The Anúna Technique of choral performance. This new methodology is based on the unique history and performance practices of Anúna. It continues to develop and expand with each passing year led by Lucy Champion.
2012 - 2014
2012 marks the release of Illumination to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Anúna. The disc features the solo voice of singer Andrew Hozier Byrne on the opening track. Hozier, as he is better known, performed with Anúna first at Christmas 2007 and grew as a performance artist throughout his time with the group taking lead vocals on a number of classic Anúna pieces.
To celebrate the anniversary Anúna feature in a solo performance at Dublin's National Concert Hall. Repertoire includes material spanning the entire catalogue of Anúna including the "Chanson de Mardi Gras" (1991) and a performance of excerpts from the soundtrack of Diablo III. When this video is posted online it crashes the Anúna website...
2013 includes Anúna's first tour of Canada and an ever expanding series of workshops which culminate in the second Anúna International Summer School. This event held in June has thirteen countries represented among the attendees and facilitators include Charles Bruffy, Artistic Director of the Phoenix and Kansas City Chorales and Dr. Stacie Lee Rossow of Florida Atlantic University. For the first time the majority of members come from outside of the Republic of Ireland, with the main body coming from Northern Ireland. Singers now come from Sicily, The Netherlands, The UK, The USA and Slovenia.
2014 marks a watershed year for Anúna, defining and developing the ensemble. Illumination is withdrawn from sale and reissued as Illuminations, completely remastered with new vocals and remixes. Michael McGlynn states that the original release aimed to "hide" a true connection with the singers, while this version puts the performer in the room with the listener and is a much more immediate and vital experience. The album now includes the work of Finnish violinist Linda Lampenius on three tracks, a long-time collaborator with the group. The first sessions begin on the next Anúna album in December, to be released in 2015.
Revelation is completed in early 2015 and marks a watershed for the choir. Now featuring a pool of approximately twenty five singers from eight countries, the group develops repertoire and techniques to allow for non-amplified performances, and the album reflects the increasing virtuosity of Anúna. The title track is a semi-improvised piece, created on the day of recording using fragments of harmony and melody.
Anúna give their first performance in England in a decade as part of the London A Cappella Festival on the invitation of The Swingle Singers. Michael, accompanied by Anúna singers Dónal Kearney and Eabha McMahon, give a major presentation on Anúna and his compositions in relation to their influence. This includes performances of sean nós traditional singing at ACDA National Conference at Salt Lake City, Utah in March 2015. In August the group give a performance at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, China's premiere classical music venue located in Beijing which is a sell-out.