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2006-12-21 Homecoming for international star

for the Ulster Herald


Brian Friel, Sam Neill and Andrew Strong are some of Omagh's most famous sons. Well a new name may soon be added to that list of world renowned artists as Daryl Simpson has been performing all over the world during the past six months with the most successful classical crossover artists ever to have come out of Ireland - the Celtic Tenors.


Many will know Daryl locally for his continued role as director of the Omagh Community Youth Choir and as a distinguished pianist. However it is in this new role as tenor that he is excelling.


Describing how this opportunity came about Daryl explained, "I was working at the Opera House in Zurich last year when I got a call from Matthew (Gilsenan) asking if I would be interested in singing with the Celtic Tenors and from then we struck up a relationship. I came over and sang with them and we decided to make a go of it."


Daryl was in Opera Zurich as part of the young artist programme there, only completing his year long tuition in June of this year. Only 10-12 young professional singers from all over the world are selected to be groomed for the international stage. Daryl expressed how it was quite an experience, "The best singers in the world are working there, so it was a great opportunity to work hand in hand with them. There is an extensive selection process, with auditions in Zurich, Berlin London and New York. It has been described as being selected for one of the top football teams like Barcelona or Real Madrid."


Daryl recently returned from his third tour of the States in six months, and this hectic schedule has continued recently with more dates around Ireland leading up to his homecoming performance in Omagh on Thursday, January 18 at St Columba's Church.


He declared, "We have been doing a church and cathedral tour of Ireland over the past number of months when we are in the country and obviously Omagh was a place that we wanted to come to and we are delighted to be performing here.

"It will be nice to be involved with an international act in my home town and I think it is a great opportunity for people to see now what I have been doing for the past number of years. It is always a privilege for a performer to sing in their home town. It has a nice feeling and nice resonance about it." Performing in front of family and friends adds that extra bit of pressure to the equation.


Daryl said, "It is invariably a nerve racking experience. The toughest concerts traditionally are always the ones I have done at home. When you look out at the audience and recognise the faces of 80% of them makes it a little more difficult."

Deirdre Shannon, who was the lead singer with Lord of the Dance for many years, will be the Celtic Tenors special guest as will the Omagh Community Youth Choir who will join them for a few songs.


Daryl says anyone who is generally interested in music or loves music will enjoy this show as they have such a huge range of music and styles, with traditional Irish songs, pop songs, musical, opera, classical and even a bit of comedy thrown in.


"The lads have great versatility creating a show that I think is for everybody," said Daryl. "The Celtic Tenors are privileged in that a lot of songs are written especially for us by the likes of Phil Coulter, Jimmy McCarthy and Pete St John." Since joining the group in the summer they have toured all over Europe, North America and ,of course, Ireland. However Daryl has stated this is not as glamorous as it sounds.


Daryl explained what it is like to be on the road. "I think the public get the wrong impression that it is terribly glamorous to go and visit all these countries. But really I only get to see the inside of a plane, inside of a van and then the inside of a hotel room, spend all day doing sound checks and then the concert before returning to the hotel and onto the next plane.


"Unfortunately we don't get the opportunity to investigate the local area due to time constraints with a concert somewhere else to get to." It is Daryl's ability to sing stratospheric high notes that have caught the attention of some of the world's greatest singers.


"People come to hear tenors because they can sing high notes and I suppose I was given a gift to sing that little bit higher than most tenors so when most tenors will sing top Cs, I have a few notes above that which I will use when required. It is quite nice to be able to do that, like anything else you have a specialist area and high notes is mine," explained Daryl.


"The three of us complement each other very well, even though we have three very different voices which blend, and the understanding between us allows a different type of feel."¡a few other languages that wouldn't be as commonly sung, such as Czech and Russian. It is a challenge of your craft if you want to be as good as possible." If you wish to be in the audience for Daryl's home-coming performance, tickets are available from Reynold's Music Shop in Castle Street or alternatively the Tourist Information Centre. There are just over 400 tickets available priced at £17.50.


If you want to keep a track of what Daryl is doing visit their website at