Hitting the high notes Hedy hyere

The Ten Tenors didn't have grand ambitions when they started singing at corporate get-togethers. Now the world is their stage.

By MARTY CLEAR, Times Correspondent
Published December 11, 2007

They were a group of Australian singers just out to earn some money by performing at local private functions. The last thing they'd expected was that they'd become a worldwide phenomenon.

Okay, maybe "phenomenon" is a bit of hyperbole. But the Ten Tenors are undoubtedly world famous, so in demand that they spend months at a time on the road in foreign countries.

"It started out as 10 guys who just put together a corporate gig," group member Drew Graham said in a phone interview. "But people just seemed to love these 10 guys and their tenor voices."

Graham and the other nine tenors are in the Tampa Bay area for eight shows that begin tonight at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.

Taking their cues, and their name, from the Three Tenors, the Ten offer a mix of familiar operatic pieces and some "tenorized" versions of pop songs Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody is always a crowd-pleaser.

For their shows this month, they're adding a dollop of seasonal offerings, from O! Holy Night to Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.

The singers come up with ideas for material all the time, Graham said, and suggest arrangements to a musical director who travels with them, along with a three-piece band. (Recorded orchestral music is added to some pieces in the stage show.)

Truth be told, Graham said, not one tenor remains from that original 10 whoplayed those little corporate gigs in 1995. But many of the current tenors have been with the group for many years, going back to when the Ten Tenors left Australia for the first time and toured Europe in 2001. That's a big help when they're spending months on the road together and are halfway around the world from their families at Christmastime.

"The group we have now, we're good mates, really," Graham said in a phone interview.

"That's a huge help on the road, and it's been a problem at some points in the past when we've had people coming in and out of the group. And there's so many of us that you can get lost and get off by yourself if you want. Safety in numbers."

Marty Clear is a Tampa freelance writer who specializes in performing arts. He can be reached at mclear@tampabay.rr.com.


The Ten Tenors

The group performs tonight through Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. today and Wednesday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $25-$65. (727) 892-5767; www.mahaffeytheater.com.