International duo Secret Garden performs a mix of pop, classical, new age and world sounds. Their music has been described as hypnotic, evocative and emotional. They got their fans around the world involved in the making of their latest album Once In A Red Moon.
The two members of Secret Garden bring traditional influences from their respective countries. Ireland's Fionnuala Sherry grew up listening to Celtic music, studied classical violin, and listened to pop music. Norwegian Rolf Lovland also drew on the myths and legends of Scandinavia, with an eye on the contemporary. He's been a leading songwriter, arranger and producer in Norway, where his songs have topped the charts more than 60 times.
Meeting at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, the duo discovered that they shared the same passion and philosophy about music.
Fionnuala explained how they came up with a name for their collaboration. "It comes from somewhere inside us," she said, "and I think that's part of the philosophy of Secret Garden, that we all have this place very deep inside of us, and we call it the secret garden. And music has the ability of going there and finding that place. It has a way of communicating there quicker than most other things."
For their album Once In A Red Moon, Secret Garden was joined by dozens of guest artists, including Scottish vocalist Karen Matheson and the Irish National Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestra, conducted by American Steven Mercurio.
Rolf and Fionnuala wanted to get their fans involved in the creative process. Rolf had an idea inspired by The Beatles' classic tune, "A Day in the Life," where the final chord was held for a long time, then allowed to fade into silence.
For Secret Garden's tune "Elegie," Rolf assembled what he called "a global energy of sound." He said, "I started only with a piano, doing this last final chord with a piano. And it sounded like it needed to be a lot bigger. The energy of it wouldn't necessarily come with just overdubbing this C chord with the same player and the same instrument in the same studio. So that's where the idea started. Let's describe what we need through the Internet, let's invite our fans to record this C chord on their piano in whatever way they can. So there were CDs, DATs, mini-discs and wave files and everything coming from everywhere, every corner of the world. And we ended up using 66 different C chords added into this final dying chord of 'Elegie' on the album."
Since their debut, Secret Garden has gained loyal fans in Europe, Asia, the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. Their worldwide appeal was highlighted in the 1999 public television special, A Night With Secret Garden.
Fionnuala Sherry cherishes the duo's special relationship with its fans. "We are just so appreciative of all the support we have here in the [United] States and abroad," she said. "We appreciate all the mail and the kindness that people have sent to us. It's very humbling when people write and tell us their stories of how the music has affected their lives and it's also very inspiring for us. And we are so grateful, because when we started on this journey together, we originally thought that our music would reach maybe audiences in Norway and Ireland. Never did we think that we would have this privilege to be musicians able to tour around the world. And it's something that we don't forget, ever."
Although Secret Garden has sold more than a million albums worldwide, they're hoping to become better-known in the U.S., and are planning a major tour for 2003.