Stewart Smith interviews Ronan Rynan, of the Irish Tenor

Published on Thursday, 12 December 2013 21:14 - Written by By Stewart Smith ssmith@tylerpaper.com

The Irish Tenors will take the stage Saturday at LeTourneau University’s Belcher Center for a mix of traditional Irish music and a celebration of the Christmas season.

Ronan Tynan is one third of the group (along with Finbar Wright and Anthony Kearns) that has travelled the world for nearly 15 years, and he was kind enough to speak with the Tyler Morning Telegraph in a phone interview.

Unlike so many world-class musicians, though, Tynan was not groomed from a young age to become a musician or singer. Instead, he was well on his way to becoming a doctor before he decided to pursue singing.

“The funny thing is, when I went into music I was doing my residency in obstetrics and gynecology. I was already a qualified doctor and I was doing different things and deciding what residency I wanted to into,” he said. “But my father and I had a phenomenal relationship. As a farmer’s son, we got on fantastically. And we used to sing a lot. Not in public, but just at home for the cows and the calves and (my father) said ‘You’ve got to do something with this voice.’ And when I finally decided (to sing), it was like a bulb went off. Instead of an alcoholic, I became a singaholic. I decided to give it (a try), and it just took off.”

Tynan and the other Tenors made their debut on PBS in 1999 with a televised special. The three singers are quite disparate in personality, but that hasn’t stopped them from forming into a tightly knit group, Tynan said.

“Finbar will be the most stoic. He will perform and be very well-presented. Anthony, then, is a little looser, but he he’s very clear and loves to perform the best way that he can when he goes up on stage,” he said. “I love to give a performance and I want to have fun, and I want the guys to have fun with me. Then, eventually, we get everyone into the mode of where we’re having a ball and we hope you will too.”

And even though they are all three tenors, they still have different backgrounds and approaches to music.

“I think all of us kind of do different styles. Anthony has done a lot of opera, as have I. He loves the traditional Irish music, and he came from that background. Finbar came from a more apostolic background in many ways. My father loved listening to Mario Lanza and a lot of Americans. I grew up with that more. I grew up with John McCormack. My mother adored this man. He was a famous Irish tenor. My father used to say to me, ‘Don’t ever sing like him.’ And I used to laugh,” Tynan said. “My mother was tone-deaf, she couldn’t sing a note. And my father had a magnificent voice, just naturally beautiful. My mother claimed that’s why she married him. He wooed her with his voice. But it’s amazing; I had a really healthy fostering of music when I was young. Then of course, my mother sent me to piano lessons where I mostly tried to kill the teacher.”

Irish music is some of the world’s most romantic music, Tynan said, and there’s much more than what some may expect.

“I think what people don’t understand is that Irish culture is the greatest storytelling culture in the world. Irish songs, they can be very inspirational and very passionate about our culture,” he said. “We’re a very proud people, but we’re very romantic. People feel that the Italians have all the romantic charm. There’s a misconception that it’s all diddly-aye music.”

As for Saturday’s show, it’s set to be an eclectic mix of both Irish fare and holiday tunes as well.

“You’re going to get a lot of the fun Christmas repertoire. But in the first act you’re going to hear a sample of Ireland and our culture and a tribute, a sacred tribute, as well. We’ll do three Irish pieces, then a little Irish melody and then three pieces we’ve chosen for ourselves,” Tynan said. “Then we finish the first half with a combined sacred piece. The second half we open with another Irish piece. You have to do “Danny Boy.” And then, from then on it’s all Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.”

The Irish Tenors will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the S.E. Belcher Center in Longview. For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit call 903-233-3080 or visitwww.belchercenter.com .