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Springfield Symphony Orchestra to Welcome Irish Tenors

A Festival, Not a Concert

The Irish Tenors

The Irish Tenors will be coming to Springfield for what’s being described as a festival, not merely a concert.

Peter Salerno says the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO) doesn’t merely want to present music to the people of this region.

Instead, it wants to be what he called “responsive and responsible” to the community — while also presenting music — and, in the course of doing that, become even more woven into its fabric.

And this mindset, if you will, explains not only why the Irish Tenors will be appearing at Symphony Hall on March 4 at 7:30 p.m., but why that performance is merely part of something much bigger.

“We wanted to celebrate this region’s Irish heritage, not just this year, but for many years to come,” said Salerno, executive director of the SSO, adding that this desire falls into that category of being responsive.

As for the ‘responsible’ part, he said it explains why the performance of the Irish Tenors will be accompanied by everything from an Irish dinner before the event to efforts to mark (and educate people about) the Irish Rebellion —  also known as the Easter Rising or the Easter Rebellion because it took place that week — in 1916.

“We wanted this to be a festival, as opposed to just a concert,” he explained, adding quickly that the ‘just a concert’ line was a figure of speech, and that performance will be momentous in its own right. Indeed, it will feature the world-famous group that has been performing around the world for nearly 20 years now, and 51 musicians from the SSO.

But it will be a true festival and celebration, he went on, adding that such efforts are part of an ongoing SSO strategic initiative to broaden its visibility and overall impact within the community and engage larger and more diverse audiences.

This strategy was certainly in evidence in early December, as the SSO presented not a holiday concert, but a holiday ‘extravaganza,’ which included the Children’s Chorus of Springfield, what is now an annual holiday silent auction, Santa Claus, and much more.

And it will be evidence at a number of other performances as well, including the season’s finale, “Video Game Live,” on May 13. Salerno described this as an immersive concert that features the musical scores from the greatest video games of all time, plus large-screen video footage, synchronized lighting, solo performers, and a host of pre- and post-concert attractions such as video-game demonstrations and competitions.

As for the Irish Tenors, Salerno called their agent last year and discovered that there was what could only be called a window of opportunity. This was an open date that would bring the group to the Springfield area for the first time in years — and thus give the region a performance that would complement, but not in any way compete with, the many St. Patrick’s Day activities taking place in Holyoke later in the month.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 4, but festivities will begin much earlier, said Salerno, noting that there will be a traditional Irish dinner at the Marriott Hotel at 4:30. At 6:30, at Symphony Hall, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal will make a presentation on the 101st anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Other elements of the festival, as he called it, are coming together, said Salerno, adding that he expects this will be a special day and night for Springfield and the entire region — one of many in the months and years to come as the SSO continues to find ways to be both responsive and responsible.

—George O’Brien

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