Wexford tenor Anthony Kearns to perform for Pope Francis

By Esther Hayden

Published 22/09/2015 | 00:00

Aretha Franklin.
Aretha Franklin.
Pope Francis.
Kiltealy tenor Anthony Kearns.

Kiltealy tenor Anthony Kearns will perform a very special concert during the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia later.

Kearns and US soul singer Aretha Franklin will headline separate performances on Saturday, September 26 and 27, when the pope visits the World Meeting of Families' street festival, and in the run-up to a public Mass said by the pontiff on Sunday, September 27. The Mass is expected to draw a crowd of up to five million people.

Franklin will sing at an open-air concert on Saturday hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg and featuring comedian Jim Gaffigan, world renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Philadelphia Orchestra along the city's Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

On Sunday Kearns will join a lineup of performers including the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale and soprano Margaret Keys set to perform ahead of the Sunday Mass.

Speaking from his home in Orlando Anthony Kearns said he is delighted to have been chosen to perform at the concert. 'It was a great privilege for me. I knew it was in the pipeline for some time in terms of the visit and the concerts it was just a matter of joining the dots. There was a lot of hard work putting this together and I was fortunate to be selected to perform. Maybe the Pope saw the Irish connection and thought of Pope John Paul's visit to Ireland and the likes of Finbarr Wright performing for him.

'I'm thrilled to be part of it all. Logistically it's going to be a nightmare though because they are expecting between 2 and 5 million people into Philadelphia over the course of the visit so the city will be at a bit of a standstill.'

Anthony said he has submitted a number of songs to the Vatican for approval adding the theme of the weekend was family and with this in mind he has chosen some spiritual songs in that vein. Songs submitted for approval include 'You Raise Me Up' with an original arrangement, 'Shelter Me', 'How Great Thou Art' and the 'Ave Maria'. Anthony is hopefully that a lot of his chosen songs will be approved although he said he may be facing competition for some of the songs from Andrea Bocelli who is performing the day before him.

It will be all systems go for Anthony before the concert as he is only flying to Philadelphia the day before the concert. 'On the Sunday we have a soundcheck very early in the morning and then I will the last to perform that day appearing before 4pm. After I perform Pope Francis will say Mass. Then I head to the airport to catch a flight to Dublin.'

Wexford fans of Anthony will have the opportunity to hear him perform live in Enniscorthy on October 4 at the Riverside Park Hotel. Anthony will be accompanied by Patrick Healy on piano and the concert is not to be missed. The concert starts at 8pm. Tickets are on sale costing €20 from the Riverside Park, Byrne's Bookshop, Wexford and Steemer O'Leary's Newsagent in Bunclody.

'I'm looking forward to my regular concert in the Riverside Park. I always love to get home. It's just a matter of balance between music and business but I am fortunate that I can make a trip back home and get to perform a concert in Enniscorthy.'

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