By: Elizabeth C. Millar
The Celtic Tenors made their State Theatre debut on Saturday, August 11, enlivening the audience with their unique blend of classical, opera, pop, and traditional Irish music. They were accompanied by their Musical Director, Colm Rogan on piano. In addition to the piano, the only other instrument was a guitar which the trio took turns playing. The absence of instruments made for a smooth transition to some beautiful a cappella pieces they sang throughout the night.
Together for 12 years, the trio represents the peace process which began in Ireland in 1994. They are diverse in that they are from the north and the south; and they are Catholic and Protestant. In reference to the former conflict between the north and south, member Daryl Simpson said the group sings in harmony and that ‘can’t be a bad thing.’ It would have been unheard of for the three to have played together back in the day when the country was so divided.
Beginning the show with the children’s song “I’ll Tell Ma Ma (aka the Belle of Belfast City),” the trio then sang the title song from their most recent album Feels like Home. The opera piece “Granada” as well as one of Bizet’s from The Pearl Fishers were impressive. Their music is versatile covering different genres and time periods, thus they are hard to define. This makes them interesting and a joy to listen to.
“Wild Mountain Side,” for which band member James Nelson hopped on the piano, is often mistaken as an Irish tune, but is a Scottish one. They did an interesting rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” making me see the tune in a different light. For the Clapton song, James entered the audience, handed a woman a rose and serenaded her as he knelt next to her, referring to her as Sally. The first song written for them, “Remember Me, Recuerdame,” is set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and was written for the Irish Soldiers who served during that conflict.
My favorite song of the night was “Dimming of the Day,” which is in honor of twilight–that in between time of day when we can reflect. A song of lost love, it invokes a vivid feeling and sense for that transitional point into night. The audience sang the chorus for an opera piece sung in Italian which was followed by “Danny Boy. ” Calling the theater magnificent, they decided to forego their mikes and sing “Danny Boy” a cappella; it was like a hymn. For the encore, they sang Air Supply’s “I’m all Out of Love” as they made their way out into the audience, handing out roses to some fortunate ladies.
The trio will travel to China this year; their first concert tour there. They have spanned the globe traveling to faraway places like Dubai and Nairobi. Their enthusiasm and love of singing is contagious and with the peace process as a large part of who they are, perhaps they can spread that message around the globe–which wouldn’t be a bad thing.