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2005-11-13 Sagebrush goes Celtic

Interview with Niall Morris
By DANNA JOHNSON, Staff reporter
for Kamloops This Week


Three guys from Ireland.


Sure, in essence, that's what they are, but Matthew Gilsenan, Niall Morris and James Nelson are much more than that. They make up The Celtic Tenors, and they'll be in Kamloops on Tuesday for a show at the Sagebrush Theatre.

This is the first time the tenors have made it to Canada, and they're currently smack in the middle of a 20-date tour.


From the back of a van leaving Toronto, Morris said the tour has been tiring, but productive. Going "out west" in Ireland is a heck of a lot different than doing the same in Canada, he said, laughing.


"When you go out west [in Ireland], it takes about two hours." The North American jaunt has been an eye-opener, he said.


"It's going so well, it's just amazing. The theatres are really quite full and everyone's having a great time."


Back in the United Kingdom, said Morris, "it's easy for us." The trio, which formed five years ago, has achieved the kind of success other groups would envy. U2 frontman Bono arranged for them to play at UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's birthday, and former U.S. president Bill Clinton said the trio's performance of Danny Boy "quite honestly brought tears to my eyes."


The group's debut album soared to No. 2 on the UK classical charts and No. 1 in Germany. It also won an Echo Award, which is the German equivalent of a Grammy, for 2002 Best Crossover Album.


But, Morris said, it was time to look outside Europe for success. "It's easy for us in Ireland because we live there and people are aware of who we are. "It's quite different when you come to a new country. It's a bit like starting over." And the trio truly is a crossover group, bringing out those who appreciate everything traditional and Irish, as well as those who are looking for an evening of lively entertainment, with a little pop spin.


"There's quite a cross-section" of fans, he said. Regardless who makes the trip and pays for the seat, everyone leaves feeling the same way.

"They come away delighted," Morris said.


Their success "has been a pleasant surprise." "Classical music and even opera has relatively small audiences.


To sing and to sell records to a very large section of the public," he said, has been a treat.