Thursday 19 October 2017

My cultural life: Anuna artistic director Michael McGlynn

Michael McGlynn
Michael McGlynn
Secrets of the Beehive
John Hurt

Michael McGlynn is composer/artistic director of the vocal ensemble Anuna. He lives in Dublin with his family and has travelled all over the world with Anuna and in his own right as a composer. He has just returned from Japan where Anuna presented a full staging with a Noh theatre company of a Japanese adaptation of WB Yeats's At the Hawk's Well which he wrote the music for. He celebrates 30 years of Anuna with an anniversary concert at the National Concert Hall on March 16. When he is not writing or performing he is an avid cold water swimmer around the coast of Ireland and tries to have a quick splash in waters of the countries he visits.

Artist: Paul Ringrose


I have to be rather nepotistic and single out the work of my cousin Paul Ringrose (painting, right). Unlike composers, artists tend to be quite blunt about their sources of inspirations in the main. Paul's work is beautiful, but always challenging. Although he lives in beautiful West Cork, his perception of the natural world and the inspirational aspects of landscape are pretty similar to my own. Often his paintings contains an element of chaos and darkness beneath an apparently calm and pastoral exterior.

Album: Secrets of the Beehive

Secrets of the Beehive

The album I listen to most is Secrets of the Beehive by David Sylvian. I am a huge absorber of music with a current favourite being the Japanese band Tricot, but this 1988 album, which I discovered some considerable time after it was released, is just beautiful both lyrically and musically. The emotional depth of the album is profound, with the haiku-like opening track September managing to evoke an entire landscape in the span of just over a minute.

Author: MR James

While I am a great fan of classic literature and poetry, my favourite volumes to relax with are the collected short stories of MR James. James is best-known for providing the inspiration behind the Christmas Ghost Story series which appeared sporadically in the 1970s on the BBC with some recent revivals in the last few years. I love these stories because they evoke a closed community, focusing on the lives of otherwise mundane characters who chance upon the inexplicable. Some of them, such as A Warning to the Curious or Rats, are genuinely disturbing as they delve into a collective unconscious in a manner that is pretty much unique to this genre.

TV: I Claudius

John Hurt

I am a great absorber of the endless stream of series on Netflix but rarely can endure any repeated watching of modern television. One series I have watched every few years, and actually have on my mobile at the moment, is the extraordinary BBC mini-series I, Claudius, based on the writings of the great Robert Graves who had many Irish connections. My favourite characters are John Hurt's magnificent Caligula (above) and the ruthless cruelty of Sian Philips in the role of Livia.

Film: Spirited Away

I watch a lot of cinema, most of it rather old, and the work of Welles, Truffaut, Kubrick and Hitchcock have strongly affected me at various times of my life. But at the moment I am becoming increasingly absorbed into the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away is his masterpiece. I have recently been in Japan working on a ground-breaking Noh project with Anuna, and I have to say that I would be pretty lost without the insights his work has given me.;

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