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2005-11-11 Tenors 'a mixed bag'

taken from the London Free Press
By Free Press staff and news services

 

Even if they're not sold on the crossover label, the three Celtic Tenors are happy to shift smoothly from style to style.

 

Niall Morris, James Nelson and Matthew Gilsenan can handle classical, pop and traditional tunes. The three vocalists may even travel all the way back to the 1980s to cover Australian pop rockers Air Supply. The Tenors performed with the group at two live concerts in the U.S. and recorded Air Supply's signature song All Out of Love on their CD Remember Me.

 

"There's a real mixed bag," Nelson says, of the trio's program. "A lot of people come to our concerts and then come up and say 'I didn't really want to come because I'm not into classical music' -- again the elitist thing -- but afterward they always say, 'But I really enjoyed it.' "

 

The trio is known as crossover classical, a term Nelson doesn't particularly like but accepts reluctantly as one description of music that includes elements of pop, rock, classical and other genres.

 

All three men live in the Dublin area and are classically trained. They studied music at the same college in Dublin, but at different times.

 

All in their 30s, the trio combined voices when they were offered a long contract akin to a residency -- 136 shows in a row -- and stardom followed.

 

Their debut album went immediately to No. 2 in the British classical charts.

It went to No. 1 in Ireland and Germany, where it won the Echo Award (the German Grammy) for best classical crossover album in 2002.

Nelson is thrilled the group's second album was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. "The same studio as the Beatles -- that was mind-blowing," he says. "One of my biggest influences growing up -- and I'm proud to admit it -- was ABBA . . . the harmony and the melodies are amazing. And I suppose alongside that, Queen, the Beatles and Meat Loaf."

The Celtic Tenors were invited to sing for former U.S. president Bill Clinton during his visit to Dublin Castle, fundraising for the Northern Ireland Peace fund. Clinton says their version of his favourite song, Danny Boy, is the best he has ever heard.

The Tenors have also sung for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.