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Christopher Lynch Tenor Rathkeale THE VOICE OF FIRESTONE. Tony G Doyle MAY 2010. Early Years. Born in Rathkeale 23 July, 1920 Youngest son of Patrick Lynch and Mary(Sheehan) Lynch Grand mother – a Swiss Governess
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Christopher LynchTenor RathkealeTHE VOICE OF FIRESTONE Tony G Doyle MAY 2010
Early Years • Born in Rathkeale 23 July, 1920 • Youngest son of Patrick Lynch and Mary(Sheehan) Lynch • Grand mother – a Swiss Governess • His father raised and trained horses and Christopher assisted him in that work. • Played hurling with Rathkeale team –in goals • Had very fine boy soprano voice • Sang in local church choir • Sang in local concert - first big concert- Feb 1943
Personal • Married Dympna Daly, Moy, Lahinch at the age of 21 • Had five children -Brian, Christopher, Terence, Marese, Rosaleen • Three sons became medical doctors,–One of his daughters died a number of years ago. • A number of years after the death of Dympna he married Yvonne from England in 1980 and settled down in Worchestshire
Discovery • Sang in the Savoy Theatre , Limerick –1943-- Spotted by the O MARA family, great patrons of the arts • They arranged for Christopher to study under Dr Vincent O Brien(early tutor of John McCormack) in Dublin • O Brien arranged a series of concerts for him throughout the country • Sang in Savoy Limerick on a number of occasions
Irish Experience • While in Dublin O Brien arranged a series of concerts for him Christopher did several tours of the country • Received rave reviews where ever he went • Sang in the Savoy Theatre , Limerick on a number of occasions • Sang in Shamrock Club, London in Nov 1943 • In Jan, 1945 he sang in Newcastlewest in the Desmond Cinema. • Back in Savoy, Limerick in Feb, 1945 • Gave approximately 30 concerts throughout Ireland before going to U.S.
Meeting with Count John McCormack • A special concert before an audience of Dublin socialites and Government officials in the Shelbourne Hotel. • Among the distinguished audience was Count John McCormack • Afterwards John said that Christopher would be the one most likely to succeed him • ‘ I have not heard better in a quarter of a century’ • From that time both men became close friends with McCormack adopting the role of mentor and tutor - coaching him several days a week
John Mc Cormack • Said Christopher had ‘ a finely developed sense of humour- a tenor’s saving grace’. • On May 8 1945 McCormack wrote to RCA Victors records re Christopher – arranged for his first recordings • He had hoped to accompany Christopher to U.S to help launch his career • Endorsement by McCormack brought Christopher early fame • Christopher was summoned to Mc Cormack’s bedside when he was dying • Mc Cormack’s widow (Countess Lillian) hoped that Christopher would play the title role in a film about her hisband • She was godmother to Marese, one of Christopher’s daughters
In Italy • With support from O Mara family Christopher went to Italy to further his training • Stayed in the Irish Embassy in Vatican city for a time with Dr Kiernan, Irish Ambassador to the Vatican and Mrs Kiernan (Delia Murphy) • His maestro was Signor Morelli, who taught many famous singers of the era • Morelli said he had a wonderful natural voice of exceptional purity and beautiful timbre
Before leaving for U.S. • Joseph O Mara flew to U.S in 1945 with five trial recordings of Christopher . He played them for Howard Barlow, the NBC Conductor who in turn played them for H Firestone • Almost immediately there was a one year contract for Lynch to broadcast as The Voice of Firestone • Christopher did several concerts in Ireland before his trip
The Voice of Firestone • One of radio’s and tv’s pre eminent prestigious award winning cultural offerings since 1928 – continued for 35 years • Sponsored by Firestone -featured celebrated singers and musicians– from the Met, from Broadway ---such as Nelson Eddy, Eleanor Steiber, Leonard Warren, Richard Crooks , Iussi Bjoerling • Broadcast on NBC chain of 157 stations from Alaska to Mexican border • Transferred to TV on 5 Sept,1949 • 59 piece renowned symphony orchestra conducted by the distinguished Howard Barlow • Barlow had directed the country’s outstanding symphonic orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Symphony, Cleveland ,Chicago, Baltimore etc
Christopher’s Debut for Firestone • Succeeded Richard Crooks as Voice of Firestone • First broadcast before an audience of 3000 people in Carnegie Hall in Oct , 1946 . The packed hall hailed his debut • It was a resounding success Review: ‘Last night the young Irish tenor ,Christopher Lynch established himself as an artist of front rank calibre’. To say he was terrific is putting it mildly . We watched an audience change from curious scepticism to overwhelming enthusiasm as he progressed into the programme.’ • Rave reviews in papers • Afterwards a reception in the Starlight roof of the Waldorf Astoria hotel for 600 guests
Time MagazineMon 7th Oct, 1946 • Reference to his radio debut in the previous week • ‘Before he died Mc Cormack taught strapping blue eyed tenor Lynch what he knew about singing’ • ‘Christopher is the season’s most trumpeted visitor’ • ‘His voice sounded nearly as clean and sweet, his Irish Legato as rippling as MC Cormack’s’ • Flawless diction, warm communication, very handsome’
A Household Name • His first American season made him a household name , endeared his voice and personality to millions • In his concerts Lynch sang selections by great German, Russian, French and Italian classical composers as well as familiar folk songs of Ireland, England and Scotland
IN THE U.S • Lynch lived in Valley Stream, Long Island with his wife Dympna and his children • Two appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show • Invited to sing at the cornerstone ceremony at the United Nations Building in 1946 • Guest on Toast of the Town TV Show , Nov 23, 1952. also appearing were Les Paul and Mary Ford and Paul Lynde • Invited to Hollywood where he met and sang for many of the stars at that time – including Barry FitzgeraldHis work with Firestone finished in 1954 • Sang in the movie ‘Hills of Ireland’
Change in Music World • In Mc Cormack’s time huge changes occurring - -A new emerging microphone style of vocalising and a new informality of singing • The old full voiced style began to appear strange and old fashioned to many • The Victorian and Edwardian ballads were swept away from public consciousness by the new American popular music as sung by Crosby, Sinatra, Como • A distinction made between the serious singer and the popular singer . • Mc Cormack tried to bridge the two eras but his voice and health were failing at this time • Lynch was more successful in this respect and became hugely popular with millions of listeners and viewers. • This was a hugely competitive scene in America at that time
RCA Release First Record • Time magazine , 7 Oct ,1946 reported that RCA Victor had released his first record ‘Oft in the Stilly Night’ and ‘Believe Me if All those endearing young charms’
Us/ Canada Tours • Critically acclaimed concerts were given in great auditoriums throughout the U.S and Canada— • Toured with Philadephia Philharmonic under Eugene Ormandy • In the context of his tours he was described ‘as busy as a left-handed leprechaun in the light of the moon’ • In Boston in 1948 he was presented with a testimonial scroll in appreciation of his singing songs of Turlough O Carolan, ‘The Irish Handel
Tours • Tatler noted his gruelling schedule • Though only 28 he had done 150 concerts in previous years • Travelled over 50,000 miles per year throughout U.S. and Canada • Soloist at midnight Mass, St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York • Did several concerts for Fr Flanagan, (Boystown)
George Hanlon • Did an interview in Allentown – the scene of one of his first American concerts • ‘He sang with a zest that was way ahead of his time’ • ‘His voice was softer and higher than most tenors’ • ‘His voice never lost its boyish charm’
Further Reviews • Has been in U.S for 5 weeks and already a sensation in radio circles • Captivates Providence audience, ‘ well received by Portland audience’ • Lynch delights Grays Harbour with perfect singing • ‘He has English enunciation that may well be imitated by all English speaking people’. • ‘Youthful vigour coupled with thoughtful expression tend to colour every note that Lynch sings . He has developed a wide range of tonal shadings which he employs for well –planned effects.’ • ‘It is in songs calling for particular warmth and sentiment in interpretation that the Lynch virtuosity is best displayed .’ • ‘His future lies before him as he rises a bright gleaming star toward the galaxy of stars that charm, inspire and entertain the American people’. • Newsweek: ‘the true Irish tenor with voice of hauntingly sweet quality’
Eleanor Steiber (1914-1990) • Eleanor alternated with Christopher every other week on the Firestone Show • She was an outstanding soprano who sang the lead in many operas in the Met , New York • Eventually Callas challenged her for leading roles at the Met • Christopher recorded at least two duets with her ‘Indian Love Call’ from ‘Rosemarie’ and ‘I remember’ from ‘Maytime’
The Joyful Hour from CKLW -8 to 9Dramatisation of the Christmas Story 1948 • Among those taking part: • Bing Crosby, Ethel Barrymore , Dennis Day, Joan Leslie, Christopher Lynch, Perry Como, Roddy McDowell, Maureen o Hara, Ann Blyth, Maureen o Sullivan, Jeanne Crain, Mullen Sisters – others and special Hollywood choir • Two orchestras • 1947 Joyful Hour was rated as one of the five finest progs of the previous year
Return to Ireland • He returned to Ireland in 1950 and gave a number of recitals throughout the country • Appeared in the Deel Hall, Rathkeale in July – a sell out – a night to remember • Savoy, Limerick -23 July 1950 • ‘his singing last night stamped him as one of the world’s greatest tenors– great voice – unique stage presence’ (Leader) • Gaeity Theatre , Dublin, 1950 before President Sean T O Ceallaigh • Records were played on Radio Eireann, Donnelly sponsored programme for many years • Accompanist E Bossart
Recordings –RCA/Columbia • Mr Judson, president of Columbia records had never seen Christopher or heard him sing . Yet he offered him one of the biggest contracts ever made with a beginner on the basis of his recordings in London • Minstrel Boy--- Columbia • ‘Down by the Glenside’ • Macushla / Oft in the Stilly Night –HMV • HMV for distribution in Britain and Columbia for distribution in US
His Voice • An intensely beautiful and lilting Irish voice • He sang higher and softer than most other tenors • Great diction and phrasing • He had a very melodic voice • Great resonance • ‘His Irish Legato as rippling as Count J MCormack and very nearly as clean and as sweet’. ( Time) • At his best before a live audience • His voice never lost its boyish charm
A great ambassador for Ireland • He sang a large number of Irish songs and his lovely songs of Ireland endeared him very much to U.S audiences • A worthy son of Rathkeale – his home town which he loved so much • A genial warm friendly person • A great communicator and interpreter of songs of different genres
His Death • Died on 15 April, 1994 at his home in Worcestershire, England at the age of 73. • His death was reported in The New York Times, Wed 18, October • His celebrity and fame were relatively brief but he made a huge impact on audiences in Ireland and America
Rathkeale Arts Group • Acknowledge and continue to celebrate Christopher’s singing career • Organised 3 Tribute Concerts already • Tony Doyle • Feb. 2010