Ten Tenors perform at Phillips Center

Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 30, 2009 at 8:02 p.m.

Since the 1990s, Tenor-mania has been at the forefront of a necessary, though not new, trend in classical music: reaching a mass audience. The Three Tenors popularized Italian arias, ballads and Broadway hits for the present-day listener, a trend that has continued until recently with The Irish Tenors. And who could forget the 3 Redneck Tenor's rendition of Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony" on the second season of America's Got Talent?

On Tuesday, returning to Gainesville due to popular demand, The Ten Tenors will kick off their North American "Nostalgica" tour with a concert of classical and pop favorites.

"Audiences can expect everything from the 1940s and '50s through today," said Tenor Steven Sowden in a phone call from Germany. "The concert will be a 'best-of' program. There will be a little of something for everyone," he adds.

The classically-trained Tenors perform some of the most beloved "pop-operatic" classics in their concerts. Arrangements of pieces like "Largo al Factotum" from Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia," and the beloved "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot," both of which were frequently performed and popularized by the Three Tenors in the 1990s and early 2000s, pepper their programs.

In addition, the group's rendition of the Luciano Pavarotti favorite, "Il Gladiatore," taken from the score to the 2000 film, has received more than 58,000 hits on You-tube. "Our training in classical music is one of our strengths," Sowden says.

Yet their repertoire also extends to post-war pop and jazz standards, arrangements of Bee Gees tunes, hits from the 1980s, and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Old choral chestnuts like "Oh Danny Boy" and "Over the Rainbow" have become Tenor-concert standards as well.

The dynamic ensemble comprises a group of accomplished vocalists who got their start as opera students at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Australia. But despite their humble origins back in the mid-'90s, the Tenors have gone on to become one of the most successful and widely-known vocal ensembles in Australia and Europe.

In 2002, the Tenors received recognition when they were invited to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that led to a successful international tour and premieres throughout Europe and Asia.

The Tenors released their album "Here's To The Heroes" in 2006 and their latest album, "Nostalgicia," in 2008, marking the group's 10th year as a professional ensemble. Drew Andrews, one of the Tenors as well as the ensemble's musical director, describes the album as "a romantic journey of musical discovery that was inspired by and dedicated to the fans."

"Nostalgica," like the title suggests, is a compendium of classical vocal tunes from the 20th century. Audiences will recall classics like "What A Wonderful World" and "As Time Goes By." The album also includes Ten Tenor favorites such as "Besame Mucho" and the aforementioned "Danny Boy."

"We want to try to get the audience to come back to our concerts," concludes Sowden. And given that Tuesday's performance marks their third trip to Gainesville in four years, they likely won't be let down.

What: Australian pop/classical ensemble performs.

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Phillips Center, 315 Hull Road, Gainesville.

Tickets: $32-$52 (392-2787)

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