For over twenty years now, Irish choir Anúna has been pushing the envelope of choral music and not for that reason but purely as a side-effect of the unique sound their visionary director Michael McGlynn has endeavored to bring forth from the recesses of his own musical mind. Quite simply, they sound unlike any other singing group on the planet and we are the richer for it.
I have been a fan of Anúna and Michael's for many years and when Blizzard Entertainment's audio director and composer Russell Brower told me that he was looking for a unique and "different" sound for Diablo III, Anúna instantly sprung to mind. Two years after that conversation we found ourselves at Windmill Lane in Dublin with not one but two legendary recording engineers, John Kurlander and Brian Masterson recording the group Russell had chosen to represent the seductive voices of hell (!) for this immense project.
More about that later - I have a whole essay to write about the unbelievable experience we had on Diablo III.
Last night at Dublin's National Concert Hall I got to experience the choir as an audience member - with the added treat of John McGlynn's singing/song-writing - as they performed Michael's stunning arrangements and two of Russell's pieces from D3. I was more than mildly entertained to see the Classical organ at the NCH adorned with flames in wonderfully lit theatrics characteristic of an Anúna show (The profanity! Love it!).
The live sound that Brian Masterson got for the choir - which he has specially designed for them over years of working with Michael - was nothing short of exquisite.
Michael has set so many beautiful ancient texts, folk songs, chants and literary gems for the choir but I have to admit, having loved everything on the program and being an avid fan of early and renaissance music it was Michael's arrangement of The Derry Air (Danny Boy) that brought a tear to my eye. The arrangement has a beauty of understanding that could only come from the heart of a true Irish man.
Danny Boy is a tough one to tackle as most Irish people can't decide whether they love it or hate it. Mostly we're sick to death of it! Suffice it to say, it has taken Michael 25 years - he says himself - to tackle that particular monster and let's just say he charmed it into submission.
When Russell, John, Joey Ray Hall and I arrived in Dublin to being working with the group they chose this arrangement as a warm up and had all of us in tears - soft eejits that we are! It was such a joy to share the arrangement with Blizzard's resident über genius, Chris Metzen, who despite the last name is actually one of "my people" and was thus affected in the appropriate manner for a true Paddy.
After experiencing the weird vibe in Dublin over the last few days and noticing how many of our young people are simply missing after hundreds of thousands having emigrated; after reading more about how our elder statesmen's unpatriotic greed has indebted us for generations; it was this world-class group of Irish artists that reminded me of my pride as an Irish woman. As usual, it is our artists that represent our true nature and replenish our flagging souls.
I will have more about all of this - photos etc - in later posts when I finally get to share some of the absolute joy we experienced on recording the D3 soundtrack.
You can learn more about Anúna here.
I received an email today from choral group SACRA/PROFANA's director Krishan Oberoi, including a link to the video below.
I got the opportunity to work with this fabulous group at our SOTG Comic Con performance with the San Diego Symphony. Their energy and enthusiasm was infectious and they sang their hearts out for us.
Krishan has a great vision for the choir and when we worked together they had just shot the video for his arrangement of Marroon 5's Payphone.
Although very different musically, like Anúna, this is a group out there in the world pushing the envelope and bringing their own brand of joy to thousands. I also love the fact that they don't limit themselves to any particular genre and are at home - and fabulously happy - in whichever genre they choose to inhabit.
Of course I get a great kick out of hearing "proper" choral singers singing "THE F WORD" (as we call it in the US; In Ireland we just say it) in a terribly proper way.
Adam Levine would be so proud!
Now does sing-swearing fall into the category of sacred or profane then Krishan?
It's like Schönberg's sprech-gesang only... so much more wholesome.
You can learn more about Sacra/Profana here.