Secret Garden's Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry, performing in Beijing, Saturday. (Photo: CFP.cn)
BEIJING, June 1 -- As the Hardanger fiddle and traditional Norwegian whistle echoed from the lavishly green-tree decorated stage, the theater of Beijing Exhibition Center was transformed into an enchanting Garden of Eden as popular Irish-Norwegian duo Secret Garden took the captivated audience down memory lane, presenting 24 of their timeless classics Saturday and Sunday night in Beijing.
Founded by Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry and Norwegian composer/pianist Rolf L?vland in 1994, Secret Garden are regarded as icons of Neo-Classical music, also known as New Instrumental Music, for their dreamy, romantic melodies.
For audience members seeking refuge, joy and contemplation, the music of Secret Garden was regarded like a feast on a midsummer's night. "I think their music is tranquil and ethereal. I feel at home in the harmonic melody," audience member Zhou Xiang told the Global Times after Saturday's performance.
"I always think it's very important to have a mix of the old stuff and a lot of new material in our concert because some of our signature songs like 'Nocturne' and 'Song From A Secret Garden,' they are very close to our hearts and we love to play them and there are music from the new album [Inside I'm Singing, 2007], for instance, 'Sometimes A Prayer Will Do' and 'Thank You.' These songs tell the story through the 15 years we have worked together," L?vland told the Global Times.
The duo's first album Songs from a Secret Garden (1996) was an immediate hit, going platinum in many parts of the world and staying on the American billboard New Age charts for two years. Their most famous song "You Raise Me Up," originally recorded by Brian Kennedy, has been covered more than 125 times, according to Peer Music, receiving more than 500,000 plays on American radio in 2004.
Barbra Streisand adapted "Heartstrings" from the duo's debut album and also used it during her wedding to James Brolin in 1988. The film 2046 by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai featured "Searching for the Past" from Secret Garden's 2004 album Earthsongs.
"I think the music is very much based, reflects where we come from, Rolf being Norwegian and I'm Irish," explained Sherry. "Our music is very much inspired by the nature, by the folk music that we've grown up with and by all the different songs."
"The fact that we have toured here in China so many times, this is our 10th or 11th time in China (their first being in 1999), there are songs that we have done in the past that are very much influenced by our time here," Sherry said. "There is one song that is called 'Lotus' on our Earthsongs album that is very much influenced by Chinese music and another one called 'Children of the Rivers' from the Dawn of a New Century album, even the title suggests that it is Chinese in its sentiment."