Selling off personal belongings, inclusive of her Bösendorfer grand piano, potentially much like the one that Franz Liszt used to enthrall Viennese audiences, Jill Ann Siemens forcefully chased a musical vision…a vision to assemble Canada’s finest vocal talent into one stalwart group.
Siemens, a pianist/composer, having devoted 22 years to the Victoria Conservatory of Music in British Columbia, scouted the true north and gathered first a trio, then a quartet, of tenors to fulfill that aforementioned vision.
Beyond a decade later, following a number of personnel tweaks, revisions and a unilateral betrayal, “The Tenors” have cured and blossomed into one of the world’s premier vocal bodies.
Originally “The Canadian Tenors,” their debut release in 2008 included Victor Micallef, Remigio Pereira, Fraser Walters and Jamie McKnight. As their reputation grew rapidly in Canada, McKnight, having theatrical ambitions, departed.
Siemens, yet again, initiated a search for the vocal piece to fit this specialized collection of tenors. That quest ended upon the recruitment of Clifton Murray in 2009.
In 2012, “The Canadian Tenors” were rebranded as “The Tenors” as they prepared to release “Lead With Your Heart,” their third album. “Lead With Your Heart” went platinum, in Canada, and earned a Juno Award, Canada’s Grammy, in the category of Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. It climbed to number 21 on the Billboard 200 in the United States; a chart designated to track the most popular albums in America.
However, on one warm Summer’s evening in Southernmost California, prior to the start of the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the first curveball of the evening was thrown by one of the group’s members.
During their rendering of the Canadian Nation Anthem, without warning, Pereira withdrew a paper sign from his vest pocket reading “All Lives Matter” on its face and “United We Stand” on the reverse side.
“All Lives Matter to the Great” was injected as lyrics in lieu of “The True North Strong and Free.” Fraser Walters, Victor Micallef and Clifton Murray continued the performance donning expressions of confusion, disbelief and uncertainty. Only the Halifax explosion of 1917 shook the nation in the manner in which Remigio Pereira did.
Back in Canada, hearts were not glowing in their home and native land when a significant television audience listened as Pereira made an independent decision to apply his own politically-driven lyrics to their rendition of ‘O Canada.’
What could have been a public-relations incubus was handled expeditiously and sincerely. Fans both north and south of the 49th parallel rallied behind the blameless Murray, Fraser and Micallef and held Remy Pereira wholly responsible. Pereira was subsequently set adrift and “The Tenors” became a trio, once again.
Four albums later, subsequent to five performances for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Grey Cup and Major League Baseball All-Star performances…to mention but a sliver of their prestigious experiences…The Tenors have risen to the crest of tenor-mountain.
As the group prepares to perform at the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee on Saturday, May 20, check out our exclusive interview with Clifton Murray at Lee Herald.
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