Content Middle

Main Content

Out of the CD Booklet

Read what Niall, James and Matthew wrote about the songs for the CD booklet

Nella Fantasia
The great Italian film composer Ennio Morricone had his biggest success in 1986, when he won an Oscar for "The Mission". He was reluctant at first to give permission for the theme tune, "Gabriel's Oboe", to be made into a song, but eventually Sarah Brightman persuaded him; the result, "Nella Fantasia", has become a modern classic. We are fortunate enough to have with us on this track the beautiful Vard Sisters, who brought their unique heavenly sound to Abbey Road, along with lots of Prada and Gucci.

Mull of Kintyre
This is my earliest memory of a "You can do it too" pop song: I was aged ten, and ably strumming out the Wings version on my auntie's guitar. The song came to be almost reviled because of excessive radio play; now I think the time is right to give in another go.

Love of my Life

Freddie Mercury's lifetime fascination with opera culminated in his now legendary collaboration with the great Spanish diva Montserrat Caballé. Co-written by Freddie Mercury and our producer, Mike Moran, "Barcelona" brought classical singing to a whole new audience. In fact, it was the first real classical crossover hit, long before football fans were singing along on the terraces with "Nessun dorma". For that we owe him a great debt of gratitude. "Love of my Life", from the Queen album "A Night at the Opera", is deeply rooted in the classical tradition, with vocal lines that rise in high arches like a Mozart aria. The heartbreaking lyric speaks for all of us who have ever lost love and felt our lives would never be the same again. This is our homage to Freddie, the singing genius who dared to break the rules. No one even comes close to him. NM

Ave Maria

A former master of the choristers at Westminster Cathedral, Colin Mawby conducted all three Celtic Tenors during his time as director of the RTE Chamber Choir. Now Colin is resident in County Meath with his wife and two sons. We are thrilled to have recorded his sublime "Ave Maria". JN

The Green Fields of France

The incredible voice of Finbar Furey brought this song very much into the public eye in Ireland. The grave of a 19-year-old soldier killed at the Battle of Somme in 1916 underlines the tragedy of war and of every soldier going into battle: "Did they really believe that this war would end wars?" JN

Ag Crost an sol
This popular spiritual piece by the grand Sen O Riada talks of life as a seed which flowers, grows old and dies, only to experience rebirth in Heaven. I used to sing it as a child at my local church. MG

A n example of "puirt-a-beul" (mouth music), a popular Scottish folk form in which instrumental dance tunes strathspeys, reels, jigs – are sung to words, often satirical or in nonsense-rhyme. Such pieces were possibly danced to when no instrumentalist was available. "Fionnghuala" was a popular number with the Bothy Band, a group that had a real influence no only on my own musical tastes but also on the direction of Celtic music worldwide. MG

The Town I loved so well
Phil Coulter's classic song about the violence and destruction that nearly ruined his beloved hometown of Derry in Northern Ireland has perhaps acquired a more universal relevance around the world since the atrocities of 11 September 2001. It is a hard-hitting song about the corrosiveness of violence and of man's apparently unceasing ability to inflict pain and suffering on his fellow man. Ultimately, though, it is a moving anthem for peace and reconciliation.

I will wait for you
This song was written by Norman Gimble and Michel Legrand for the film "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" in 1965 and nominated for an Academy Award for best song that year. My good friend Dean Correa, a friend of Norman's, asked him for song suggestions for the Celtic Tenors; he came up with a few and this was the clear choice.

(Something inside) So Strong
Labi Siffre had a hit with this song in 1988, before the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa. It inspires people suffering and downtrodden by unfair political systems and racism to say, "No matter what you do to us, we will keep trying". This will always have resonance as long as human rights are violated.

The Contender
This tells the story of a superstar of the 1930s and 40s, Jack Doyle. Jack was born in Cobh, near Cork city, where he made a reputation as a brilliant boxer and a fine tenor. In 1933, at a time when he was earning £ 600 a week as a singer, he could draw 90,000 fans to White City to watch him fight. His only vice was alcohol. He married the famous Mexican actress Movita, and they raised hell together, but a growing drink problem proved too strong for Jack; he struggled with it until he died, destitute and shoeless, on the streets of London in 1978. Jimmy McCarthy's songs have a unique depth and beauty which show that the bard is alive and well in Ireland.

A love so beautiful

The hugely successful 1960s pop singer Roy Orbison sounds to me like a cross between Mario Lanza and Elvis. In that decade he had No. 1 smash hits with "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Running Scared"; then in the 80s he found popularity with a whole new generation when he toured with the Eagles. "Oh, Pretty Woman" was covered by the rock band Van Halen and went on to inspire the title of one of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters. NM

Dein ist mein ganzes Herz

This staple of the tenor's repertoire, familiar in English as "You are my heart's delight", comes from Franz Lehr's "Land of Smiles". Surely one of the greatest love songs in the operetta repertory, it has been sung to great acclaim by our heroes Tauber (who sang it first), Bjrling, Wunderlich and Domingo. Here it receives a more intimate treatment than usual. JN

The Star of the County Down

One of the best-loved up-tempo tunes in the Celtic tenor repertoire, this version of the English folk tune "Dives and Lazarus" was a favourite of the late John McCormack. We hope our somewhat contemporary setting, with its use of slide guitars and the like, doesn't make the great Count turn in his grave. JN


Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" first came to notice when it was taken up by the legendary conductor Toscanini; greater popularity followed its broadcast by American radio on the death of President Roosevelt, and international fame with its use in the film "Platoon". The composer himself arranged the piece for mixed choir as a setting of the Agnus Dei. We hope you like our wordless adaptation for three tenors in six parts! JN


A musical set amidst politics and espionage in the Soviet Union during the Cold War must have seemed an unlikely recipe for success; but with music provided by the two men from Abba and lyrics from Sir Tim Rice, "Chess" was a sure-fire hit and played to packed houses all over the world. I saw it in Glasgow, when it starred our friend Rebecca Storm, and was spellbound. "Anthem", which closes Act 1, brought the house down. NM