Celtic Tenors December 8, 2010
The Celtic Tenors Holiday Shows Cerritos an Irish Good Time
By Glen Creason
Continuing a green Christmas season the Celtic Tenors visited the Performing Arts Center at midweek and brought two dozen old chestnuts, some of them holiday themed to an enthusiastic crowd who did some performing themselves. From the beginning it might have been confusing since Cerritos has hosted “the Three Irish Tenors” in the past that is a cousin to this group, the purported progenitor of the two. While these gents were most certainly not Finbar Wright, John McDermott, Anthony Kearns, Karl Scully or Ronan Tynan they have been doing quite well as themselves: Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson, and Daryl Simpson. All are decidedly Celtic and fine tenors in their own right. The program is also very close to the annual Irish Christmas shows with some added pop song slants not before heard here. This was all gloriously couched in a festively decorated stage filled with the large and polished Cerritos Center Orchestra that filled the hall with Yule spirit.
The Celtic Tenors most certainly offered up a banquet of the Irish repertoire with half a dozen being directly related to the season. Christmas cheer was sprinkled all over “Away in a Manger, “ “Ave Maria,” a majestic “O Holy Night” “Silent Night,” and the delicate “Mille Cherubini” that fairly shimmered. They covered the truly Irish with “Spanish Lady/ Mairies Wedding, ” the peppy “Finnegan’s Wake,” likewise “Phil the Fluters Ball,” the beautiful “Fields of Athenry” and an evening highlight of a breathtaking a cappella version of “Danny Boy,” the ultimate evergreen. There were also the big hall showstopper vocals of the popular variety like “You Raise Me Up,” “Anthem” from the musical “Chess” with its Abba intonations, the great Roy Orbison ballad “A Love So Beautiful,” and the encore of a soaring “Time to Say Goodbye.” All of these were spiced in the mix with unusual inclusions such as the Latin “Gaudete,” a fine “Nella Fantasia” composed by Ennio Morricone, Bob Dylan’s “You Aint Going Nowhere” and the old aria “Nessun Dorma” which was sung by the assembled audience with not too bad of harmony. It might not test the tonsils too sing “ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ahh!” but this crowd gave it full voice.
While this show is not as melodramatic as the “Three Irish…” it does have charm and pluck with good humor and a folksy appeal. Matthew Gilsenan has all the voice you could ever need and captured some musical peaks while both Nelson and Simpson did well in their parts and shone on harmonies, especially on the exquisite “Danny Boy.” This is a less formal and nicely paced concert, one that seemed to fulfill the expectations of the Irish loving audience who stood for standing ovations after several old favorites. There were generous helpings of music and that glorious orchestra keeping the spirits high along with even a few steps of Irish dancing to remind us of the place where the Celtic tenors will set up their Christmas trees this year.