Interview: Singing in the Liverpool Philharmonic’s Spirit of Christmas concerts

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by Laura Davis

Mexican tenor Jesus Leon didn’t know what opera was before his talent was discovered by a music teacher, he tells Laura Davis

DESPITE the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s international reputation it is still pretty impressive that it’s managed to sign up Jesus for this year’s Spirit of Christmas concerts.

But don’t worry, the Second Coming won’t be taking place before you’ve had a chance to get the turkey stuffed. The Jesus that is performing for five nights in the Hope Street concert hall is Mexican tenor Jesus Leon.

He will be joining conductor Ian Tracey, the RLPO, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir for a programme packed with yuletide favourites, presenting for the second year running by Classic FM’s John Suchet.

“I’m very excited about these concerts because Christmas songs are felt very deeply,” says Leon, who performed with the orchestra under conductor Carl Davis earlier this year.

“The programme is really amazing, with all the best melodies, I think that the people will love it.”

The tenor will be singing a mixture of carols and Christmas songs including favourites O Holy Night, Ave Maria, Feliz Navidad (“a very popular song in Mexico and America”) and What Child is This? (“I’m playing guitar on that”).

Before Leon was discovered by a Cuban singing teacher who was visiting his little Mexico town, he had never heard of opera.

His mother was a keen singer, who mostly performed at family parties, and his uncle was a professional rock ’n’ roll singer and judging by his voice it was clear he had inherited the family talent,

In the mid-90s, he was overheard by Cuban opera teacher Jesus Li.

“I was singing popular music, kind of romantic songs, and he was the first man who said ‘you can sing opera’,” he recalls.

“I didn’t have much idea what opera was.

“He said that my range, the high notes, were quite natural in my voice. Other tenors have to build a range but for me it was quite natural even though I hadn’t studied properly.”

 

 

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