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2007-04-05 Tenors to provide a Celtic flair

Edward Willett, Special to The Leader-Post


Think Ireland, think tenors, and what comes to mind?

"Danny Boy," of course. But the repertoire of the Celtic Tenors, performing Tuesday at the Regina Performing Arts Centre, extends well beyond "the pipes, the pipes are calling."

Although, "What's in the name is certainly in the show," Daryl Simpson, one of
the tenors, said in a phone interview from Ridgecrest, Calif. "There's obviously
going to be a Celtic flair to what we do."

Simpson, Matthew Gilsenan and James Nelson, all classically trained, have sung leading roles in opera and oratorio around the world. But, said Simpson, "We also take pride in pushing the parameters and limits of what the tenor voice does. We sing everything from folk songs to pop songs to opera to Irish traditional. "

Their current program includes, for example, Schubert's "Ava Maria," Paul Mc Cartney's reworking of the traditional "Mull of Kintyre" and Air Supply's '80s
hit "All Out of Love."

"Sometimes with groups like ourselves the repertoire is chosen for them and it
somehow lacks that connection between the performer and the music," Simpson said. "We really spend a lot of time thinking about and choosing repertoire and everybody in the group has to be a hundred percent happy with it before we put it onto the stage."

Formed in 2000, the Celtic Tenors were signed on the spot by EMI records after an impromptu audition in London. They've since released four highly successful albums (total worldwide sales of over one million). Their full-length TV special Celebrate with the Celtic Tenors has become a PBS staple.

The current tour, which starts its Canadian leg in Regina, is in support of their
latest album, "Remember Me." They'll be joined on stage by one of the album's guest performers, Deirdre Shannon, lead soprano with Michael Flately's "Lord of the Dance" and the hit touring show "Celtic Woman."

Air Supply, which also guests on the album, won't here in person, but the bands backing tracks will be. Otherwise, the tenors will primarily be accompanied on the piano by their musical director, David Munro.

The Celtic Tenors have sung for former U.S. President Bill Clinton ("The best singing group I have ever heard!") and in a private audience for former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan ("I absolutely loved them!") and in some of the
world's greatest concert halls.

The Regina Performing Arts Centre, of course, isn't Carnegie Hall. Nor is St. Andrew's United Church in Moose Jaw the following night, or the other churches they'll be performing in in Saskatoon, Lethbridge and Red Deer the three nights after that.

But the tenors like the smaller venues.

"Because we all come from mainly rural background in Ireland I suppose we have an affinity with more rural areas," said Simpson. "If someone is willing to have us out there, we're willing to perform. If we get to see the world at the same time, that's fantastic. Some of our best shows, I think it's fair to say, have been in more rural areas and less inhabited parts of the world."

Simpson said he hopes audiences will leave "with a feeling of having been thoroughly entertained, having had the opportunity to listen to various types of
music which they might not have been attracted to, and that they went on an
emotional journey, one which will hopefully treat the soul."

And just so there's no confusion -- yes, "Danny Boy" will be on the program.