Scotland's Three Tenors - Caledon
"...The closing number, Highland Cathedral, allowed the three exquisite voices to produce a powerful spectrum of rich harmonies, delivered at volume, yet tempered with honey sweetness."
Edinburgh Evening News
"It must be said that these are three excellent singers with fine voices. One of the joys of the evening was the number of delightful melodies that the singers had found in that wonderful treasure house of folk music. This blending of voice and instruments was very attractive and I must also add that the excellent music arrangements were made by Michael Barnett, the company's MD who proved to be a superb accompanist and added greatly to the singing of this impressive trio."
Scotland's Three Tenors
You may have heard a few operatic arias performed by the world famous Three Tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti - and if you think they present a powerful musical trio, then you should listen to the extraordinary, beautifully melodic, heartrending, vocal sound of Scotland's own three Tenors - Caledon.
The three classically trained opera singers are Alan Beck, Ivan Sharpe and Jamie MacDougall. Jamie and Ivan had known each other as young students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and then later met Alan during further studies at the Guildhall, London. Since then they have pursued successful independent careers, appearing on the international opera stage and concert hall over the past 15 years or so. Their individual CVs are most impressive:
Jamie MacDougall from Glasgow has travelled the world, performing with the leading baroque and symphony orchestras around the United States to the Far East and also appeared at the Edinburgh, Salzburg and Aldeburgh festivals. He has produced 20 CD recordings and is currently completing a recording of the folk songs of Joseph Haydn. Jamie presents Grace Notes, the classical music programme for BBC Radio Scotland
Ivan Sharpe from Dumbartonshire was a boy soprano wining a scholarship to Winchester Cathedral. This early musical training led to study at the Royal Holloway College and Guildhall. As a fine tenor singer, he has performed with many companies including Welsh National Opera, English National and Royal Carl Rosa Opera. He specialises in German lieder, French chanson and Scots songs.
Alan Beck from Lanarkshire took a postgraduate course in opera and in 1985 won the British Wagner Society singing competition at Covent Garden. He has sung with Opera Ireland and was principal tenor with the State Opera Stuttgart from 1996 - 2002. He made his debut as Sigmund in Wagner's Die Walkure with the ENO.
The Creation of Caledon
It was just over a couple of years ago when the three tenors were invited to get together to sing a selection of Scottish traditional songs. They performed at Tartan Day in New York - the annual celebration of Scotland and Scottish culture in the United States - and they went down a storm. Their voices aside, their stunning tartan kilts (of various clans and colours) or fashionable black kilts with fur sporrans and black shirts no doubt has helped present a very attractive image as well. Credit is due to Hector Russell, the leading Highland dress company, who supply Caledon with all their outfits.
The singers were thrilled to have the opportunity to sing some of their favourite folk and contemporary Scottish songs, a refreshing change from their usual classical repertoire.
Alan Beck speaks for them all when he explains "We love traditional Scottish music and have a passion for Scots song, but we sing everything from Burns to Braveheart to The Proclaimers."
Rather than a one-off concert for Tartan Day, the idea to create a permanent partnership was quickly established and the concept for Caledon, Scotland's Tenors was born. Their rise to fame and an immediate international following has been supersonic. Over the past year or so they have travelled widely, touring from Edinburgh and Dunoon, Scotland to the United States and down under to Australia and New Zealand on a tour where they performed with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.
Their repertoire is drawn from a rich and diverse selection of Scottish songs from the Borders to the Hebrides: Famous Burns orchestrated poems, including "My Love is like a Red, Red Rose," classic ballads such as "Loch Lomond" and traditional songs such as Robert Tannahill's "The Braes o' Balquhidder", which dates to the 18th century. But before you think, "Oh, those old Scots songs - I have heard them a thousand times" - pause awhile and listen to these three tenors. Together, their individual tenor quality and pitch, blended in perfect harmony, creates a totally distinctive vocal performance.
Caledon has quickly become widely renowned and highly sought after performers. They were invited to sing in front of the Queen at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament and returned to perform in New York for Tartan Day, April 2005. This included a series of prestigious events such as the Icons of Scotland awards ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. They also starred as the closing headliner "band" at Scotland's largest rock and pop festival, T in the Park. This only illustrates their popularity with music lovers of all ages and tastes.
Caledon also went on to the Sydney Opera House. The concert hall itself produced probably their best all-round performance of the tour and makes for a deeply satisfying culmination to a tremendous three weeks.
Debut Album and Video
The good news for Autumn 2005 is that you can now hear Scotland's Tenors on their new debut CD, "The Power and the Passion". This features 13 songs ranging from "Sailing" (a Number One hit for Rod Stewart thirty years ago) to the rousing Jacobite anthem, "Will Ye No' Come Back Again". A number of sample tracks from this CD can be downloaded from Caledon Music (including Highland Cathedral, Speed Bonnie Boat, Will Ye No Come Back Again ans Caledonia).
The unique aspect of Caledon's approach is the contemporary musical arrangement to each song score by Musical Director, Michael Barnett. He is a masterly magician, reworking, rewriting - virtually revitalising- the familiar tunes to create a bold, brash, filmscore-style orchestration. This CD has taken months in the creation, mixing and recording in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Shrewsbury and Prague.
In order to present a powerful virtual concert ambience on CD, the three Tenors are accompanied, in certain songs and choral sections, by The Caradoc Chorus, together with the magnificent sound of the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra. There are also soloists performing specific Celtic instruments - Highland pipes, pipe band drums, bodhran, fiddle and the celeste. This in fact is the very same celeste used in the Harry Potter film soundtrack. It's played here by Michael Barnett himself, who also plays piano and keyboard. This is how he describes his work as musical director."It's been a great pleasure and a challenge to try and write fresh, contemporary arrangements for these jewels from the Scots Songbook. Taking the theme of 'the power and the passion', you'll hear songs like "The Braes of Balquhidder" and "Dumbarton Drums" in a way they've never been done before."
Songs may start with quiet lyricism for a solo voice, developing into the rich unison of the three tenors then rising in power to a wild, crashing orchestral crescendo, the occasional blast of solo bagpipes, and the full resonance of the chorus. It's the extraordinary combination of these three distinct, divine voices, music and choir which captures the poetry and meaning of these classic Scottish songs. This CD will surely break your heart with the sheer purity of these voices which together creates such deep emotive expression.
The passion is certainly there in such sweet love songs as "The Braes of Balqhuidder" which was written by Paisley weaver Robert Tannahill around 1792, inspired by Rob Roy country near Loch Voil, Stirlingshire.
Other cracking tracks are "Over the Sea to Skye", "Highland Cathedral" and "Will Ye No Come Back Again" - each given a brilliant, new musical arrangement and rich quality of sound.
Caledon with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra performed an outdoor concert at the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street gardens during the Edinburgh Festival, which was filmed with the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. This concert, entitled, "On a Beautiful Scottish Evening," is now available as a DVD, video and CD.
A CD single is also available of Caledon's fine version of the famous Proclaimers song, I'm Gonna Be (500 miles).
Concert Dates 2006
A most important and exciting venture for Spring 2006 is a two-month residency in Berlin, Germany. It's Cabaret time!
Scotland's three tenors will spend March and April 2006 at Tipi das Zelt, Germany's top cabaret venue. A representative came to see Caledon perform in Scotland, was extremely impressed and booked them immediately for a series of Berlin concerts. This remarkable canvas tent theatre offers sophisticated entertainment the whole year round: chanson, cabaret, variety, dance, acrobatics or musical comedy along with dinner and bar service. Here, every evening, renowned national and international artists present top-level, intelligent metropolitan entertainment. The winning combination of theatrical spectacle and gourmet cooking makes the evening one of sheer pleasure.
Caledon will present no less than fifty performances of their own unique brand of Scottish entertainment. As Ivan Sharpe comments on this amazing engagement - "We are looking forward to adapting our style of performance to a foreign language audience. The Germans love folk music and we know that they are very familiar with songs like Loch Lomond, The Skye Boat Song and Auld Lang Syne. They also seem to really like the kilt, so we will be taking quite a wardrobe with us!"
In Scotland, Caledon are setting off on a long tour in summer 2006 from May to September to places such as Musselburgh, Edinburgh (Queens Hall), Glasgow (City Halls), Aberdeen (Music Hall), Oban and Kilmarnock.
Caledon are of course very popular in the United States and have their own tour manager there to assist in booking a series of concert dates. 2006 dates have not been finalised but watch this space or e-mail Peg Dunlop for information.
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