The Irish Tenors Holiday Show Dec. 14
The Irish Tenors Holiday Show: Cheer Times Three
By Glen Creason
May peace and plenty be the first
To lift the latch to your door,
And happiness be guided to your home
By the candle of Christmas.
A packed house awaited John McDermott, Finbar Wright and Anthony Kearns expecting more than just beautiful singing and holiday song at the long-awaited mid-week concert at the Performing Arts Center. They expected a sort of Christmas miracle of music from these titans of tenor singing known mostly as the Irish Tenors. And the good folks pretty much got just that with the help of some friends and the wonderful Cerritos Center Symphony Orchestra lead by maestro Arnie Roth. Despite McDermott having a bad respiratory bug, carrying what a friend calls the Christmas gleep, his fellows stepped up and more than filled the hall with inspiring and exhilarating music. It was an enchanting mix of deeply religious hyms, songs of the Christmas season and beautiful old Irish favorites. As the less-than full strength Mister McDermott soldiered on Kearns and Wright took part of his parts without a seam showing or the audience noticing too much. The result was a triumph where there could have been disappointment.
“We Three Kings” was appropriate on a couple of levels following the opening “Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls” but Finbar Wright’s exquisite reading of Schubert’s lullaby “Mille Cherubini” was worth the price of the concert in four indescribably gorgeous minutes. There were nice musical moments not resorting to holiday clichés but maintaining the true meaning of the season in “The Old Tin Star” about passing on the traditions and “If I Can Help Somebody” which rang very true especially in this year of trial and tribulation. Also much of the first half of the show was directed to a divine source and included the inspirational “Be Thou My Vision,” “His Wounds Shall Pay My Ransom,” “How Great Thou Art” and a rousing “Amazing Grace” that got the faithful to their feet. Hearing these great tenors take these songs to the top went much further than the roof of the great hall.
The second half was a bit more secular but no less stimulating marked by a spectacular “O Holy Night” in perfect French by Anthony Kearns and “My Love” that rattled the tiles on the back walls. There was also a pristine “Silent Night” by Finbar Wright in Italian, the sentimental “Secret of Christmas” done quite well by John McDermott, gleep and all. Wright came back with a very different but lovely “Mary’s Boy Child” and the ensemble put an emerald hue on the hall with “She’s the Belle of Belfast City,” “Sing Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra” and “the Stone Outside Dan Murphy’s Store.” Yet, the most remarkable performance was in “Fairytale of Old New York” a truly delicate and deeply moving lyric which offers a far from romantic but insightful look at the Irish experience in America. In the Yule tide spirit the fellas finished with a medley including an expansive “Wild Mountain Thyme,” to “Winter Wonderland” to “White Christmas” to “Jingle Bells” to, at last “Danny Boy” that sounded as sweet and fresh as the first time I heard it way back before I knew why it was Monsignor Kelly’s favorite song.