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 Gardens 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.
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Secret Garden is an award winning Irish-Norwegian duo playing New Instrumental Music, also understood by some as Neo-classical music.
Secret Garden features the Irish violinist Fionnuala Sherry and the Norwegian composer/pianist Rolf Løvland. The duo has sold over 3 million albums and won the Eurovision Song Contest for Norway's second time in 1995 with the composition "Nocturne". It was the first and only time to date that a predominantly instrumental piece has won the Eurovision Song Contest, although a few Norwegian lyrics, written by screenwriter Petter Skavlan, were included to ensure that the entry adhered to the contest's rules. Norwegian singer Gunnhild Tvinnereim sang the song in the Eurovision Song Contest, but is actually not a member of the group. Ten years earlier Rolf Løvland also co-wrote the song "La det swinge" (Let it swing) that secured Norway its first Eurovision Song Contest victory in 1985.
Their success at Eurovision spearheaded the success of their first album Songs from a Secret Garden. It sold a million copies around the world going platinum in Norway and Korea, gold in Ireland, Hong Kong and New Zealand and spending two years in the Billboard New Age charts in 1996 and 1997. Barbra Streisand adapted "Heartstrings" from this album as the song "I've Dreamed of You" on her A Love Like Ours album. She also used "Heartstrings" in her wedding to James Brolin.
The album White Stones followed in 1997 also making the top ten on Billboard New Age charts. Dawn of a New Century, again with lyrics by Petter Skavlan, in 1999, Dreamcatcher in 2001 and Once in a Red Moon also enjoyed success around the world including reaching top ten on the Billboard.
Their most famous song "You Raise Me Up", performed by Brian Kennedy, has been recorded by more than a hundred other artists including Josh Groban, Russell Watson, Westlife, Sissel, Becky Taylor, Celtic Woman, Lena Park, Robert Tremlett and Il Divo.
Secret Garden has released a Dreamcatcher: Best Of album for its tour through Australia and New Zealand in 2004. It reached the top of the Australian New Age charts and the ARIA top 50 album charts.