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June 2019
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2007-01-25 Tenors present high octane performance for Omagh audience

SIX months after joining the Celtic Tenors, a period spent jetting back and forth to concerts throughout the world, Daryl Simpson returned to Omagh last Thursday to perform with James Nelson and Matthew Gilsenan at St Columba's Church.


It has been a long time since Omagh was a regular port-of-call for such performers and the capacity audience was obviously not prepared to miss this opportunity. Those unlucky souls disappointed in the quest for tickets must wait their turn.


Launching straight into a high octane program with Granada they proceeded to defy any attempt at categorisation by singing songs as diverse as Caledonia, An Poc Ar Buile, Offenbach's Bacorolle, I'm All Out of Love, Mull of Kintyre and of course You Raise Me Up. In any event there is no real need to categorise their music. The Celtic Tenors realise that, to use the words of another noted performer, "most audiences want a simple song, a nice oul' melody and not too loud." The theme common to all was the intricate vocal arrangements and sheer energy invested in each song, whatever the genre. And it's always refreshing to see that while they treat the music with respect, they don't take themselves too seriously. It would be difficult to imagine some of their more temperamental colleagues using Paddy McGinty's Goat as a vehicle for poking some gentle fun at the whole 'tenor phenomenon.'

While all three members are classically trained, James Nelson might be described as an archetypal 'Irish' tenor, fearless in attack and never giving less than full commitment. A change of key in mid song, in preparation for James' solo, heralded the sort of anticipation generated by Mr Harte introducing Mr Canavan at a late stage in a Tyrone game. Matthew is considerably more urbane with a full rich singing voice and a commanding presence on stage, falling naturally into the role of compere. Daryl sang as effortlessly as ever, his years of experience now proving their worth as he soared to high C and beyond, in song after song. The technique and stamina involved in this sort of concert suggests that the comparison with athletes is not so far fetched.

They were joined for this concert by soprano Deirdre Shannon and the Omagh Community Youth Choir. Along with her many contributions to the evening, Deirdre provided one particularly electrifying moment during The Prayer from The Quest for Camelot, when she switched into full operatic mode for one passage. The choir and the individual soloists were worthy additions to the bill, with their performance merely a taste of their full repertoire, which hopefully we should have an opportunity to hear locally soon.

A few years ago, Daryl performed at a solo concert in Omagh and demonstrated his self-deprecating sense of humour on that occasion by recounting how a member of the audience had expressed surprise that she had paid for a ticket, only to discover that Daryl came from Omagh. With uncanny foresight he warned her that the next time she bought a ticket to hear him in Omagh, it would cost a lot more. How right he was and, as three standing ovations proved, it was worth every penny.


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Ulster Herald