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2004-10-01 Concert Review Oakville

by Wilma Blokhuis


Tenors worked magic
It was a magical evening.


The Celtic Tenors filled the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts with beautiful lullabies, old favourites, a cappella and raucous humour.


The Return of the Celtic Tenors was a night to remember, as three of Ireland's favourite sons, Niall Morris, James Nelson and Matthew Gilsenan, each one an accomplished vocalist, stepped on stage Tuesday night accompanied by pianist extraordinaire David Munro, to entertain a sold-out crowd who paid $100 a seat. It was a fundraiser for Wellspring Halton-Peel.


Joining the Tenors on stage was Gilsenan's sister, soprano soloist Deirdre Shannon, whose performance included 'I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls,' taken from a little-known Irish opera 'The Bohemian Girl' by Balfe

The Tenors' repertoire for the evening included Time to Say Goodbye, Summer of My Dreams, The Town I Loved So Well, Danny Boy, Love of My Life, A Love so Beautiful, Remember Me, and Whiskey in the Jar - songs that had the audience clapping, cheering and rising for impromptu standing ovations.


Prior to the show, glasses of champagne were raised as concertgoers nibbled on sushi and wrapped asparagus in honour of this auspicious occasion.


The group's stop in Oakville came at the end of concert tour in the United States.


It was only the second time The Celtic Tenors came to Canada - and both times to the Oakville Centre.


Both concerts, inspired by the late Jackie Miller, a cancer patient and Wellspring volunteer, were held to raise funds for the cancer support centre. The Tenors dedicated one of their songs to her.


A mother of eight who was diagnosed with cancer, Miller first heard the Tenors' music after her son sent her a CD he picked up at the Dublin Airport.


Upon hearing the music, she felt inspired to bring the trio to Oakville for a benefit concert. During her "journey with cancer" Miller felt "deeply moved and inspired" by the Celtic Tenors' music, said Mayor Ann Mulvale in welcoming the singers.  

Although her family had come to say goodbye to her in January 2001, Miller rallied, began walking without the aid of her wheelchair, removed her oxygen tubes and took herself off morphine. She tended her garden and volunteered at Wellspring, a place she once described as an "oasis in the desert" for finding support, information, compassion and courage for those living with cancer.


Miller and her friend Lottie Grant, a cancer survivor, invited the Tenors to present a benefit concert for Wellspring, but unfortunately, Miller died prior to the first concert two years ago. However, the night was not forgotten - not by those who attended that first concert and not by the Celtic Tenors themselves. The evening was especially moving for James Nelson, who lost his mother to cancer one month before the group's first appearance in Oakville.


The Celtic Tenors, who first performed to rave reviews in 1999, have three top selling CDs to their credit, and a fourth is to be released next year.


The Return of the Celtic Tenors presented by the Friends of Jackie Miller was touted as major fundraiser for Wellspring.


Wellspring Halton-Peel, at 2545 Sixth Line, opened four years ago, and currently offers more than 40 supportive programs for cancer patients, both adults and children, and their families.


More than 180 trained volunteers contributed more than 7,000 hours last year. Wellspring receives no government funding - it exists on corporate and individual donations, plus fundraisers.

The only sour note was that the CDs to be sold that evening did not arrive - however, Wellspring volunteers took orders.


Unfortunately, autograph seekers were resorted to asking the personable Tenors to sign concert programs instead.