Interview with Ronan Tynan (member of The Irish Tenors); He will be making his Feinstein’s/54 Below debut on August 1 & 2 performing a mix of Irish, selections from the great American songbook, contemporary and new material, accompanied by pianist Bill Lewis
Interview Questions By: Don of Don411.com
Interview Coordinated By: Logan Metzler of Keith Sherman and Associates
July 28, 2016
What are you thoughts about performing Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club?
I am excited to return to New York and perform at Feinstein’s new location.
How did this performance all come about? How much rehearsal was required and what are the planned selections? How are the acoustics for the cabaret room?
I have known John Iachetti for a long time. He reached out to me about performing at Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco, and came back to me about Feinstein’s/54 Below. As for rehearsals, I work regularly with my pianist. It’s always an opportunity to re-visit past selections and take on new work. As far as selections for New York, I think there will be a good mix of traditional Irish, American songbook and some original pieces. As for the acoustics of the room, I expect they will be excellent, but will only know once I get there for the pre-performance sound check.
Have you worked with Michael Feinstein in the past?
I have worked with Michael in the past. Most recently we were together at the the Indy 500 in 2014. In fact, the original Feinstein’s was one of the first places I played when I came to America. So, needless to say, it holds a special place for me.
How long have you been performing with pianist Bill Lewis?
I have been working with Bill for more than 15 years.
What current projects you are working on?
I have recently finished recording a new album and I am having discussions about the potential of a tour in Ireland next year.
What 4 questions would you want asked of you that you haven’t been in the past, and what would be the responses?
– What qualities do you look for in friends?
Truth, integrity and loyalty.
– What profession other than singing would you like to do?
I love teaching and coaching young singers. I have the opportunity to do this at the University of Kentucky twice a year, and also had the chance to work with students at Boston College last year. It is always exciting to be able to work with young talent and be able to help them improve by carefully listening to them and offering them tips and techniques that they can incorporate into their process.
– What is your greatest happiness?
Living life to the fullest. Every day there are new opportunities, sometimes they are big and sometimes they are small. Regardless, being open to them makes for a rich life experience.
– What is your most treasured possession?
I was given a gold chain of my grandmother’s that is a fob chain. It is my most treasured possession.
What are some fun things others should know about you?
I have a farm in Ireland. I am a farmer’s son. I keep and breed Irish sport horses. I love every aspect of it and feel lucky to be able to go home and be on the farm with the horses, most especially during foaling season.
Do you have any charitable organizations you care about?
I am very committed to people who live their lives in service to others. I have a lifelong bond with the members of the New York Police and Fire departments and do my best to make myself available to them when needed. Now that I live in the greater Boston area, I also have connected with the Boston Fire Department on certain occasions. It is important to me to support these men and women as I can. They do so much for so many people.
Ronan Tynan www.ronantynan.net
Feinstein’s/54 Below www.54below.com
Information on the performance, from Feinstein’s/54 Below www.54below.com as of July 28, 2016.
August 1 – 2
Called the “burly tenor with a big, silvery voice” by Variety, Ronan Tynan, accompanied by his long time pianist Bill Lewis, bring to Feinstein’s/54 Below a repertoire that is diverse as it is entertaining: a mix of Irish, selections from the great American songbook, contemporary, as well as newly written material. The New York Times recognizes Tynan’s “unornamented singing as distinct relief, who lets the lines of familar melodies soar without fancy embellishment.”
Introduced to American audiences in 1999 as a member of The Irish Tenors, Tynan continues to perform throughout the United States and record new material as a solo artist. In addition, he is currently the Alltech Visiting Artist in Residence at the University of Kentucky’s Opera Theatre program teaching Vocal Performance and Voice and Repertoire classes with a focus in oratorio and opera at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Ronan Tynan Official Biography (from www.ronantynan.net as of July 28, 2016)
Ronan Tynan is truly a modern day “Renaissance Man.” Faced with numerous challenges throughout his well documented life, he has persevered with enormous passion and determination. He attributes his success to his faith and the knowledge that the Man Above guides him through every door he opens. Introduced to international audiences as a member of the Irish Tenors, Tynan quickly became known for his unique voice and irresistible appeal. Following his mother’s advice to always follow your dreams, Tynan decided to launch a solo career, and has achieved the fame and adoration that could have existed only in the farthest reaches of his dreams.
Tynan’s singing offered the gentlest consolation at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan in the summer of 2004, when an international TV audience of more than 35 million heard him sing “Amazing Grace” and Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” at the personal invitation of Nancy Reagan. Ronan is also famous for his performances of “God Bless America” at Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch, which he says have been nothing short of unforgettable. In 2006 he started an affiliation with the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and has performed “God Bless America” at many of their games.
Ronan’s ability to simultaneously console and inspire is well-documented. In the wake of 9/11, the men and women of the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department and their families have been able to count on Ronan Tynan’s abiding concern and beautiful voice. Ronan has performed at benefits and memorial services for New York’s Finest and Bravest, and his singing softened the sorrow of many in the wake of the tragedy.
Of course, there have been plenty of joyous moments in Ronan’s career as well. In the spring of 2004, the Belmont Stakes got off to a rollicking start when Tynan—a passionate horseman himself—christened the race with a ringing rendition of “New York, New York.” This is of particular interest marking the first time ever in Belmont’s 30-year history that a singer was invited to perform live as they traditionally play the version recorded by Frank Sinatra. Tynan has performed for countless dignitaries worldwide including the wedding of New York’s former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to Judith Nathan on the grounds of Gracie Mansion. His voice also brightened the 80th birthday celebration of former President George H.W. Bush in the summer of 2004 in Houston.
In the spring of 2005, Ronan released his self-titled debut album, which began a new era in his career. “I think it shows a greater versatility than any other album I’ve done,” Tynan has said. “I wanted to sing a greater variety of music and spread my wings a bit, make a move out of the classic ‘Irish tenor’ vein.” The album contains the heartfelt “Passing Through,” which honors Ronan’s mother, whose vibrant spirit has been taken away by the long night of Alzheimer’s disease. Ronan debuted #2 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover Chart, just behind Josh Groban, and was the 8th best-selling classical crossover album of 2005. It also reached #2 on the World Album Chart and peaked at #9 on the Contemporary Christian Chart. His career has also been well-documented with appearances on Primetime Live, Good Morning America, the Hour of Power, 700 Club, Fox & Friends and many other high-profile television shows.
Ronan sang at the White House Governors’ Ball at the invitation of President and Mrs. Bush in February, 2007, and in 2008 returned to the White House to sing at the St. Patrick’s Day Reception attended by members of the U.S. and Irish governments. He performed during the Concert of Hope prior to the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium in April, 2008. He is currently in the recording stages of two upcoming CD releases, one an all-Irish CD, and a second collection of songs performed at his concerts and requested by fans throughout the world. In 2007 due to popular demand, he released a DVD of his motivational speech: Hitting the High Notes, Living Life to the Fullest.
Though Ronan enjoyed singing as a boy, he did not seriously consider formal voice study until he was 33, when he was well into his residency as a physician. His quick success is a typical development in a life of extraordinary achievement. Born with lower limb disability that threatened to sideline him throughout his childhood, Tynan was still “as wild as a March hare” when he was a growing boy, riding horses and racing motorcycles. When he was twenty, his legs had to be amputated below the knee after an auto accident caused serious complications. Just weeks after the operation, he was climbing up the steps of his college dorm, and within a year, he was winning gold medals in the Paralympics as a multitalented athlete. Between 1981 and 1984, Tynan amassed eighteen gold medals and fourteen world records of which he still holds nine.
The determination instilled in Ronan by his parents, a diminutive couple with gigantic ambitions for their son, soon propelled him to conquer a whole new field. Tynan became the first disabled person ever admitted to the National College of Physical Education. He later became a full-fledged medical doctor, specializing in orthopedic sports injuries, with a degree from prestigious Trinity College.
Ronan won both the John McCormack Cup for Tenor Voice and the BBC talent show Go For It less than one year after beginning the study of voice. The following year, he won the International Operatic Singing
Competition in Maumarde, France. He made his operatic debut as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and cut his teeth on the concert repertoire in performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. In 1998, Tynan joined Anthony Kearns and John McDermott (later Finbar Wright) as The Irish Tenors, an instant worldwide sensation. His autobiography Halfway Home was published in February of 2002.
Ronan is one of the most sought after motivational speakers in the U.S., presenting nearly 50 speeches annually for major international corporations and organizations.
The big Irishman has a special relationship with American audiences now. “America is powerful and intense, and it begs you to take it on,” Tynan marvels. “If you do that and do it right, it will give you absolutely everything you want. The thing I love about America is that there are so many people who want you to do well. They will you to do well. They encourage you, and they rejoice in your success. That’s a great virtue. I think Americans are fantastic people, amazing,” he says. And while Tynan claims that America has given him so much more than he’ll ever be able to give back, those who have attended his concerts, basking in the stirring beauty of his music and rolling with laughter at his self-effacing humor, may well just have to disagree.