An Arrangement for Everybody: Quad City Arts Visiting Artists Destino, December 15 at the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:24

DestinoSinger Joey Niceforo, the founder and frontman for the musical quartet Destino, first met two of his group’s other members – violinist Rosemary Siemens and pianist Roy Tan – when all three were active in the operatic ensemble The Canadian Tenors in 2006. The fourth member, tenor Terance Reddick, joined Destino two years later, and initially auditioned for the group by singing opera over the phone.

Yet if you plan on seeing these Quad City Arts visiting artists in their December 15 area concert, don’t expect a program composed solely of arias and cadenzas. It’s not every ensemble, after all, that can boast a repertoire ranging from “Ave Maria” to the Beatles’ “Yesterday” to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.”

“Nothing’s worse than going to a concert where you don’t really know any of the tunes,” says Niceforo during a recent phone interview with the four Destino musicians. “It’s really kind of hard to get involved and get into it. So it was always really, really important to us that we had an arrangement for everybody. So if somebody really loved the theatre world, we had that. If somebody likes pop, we have a pop piece. Or jazz.

“I mean, we always wanted to incorporate opera into our concerts,” continues the Sudbury, Ontario, native. “But we also wanted to introduce other pieces so that people who weren’t really familiar with opera could relate to us in some way. So if they didn’t know ‘O Sole Mio,’ they would at least know, like, ‘Mack the Knife.’ If we could, we just wanted to do one of everything.”

DestinoDestino’s present area stay – culminating in December 15’s public concert at the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport – marks the group’s second residency with the Visiting Artists program, as its musicians also entertained and educated local audiences in 2010. And since the quartet’s 2008 debut for the Children’s Miracle Network at Walt Disney World, Destino has also become something of a global phenomenon, having made prestigious appearances at Carnegie Hall, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Beyond their covering of pop, jazz, show-tune, and even rock compositions in the guise of a “classical” repertoire, pianist Tan – a Singapore native who arranges the group’s songs alongside violinist Siemens – believes that part of the group’s appeal lies in the amount of experimentation Destino performances allow for.

“Rosemary and I love improv,” he says. “And we don’t play with any scores or anything like that. We both play by ear, and we like playing with different styles of the same song. We generally have a set list, but we also figure a lot of things out on stage, adjusting the sound as we go, and that’s how it goes every night.” And, apparently, sometimes even on the way to gigs.

“Last year, we had a song that we decided to do in the car,” says Siemens, who was raised in the small Manitoba town of Plum Coulee. “We were going to a school show, and we were like, ‘We need a new song.’ So we thought we’d try ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ And Roy and I can sort of practice without our instruments in front of us, so we did, and the guys sang, and we came up with some music, and then we did it for that school show. And we still do that one today. It’s one of our favorites now.”

DestinoDestino’s performers also cite several favorite performance spaces during their travels, and as she was the first violinist ever asked to play there, it makes sense that Siemens chooses the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica as one of hers. “That was pretty amazing,” she says. “It was with a 200-voice choir and an organ – and my violin – and they probably have a six- to eight-second reverberation in there ... . It was incredible.”

Niceforo says he’d opt for Radio City Music Hall. “It’s the largest theatre in the Western Hemisphere, and so to be standing out on that stage and ... perform for 6,000 people was breathtaking.” As for Las Vegas native Reddick, whose gospel and pop vocals Niceforo calls “absolutely phenomenal,” he chooses the site of the 2008 Miss America Pageant, which was held in his hometown.

“That was really cool,” says Reddick to the others’ audible amusement. “I had tons of family there, there were lots of beautiful women ... .”

And prior to Destino’s public concert on December 15, an engagement that Siemens says will feature “a large chunk of Christmas songs,” the group will be performing locally for young audiences at 30 area schools – a chance to educate and entertain that Niceforo says the entire group relishes.

“It’s such a great opportunity,” he states, “because the music is really secondary to making a connection between the child and the artist. I think just seeing performers that are genuine, and who love what they do, lets a child really, really identify with them. And as long as they know that they can do whatever they want as long as they put their minds to it – and that education is the key ingredient in our being able to do what we do – then that connection is made.”

 

Destino performs its public concert at the First Presbyterian Church of Davenport (1702 Iowa Street) on Sunday, December 15, at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1691 or visit QuadCityArts.com.

For more information on the group, visit Destino4.com.