Mr. Kevin McDermott
Blessed with a tenor voice of remarkable range and agility, Mr. McDermott received professional vocal training from his father, Raymond McDermott, a noted voice teacher in New York City.
His earliest and fondest musical memories are of Irish tenor John McCormack, whose artistry and repertoire have remained an important influence in his own career. A champion of the neglected art of the popular song recital, Mr. McDermott is internationally known for his concert of Music from the Works of James Joyce, which he has performed throughout the United States and Europe, accompanied by acclaimed pianist Ralph Richey.
It should be noted that Joyce, in his earlier years in Dublin, once sang on the same bill with McCormack. So combining these two admired influences in his life — the writer and the singer — into a single musical program has been a fitting milestone in Mr. McDermott's career.
His love of history has also strongly influenced his activities as a performer. He is the director of Voice, Fiddle and Flute Historical Musical Services, which consults on and performs social and domestic music of the English-speaking world from the 17th to the early 19th centuries at museums and historic sites. He was also the founder of and a vocal soloist with the Boston Excelsior Mandolin Society and the New Boston Ideals, whose activities center around reviving the repertoire of turn-of-the-century plucked-string ensembles.
Another notable milestone in his musical career was his début at London's famed Wigmore Hall, on December 2, 1996, in a "Centenary Celebration" performance of works by the American composer Virgil Thomson. Accompanied by pianists Rodney Lister and David Kopp, Mr. McDermott sang on that occasion a variety of Thomson pieces, including:
He is a past winner of the American Musicological Society's Noah Greenberg Award for Excellence in the Performance of Historical Music for his work as vocal soloist with D.C. Hall's New Concert & Quadrille Band, a group devoted to popular American music of the mid-19th century. Recordings of their music are available on the Dorian label:
A Classical.net reviewer had this to say about the Civil War music recording:
Mr. McDermott can also be heard on A Christmas Album: Music of Rodney Lister, Virgil Thomson, Conrad Susa, Carlisle Floyd, and Charles Ives, an Arsis recording also available through Amazon.com (click on the CD image to go there). The album includes performances by the Choir of the Church of the Advent, Edith Ho & Mark Dwyer, Directors; the Harvard Glee Club, Jameson Marvin, Music Director/Kevin Leong, Conductor; Denise Konicek, soprano; Susan Brownfield, mezzo-soprano; Jennifer Elowitch, violin; Laura Ahlbach, oboe; Kevin Owen, horn; Mark Dwyer, organ; and Rodney Lister, piano.
Of Mr. McDermott's voice, a reviewer for the Audio Critic has written:
That "Irish" quality of his voice, and also the range of his vocal and theatrical talents, are well represented in the sound clips of selected songs highlighted on this Web site.
June 17, 1904 (?)
Kevin McDermott and friend Dinah Voorhies, attired as Mr. & Mrs. Leopold Bloom, pay a visit to Stephen's Martello Tower (now a Joyce museum) in Sandycove, in the midst of the James Joyce centennial celebrations, held in Dublin in June of 1982. The piano in the background belonged to the author, and "Poldy" was accorded the signal honor of being permitted to play a song on it during his visit.
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