[ON STAGE]Garden of New Age delights

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[ON STAGE]Garden of New Age delights

The musical duo Secret Garden, consisting of the Norwegian keyboardist Rolf Lovland and the Irish violinist Fionnula Sherry, has managed to shape a solid image as an important New Age group.

Known for their "organic" mix of sounds, which incorporate the oboe, harps, mandolin and melodious whistles, the group seeks to blaze new musical paths by relying on "their most personal musical feelings."

To promote its latest album, "Once in a Red Moon," which remains true to the band's subtle Celtic sounds and Sherry's signature strings, the group will be performing in Seoul and Gwangju next week. This is the duo's fifth visit to Korea.

Secret Garden's live shows usually have plenty of backing musicians to flesh out their sounds, and a choir to provide the vocals.

The group has released five albums so far. The first one to reach Korea was 1995's "Song from a Secret Garden," whose songs were used by a popular soap opera and as backdrops for many movies. "White Stones," from 1997, was one of the group's biggest sellers in Korea, as some 100,000 copies were snapped up.

The duo is always trying to innovate, mostly through collaborations with a wide of range of musicians, including the opera conductor Steven Mercurio and the London Community Gospel Choir. On their fourth album, "Dawn of a New Century," they performed with the Scottish singer Jaren Matheson from the Scottish group Capercaille.

On the latest album, the group invited the best-selling Irish novelist Brendan Graham to write lyrics for the songs "You Raise Me Up" and "Gates of Dawn." The latest album also contained a bold experiment. The group sent out an invitation through their Web site, asking fans to participate on their new album by recording and sending in specific piano chords. The response was strong, and people from 23 countries submitted sound files. The result was 65 piano tracks mixed together for the last bit of the song "The Global C."

Opening the shows in Seoul and Gwangju will be the Korean baritone singer Kim Dong-gyu, who used some of Secret Garden's music in his recent crossover album. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won ($16) to 80,000 won, and the physically disabled will receive 50 percent discounts. For more information, call Vincero Productions at 02-599-5743.

by Park Soo-mee

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