Secret Garden made history by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 with "Nocturne", an entry that was more an instrumental piece than a song. In the 4o- year history of this prestigious pan-European television extravaganza, an instrumental piece had never previously won. A piece so stylistically removed from the “European pop format” commonly associated with the song contest, that the press stated: "Secret Garden has redefined the Eurovision Song Contest”.
Secret Garden continues to write history. This surprise victory at the Eurovision Song Contest was the ultimate showcase that successfully launched their first album Songs from a Secret Garden. It was made available around the globe, including most European territories, the USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Hong Kong, China and Korea. This was a historic event for a Norwegian artist and record company, who for the first time had produced a worldwide release with sales of more than a million. Awards followed, including Platinum record in Norway and Korea, Gold record in Ireland, Hong Kong Korea and New Zealand as well as 2 years (101 weeks) in the Billboard New Age charts in USA.
Though the record was never technically classified as an "international release", Secret Garden’s success developed through a fantastic enthusiasm and commitment among PolyGram and Philips Classics staff (later Universal records) on a local level. Nobody was commanded to work with this project. They were driven by a passion for the music, and have seen it as a challenge to market Secret Garden in their own territories.
While promoting and touring with the first album, Fionnuala had an accident that nearly terminated her career. After falling down a stairway, she broke her shoulder in two places. With two surgical operations, endless physiotherapy sessions, and a specially constructed metal brace - she was able to play again. Meanwhile, fueled by the success of Songs from a Secret Garden, Rolf’s creativity was in motion writing and recording for their next CD, White Stones. When Fionnuala recorded her violin parts for White Stones in November 1996, her arm still racked with pain. The new repertoire was technically more challenging and they didn't have the option of her injury being an "excuse". She wished to perform even better than before. And it seems she accomplished her goal, as did Rolf in his endeavor to keep the same creative spirit alive, using the same seeds and reaping a new crop.
White Stones was received by Secret Garden’s public with the same enthusiasm as Songs from a Secret Garden, and enjoyed sales of the same magnitude as well. It achieved another maximum stay at the Billboard charts with two years. The artists describe the album as a continuation of the ideas and conceptual thoughts developed in the debut album. But also as a performance album where the compositions were designed to be more suitable for a live concert program. This also led to the forming of a touring ensemble and the start of live concerts around the world.
In 1998 they received an extraordinary letter from Barbra Streisand, who requested their song “Heartstrings” for her wedding. Ann Hampton Callaway wrote lyrics to the instrumental piece, and Barbra Streisand performed it as part of her wedding speech to James Brolin. She later recorded it and released it as her first single from the album “A Love Like Ours”. In her Millennium live- concerts from Las Vegas she released a second recording of it, and also included it in the “Essential Streisand” album in 2002. She kindly released a press statement saying: “I hope the people in America will discover the wonderful music of Secret Garden”.
In 1999 Secret Garden began working on their third album – Dawn of a New Century. Coinciding with the recording they also produced a live concert for PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in the USA. The two-hour performance was recorded in Lillehammer in mid-Norway and was aired throughout the States and in several other continents. The program is also edited for video and DVD.
Dawn of a New Century includes 3 vocal tracks, two performed by Fionnuala, and “Prayer”, sung by the Scottish singer Karen Matheson. It also contains the epic finale “Dawn of a new century”, featuring the Irish choir Anùna. This piece was performed in the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize concert, aired throughout the world. Once again the album succeeded the two previous albums in the Billboard charts, and once again Secret Garden toured extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and the USA in their busiest schedule so far in their career. Among the activities was a 40 concert tour of the USA in the Fall of 1999. Other performances included a series of three concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in the Queen Elisabeth Hall and a Millennium concert with the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra.
In 2000 the album Dreamcatcher was compiled for the British market. It contained material from the three first albums plus a special recording of the Christmas hymn “I Know a Rose Tree” Even if it was only intended for the UK marked it became available in the US, Canada, Ireland and in some Asian territories.
In the same period all albums was made available in printed music, arranged for violin and piano. The complete sheet music is available through this web site. As is the VHS and DVD and all the records.
Secret Garden’s latest album Once in a Red Moon was written and recorded during 2001. It contained the hit song “You Raise Me Up” with lyrics by Brendan Graham, performed by Brian Kennedy, and also the duet with the English cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, named “Duo” The album has topped the charts in Norway and Ireland and the Billboard chart in the USA. "You Raise Me Up" was play-listed, as one of the most requested songs on BBC radio 2. The music was also used for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and even performed as part of the one-year commemoration of the September 11th tragedy in New York.
Rolf was born in Kristiansand, in southern Norway. His first brush with composing came at the early age of nine, when he formed his first band. From then on, and throughout his youth, music came to be his constant companion and focus in life. He later studied music at the Music Conservatory in Kristiansand - and received his Masters degree in music at the Norwegian Institute of Music in Oslo.
By the time he’d unveiled his "Secret Garden" to the world, Rolf had already earned himself a Norwegian Grammy Award and the reputation as Norway’s most successful popular songwriter, with over 60 national chart hits. For two consecutive years his songs had won the National radio chart "Song of the year-award".
Rolf was also a two-time winner of the international Eurovision Song Contest final - in 1985 with "La det swinge", and in 1995 with "Nocturne". He is also a four-time winner of Norway’s national Eurovision Song Contest finals.
The founding of Secret Garden has given Rolf the freedom to explore (and for us to experience) deeper emotional dimension and wider musical landscape than the earlier phase of his career had allowed. It has also proven the composer, Rolf Lovland, to be a musical force of considerable stature.
Stage Instruments: Acoustic Grand Piano, Yamaha PF-200 digital piano and Roland JV-2080 / XV 5080 module.
ionnuala grew up and went to school in Naas in County Kildare - surrounded by a musical family that ignited her passion for music at an early age. She started to play the violin at the age of eight, and at fifteen she moved to Dublin to study music. She graduated with honours from Trinity College in Dublin, and the College of Music, and was later employed by the RTE Concert Orchestra, where she was a member for ten years.
In addition to the classical symphonic and operatic repertoire, Fionnuala possessed a much wider musical interest. This is evident in the eclectic body of artists and projects she has been involved with, including The Chieftains, Sinead O'Connor, Van Morrison, Chris de Burgh, Bono and Wet Wet Wet. With the Irish Film Orchestra she's also recorded several Hollywood film scores, such as "The River Runs Wild", "A room with a view" and "The Mask".
That same wide interest in music led her to conceive, write and present her own music series for children on Irish national TV - all this leading up to her fated meeting with Rolf Lovland and the founding of Secret Garden in 1994.
Onstage, she enchants audiences throughout the world, through her musical intensity and soulful performances. In Secret Garden's music, her unique violin virtuosity provides the heartstrings, voice and wings for Lovland’s compositions.
She performs on an English John Edward Betts violin from 1790, with a Hill bow, both on stage and in the studio.
Josh Groban recorded the Secret Garden song "You Raise Me Up" where the song reached #1 on the Billboard A dult Contemporary chart, with the album at no.1 of the Billboard top-200 album chart. The song was also performed at the Super Bowl as a special commemoration to the NASA crew that was tragically killed in the Columbia accident last year to a world TV-audience of an estimated 900 million.
Secret Garden's Cd's have been released in more than 80 countries
Their CD releases have sold three million albums.
USA Billboard charts, a record 2 years with "Songs From A Secret Garden" and White Stones, Dawn Of A New Century over one year and "Once In A Red Moon still in the Billboard New Age chart for over 30 weeks.
Ireland: Gold, Norway: Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum, New Zealand: Gold, Hong Kong and China: Gold, Platinum and Double Platinum. (500.000 Albums sold). In total over 25 individual Gold albums around the world.
Twice nominated World Music Awards, Monaco.
Voted best International Production, Shanghai.
PBS-Special "A Night With Secret Garden" broadcasted throughout the United States
Barbra Streisand used "Heartstrings" in her wedding to James Brolin and recorded the track, which was released as the first single from the album "A Love Like Ours".
Performed several Live and TV concerts such as The Nobel Peace Price concert with Sting, Tina Turner, Brian Ferry, and The Corrs.
Extensive travelling and performing recently including China, USA, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Canada.
Rolf Lovland (composer and artist) second to only A-HA in terms of copyright revenue in Norway.