Smithfield Herald

The Celtic Tenors to sing Saturday at The Clayton Center

The three Irish voices of The Celtic Tenors will soon liven The Clayton Center auditorium. Get your tickets and come to the center at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15, for some foot-tapping music.

“What I’m looking forward to is to see a whole show with them, how they so-call caress their audience, and their harmonies,” said Scotty Henley, director of The Clayton Center. “They are best known for their abilities to blend their voices, because they’re from three regions of Ireland.”

Matthew Gilsenan of North Meath, James Nelson of Sligo and Daryl Simpson of Omagh came together 12 years ago and rose to international acclaim. They have performed in New York, Amsterdam and Shanghai, bringing with them their charming Irish lilt and spirit.

Gilsenan, born into a farming family, left a career in engineering to pursue his greater love: singing. According to The Celtic Tenor’s website, his singing “moved from his engineering firm’s rock band to Ireland’s National Chamber Choir to the operatic stage and onwards.”

Nelson was a full-blown opera singer who studied with vocal coaches such as David Harper, Edith Forrest and Veronica Dunne. He has performed more than 50 roles in opera and operetta, according to the website, and has a passion for helping AIDS orphans in Kenya and teaching them music.

Simpson has studied music his whole life, and in 1998, he formed the Omagh Community Youth Choir in the aftermath of a car-bomb attack in his home town that killed dozens and injured hundreds. He wanted to bring young people together “to promote peace and reconciliation through music,” the website says.

Together, they bring hymns, Celtic classics and Irish drinking songs to a new level of finesse, according to reviewers. Whether they are crooning “Danny Boy” or hammering out the lyrics to “Finnegan’s Wake,” their style is fresh and their quality superb.

Before the show, patrons can purchase beer, wine and mixed drinks, and those who have subscribed can enjoy the spread in the teacher’s lounge provided by Brick and Mortar Events, a downtown Clayton business. Double Barley Brewing Co. will be providing its signature beer, Back Stage Brew.

“It’s a version of a Celtic ale, but we’re going to call it Back Stage Brew,” Henley said.

Keeping with the Celtic theme, the food in the teacher’s lounge might include roast beef, red potatoes and, Henley said, “if all goes well, soda bread, which is thematic to Irish baking.” A green pesto pasta might even appear, he said, “playing with that pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrating.”

The Celtic Tenors will benefit from sound and lighting upgrades to the Clayton Center. In recent concerts, patrons have noticed the improvements, which include a lighting upgrade that uses computer-controlled elements and a $46,000 digital sound console.

“During intermission of the Ryan Shupe show, we were approached by numerous patrons commenting on how they really liked the lighting and how great the band sounded,” Henley said. “We’ve had very positive feedback.”

Tickets to The Celtic Tenors cost $25, a much cheaper deal than airfare to Ireland. And prepare to be transported. For tickets, visit