No limit to tenors' talent
Scott Ciscon first fell in love with Bermuda while working on a cruise ship.
“In 1997, the Song of America docked in Hamilton weekly during the summer months,” he said. “I was singing in one of the on-board productions.
“Between the beaches and the golf and the fact that I was in my 20s and had a few days off every week to spend exploring the island, it was a like being on a constant holiday,” he said.
But when the gig was up, he never returned. “It was a different time in my life,” said the 44-year-old.
But he never forgot Bermuda. When he heard about the Bermuda Festival, a few years ago, he was determined to get his singing group Tenors Un Limited on to the programme. The UK group perform worldwide.
“I always keep a look out for new venues, festivals, and so forth for us to perform,” he said. “I had a look at what’s on during the festival and thought that our show would fit in well in the line-up.”
But it took a few years.
“Somehow the timing was never quite right,” Mr Ciscon said.
But next month it is finally happening; Tenors Un Limited will perform in the festival.
“I am so excited,” said Mr Ciscon.
The group, consisting of Mr Ciscon, Paul Martin and Jem Sharples, calls themselves “the rat pack of opera”. They are a “classical-crossover man band” with a rich selection of much-loved classic hits from opera, musical theatre and pop.
But Mr Ciscon confessed that some fans have jokingly referred to them as a “dad band”.
The label is accurate as they all have young families. Mr Ciscon has two children, ages 7 and 9, in Brighton, England.
“We try to do three weeks of touring, four at the max, and then we come home to spend time with our families,” he said. “Luckily, we have pretty understanding wives and children.”
Mr Ciscon was raised in Chicago, Illinois. “We’ve all been singing since we were kids,” said Mr Ciscon. “I did shows in high school and was in the choir.”
But he didn’t take it very seriously, at first. He went to the University of Illinois to study mechanical engineering.
“Engineering didn’t go so well,” he said.
He was more interested in performing with a university A Cappella group. In the end, he graduated with a liberal arts degree.
While still in university he tried out for Totally Television, a stage show at Busch Garden in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“It had a crazy mix of modern songs and television theme songs,” he said. “For the audition I did everything you’re not supposed to do. I turned up at the last minute, unshaven and with no sheet music. I didn’t have a picture of myself with me.”
He got the job.
“It was my first paid job in the business,” he said. “It was lots of fun and I was young. I hadn’t even left college at that stage.”
Three years later he went to Germany to do Broadway shows like Grease.
“By that time I had done two years on the cruise ship and one in a theme park,” he said. “When I went to Germany I found out that there was this whole other world over in Europe. I never went back to live in the US.”
He moved to London in 2000 and helped to start Tenors Un Limited in 2002.
“We all had careers in musical theatre,” he said. “We decided to put them on hold. Fourteen years later they’re still holding. We continue to grow and perform around the world.”
Tenors Un Limited have several albums out, including their latest The Journey.
They sang at the memorial service for the football legend, Sir Bobby Robson in 2009, at Wembley Stadium at the 2011 FA Cup Final and took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012.
They have also had appearances on Friday Night is Music Night (BBC Radio 2,) Top of the Pops, SKY and ITV Sport.
Mr Ciscon said the best thing about being with Tenors Un Limited is the camaraderie.
“That might sound cheesy,” he said. “But the three of us are really good friends. Sometimes we disagree, but most of the time we get along like a house on fire.
“We are lucky we have each other to do this. Solo artists travel and sit by themselves.
“Who do you talk to or share a meal with? We are amazing socialisers. We have got that down to a fine art.”
Mr Ciscon said the hardest thing about the entertainment business was the uncertainty.
“This business is brutal,” he said. “Because we are looking after ourselves in a lot of ways, we never switch off. We are like any self-employed people.
“When you are on vacation not earning money you are constantly thinking about work.”
But he wouldn’t change his career for the world.
“I think I’m most proud that in the twenty years since we graduated from university we’ve been able to make a living from singing.
“That’s quite an achievement,” he said.
• Tenors Un Limited will perform on Friday and Saturday at 8.30pm in the Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre at the Fairmont Southampton. Tickets are $80 for adults and $40 for students and seniors available at www.bdatix.bm. For more information see bermudafestival.org or tenorsunlimited.com