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2006-12-16 Tenors, Shannon bring out the Irish in everyone

taken from The Herald Tribune

 

Billed as "the most successful classical crossover artists ever to come out of Ireland," the Celtic Tenors played to a full house Tuesday at the Englewood Performing Arts Series' second show of it 2006 season at the Englewood United Methodist Church.

 

The tenors tugged at the audience members' heartstrings one moment and had them tapping their feet and grinning the next.

 

The three Irish-born and raised tenors -- Matthew Gilsenan from North Meath, James Nelson from Sligo and Daryl Simpson from Omagh in Northern Ireland -- are classically trained and have performed in leading roles with noted opera companies and in concerts throughout the world. They were joined by Deidre Shannon, who has performed in more than 800 shows with Michael Flatley's world-wide tour of "Lord of the Dance." She is Gilsenan's sister.

 

The Celtic Tenors have been praised for their musical flexibility, adapting their wide-range tenor voices and harmonies to opera, traditional folk melodies and soft rock.

 

The EPAS concert was an exhilarating, emotional rollercoaster beginning with a rollicking "Spanish Lady" and "Mary's Wedding." Their a cappella delivery of "Danny Boy" brought tears to some eyes, while the high-energy, raucous "Whiskey in the Jar" and the preposterous "Paddy McGinty's Goat" won wide grins and laughter. Later, they lent their soothing, a cappella tenor harmony to "Shenadoah," which they introduced as the "American's answer to Ireland's 'Danny Boy.'" The group's commentaries between numbers added a personal touch that endeared them, as well as their music, to their audience.

 

Their moving delivery of "Caledonia," a love song to Scotland, could make you long for Scotland even if you were not Scottish. The tenors' musical director, David Munro, is a Scot.

 

Shannon has a soprano voice that is incredibly clear and soothing. She hits and holds the high notes without piercing eardrums and projects even while singing softly. Her delivery of the hopeful lyrics of the traditional Irish folk song "She Moved through the Fair" was gentle and contemplative. Gilsenan, Nelson and Simpson joined her in a powerful "Still By Your Side," which offers reassurance that a loved one is beside you even after death.

 

After Gilsenan and Shannon shared their childhood experiences of gaining much of their love of music by singing in church, they joined voices with "The Prayer," recorded by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. The number emphasized the wide span of Gilsenan's voice.

 

Making good on their reputation for musical flexibility and cross-over sounds, the tenors put their hearts and souls into "All Out of Love," which they recorded on their new CD, "Remember Me," with the pop group Air Supply.

 

With Shannon, they moved to the world of opera with "Bacarolle." They honored the Christmas season with a special medley of carols, and, later, with a moving "Silent Night," with verses sung in German, Irish and English. The beauty and strength of "A Time to Say Goodbye" was the perfect close to a memorable performance.