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2005-11- 25 Celtic Tenors cover musical map

By ANDREA NEMETZ Entertainment Reporter
Halifax Chronicle-Herald


Air Supply, classical opera, Irish ballads on trio's songlist


They've performed with soul legend Dionne Warwick and '80s power pop group Air Supply, for former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. 


After touring Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the three Irish lads known as the Celtic Tenors are making their first trip to Nova Scotia, playing a two-night stint in Halifax in Casino Nova Scotia's Schooner Showroom today and Saturday at 8 p.m. They played Glace Bay's Savoy Theatre on Thursday.

The classical crossover group, which in five years has sold more than one million albums, is looking forward to meeting the Celts on this side of the Atlantic, says Niall Morris, by cellphone en-route to Fredericton.


"The amount of people with Scottish and Irish connections here is extraordinary. Many have been here for only one or two generations," he marvels, adding he is also astonished by how big Canada is.


The group has been literally flying coast to coast, beginning with a photo shoot in Manhattan before heading to the Southern United States, Ontario, B.C., California , Alberta and now the Maritimes, all in a little over a month.

The discovery of the Tenors sounds like the stuff of fiction.


Upon returning to his native Dublin after studying at the National Opera School in London, Morris (who watched Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti rehearse at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in between classes) looked up former schoolmate Matthew Gilsenan with the idea of forming a group of three Irish classical artists much like the famed Three Tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo and Jose Carreras). Spotted in Dublin performing with James Nelson, they were invited to the EMI records office in London where they so impressed company reps they were signed on the spot.


Since that fateful 2000 meeting, they've scored double platinum awards in Ireland for each of their three albums, appeared on every European TV channel and on PBS in the U.S., played festivals in Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore and reached No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 9 in the U.S. on the billboard classical music charts with their hit So Strong.


"Sometimes music brings you to places you wouldn't normally get to," says Morris.

"A couple of years ago, we were at a Northern Ireland Peace Fund function at Dublin Castle where the keynote address was given by Bill Clinton, who has done so many wonderful things for Ireland. We were told that his favourite song was Danny Boy, so we sang it standing eye-to-eye with this amazing, charismatic man. Later he said to his operatives that he wanted to meet us and he told us he wanted us to sing that song again. So we sang it with his arms around us joining in. It was really crazy."


Another fan is Air Supply's Graham Russell, who asked the Tenors to record a version of the group's biggest hit All Out Of Love, which was later put on Air Supply's greatest hits album.


"I vaguely remember All Out Of Love," says Morris, who was too young to remember much about the group who topped the charts 20 years ago with such songs as The Power of Love and Even the Nights Are Better, "which is kind of good, because I had no real sense of being starstruck. Originally it was a duo track, and doing that huge power ballad with classical voices really made it different."


The Celtic Tenors, who performed with Air Supply in Las Vegas, will perform All Out Of Love at the "very, very end" of their Halifax shows.


They'll begin with songs from Ireland and Scotland.


"They're good-natured songs which put people in a good mood," explains Morris.

Next up are well-known songs in the Italian language "classical opera, fairly accessible."


Included in the performance will be some songs in Scots Gaelic and in Irish (as Gaelic is known on the Emerald Isle).


"You have to do Irish in school until you're 18. Some colleges you have to have Irish to get in and we have Irish television, though it's not spoken at home. It looks quite similar to Scots Gaelic, but the pronunciation is different. We have fun on stage. One song we do is a bit of a tongue twister."