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

On a mission

— A Northeast fireman is raising money and literally going the distance to help a stricken colleague.