"The Priests" consists of brothers Eugene and Martin O’Hagan and David Delargy

Beatles tune on The Priests' playlist

By  Allison Hunwicks, The Catholic Register
  • May 2, 2012

TORONTO - If you were to ask someone to name a popular vocal group comprised of three male voices, it’s arguable that the answer wouldn’t be The Three Tenors, but rather The Priests. The group comprised of three Irish Catholic priests is currently on tour with a new album in hand, and looking forward to their May 4 concert in Toronto.

"We are looking forward to bringing the music to as many people as possible, and of course there's a big Irish connection in Toronto as well. So we really are looking forward to it. Again, it's a place that has featured highly in our beginnings in this particular journey as The Priests. Toronto has featured highly and given us great support as well," Fr. Martin O’Hagan told The Catholic Register during a phone call from his Rhode Island hotel.

At the time we spoke, the trio, which consists of brothers Eugene and Martin O’Hagan and David Delargy, are just coming down from a whirlwind of concerts in New Orleans, Houston, and Dallas.

"All of these (performances) are our first experiences ever singing in these particular cities right across the (United) States,” said O'Hagan.

“We've received a lovely, warm welcome from audiences, who have come, I think, with a certain perception of what we are like, and then they see a slightly more in depth view of what we are and what we can offer."

As the name implies, the three members of The Priests each serve parishes in their native Ireland. They signed their first record deal with Sony in 2008, and since then have shot to international fame for their performances of both sacred pieces and secular classics.

Despite their familiarity and love for their Toronto audiences, the group will be performing at Roy Thomson Hall for the first time in their careers, and have an exciting program prepared for their fans.

"Some of the pieces are new pieces that we've put together as well, so we're doing a little Beatles number and we're also singing a new piece that has been written by Phil Coulter. We felt it was important to get a good balance between both the sacred and the secular," said O'Hagan, who also noted that each member will perform solo pieces as well.

"The beauty is that we can interpret it, and those in the audience can glean something from that and take it away with them."

This tour has The Priests featuring a soprano vocalist at each stop as well, and in the case of the Toronto date, audiences will get the chance to hear Patricia O’Callaghan join in on such pieces as "Panis Angelicus" by Cesar Franck.

“It's nice to have the foil of the soprano voice in the midst of the male voices. It gives people a little rest, as it were, and it gives it an extra little angle to the music," said O'Hagan.

The group will also have a new album available at all their tour locations called Sing Out My Soul, which brings together some of their previously recorded works alongside new recordings such as the perennial “Oh Danny Boy.”

It is a wonder that The Priests, who balance a serious involvement in their parish life with the trappings of international musical fame, would be able to produce new material, but the group credits a part of its success to the members familiarity with one another.

"We have almost an innate language between the three of us. It's hard to put into words. We know what the dynamic of the piece is, and we have to learn to listen to each other, maybe to pull back a little bit or to increase the volume. But, we just 'know,' ” said O'Hagan.

“Maybe it's because we've sung together for so long, we know each other's voices very well, but we never take it for granted. We always have to keep working at it."

In the meantime, The Priests remain humble about their success, and look forward to the rest of the tour and enchanting audiences with one simple wish.

"We want to ensure that people are uplifted and that they go out with a wee lift in their step. That's our hope," said O'Hagan.

The Priests perform at Roy Thomson Hall on May 4. See www.roythomson.com for more details.

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