21 Questions Secret Garden

In 1995, Secret Garden represented Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest and won with the songNocturne. The song is still the only instrumental song to date to win the Eurovision Song Contest. 

We caught up with Fionnuala Sherry, the violinist in Secret Garden, to find out what she thought about Eurovision and what both she and Secret Garden were up to now. Read on to find out more.

About Eurovision...

Eurovisionista: Do you think Eurovision is a modern piece of television and something that has a place in the modern world?
Fionnuala Sherry: Yes I do, it still has a huge following attracting a wide range audience and is great compulsive viewing for all ages.

E: If you could change one thing about the modern contest what would it be?
FS: I would bring back the live orchestra. The demise of the live orchestra requiring great orchestral arrangements and the overly reliance of backing tracks has reduced the quality of the performances and taken away a very unique aspect of the original Eurovision concept. Also I think there needs to be a radical change in the voting system with possibly the real outcome being decided by impartial adjudicators with musical backgrounds that are not governed by borders.

E: What do you think the key factors of a successful Eurovision song are?
FS: A wonderful melody with good lyrics that can be understood and sung by all.

E: What would you say are the good things that Eurovision offers?
FS: It serves as a great reminder of the wonderful diversity and size that is uniquely European, it's a chance to see cultures and cities and artists that one would not ever have the chance normally to see. All of this packed into a huge great entertainment TV show.

E: How would you say Eurovision is perceived in the country you're from?
FS: Unfortunately in Ireland over the past few years it has diminished greatly in importance maybe partially due to my answer given in question 2. But thankfully the Northern countries and Eastern block have taken up the helm.

E: What is Eurovision? A song contest, a talent show, a dance contest or something else?
FS: I still hope it is primarily a song contest show which gives it its uniqueness away from all of the usual reality shows which cover the topics mentioned above.

E: Would Eurovision work in another continent or is it truly European?
FS: I think it's truly European and don't think the concept would have as much charm anywhere else.

E: Is Eurovision unique?
FS: Yes I think so, of course there are song competitions elsewhere but it's the multi cultural aspect all coming together which gives it its own uniqueness.

E: Is Eurovision a good platform to launch a career or should it be used by established acts?
FS: In our case both Rolf (Løvland) and I had our own individual careers prior to Eurovision but we did use it as a platform to launch our own act Secret Garden. As a first performance for Secret Garden we felt there could be no better platform. It proved to be the right choice for us but in addition to our winning song Nocturne we had already completed our first CD "Songs From A Secret Garden" which also included Nocturne as one of the tracks. Immediately after Eurovision we launched the CD on the back of the win. Generally it is much harder for an act if they only have the winning song to promote as that can only be for a limited amount of time.

E: If Eurovision was an animal, what would it be?
FS: A big loveable rescue multilingual dog like my own Yogi!

About you...

E: What stage of your career would you say you're in right now?
FS: Don't think of stages only concerned always with the current and next project. We have always been project driven rather than creating any marketing or business plans, it's the music that is the driving force and we follow!

E: Was Eurovision something you'd always wanted to do?
FS: No never though about it which is not surprising as I started out as a classical violinist. However its well documented that I had a dream that I won the competition just days before Rolf and I were asked to enter the competition in Norway!

E: Is there anything you'd change about your Eurovision performance?
FS: No I loved every part of it.

E: Is being a star of Eurovision something you'd say you're proud of?
FS: Yes it has been a defining moment in our career as Secret Garden and our song Nocturne is still the only song in its history to win as an instrumental song!

E: What would you say your job is?
FS: Concert violinist and other half of Secret Garden with Rolf Lovland.

E: Would you do Eurovision again? 
FS: Probably not! And possibly due to the answer given in question 2.

E: Other than yours, what was your favourite song from the contest?
FS: There are a few for me that are utterly outstanding. Volare (which has new legs with a Bocelli version!). Abba's Waterloo, Johnny Logan's Hold Me Now and of course the iconic interval act Riverdance. The funny thing is I also was part of the orchestra and studio band for the recording of Riverdance and Hold Me Now.

E: Do you watch the Eurovision Song Contest?
FS: Yes if I am in Europe but we have missed so many over the past years as May always seems to be a heavy touring month for us and have often found ourselves in Asia, US or Australia during the competition but usually try to catch segments over the internet.

E: If we took your Eurovision participation out of your life, what do you think would be different?
FS: It was certainly a very defining moment for us and greatly speeded up the process of launching our first CD by introducing us to many different countries simultaneously. So it is hard to say, we would like to think that our career success would have happened anyway but certainly Eurovision gave us a very large helping hand!

E: Does Eurovision assist your career in any way today?
FS: No. With now 7 CD's to date our audience has grown with us and is very much in countries such as Asia etc where Eurovision is not part of the history.

E: And finally... what are you up to at the moment?
FS: Have begun pre-production on a new Secret Garden CD which we will be recording over the coming months as well as some exciting tours later on in the year.

So what do you think? We love Fionnuala's outlook on the contest. Do you agree that the live orchestra should return? What do you think of Fionnuala's ideas on shaking up the voting? Let us know in the comments section below.

Follow Stuart on Twitter - @doodelie