Monday 27 May 2019

St James' in Mallow set for musical feast

Local acts set to join US tenor on line-up

Bill Browne

Critically acclaimed American tenor Gerardo José Ortega will next month perform his first ever recital on Irish soil when he headlines an eagerly anticipated concert amid the atmospheric surroundings of St James' Church in Mallow. 

The concert, a fund-raiser for the Mallow Union of Parishes Maintenance Fund, will take place on Friday, November 2 and will also feature performances by a selection of talented singers and musicians. 

Born to Nicaraguan/Spanish parents and raised in New Orleans, where he was infused with the 'Big Easys' world famous jazz tradition, Ortega begin singing at the tender age of just nine-years-old. By the age of 13 his attention had turned to a more classical repertoire and he went on to study in classical voice and music at the Loyola University. 

In 2005, following the devastation wreaked on Louisiana by Hurricane Katrina, he relocated to Miami to pursue his career receiving a Bachelors in Vocal Performance from the University of Florida's New Word School of Arts. 

Currently the artistic administrator of the city's 'Downtowner' concert series and  musical director at the First United Methodist Church of Miami, Ortega has played the lead in numerous productions as well as performing at prestigious American venues including Carnegie Hall with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre. 

In 2016 he sang the national anthem at the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in front of half-a-million Nascar fans. 

Next months concert has been organised by Mervyn Shorten, a personal friend of Ortega, who said he was delighted the tenor had accepted an invitation to perform in Mallow. 

"The wonderful atmosphere and excellent acoustics at St James' make it a perfect musical venue and this promises to be a magical night of song and music with a fantastic line-up," said Mr Shorten. 

Joining Ortega on the programme will be Mallow classical/crossover ensemble Sibéal (featuring pianist and flautist Louise Luddy who will also duet with Ortega), Mourneabbey cellist Caoimhe Cronin, Cór Mhagh Ealla and members of the Ceoltori Mhagh Ealla music collective. 

Some of the proceeds from the concert will be channelled  towards remedial works currently being undertaken at St James' including the restoration of its magnificent stained glass windows, its halls and internal tower. 

Tickets for the event, priced at €15 are available from Katie's Newsagents and early purchase is well advised as the intimate venue can only cater for an audience of 380 people.