Wednesday, 13th June 2001

Tenors take the Rocky Mountains on a High Note

By Cheryl K. O' Brien

Rain beat a relentless tattoo on the roof of the Ritchie Center in Denver Wednesday night.  But, inside the Magness Arena Showcase Theatre, the audience thrilled to the sounds of the Irish Tenors and their clever stage repartee.  The show began with an instrumental selection performed by Frank McNamara and an orchestra sprinkled with many local musicians.  Then, the house lights dimmed and the Tenors took the stage, opening the evening with "The Harp That Once..."  Easily they moved from selection to selection charming and, at times, mesmerizing their audience with intensely emotional renditions of Ireland's patriotic songs, such as "Only Our Rivers Run Free" and "A Nation Once Again".  Interspersed throughout the event, billed as the Ellis Island Tour, were selections from the other Tenor CD's.  Anthony, Ronan and Finbar sang, danced and laughed their way through "Spanish Lady",the Percy French Medley, and the Dublin Medley. 

The solos began with Ronan singing the song he said Frank McNamara had selected especially for him, "My Wild Irish Rose".  His voice was strong, yet beautifully restrained, as he performed the traditional Irish tune.   As his first solo selection, Finbar dedicated a touching rendition of "Slievenamon" to the late Frank Patterson of County Tipperary.  Anthony, battling a stubborn cold and occasional cough, opted to sing "Love Thee Dearest" instead of "Macushla" at this point in the program.  In spite of the illness, training came to the front and he offered up a stirring and beautiful performance.  The later solo offerings were: "The Green Fields of France" by Ronan, "Forty Shades of Green from Finbar, and Anthony's poignant "The Croppy Boy" from his own County Wexford.

The selections from the Ellis Island CD were sprinkled with playful bantering among the Tenors themselves and their audience. The Boys were somewhat restricted by the cramped stage area. Still, laughter and emotions flowed freely in both directions.   As the evening wound down, the Tenors returned for their encore performances.  The initial offering was "Danny Boy".  They chose to forego their Frank McNamara piano- only version and perform the orchestral arrangement, perhaps because there didn't seem to be a piano available to them. The audience obviously didn't mind, as their response was several rounds of applause.  Finally, Anthony began "God Bless America" and as he reached the chorus, the audience joined in and sang.  For a moment, the Tenors appeared surprised and Anthony looked at Ronan seeming to ask, "What do we do?"  Ronan smiled and waved his arms to encourage the audience, while Anthony and Finbar continued to lead the singing.  The Tenors and their new "back-up singers" appeared genuinely moved by the emotion and pride the audience brought to this special American anthem, and more than a few tears sparkled in the spotlights of the arena.  On that note, and following several moments of extended applause, the Tenors left the stage and the audience walked away, taking with them memories of a special evening with three exceptionally talented men.