Tenors to take in Tournament Capital
Victor Micallef remembers the moment he realized how powerful the human voice can be.
He was just a teenager, sitting in the audience for a performance of Les Miserables in Toronto with friends, when the music touched him to the point he felt tears welling up in his eyes.
“It was therapeutic,” the member of The Tenors said. “It was just so powerful.”
He has seen the same reaction at concerts he, Fraser Walters, Clifton Murray and Remegio Pereira have performed, when the combination of four tenor voices creates musical magic.
While the Toronto-born son of Maltese immigrants started playing piano at the age of four, Micallef wasn’t sure about singing.
“I love to sing,” he said, “but I used to get so nervous performing when I was younger.
“My dad gave me the big kick, though, and had me singing at church.”
Music studies followed at two universities in Ontario, where he focused on vocal performance.
From there, it was off to Florence, Italy, in 1998, where he planned to spend no more than six months studying with renowned tenor Franco Paligazzi.
Two years later, opera was his life and Europe was his home base.
In 2004, Micallef joined the Ensemble Studio of the Canadian Opera Company and, eventually, the decision to join what was originally known as The Canadian Tenors.
The renamed Tenors will be in Kamloops on Friday, Feb. 8, for a concert at Interior Savings Centre.
Micallef said his group does more than sing opera; concerts include pop songs as well, albeit with the group’s own arranging.
“We love to arrange,” Micallef said, “and we all write and we all play instruments.
“We like to explore how an arrangement is created and put our fingerprint on it.”
This is the first time the group has recorded songs each of them wrote, Micallef said — and that led to its own nerve-wracking experience.
“We had [record producer] David Foster come to listen because we needed a fresh ear,” Micallef said.
“And he warned us that we’re friends, but that was when he was wearing his performing hat. When he was in recording mode, he told us it’s a different hat and he would be dead honest.”
Foster listened to the 16 songs being considered for an album.
“For two hours, he said nothing. For the first five songs, he was making notes,” Micallef said, “and, at the end, he said, ‘I love it’.
“He has a keen ear and a very critical ear and this was a huge step for us. We knew this was make or break time.”
Fans range in age from the young — “we have had four-year-olds in the audience singing along” — to seniors.
While they are each a tenor, they are also unique.
“In the palette of tenor voices, there are so many different colours of tenor,” Micallef said. “Sting is a tenor. Freddy Mercury was a tenor.
“Just because tenor has been sold always geared to the classical tenor, people can expect that, but we like to show the pop side of the tenor, as well.”
That’s why the show will have something for everyone, Micallef said, “and there’s never a dull moment.
“You know, when we started, the audience was older. But, the next time we would go to a place, they were bringing their sons and daughters and now, if we go back, their grandchildren are there, too.”