Romanza returns to South Okanagan for Christmas concert

Trio of tenors, Romanza, will be performing Christmas songs and traditional repertoire in Penticton and Osoyoos.

They have performed in Penticton more than anywhere else on the planet and the three critically-acclaimed tenors in Romanza are coming back for more.

The trio are bringing back their soaring voices for O Night Divine — a Romanza Christmas at the Cleland Theatre on Nov. 22 and 23 and presented in partnership with the Downtown Penticton Association and the Ramada. This time around they are asking for the audience to bring someone who hasn’t been exposed to their music.

“We think it is important that people understand the arts needs support and I think this province looks at it as a luxury and I don’t think it is. I think it is more important than that,” said tenor Philip Grant. “We invite people to bring a friend, to our show or any show, and expose them to something in the arts and culture world and to something they may not necessarily normally go and see. It is a ground-level grass roots kind of approach to encourage people to expose themselves to new types of arts and cultures. It is a way to make sure we broaden our horizons and grow as a community.”

Grant said the tenors consider themselves as champions and ambassadors for the arts. When they heard about the Penticton Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee at their last performance in the city during the summer at Gyro Park, they suggested that their next show could give partial proceeds to the initiative.

“For us, Penticton has been so great. It makes sense to want to give back to the community and help sustain the arts, and arts development,” said Grant.

The tenor practises what he preaches. As a ticket holder for the Vancouver Opera, on principal, Grant never takes the same person twice.

“The great thing is no one ever just says, ‘meh, that was ok.’ They usually say that was way better than I though or that blew me away and I could actually follow what was happening. I hope to open people’s minds to something new and exposing someone to arts and culture is a way to do that. Our show is one way, but you could also go to the art gallery or so many things in Penticton,” said Grant.

Those attending Romanza’s show in Penticton will be in for a treat, said Grant. The first half will be dedicated to the traditional type of songs he and his partners Ken Lavigne, and Paul Ouellette have been delighting audiences with since 2004. The second half of the concert will feature Christmas staples such as O Holy Night, Ava Maria mixed in with Feliz Navidad and 12 Days of Romanza Christmas.

“ Some of these songs will be the ones that Pavarotti always sang at Christmas with the glorious high notes at the end. We don’t choose songs unless all of us are behind it and love it. You give us juicy melodies and great high notes and we’re pretty easy to please,” said Grant.

There will be a surprise or two as well. Grant said at the summer concert in Penticton Romanza inserted the theme song from Rawhide into their repertoire, which spans over 100 songs, and the crowd loved it.

“We had a lot of fun with it and in every show we try and have one piece that doesn’t belong there. It always invariably seems to steal the show and is the song people talk about,” said Grant, who wouldn’t reveal what that song will be for their upcoming Penticton performance.

Having travelled across the country, in 37 states performing some 300 plus shows, Romanza has stopped in the Okanagan almost yearly, drawing crowds that swell over 2,000 to Okanagan Lake Park in the summer. While Grant pokes fun about the reasons why he thinks they are so popular here, it is undoubtably a mix of their stage charisma and unique voices.

“We like to think that. We joke that you could put three monkeys in tuxedos and put them on stage and the audience will love it because the music is so great,” Grant laughs. “We are entertainers and if we have a good time the audience will have a good time. That is why we really try and interact with the audience and make the music and show accessible because that really goes a long way.”

Tickets for the Penticton Cleland Theatre shows are $25 in advance and $30 at the door and available by calling the box office at 250-490-2426.

Romanza performs in Osoyoos on Nov. 21 at the mini-theatre. Tickets are at Beyond Bliss and Imperial Office Pro.