"I was introduced to Michael McGlynn and the Irish group Anúna when I heard them perform at Trinity College, Dublin, years ago. It was prior to their involvement in Riverdance, of course. They came to that as a sort of found entity. In a way, it was Anúna, which gave Riverdance gravity. As with most things culturally, Ireland's ahead of Britain and this is just another example of the rest of the world catching up. Now even the Proms have discovered the beautiful sound of Anúna and the great secret of Michael McGlynn's compositions.
Michael is someone who knows music inside out and upside down. He taught me musical notation. A few years ago, when I was working with the Brodsky Quartet on The Juliet Letters, I realised that the inability to write music down was inhibiting me. He taught me and I got familiar with a lot of his compositions.
In 1995, I invited them to take part in the Meltdown festival on the South Bank. That was an incredible nine days! Anúna's CD Deep Dead Blue was one of the recordings I subsequently got involved with. The title track was written by me and Bill Frisell. It's about enjoying your melancholy, inviting the shadows. When Michael heard it at Meltdown, he said he'd like to arrange it for the choir.
A lot of the poetry the choir sings comes from deep in the Irish traditions, both religious and secular. It's fertile ground for a composer. Michael revisits a period with a modern sensibility, modern instrumentation and modern recording techniques. What impresses me is his vision, I mean, I've seen them in rehearsal and he really drives that group hard. He's after something very particular. They make an amazing sound.