My encounter was indeed a heartwarming one as I recognized the familiar face of a dear friend who also happens to be one of Ireland’s premier musicians: Frank McNamara — spectacled, curly-locked and amicable as ever.
As the renowned musical director for the Irish Tenors, Frank was the man behind the trio’s hugely successful U.S. tour. And now he’s about to bring us another gift. This time it’s the brand spanking new American Tenors, whose Los Angeles premier concert takes place, under Frank’s musical direction, at the prestigious Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. The invited audience will no doubt feature a sea of celebrities, and the concert is to be taped as a PBS special. It will be aired during the March pledge period.
It does indeed seem that Frank never gets a note out of tune, and that he is blessed with as much business savvy in producing as he has talent in musicianship. Recognizing the success of his Irish Tenors tour, not to mention the centuries-old bond between Ireland and America, the obvious next step was the American Tenors. After all, this is Hollywood, where “Scream 1” screams “2”, and “Analyze This” becomes “Analyze that”.
Not that the American Tenors are a sequel, just a similar idea with a different cast. Finding that cast prompted a search across the U.S., which was then narrowed to auditioning almost 50 tenors, before finally deciding on three powerful talents.
“I was looking for three very specific voices,” Frank said, “a dark Domingoesque, a strong high voice and a lyric tenor with a strong middle range.”
He found the perfect blend in Daniel Montenegro, a 23-year-old Domingo sound-alike from Santa Ana, Calif.; Nathan Granner, from Kansas City by way of Chicago, and Mauricio O’Reilly, a U.S. immigrant from Mexico City.
A name like Mauricio O’Reilly could attract quite a bit of attention, particularly in Irish circles. Not surprisingly, Mauricio’s great grandfather was an Irishman who came to America in 1847 to escape the Famine. While in New York, he studied law and apprenticed with a Mexican lawyer who, unfortunately, went blind. Mauricio’s great grandfather, answering his boss’ wish to return to his native Mexico, accompanied him on the trip and settled in Mexico City.
Meanwhile, back in New York, the new triad of tenors have made quite an impression on no less than Sony Classical, all in a very short time. It was only six weeks ago when Frank first approached Sony, only to be told that it never signs a talent without seeing a live performance. The following Thursday, Frank flew the tenors to New York, they rehearsed together for the first time, and, at 5 p.m. that evening, performed for Sony’s Peter Gelb and 30 of his colleagues. As you might imagine, this was quite a group to impress. But impress they did as Frank and the tenors signed with Sony Classical the following morning before noon.
Next February, the American Tenors will release their first album under the Sony Classical label. They are also tuning up for their debut American tour, along with South America and Mexico, set for June, July and August 2003, and which, incidentally, is 80 percent funded by various Irish investors. Meanwhile, as Frank gets the tour arrangements in order, he is paying close attention to his own “home production,” that is his gorgeous wife, former RTE presenter and now barrister Teresa Lowe and their four cuties, Frankie, Quincy, J.J., and Charlotte. Being the family man that he is, Frank will, of course, be bringing his nearest and dearest across America for the tour. Bon voyage to all.