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2006-01-25 A tryst with music

The Oman Tribune


MUSCAT They are young, talented and full of energy. They are the Celtic Tenors, the Irish group that shot to fame with their first album and haven't looked back ever since.


The group was in town to perform its first ever gig in the Middle East.

The group will start its tour with Muscat and boy, aren't they amazed by Muscat? You bet. In an exclusive chat with Oman Tribune, the members of the group shared their thoughts on music, how they were drawn into it and how it feels to be catapulted to international fame from ordinary lads in Dublin.


The eldest of the lot, James Nelson, is a trained classical singer who started off with singing with performances at the Broadway shows in London and his busy opera and concert schedule had taken him all over Europe.


Even as James talks to you, his eyes scan the horizon from the plush lobby of Shangri La's Al Bander. "This place is amazing. We surfed the Net and got some information about Oman, but seeing is believing and Oman is incredibly beautiful," he says digressing from the topic of him finding a spot in the world of music.


"I have been into music since my school days, taking part in concerts and choirs. Many people noticed that I had a very impressive voice and style." He found his match in the same school that he studied in Dublin when he heard Naill singing at a concert. When they got together, music flowed like torrents. Such was their musical union that they were invited to stage a prestigious concert in Dublin. "But they needed a trio and thus our search began for another member."


Soon after, they heard young Mathew one day at a concert and decided on him. "His had a powerful voice that could captivate anyone. What more, his voice blended so well with our voices. Many individuals who atended our concerts were awe-stricken by the unique amalgamation of our voices."


The trio have cut albums like EMI Classic, You Raise Me Up and So Strong, and some of them have gone on to become chart toppers across the world. Joining them on this tour is a young talent, Donna Malone, whom they scouted from a talent contest.


"Donna has a voice that is so rich and mellifluous that she can get the audience spellbound in no time," says Niall. Donna is so thrilled when she was invited by the group to join it in its gigs and tours that she still feels the excitement when she recalls the day."It was on a normal day during my first year in college when I was having lunch with my friends, I got a call from the group's manager who informed me that I have been chosen to join the group for its shows. It was like a dream come true."


Ask them about their rehearsal sessions and they get very touchy about them. "Rehearsals are very important and so are the practice sessions. That's how we correct ourselves and stumble into new realms." But they guffaw at the word practice when they have just finished one tour and are on a week's break before embarking on the next. "We just relax." But a day or two before the tour, serious rehearsals begin again and it goes on as a marathon eight-hour session.


Another fact that the group cherishes is its recording with the world famous group, Air Supplies, for its recent album (of Air Supplies). "It is a great honour for us to be called for to sing with them. They are a great group," says Mathew.

Though an Irish group, it does not confine itself to Irish music. "We start with typical Irish songs but move on to some classical numbers and sing `phanton of the Opera," says Nelson.


Nevertheless, it doesn't ignore Irish folk songs and Gaelic songs. It does it in its own style and language does not create a barrier between the group and the audience.