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2003-11-06 Interview for German Newspaper

"We would like to turn Irish singing into something cool"


Just before the start of their German Tour the Celtic Tenors talked to the WZ
WZ to give away five tickets for the concert in the Dolce-Theatre!


Bad Nauheim. They are for sure "charming boys", the three Celtic Tenors who will perform in Bad Nauheim for the very first time tomorrow evening.


Before starting their German tour, which started in Bonn on October 29th and will end in Berlin on Saturday 8th November, WZ reporter Hedwig Rohde had the chance to talk to James Nelson.


WZ: When did you meet?


James Nelson: Niall Morris and I know each other from school. We studied music at different Universities and got trained. I have been working as an opera singer all over the world for about eight years. Matthews Gilsenan originally left University as an Engineer and worked as a part-time singer.


WZ: How did you come together?


James Nelson: Niall Morris and I performed as "The three Irish Tenors" with a friend for several years. When getting married our friend wanted to concentrate on his solo career. This was the time when Matthew Gilsenan started singing opera in Ireland. Niall and I had seen him in Dublin and he seemed to be the perfect replacement for our third part.


WZ: When did you start to perform together?


James Nelson: In 1999. At that time we had a contract to sing 136 shows at a castle between May and October. Then Pat Egan, our manager, told us we would need a record contract. So we started to look out for a label. We had been successful with our second try! EMI offered us a Three-Album-Contract.


WZ: Are you also performing solo?


James Nelson: Not as long as our contract is running. There is one album to go as one of our three records was done "out of line". We were asked not to sing solo in order to be fit for our performances. It's difficult for us but we do accept this.


WZ: How successful are your records?


James Nelson: We already got Gold and Platinum in Ireland. The new recording "The Irish Album" is No. One in the Classical Charts in Ireland.


WZ: Aren't you surprised a little bit that the "Celtic Tenors Sound" is successful in times where Techno and Hip-Hop are up to date? The other way round: How modern is Irish singing?


James Nelson: Maybe we would like to do with Irish singing what Riverdance did with Irish Dance - transfer it to the 21st century. We would like to make it more accessible and turn it into something cool.


WZ: You all come out of classical opera. How cool are you on stage?


James Nelson: Tenors don't have to be dusty and stiff and come on stage in dinner jackets and ties. Our cloths are casual. Sometimes we perform in Jeans and T-Shirt, sometimes in leather jackets.


WZ: Why are you singing in English apart from singing in Irish?


James Nelson: I know we should do more in Irish. We will think about it.


WZ: Are you using Irish Instruments?


James Nelson: Not really. In fact only while recording a CD. If we do we certainly use the typical flute and also Irish Fiddle.


WZ: Do you prefer Classical or Pop music?


James Nelson: I love what we do - the whole musical mixture. Three quarters are Irish and the fans love it. Not long ago, 20 German fans flew in for one of our concerts - something we really appreciated


WZ: You really got round over the past few years?.


James Nelson: That is true. We did big shows, in the US for instance, and now there are many tours like in Germany. Our schedule is filled up until the end of last year. A tour through the Netherlands is by now confirmed for the end of 2004.


WZ: The three well-known Tenors - Domingo, Pavarotti und Carreras - are they your heroes?


James Nelson: Yes they do count as our models. First of all Placido Domingo. He has a wonderful voice and is a great actor, too. I would go as far as saying his voice is the best out of those three. By the way - we do sing songs which made the three tenors popular.


WZ: How old are you?


James Nelson: Hmm, that's top secret. Just this far - we are all mid-thirty.


WZ: What will the listeners have to expect from your show next Friday?


James Nelson: Irish Evergreens, sad ballads, powerful Folk, melancholic Traditionals - combined with three singers who love to sing and who would like to entertain the audience starting from the first second.


Dolce Manger Jan Janssen kindly gave away five tickets for the concert which will be drawn separately this aftenoon at 13:00h. Calling earlier will not lead you to success, calling at 13.10 might be too late!


Anyway: Good luck to all of you! Everyone who has not been lucky still has a chance! There are some tickets left which will be sold Friday evening.