Kansas City – When I typically think of three Irish priests going up on stage to sing, the image of the “Father Ted” episode “A Song for Europe” comes to mind, with Frs Ted, Jack, and Dougal singing “My Lovely Horse” to an unreceptive audience.
The Priests are not that sort of trio, though they do have their own fair share of comedy to boot with their magnificent voices. Fr David Delargy joined brothers Frs Martin and Eugene O’Hagan, two childhood friends and classmates of his, in forming this unique trio. Unlike the equally famous Irish Tenors, this trio appeared to be quite genuine and charming in their performance. They were joined tonight by soprano Sylvia Stoner, who sang 4 songs, 2 in each half of the concert, that added a local touch to the concert. Along with the vocalists were a set of fine instrumentalists, as christened by the trio the Midland Ensemble, so named for tonight’s venue, the Midland Theatre on Main Street in Downtown. The director of music was Gregg Mangaifico, who also was the pianist. The rest of the ensemble consisted of viola Kent Brauninger, violins Susid Goldenbrrg and Will Haapaniemi, keyboardist Kelly Ker Hackleman, with cellist Susie Yang.
The Priests began with a series of Latin hymns, “Laudamus Te”, Schubert’s lovely “Ave Maria”, an arrangement of the “Benedictus”, and César Franck’s “Panis Angelicus”. Following Stoner’s first set, the Piestw returned to perform a series of hymns and thought provoking songs from such trying times as the Spanish Civil War, to an awesome storm witnessed by a Swedish composer, which led to his penning of “How Great Thou Art”, the first part’s closing number.
I especially enjoyed how these pieces were able to introduce the trio and set the stage for the rest of the performance, which from there on out became, especially by the second half somewhat less in the strain of Christian mysticism and more in the line of good Christmas cheer.
The second half was filled with carols, great and small alike. For me the highlight of this part was their singing of that divine Austrian carol “Silent Night”. This is one carol that would certainly remain even if someday, Heaven forbid, Christianity were to disappear.
The concert concluded with an encore of the happy, originating in Ireland, seasonal favourite “12 Days of Christmas”, which included some fun and amusing audience participation. The concert was a benefit for the Kansas City Irish Centre in partnership with KCPT.
If you have an opportunity to see the Priests in concert, I would take that chance. They finish their North American Tour at the Holland Centre in Omaha on Saturday 7th December at 8.00 CST.