'Something like this has never been done before'
Fergus Dennehy talks to Cahersiveen native and world renowned baritone singer, Gavan Ring about being influenced by classical music in South Kerry, his never ending love and thanks to the people of Cahersiveen and South Kerry and what he says will be a ‘historic’ night in the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church on August 5
The list of accomplishments by Cahersiveen native and renowned opera singer, Gavan Ring, is so substantial that you would need two of these articles to give the Kerry singer the full credit he deserves.
So in lieu of this, let me try to give you the abbreviated version:
• He holds a first-class honours Master of Music in Performance graduate from the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
• He is an alumnus of the National Opera Studio in London, the Glyndebourne Jerwood Young Artist Programme and the Opera Theatre Company Young Associate Artist Programme.
• Concert appearances include performances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and the Scottish Opera Orchestra.
For all these accomplishments though, Gavan said that he is most excited about his upcoming concert in the Daniel O'Connell Memorial Church in Cahersiveen on August 5.
Describing what he says will be an "historic" night for the town, Gavan said that he is eager to continue to give back to a town he holds close to his heart and which he said has supported him all throughout his career.
The words opera singing and Cahersiveen are not ones you put together often but Gavan tells me that it was the town coupled with growing up surrounded by music that helped to get him to where he is now.
"In terms of being influenced by music, it all started at a very early age for me. Music was always something that very highly regarded in my family. It was always there as a consistent presence in my life," said Gavan, speaking to The Kerryman on Friday morning.
"My earliest musical memories would be of my grandmother, Claire Ring, who would have been very musical herself. She worked in the Civil Service in Dublin in the 1950's and she was actually a member of the Raidió Éireann singers who would have been the equivalent of the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir of today."
"She would always have had an acute appreciation for classical music in particular and whenever I would have been down in her house in Renard, she would have had the likes of Vivaldi playing constantly," he continued.
"She played it so much that by the age of three or four, I would have been able to recognise both 'Swan Lake' by Tchaikovsky and the 'Four Seasons' by Vivaldi," he laughed.
"The opera thing then started one day when I was coming home from Killarney with mom and she was playing a tape deck of 'The Three Tenors'. I was maybe about four or five at the time but I remember distinctly being completely captivated by the music."
"This sort of sowed in me the very early seed of opera and set me on the way to where I am today. Music was always there for me. It was always there to be appreciated and enjoyed," he said.
It's been a long road from these early days of tape decks in the car to the heady heights of his present day fame.
Family influences such as his aunt and uncle Deirdre and Diarmaid Ring and beloved teachers such as Willie Larkin, Barbara Gloinson and Adolf Packeiser are all reasons he gives for his success.
"It was when I started to get my voice trained that I really caught the opera bug. I remember it clearly, how it started, I was at an organ lesson and we had finished up about ten minutes early and my organ teacher, who was also a singing teacher, he just suggested off hand that we practice a bit if singing," he said.
"So we did a few exercises, a few scales and a few notes here and there and after we had finished, he looked at me and he asked whether I would be interested in having my voice trained and of course I agreed."
"That was the start of it then and the rest as they say is history in a way, I suppose," he laughed.
Speaking about these early days brings us back to the main topic of conversation for Gavan, his upcoming concert on August 5 in Cahersiveen.
So, what can people expect from this exciting upcoming night?
"This is a hugely unique concert for Cahersiveen, Something like this has never been done before in the area. We are bringing down this fantastic full sized orchestra and we are also delighted to be welcoming Ireland's greatest opera singer at the moment, Tara Erraught."
"For people who might not know her, Tara is up there with the best in the world. She is a spectacular singer. I mean if there was an operatic equivalent of the best champagne, she would be up there," he laughed.
"She just recently made her MET debut in New York and she is in demand all around the world and here she is coming down to us in Cahersiveen. The audience is going to be spellbound by what she has to offer," he continued.
Speaking about his excitement at coming back to perform in his home town, Gavan cannot hold back in his praise of the town, its people and the support they showed to him in his early days.
"All through my life, Cahersiveen has been there as a wonderful support mechanism for me. The town and the people have always rowed in behind me in a huge way and always given me every opportunity to develop. They have always given me amazing platforms to perform, to get experience and to develop myself," he continued.
"In particular, the church in Cahersiveen, I would have had a fairly regular slot there to perform in front of hundreds of people and I always got the feeling that everyone in the church was rooting for me to succeed whenever I performed."
"This concert in August is a way of me giving something back," he finished.
Bookings for this upcoming concert in August 5 in the Daniel O'Connell Memorial Church are available to make from July 1 onwards.
You will not want to miss this "historic night" for South Kerry.