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(Canadian) Tenors, playing Smith Center, building international following

They’ll always be Canadian. They’ll always be tenors.

But the artists formerly known as the Canadian Tenors have streamlined their name.

From now on, they’re the Tenors.

And Sunday afternoon, they’re making their second visit to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts to shoot a new PBS special and concert DVD.

What’s in a name? For the Tenors, it’s a chance to "become really international," explains Fraser Walter, joining fellow tenors Victor Micallef , Clifton Murray and Remigio Pereira for a phone interview from Toronto. "We didn’t want there to be any barriers to being the world’s tenors."

Before the name change, "we began seeing resistance from some big TV shows in the U.S. and abroad" to the Canadian Tenors label, according to the quartet’s website. "We found that we were often turned down because of our name. As a result of this, we started to ask ourselves if our name was hurting us more than it was helping."

If their recent travel schedule is any indication, however, the Tenors already have jumped that international hurdle.

Before returning to Las Vegas for the first time since March – when they played the newly opened Reynolds Hall – they headed to Monte Carlo for a private event, followed by a stopover in Berlin for TV interviews.

Their next destination: London, for last week’s opening ceremonies of the Olympics, where the Tenors’ "I Believe" was to be featured on Olympics telecasts. (It’s their second Olympics song; "Your Moment Is Here" was featured at 2010’s Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.)

It was the Tenors’ third London trek in less than two months. In June, they participated in Diamond Jubilee celebrations commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s 60-year reign.

The Tenors sang at a "huge" Jubilee concert to about 5,000 people, Micallef notes, with their performance "choreographed to the trotting of horses" ridden by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, better known as the Mounties.

But "what was more dear to us," Micallef adds, was an invitation to "sing at a tea for Her Majesty," with an audience of "only about 40 people,"

What’s more, the queen "remembered us from when she came to Canada," he says. "It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments."

Another pivotal moment came in March, when the then-Canadian Tenors played Las Vegas’ new performing arts center.

"We were so blown away by the hall," Walter says. "We fell in love."

So much so that the quartet decided to record their upcoming PBS special and concert DVD in Reynolds Hall.

"The acoustics are amazing," according to Pereira, who also cited The Smith Center’s helpful technical staff – and that their March concert "sold out four months before the date" – as factors in their decision to return.

"For us, the combination of the acoustics, the great people and a great crowd" made the made-in-Vegas DVD a natural.

To increase the "great crowd" factor, the Tenors’ website staged a contest; 50 winners received free tickets to Sunday’s show.

"We’re fortunate to have an international following," Murray points out, which ranks as "another great reason for Vegas." It offers "an incentive" for out-of-town fans "to come all that way" to see them.

That international following also offers the Tenors an incentive to create a memorable showcase for fans.

Sunday’s concert taping is titled "Lead With Your Heart" – which also happens to be the name of their second album, being released in Canada in October. (It’s due in the U.S. early next year.)

So it makes sense that Sunday’s concert will spotlight selections from the new recording, which includes several Tenors originals, along with covers of everything from Bob Dylan’s "Forever Young" to Puccini’s "Turandot" aria "Nessun Dorma."

The songs "all seem to tie in together," Clifton says, especially "how they represent us as a group" specializing in both classical and pop repertoire.

Today and Saturday, the Tenors plan to venture beyond Reynolds Hall and out into Las Vegas as cameras capture "close-ups and behind-the-scenes things," Micallef says.

They’re planning to hit the Strip, showing "we like to have fun on and off the stage," he adds. "We might even head over to The Venetian" and sing along with the gondoliers plying the waters of the resort’s Grand Canal.

Speaking of Vegas singers, showroom regulars from Donny and Marie Osmond to Celine Dion – who surprised the Tenors by joining in on their signature song, Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah," during their 2010 "Oprah Winfrey Show" debut – may turn up in "little vignettes" on the PBS special, Murray suggests. "The opportunity certainly presents itself."

And these days, opportunity is the Tenors’ focus, from their PBS special (airing in December and again in March) to a 70-city U.S. tour planned for 2013.

This weekend, however, the Tenors are concentrating on Sunday’s concert.

"We want people who really love the music and are devoted to the project" in the audience, Murray says. "When you shoot a PBS special, you want to have a lot of energy – and a lot of crowd reaction."

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

 

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