By Victoria L. Dammer
The Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) auditorium reverberated with majestic voices and music of angels as The Irish Tenors performed A Family Christmas on their 25th Anniversary Tour.
Declan Kelly, Anthony Kearns, and Ronan Tynan opened the show with popular Irish music, accompanied by a full orchestra. Religious holiday songs comprised the second half of the concert, mixed with fun Christmas numbers.
The trio started with The Irish Rover, an old Irish folk song. The lyrics tell the story of an 1800s sailing ship that meets an unfortunate end when it sails from Cork to New York. The tenors followed with an enthusiastic rendition of There is an Isle, a song that stirs the hearts of all listeners, even those who were Irish for the evening.
Kelly graced us with his mellifluous, powerful voice when he performed The Ilse of Innisfree, made famous in John Ford’s timeless movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
Kelly, Kearns, and Tynan performed Danny Boy, an anthem of deep emotion, love, and longing. This song has become, without a doubt, the haunting ballad of happiness and mourning. It was written in 1910 by Frederic Weatherly and set to the music of Londonderry Air. Although Danny Boy is not the national anthem of Ireland, the melody enhances the feelings of Irish national pride year after year.
Tynan said, “As you are aware, we have moved into the religious section,” bringing hearty laughter into the room with his comedic personality. Before he performed On Eagle’s Wings, he said he sang it at many funerals after 9/11 and firefighters always asked for this specific piece. Emotions ran high as those around the room had tearful faces when he finished his uplifting and heartwarming version. Tynan’s voice has a dramatic, robust timbre deeply admired around the world.
The orchestra played the instrumental Christmas Overture composition after a short intermission. We enjoyed a musical feast for the ears, thanks to the multi-talented conductor Keith Chambers.
The three vocalists performed We Three Kings, Go Tell on the Mountain, and A Christmas Medley, with all on and off the stage dancing in rhythm. Tynan sang a stunning Little Road to Bethlehem, a carol cherished by young and old. In keeping with traditional overtures, the orchestra played a wonderful suite entitled Nutcracker Gig.
Kearns soloed Wexford Carol, a 10th-century traditional religious Irish carol he first sang when he was 10 years old, and he perfectly blended the major/minor tonalities after years of honing his craft.
Silent Night, sung in the Irish language by the three tenors, outshone every hymn on the playlist. This glorious Christmas song is inspirational in any language.
As an encore, the trio rewarded the audience with God Bless America, and we knew in Tynan’s opening monologue his profound appreciation for the United States. “America is a great country, and we should never forget it,” he said.
Those in attendance will never forget this once-in-a-lifetime magical evening with The Irish Tenors.
The Irish Tenors 25th Anniversary Tour: A Family Christmas, with Anthony Kearns, Ronan Tynan and Declan Kelly.
The Mayo Performing Art Center, 100 South Street, Morristown NJ 07960. Tickets to events are available at The Official Ticketing Site of Mayo Performing Arts Center | Mayo Performing Arts Center (mayoarts.org)