Meet the Composer Michael McGlynn

Michael McGlynn – IR

Despite the rich and sophisticated musical forms that lie at the centre of Irish traditional music,  choral music does not exist as part of that tradition. McGlynn’s compositional language combines  elements of modality and contemporary compositional practices with a distinctive melodic  awareness influenced strongly with the essence of sean nós (the Irish traditional form of singing). 

Michael specialises in the creation of music for voices. His output includes “Agnus Dei” (2005)  commissioned by Chanticleer and his short choral setting of the traditional text “Dúlamán” (1995).  This piece fuses modality, alternating time signatures and medieval tonal colours in a unique  fashion that is instantly recognisable as the work of McGlynn. Sung all over the world by amateur  and professional ensembles, it has come to define an ‘Irishness’ that has hitherto been elusive in the  world of ensemble music. 

He founded the choral ensemble ANÚNA in 1987 as both a vehicle for his compositions and in an  attempt to create a unique choral form for Ireland. In 2018 he founded M’ANAM, an Icelandic  based ensemble for male voices. He was Artistic Director of the Tampere Vocal Music Festival in  Finland in June 2021, curating a series of specially commissioned films. 

In 2017 he was the recipient of the University College Dublin Alumni Award in Arts/Humanities  and was visiting Eminent Scholar at the Music Department of Florida Atlantic University (2011- 2013). In 2019 he became part of the University College Dublin Creative Fellows. 

In February 2017 Michael directed, together with Gensho Umewaka (Japanese National Treasure), a collaborative Noh Theatre/ANÚNA performance entitled Takahime at Orchard Hall, Tokyo. This  was an adaptation of the W.B. Yeats Noh-inspired play At the Hawk’s Well. A semi-improvised score was commissioned for the production.

He has produced and recorded eighteen albums for ANÚNA many of which have featured in the US Billboard Charts with the album Christmas Memories (2008) album reaching the hot 100 albums in the Billboard Charts. Deep Dead Blue (1999) was nominated for a Classical Brit Award and went  top five in the UK Classical Charts. 

Michael’s music has been commissioned, recorded and performed by ensembles that include the  BBC Singers, Rajaton, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Grammy-winning US ensembles  Conspirare and the Phoenix Chorale. Recent commissions include “Amhrán na Gaoithe” for  Chanticleer and “O pia virgo” for New York Polyphony which appears on their Grammy nominated  CD Sing Thee Nowell.  

Michael’s vision for the development of choral music has resulted in the hugely successful Anúna  Education and Outreach programme. He has led workshops, seminars and lectured all over the  world on his music and the ANÚNA methodology of choral performance, including at the Shanghai  Conservatory of Music. In March 2015 he was invited to present a session dedicated to his work at  the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

In 2019 Kansas City Chorale released an entire CD dedicated to Michael’s compositions entitled  Artifacts : The Music of Michael McGlynn, which received a Grammy Award. He has written songs  in many genres, collaborating with The Wiggles, Elvis Costello and with country music legend  Rodney Crowell whose acclaimed 2017 album Close Ties includes a song written with Michael and  features Crowell duetting with Sheryl Crow. 

He founded and stewards the highly successful ANÚNA International Choral Schools in Dublin and Rotterdam. Michael has acted as Chairman of the Jury at the International Early Music Vocal  Competition Canticum Gaudium in Poznań, Poland. He has been an adjudicator at the Tampere  Choral Festival (Finland),the Tolosa Choral Festival (The Basque) and was a guest-judge and vocal  advisor for Finland’s X Factor. As a soloist Michael has shared a stage with the legendary Jeff  Buckley at Elvis Costello’s Meltdown curatorship in London and featured on a number-one single  in Ireland duetting with Jerry Fish on the track “True Friends”.  

He is a film maker, producer and director. His feature “Invocations of Ireland” has been broadcast  across Australia and New Zealand and released on DVD in Australia (DV1) and Japan (Columbia).  “ANÚNA : On a Cold Winter’s Night” has been broadcast Sky in New Zealand and TG4 Ireland.  His short film “Shadows of the Lowlands” was used by Nintendo to promote the release of the  video game Xenoblade II. His documentaries Songs of the Earth, M’ANAM : Tales of Blood and  Earth and ANÚNA Mutability and Transcendence were all premiered as part of the 2021 Tampere  Vocal Music Festival.