She’s the last singer to take the Eurovision trophy back to Ireland. And now, over 25 years later, Eimear Quinn has released her first LP of new music in more than a decade.
Ériu is the fourth solo studio album from the Irish singer, released on 29 May 2020 through Peach Records.
Writing in the album’s digital sleeve notes, Eimear says:
“This collection of songs comes from my heart, with immense joy and gratitude, tracing the musical landscape that I have had the great fortune to gradually inhabit over my career so far.
Crossing happily between folk and classical settings, I have found that both genres have organically combined in this space where I find myself the most genuine; singing Irish music in an orchestral setting.
Some of the songs, I have been singing with an orchestra for quite a long time, yet have no recordings of (most obviously The Voice. Others I have written or co-written in recent years with this very sound-scape in mind.
This music, both ancient and contemporary, is completely Irish in composition, origin and arrangement. These origins are a profound rooting for me, deep in the richness of my female Irish heritage. They are as profound to me as the origins of my country’s name; Ériu.
The sheer majesty of the RTE Concert Orchestra’s performance takes my breath away. I hope that my happiness in creating this collection will resonate from my heart to your heart”.
View this post on Instagram
This is my happy face ?? (and my quarantine hair!) ? Today, after 3 years in the making, I finally release #E?riu, an orchestral album of music all Irish in origin. ? It’s exciting and cathartic to finally send it into the world and to share it with you. The response so far has really blown me away. ?? I want to sincerely thank all the legends that helped me make my dreams come true. ? ?The @rteconcertorchestra of course, led by Mia Cooper for bringing the music to life. It’s very much alive! ? The enduring friendship, support and encouragement of Brendan Graham, our partnership is a cornerstone of this work. ? ??The other-worldly playing of Fiddler John Sheahan on the song that we wrote together; Jasmine Flower. ? ??The sheer epic power of @sarah_class musical might in the piece we wrote called Hibernia. And all the endless chats and friendship, backing vocals, piano playing, choral arrangements….. what would I do without you!?? ??The generosity of Composer Patrick Cassidy in allowing @GeraldPeregrinecello and I to reimagine Vide Cor Meum as a duet for voice and cello with new English Lyrics by Brendan Graham, it now exists as Love Endless. ? ??The magic and mischief of the beautiful musical soul that is Neil Martin in his playing on Silent O Moyle and his arrangement on Cru?can na bPaiste, and to Ma?irti?n O’Connor for his sublime playing on that song. ? ??The mighty trumpet solos from William Palmer on An Raibh Tu? at an gCarraig and In Paradisum.? ??The unique guitar playing of my dear pal Robbie Overson. ? ??Conductor Joe Csibi, arranger Gavin Murphy, engineer @DamianChannells ? ??My wonderful recording engineer Dave McCune at Ventry studios and Ciaran Byrne @cbsoundsdublin mixing engineer, I am indebted to you both for your patience and friendship while I produced this album over the contraints of times & distance. ? ??And Simon Gibson at @AbbeyRoadStudios for sprinkling his expert sparkle over the masters. And @Jonas_Westling for postproduction on Hibernia. ? ??To Nigel Elderton, Anne Miller, Luc Floreani and all the team @peermusic.uk for your enthusiasm and excitement for the music ? ??The champions of Irish artists rte especially @rtelyricfm
Eimear Quinn Ériu album
A completely new re-working of Patrick Cassidy’s sublime aria “Vide Cor Meum” (only aria by a living composer to appeared on the distinctive Warner Classics CD collection, The 40 Most Beautiful Arias). With stunning new lyrics in English by Brendan Graham – the duet is now for voice and cello (Gerald Peregrine) and describes a profound and enduring love, rooted firmly in it’s Dantean origins.
The master musician John Sheahan (The Dubliners) composed this plaintive melody (originally called “Paddy Fields”) as an exploration of the pentatonic ties between Irish and Chinese melodies. I’ve set a very delicate vocalise-style lyric, drawing on the Chinese love-symbol of the Jasmine Flower, Mo li hua, as a metaphor of longing while separated from home and family. It is a huge honour to have John play, as only he can, on this recording
When Brendan Graham first gave me this lyric, I was so moved by the pure force of hope contained in its words. The force of my own Watchman called to me as I created this melody to carry its important message: No more shall I be afraid.
“Crucán Na Bpáiste” (Burial Place Of The Children)
In this beautiful, yet devastating song, I take on the voice of a mother who has lost her infant daughter to famine, and who must now be buried in unconsecrated ground. The landscape itself described in the song is in the most extraordinary setting in the west of Ireland, this beauty and brutality eternally intertwined there.
This song is written after the ancient Irish poem The Song of Amergin. In creating this song with my dear friend Sarah Class, we were inspired by the phenomenon of human resilience and dignity. Ireland and her people have endured countless invasions, pilages, injustices – but there is a core strength that can never be taken or broken. The song invokes the ancient images of the poem, but also the historical Latin names for Ireland.
“An Raibh Tú Ar An Gcarraig” (Were You At The Rock?)
This traditional Irish love song is said to have two meanings, firstly the innocent question of a suffering lover – were you at the rock, did you see my Valentine? But also during Penal times (when practising mass was a capital crime) the ‘rock’ was a euphemism for the ‘Mass Rock’ a song secretly seeking out a covert mass. I was invited to arrange this song by the Dublin Brass Ensemble for our concert series Breath Upon the Flame a concert of Irish songs arranged for classical brass quintet and traditional instruments. Bringing the arrangement into an orchestral setting, I invited the ensemble’s founder, trumpeter William Palmer to feature.
The flora and fauna, and the turning seasons of our beautiful country are an endless source of inspiration and optimism to Irish artists. We always dream of summer, but it invariably ends up being a bitter-sweet reality, as is so tenderly captured in this lyric that Brendan Graham gave me to set. The hibernating tortoiseshell butterfly fleetingly shares her beauty, before fluttering away.
“Silent O Moyle”
Neil Martin and I originally recorded this arrangement for a Philip King/Nuala O’Connor documentary about Thomas Moore in 2006. It took us on another great day-out to the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 during the first state visit of an Irish President to the UK. Always a giddy happiness – making music with Messrs. Martin & King.
“The Voice” 2020
This is the song of songs for me, each time I sing it, I connect more deeply with it. From the moment Brendan Graham invited me to sing it in 1996, I realised that there is nothing in the world will compare to singing a song so elemental, so connected to my roots especially with the force of the RTE Concert Orchestra behind me.
Eimear Quinn Ériu tracklisting
- Love Endless
- Jasmine Flower
- The Watchman
- In Paradisum
- Crucán Na Bpáiste
- An Raibh Tú Ar An Gcarraig
- Silent O Moyle
- The Voice 2020
Eimear Quinn at Eurovision
Eimear Quinn is the last Irish winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. Her victory with “The Voice” came at the end of an unprecedented streak of successes for the westerly island. In the ten years from 1987 to Eimear’s 1996 victory, Ireland won five times — 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. Even when Ireland wasn’t winning its people were — the frontwoman of Norway’s 1995 winning act Secret Garden, Fionnuala Sherry, was also Irish.
Eimear Quinn after Eurovision
Since Eurovision, Eimear has recorded three albums, Ériu being her fourth. The record took three years to create and is her first LP since 2007.
Eimear has also performed for some of the most important people in the world, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis.
What do you think of Empire? Which song is your favourite from the album? Let us know in the comments.