Northeast Times

Story Archive May 30 2012


Crossover quartet blends four unique voices

The classical crossover quartet comprised of the Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, baritone Carlos Marin of Spain, French pop artist Sebastien Izambard, and American tenor David Miller first came together in 2003, the culmination of an exhaustive search by music producer Simon Cowell to find four singers of distinctive individual gifts who could, as a group, create musical magic.“Simon wanted a group that he could enjoy listening to, and scoured the planet looking for a group of guys whose voices and personalities would blend well, and whose work ethic would be over the top,” said Miller. “And so here we are today, nine years later, and known collectively as Il Divo.”But it took some time to work out the kinks, said Miller, now joining his fellow Il Divo members in a world tour that will take the stage at the Mann Center on June 9.“In the beginning, our voices and our temperaments didn’t mesh, but the work ethic was always there,” added Miller. “And eventually we learned how to blend our voices and ourselves, and throughout the process we were able to pair that with what we call our locker room sense of humor [and] that has helped get us through the most stressful times.”Although from different backgrounds, English is the language that has become their main mode of communication. “Everyone’s vocabulary has gotten up to speed, although we all speak a smattering of all other languages in which we sing — mainly French, Italian and German,” he said.Indeed, when Il Divo first emerged, the group presented a problem for those who felt a need to pigeonhole their music. Was it opera? Pop-opera? Musical theater?“Actually, we don’t touch an operatic repertoire,” Miller said. “Purists would have our throats if we did. We have varied backgrounds, from doing opera to musical theater. But I think we are the originators of the term pop-opera, and one of the forerunners of the classical crossover genre. We have taken our four individual styles and experiences and tried to blend them seamlessly so that’s you can’t really quantify exactly what we do. But we, and our audiences we hope, do seem to enjoy it all.“Suffice it to say,” Miller continued, “we are not like anyone else. Others have tried to copy what we do, but there’s something quite unique about the combination of our voices and the style in which we present our songs.”With more than 25 million albums sold so far — including 150 gold and platinum discs, and the only crossover classical album to date — Miller said the only challenge the group faces is to communicate effectively with its audience.“I think that’s our primary responsibility,” Miller explained. “Our main priority is to convey the sense of emotion of the song we are singing. There is, of course, a certain comfort in singing in the language of the country we are visiting. But once you start listening to the lyrics you are not in your emotional space. So we make sure we sing in several languages to avoid that from happening.”The response to their music has been overwhelming, Miller said. ”In the beginning, nobody thought the huge success we are enjoying today would happen. We were simply groping in the dark. But it worked. And now, we’re just trying to continue to evolve and bring something new to our audiences. I think that’s really our biggest challenge.”For times and ticket information, visit www.manncenter.org


Letters to the editor: May 30, 2012

Shame on CLIP for going too farI moved from Philadelphia a couple of decades ago, and I’m glad I no longer live in Philly! After visiting family and reading about CLIP, I am truly appalled at the decline. For crying out loud, this is the birthplace of America. This is where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell; Carpenter Hall, where the Continental Congress met to discuss important matters of freedom; the Betsy Ross House; Benjamin Franklin; and the Declaration House, also known as Graff House, where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence!I totally agree with Dee Maialetti’s letter of March 28, Yo, CLIP, just who do you think you are? As an American citizen who was liberated by the U.S. Army in post-WWII Germany, I find this sort of “patrolling,” trespassing, photographing and fining of the homeowners to be a violation of our rights against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution. These Gestapo tactics are an abuse of our civil liberties!It is one thing to go after absentee landlords who neglect to maintain their properties; it’s quite another to target the elderly, the disabled and the poor. Shame, shame, shame! For those who condone this abuse, I suggest a course in American history. I would also encourage you to get online and read the indictment against the nine CLIP criminals! Put yourself in the shoes of your neighbors: Would you want to be treated this way? (http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/PDFs/Presentment.pdf)I am surprised that the citizenry has not risen up and demanded that this “program” be dismantled. Whatever happened to the concept that a man‘s home is his castle? I would have filed a class action lawsuit against the city by now, and involved the Justice Department!Lydia F. SelwoodHarrisonburg, Va.



Power shift: Towne soccer ends Central's run

— For the better part of a decade, Central was on top of the Public League girls soccer scene; now, it's Towne's time.




At Fels, they're working for improvements

— Editor’s Note: In this second of two parts, the Northeast Times examines programs and initiatives at Samuel Fels High School that have helped reduce the frequency of serious student misconduct while improving attendance, truancy rates and standardized test scores.