A Family Affair: Finbar Wright returns to UCH with some Valentine favourites


IRISH tenor Finbar Wright has toured the world with a beautiful powerful voice and a unique ability to cross music genres from gentle romantic ballads all the way to the famous Italian, Spanish and French Opera arias.
Just in time for Valentines Day / Week Finbar makes a long awaited return to University Concert Hall on Saturday February 11 with a performance that promises to be a night of romantic musical magic.
The last few years have represented the longest time away from live performing for Finbar Wright. This week, he says this upcoming show is most definitely a night of giving the audience what they want,
“I have a pretty good idea of what people would like to hear. After a couple of years now off the stage, I know that people are out for the night out in Limerick; it will be nearly Valentine’s at the weekend, so they want to hear the hits.
“They want to hear the ones that they know and love and that they can sing along to and all that so I’ll be very mindful of that.”
For many touring musicians, live gigs can be a bitter sweet experience of the joys of live performing versus the long hours on the road and being away from family and friends.
No such problems for Finbar though as his touring band includes members of his family.
His son Fergus is a successful composer and producer who comes from a classically trained background and has composed and orchestrated pieces for members of the RTE Concert Orchestra. He has worked on the soundtrack for ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ (Virgin Media).
“Fergus is a great musician and he is working away at his own music.
“On stage is my wife Angela and Iliana my daughter actually they’re both fine singers and they do the backing vocals.”
“It’s lovely to have time to be able to sit at the interval and have your cup of tea and your biscuits or whatever with your family.
“It’s a great support, you know, because it makes life a lot easier. I can tell you but they’re good musicians as well which helps.
“I always have a good team around me. The one thing I always try to do is try to have a young group of musicians hopefully who are starting to make careers for themselves. A lot of them are out of The Cork School of Music.
“And that is the case this time as well. I have a guitarist who’s with me for the fourth time, a guy called Kevin Roe. And Kevin is outstanding and he’s going to be really really something big.”
“So it’s a great group and there’s a great camaraderie between us and that makes for a lot really you know, there’s nothing worse than cranky musicians as you probably know yourself!. (laughs, I don’t know any musicians that aren’t cranky!!)
Finbar has performed and recorded with such famous names as Montserrat Caballé, and rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis.
With an eventful life, joining the priesthood in the 70’s to touring the world with The Irish Tenors and releasing eight solo albums, it is no surprise that Finbar wants to document his story and he is in the middle of writing his autobiography.
“It’s one of the joys of being a performer that you meet all these strange characters through the years. I mean, as I said, like everybody from Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness right through to Jerry Lee Lewis, some, you know, there were a lot of people.”
While the pandemic allowed many of us to overindulge in a glass of wine or two, Finbar embraced his love of nature and caring for the future of our planet and he has planted hundreds of trees.
He believes strongly in environmental sustainability and has developed his vegetable garden (full of courgettes, peppers, runner beans, carrots, potatoes, onions…) which supplies his family with fresh produce right through winter.
“I did actually grow grapes in the polytunnel, you wouldn’t have enough of them for one glass of wine though.” (laughs)
“Gardening has always been part of my life. We have a big enough country garden, we still have turnips in the ground. Just for the taste alone it is worth all the work.”
A proud Corkman, his home in Cork overlooks the River Lee. At Cork Person of the Year Awards 30th Anniversary, he was honoured with a special award as Cork’s No. 1 Performer over those 30 years last week.
“I think it’s for being still alive.” (laughs)
The Opera House was a sold out show for Finbar last weekend where he received an award.
“I’ve been very, very well supported over the years, which is great, because wherever you’re from, you know, the support of your own local community is very important. I’m really honoured altogether. You know, it’s a nice thing.”
Finbar Wright performs in UCH on Saturday on February 11.