For St. Paddy's Day:

The Irish Tenors Bring a Taste of Ireland to Nashville

The world-renowned Irish Tenors including members Anthony Kearns, Ronan Tynan, and Declan Kelly, brought Saint Patrick’s Day to Nashville early this year. The tenors made their entrance to thunderous applause in black suits with emerald green ties after the incredible Nashville Symphony, directed by David Wroe, had already begun playing their first piece. The Schermerhorn concert hall was gorgeous with colored lights changing to depict the mood of each song performed, although the overall color was a light green in celebration of St. Patrick’s day.

Declan Kelly

Hearing the Irish Tenors in recording is spectacular, but nothing compares to the sound the three of them create in person. Each of the tenors voices has its own unique timbre and characteristics which meld together to create something spectacular. It is clear even from the audience that all three of the tenors, including newest member Declan Kelly, although unique individuals, have a connection and comradery which shone through, making their performance Thursday night cohesive. Each tenor has an absolutely gorgeous and wholly unique sound. Declan Kelly has a lighter, melodious voice with such a mastery of legato singing. Listening to any of his pieces could be a case study for how to sing completely on the breath. The best analogy I can think of to describe his voice is a line of pure silver that never stops traveling. An interesting mannerism I observed in Kelly, was that before beginning a piece, he would bop up and down slightly. This reminds me of a singing exercise that helps activate the core muscles in the stomach and I can’t help but wonder if this was the reason for that. Kelly has had a career singing opera and I can only imagine how lovely his Mozart must be.

Anthony Kearns

Anthony Kearns voice is immensely powerful, and his high notes were incredible! The audience clapped furiously after each of his performances. I couldn’t help but notice that throughout the program he stood back from the microphone in order to be able to sing more comfortably. Kearns’ solo pieces were gorgeous, and I was especially taken with his performance of ‘Eileen Og’ and an aria from one of the three Irish operas ever composed. ‘Galway Bay’ performed by Ronan Tynan was epic, with sweeping phrases in the voice complemented by crashing cymbals and arpeggiated motion in the strings. ‘Galway Bay’s lyrics describe the beauty of an idyllic Ireland, giving those who have not been fortunate enough to travel to Ireland a glimpse at what might be in store. Tynan’s voice was robust, embodying the glorious description of Ireland, and he ended the piece with a soaring high note.

I could not write about this concert without at least briefly mentioning how impressed I was with the Nashville Symphony. An instrumental piece was played in the middle of each half of the program. Conducted with both detail and musicality, the piece had gorgeous dynamic range and the handling of the music with such genuine passion made it a joy to hear the Nashville symphony. The first half of the piece was more subdued, with lovely, long, swelling phrases that were completed by a faster ending section which included the imitation of Irish dancing steps. Irish dance music came back in the last song of the first half in the form of a rousing dance song. Before the tenors even began singing, it was clear that they were excited to perform this particular piece, smiling at each other and generally just enjoying themselves. During the performance, the tenors even did a bit of a jig with Anthony in the lead during an interlude while the audience clapped along to the music, increasing the jovial mood.

Ronan Tynan

Throughout the concert, there were times when certain songs resonated with members of the audience. It was touching to see that so many people who came out to see The Irish Tenors had personal connections, Irish heritage, or memories associated with the pieces performed. Many times, people would stand up thanking the tenors with standing ovations throughout the night.

An example of this utter appreciation was found in the audience’s reaction to ‘Danny Boy’. ‘Danny Boy’ is a well-beloved classic and hearing The Irish Tenors perform it was a truly breathtakingly beautiful experience. The slight syncopation between voices added an extra element which made the piece even more touching. The performance hall was completely silent during the tenor’s rendition of the piece. It truly does not get better than hearing this piece performed by such talented musicians in the presence of such an appreciative audience. The tenors ended the night with another rousing tune that the audience was invited to clap and sing along to. This made the overall concert experience feel less formal and more like singing with friends in a pub celebrating Saint Patrick’s day.

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