Irish Tenors Holiday Show December 13, 2006
By Glen Creason
Sometimes a show just hits the spot and certainly the well-timed visit of the “Irish Tenors Holiday Show” to a joyful Performing Arts Center at midweek was exactly what the season demanded. The light-hearted offerings; mixing traditional beauties from the Emerald Isle, Holiday chestnuts and religious hymns combined for an evening that sparkled like ornaments on a mighty tall tree. This is the second visit for the Tenors and with only one change in personnel they continued to wow the Cerritos faithful with strength of voice and fine taste in repertoire. John McDermott has been replaced by Karl Scully who blends well with the veterans Anthony Kearns and Finbar Wright, demonstrating the shades of color within the tenor range. Kearns is strong and steady, Scully, higher in pitch and capable of sailing the high C’s while Wright can do it all with deep emotion. All of this Holiday cheer emanated from the large, festively decorated Performing Arts stage, framed by fir trees and backed by an orchestra directed by the excellent Arnie Roth.
At Cerritos the first half of the program was rooted in the Mother country. After a rousing opening by the orchestra of “Brian Boru’s March” the three men sang the sweet “Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls” and the stunning paean “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears.” saluting the struggles Irish-American immigrants coming through Ellis Island. From the film classic “the Quiet Man” came “Isle of Innesfree” alongside the contemporary “Song for Ireland” and “Love Thee Dearest” done by Wright, Scully and Kearns in that order. The proceedings turned, appropriately to the sacred with Finbar Wright captivating the entire house with a magnificent reading of “Shelter Me,” followed by the Three Tenors putting a gilded edge on “Be Thou My Vision,” “Lord of the Dance” and an Amazing “Amazing Grace” that garnered a standing ovation at the intermission.
The second half was much more Christmas oriented including “We Three Kings (of Orient Are),” Scully’s electrifying “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and one more magnificent bit of sacred song from Wright in “How Great Thou Art.” The gentlemen stayed close to hearth and their Christian home treating the full house to “the Lord’s Prayer,” “a tri-lingual “Silent Night,” the cleaned up version of the Pogue’s neo-classic “Fairytale of Old New York” punctuated by Anthony Kearns revelation of “O Holy Night” sung in French. Despite their formal tuxedoed attire and the deluxe setting of the show the tenors seemed to be enjoying themselves and the large crowd’s obvious cheerful response to the music. The gents finished the show, showing their camaraderie with the jocular “Amigos Para Siempre” but the big crowd roared for more. Putting their three potent voices to the yuletide spirit the Three Tenors added a not trifling layer of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Sleigh Bells, White Christmas, Jingle Bells” and then topped it off with the everlastingly wonderful anthem version of “Danny Boy.” It was a fine night for the Irish Tenors and the lucky audience there to cheer them on.