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2007-03-10 Celtic Tenors provide a pleasant diversion

By David Williams
For Sunday Gazette-Mail

 

When March whistles in and St. Patrick’s Day is lurking, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra consistently turns to Celtic music for pops concerts. Friday night, “The Celtic Tenors” provided a nice diversion, light, never overdone and with plenty of diverting moments.

 

The local orchestra never seemed completely engaged, but when it did play it was on the mark. Most of the show relied on pianist-leader David Munro’s accompaniments (with Mountain Stage bandleader Ron Sowell on guitar) and a lot of three-part singing by the tenors, Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson.

 

The opening number, “Caledonia,” may have been the highlight. Chocolaty harmonies from the singers were layered over strings, harp, horns and some grand bass drum notes.

 

A couple of pieces identified with Josh Groban, “You Raise Me Up” and “The Prayer,” worked particularly well for the singers. Plus, the arrangements used the orchestra skillfully, avoiding the excesses of many of David Foster’s arrangements for Groban. “The Prayer” included lovely singing by Deirdre Shannon, from the show “Celtic Women,” bracketed by a violin obbligato by concertmistress Amelia Chan.

 

The singers did not stay just with Celtic songs. Puccini’s “Nessum Dorma,” Three Tenors fare to be sure, was included and sung very well. The singers coaxed the audience into singing the big climactic tune, adding to the light-hearted air.

Shannon joined in on Offenbach’s “Barcarolle” and Verdi’s “Drinking Chorus” from “La Traviata.” She sang sweetly in “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” but I spent that time trying to decide what color her dress was, since it shimmered between green and blue with every slight movement.

 

“Danny Boy” and “Shenandoah” were rendered in striking a capella settings. Comedic moments abounded, like the well-known “Patrick McGinty’s Goat,” and a smart jocularity ran back and forth between the three soloists and Munro, who played his Scottish nationality to the full.

 

The concert even includes a decent arrangement of Air Supply’s “I’m All Out of Love.” I never thought I’d say that in a review.