Journey to the Secret Garden

13 Nov 2014 / 14:32 H.

MUSIC fans had a chance to watch one of new age’s biggest acts onstage – Secret Garden – comprising Norwegian composer-pianist Rolf LØvland and Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry.
It was the first time that the two had ever performed in Malaysia, and they brought along their band and two singers for the one-night-only Secret Garden’s The Greatest Hits Tour Live in Kuala Lumpur.
The concert at the Plenary Hall in the KL Convention Centre took the nearly 3,000-strong audience on a journey through Secret Garden’s almost two-decade-long career (next year marks its 20th anniversary), with a selection of tracks from its 1996 debut album, Songs from a Secret Garden, to its latest, this year’s international release of Just the Two of Us.
Backed by a six-piece ensemble, the duo began the concert with the song that first earned them international fame – the 1995 Eurovision Song Contest winner, Nocturne.
Introducing it, Sherry said: “When we first performed this song, little did we realise how it would open the door for us, and take us to so many places.”
The concert was a solid mix of instrumental and vocal tracks, ranging from quiet, spiritual numbers to lighter, more upbeat tunes.
During the latter, Sherry danced nimbly across the stage while playing her violin, interacting with her fellow musicians and the audience while LØvland sat firmly behind his piano, playing and conducting the performance.
The audience was treated to some of Secret Garden’s most memorable instrumental tracks like Song for a New Beginning, Song at the End of the Day and Sometimes When It Rains as well as Heartstrings, a track that was later given lyrics and recorded by Barbra Streisand as I’ve Dreamed of You.
Sherry commented: “Melodies can tell a story as well, and people tell us that when they listen to a song with lyrics, they only hear the story of the lyrics; but when they listen to a melody, they hear the story of their own thoughts.”
The night also featured mesmerising performances by two guest vocalists.
The first, Cathrine Iversen, showcased her powerful, lilting voice on Nocturne, Sigma and Sleepsong, and even acted as vocal backup as well as percussionist.
The second was a regular collaborator with Secret Garden, Norwegian singer and actor Espen Grjotheim.
He came out to sing Song for a Stormy Night and Thank You as well as LØvland’s ode to his homeland, My Land, which first appeared in Secret Garden’s 2007 album Inside I’m Singing.
LØvland said he was invited to present this song at this year’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.
Towards the end of their performance, Sherry spoke of the inspiration behind their name, relating the folktale of a brother and sister who were abandoned in the woods and how they found their way home using white stones that were illuminated by moonlight.
“We’d like to think of our songs as white stones,” she said, “leading us all to our own secret gardens.”
The duo followed this with another of their biggest hits, You Raise Me Up, which was performed by both Espen and Cathrine.
The song, which had been re-recorded numerous times by various artistes such as Josh Groban and Westlife, received the biggest applause from the audience.
This was supposed to be their final track, but after a brief interlude, the entire band returned to the stage to perform two encore songs – Song from a Secret Garden and Celebration – before taking their well-deserved final bow to a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.
It was a simple, masterful and enchanting performance by two great talents, which ultimately proved that new age music will remain a timeless genre for its fans.

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