|Team Members||Fionnuala Sherry, Rolf Løvland|
|Gender||Female (Fionnuala), Male (Rolf)|
Secret Garden is a duo made up of Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry and Norwegian pianist Rolf Løvland. It started as an instrumental band and first gained worldwide attention when they won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 with “Nocturne“, a track loved by many of their fans. Secret Garden releases mostly instrumental albums, although it is not unusual to have guest vocalists singing for some of their songs, the most notable one being their recent album “Inside I’m Singing”, which is a full vocal album.
Secret Garden’s music is best described as New Age or Neo-classical. The genre is described below. While it might not be common knowledge, Secret Garden (Rolf Løvland) is the original composer of the much acclaimed song “You Raise Me Up“, which has been sang, recorded, re-arranged by hundreds of other artists.
- Background and Career
- New Age
- External Links
Rolf Løvland was born in Kristiansand in Norway. He started composing at an early age and later went on to study music and received his Masters degree at the Norwegian Institute of Music. Fionnula Sherry grew up in Ireland and was brought up in a musical family. She started playing violin at the age of eight, and eventually moved to Dublin to study music and later graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and the College of Music.
Secret Garden started in 1994 when Rolf Løvland first met Fionnula Sherry. In 1995, their song “Nocturne” won the Eurovision Song Contest for Norway, and the success gained them their first album “Songs from a Secret Garden”. It was very well received internationally.
In the next few years, several albums, “White Stones”, “Dawn of a New Century”, “Dreamcatcher”, were released and they were highly praised, scoring chart hit around the world.
New Age is defined as a genre of music that produces inspiration and positive feelings, in a way it can be thought of as a healing type of music. It is usually not determined by the use of devices in its creation, but more on the feeling or atmosphere it gives. However, with that said, string instruments like violin and piano are used more commonly than others.
This section details some of the albums released by Secret Garden. Note that this is not a complete discography. Each album listed contains a few handpicked sample tracks that I personally adore. Also, the albums are sorted by personal favourites.
Note: Additional “sample” link is included if the stream doesn’t work.
- Ultimate Secret Garden (August, 2004)
- Song from a Secret Garden (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-songfromasecretgarden.mp3?attredirects=0
- Nocturne (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-nocturne.mp3?attredirects=0
- Serenade to Spring
- Passacaglia (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-passacaglia.mp3?attredirects=0
- You Raise Me Up (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-youraisemeup.mp3?attredirects=0
- Prayer (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-prayer.mp3?attredirects=0
- Hymn to Hope
- Chaconne (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-chaconne.mp3?attredirects=0
- Sigma (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-sigma.mp3?attredirects=0
- In Our Tears
- Heartstrings (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-heartstrings.mp3?attredirects=0
- The Rap
- Moving (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-moving.mp3?attredirects=0
- Hymn to Hope (feat. Youngok Shin) (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-hymntohope(feat.youngokshin).mp3?attredirects=0
- Song from a Secret Garden (feat. Youngok Shin)
- Steps (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-steps.mp3?attredirects=0
- Pastorale (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-pastorale.mp3?attredirects=0
- Sona (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-sona.mp3?attredirects=0
- Windancer (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-windancer.mp3?attredirects=0
- Song from a Secret Garden
- Ode to Simplicity
- Dreamcatcher (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/ultimatesecretgarden-dreamcatcher.mp3?attredirects=0
- Dawn of a New Century
Ultimate it is, the album. “Ultimate Secret Garden” is a compilation album with all the best themes from “Songs from a Secret Garden”, “White Stones”, “Dawn of a New Century” and “Once in a Red Moon” compressed into a single and absolute album. Disc 2 (track 21-30) contains songs performed in “A Night with Secret Garden”, a live concert held in 1999, Norway. Since this is such a great album, choosing which not to sample is a feat.
Nocturne is one of the earliest songs written (in 1992), and as commented by Rolf himself, “[it] is a simple melody inspired by traditional moods“. To qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest, 24 words were added and Gunnhild Tvinnereim was invited to sing for it. Nocturne, along with Song from a Secret Garden, another signature track for the duo, are possibly some of the best music pieces they have created. The beautiful, soulful violin played by Fionnuala should melt anyone’s heart.
Even though Secret Garden’s music is generally considered to be New Age, some tracks have a more classical influence than others, like Chaconne, Passacaglia and Heartstrings, while Moving, Steps, Sona and Windancer are better representatives of the New Age genre. With that said, the difference is not always clear-cut and it can be subjective, although I see little reason in emphasizing it – if you enjoy the music, why does the genre matter?
Prayer is another lovely, lovely track. Its soft lyrics, beautifully hymned by Scottish singer Karen Matheson, and the angelic arrangement portray the surrender to the spirits and call for protection when one is feeling vulnerable or weak. The title could not be more fitting. The final track I’d like to touch a little is the popular song You Raise Me Up. I am sure most would have listened to several different versions of the song before, but this is the first and original version sung by Brian Kennedy and Tracey Campbell-Nation. As much as it is the original, I don’t find it as appealing as some of the newer arrangements, but that’s just my humble little opinion.
“Ultimate Secret Garden” is the album to get if you are new to Secret Garden. If you do come to enjoy their music, it’s worth getting the original albums, namely “Songs From a Secret Garden”, “White Stones”, “Dawn of a New Century” and “Once in a Red Moon”, as they contain some other tracks that are not collected here. Lastly, I’d like to comment that I sincerely believe it is difficult to dislike Secret Garden’s amazing instrumental music.
- Earthsongs (June, 2008; Original release: March, 2005)
- Sometimes When It Rains (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-sometimeswhenitrains.mp3?attredirects=0
- Fields of Fortune (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-fieldsoffortune.mp3?attredirects=0
- Always There
- When Darkness Falls (Ode to Kvaase)
- Sleepsong (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-sleepsong.mp3?attredirects=0
- Lotus (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-lotus.mp3?attredirects=0
- Searching for the Past
- Silence Speaks (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-silencespeaks.mp3?attredirects=0
- Daughters of Erin
- Half a World Away (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-halfaworldaway.mp3?attredirects=0
- Canzona (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden1/media/earthsongs-canzona.mp3?attredirects=0
- Raise Your Voices
Somehow I find the album a little more classical compared to their older work, nevertheless, it is still a marvelous album. Sleepsong is perhaps the most exceptional track of the album, blessed with Irish singer Saoirse’s mellifluous voice, Sleepsong is more than just a lullaby – it will probably send one off to the Heavens instead of dreams *laughs*. Another interesting track is Lotus, featuring Chinese string instrument erhu gorgeously played by Bian Liunian. There are also few vocal themes in Earthsongs, Always There by Brian Kennedy, Sleepsong as mentioned before by Saoirse and Half a World Away by Jan Werner Danielsen (Sometimes When It Rains is the original instrumental version).
There is a limited number of adjectives you can use to describe Secret Garden’s music. In the end, it just boils down to that special feeling you experience when listening to their music. In conclusion, Earthsongs is yet another piece of art beautifully crafted by the two talented musicians.
- Inside I’m Singing (November, 2007)
- Nocturne <Anne Tackle> (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-nocturne.mp3?attredirects=0
- Thank You <Peter Jöback>
- Things You Are to Me <Elaine Paige> (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-thethingsyouaretome.mp3?attredirects=0
- If Came the Hour <Tommy Korberg> (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-ifcamethehour.mp3?attredirects=0
- Theme from the Mermaid Chair (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-themefromthemermaidchair.mp3?attredirects=0
- Sometimes a Prayer Will Do <Tracey Campbell>
- Song for a Stormy Night <Steinar Albrigtsen>
- I’ve Dreamed of You <Barbra Streisand >
- Did I Not Love You <Peter Corry>
- Simply You <Niamh Kavanagh> (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-simplyyou.mp3?attredirects=0
- My Land <Espen Grjotheim>
- Sortie (sample) http://sites.google.com/site/depthcharge101secretgarden2/media/insidei'msinging-sortie.mp3?attredirects=0
- You Raise Me Up <Brian Kennedy>
Secret Garden’s latest album, with a twist – it is a full vocal album. Various guest singers are invited to sing for both new and old compositions of their work. If I were to describe the album in a line, I’d say the songs are closer to 80’s/90’s pop than their previous New Age, Neo-classical music. But of course I don’t mean it in a bad way, it just… has a different flavour.
Anne Tackle’s vocalized Nocturne is definitely a score in my book, her frail voice goes just so perfectly with the slightly re-arranged theme. Simply You is another vocal track that I adore. With a simple and mellow accompaniment, it further highlights Niamh Kavanagh’s alluring vocal for the sorrowful melody.
All right, I might have lied a little about the album being “full” vocal since there are two new instrumental tracks featured, Theme from the Mermaid Chair and Sortie. I’ll stop myself from repeating the praise on their instrumental music and let the samples speak for themselves.
I had mixed feelings when I first listened to the album, because it lacks the unique “something” the older albums possessed, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, the album is just different – you are bound to be disappointed if you’re constantly comparing it to their previous work. It’s probably fairer to treat it as a new, standalone piece of work from the duo. I wouldn’t say “Inside I’m Singing” is an album for everyone, but if you’re looking for some nostalgic 80s/90s pop music, this is an album you wouldn’t want to miss.
- Official website (English)
Secret Garden’s official website. Contains complete discography, background history, news, everything.
- Wikipedia (English)
Secret Garden’s Wikipedia page. Contains a brief history of the duo and discography.
- Secret Garden fansite (English)
A fansite for Secret Garden, contains track information, album reviews, etc.