“Danny Boy,” Performed by Sean Boyes
An undying symbol of the Irish diaspora, Irish national pride and, more solemnly, a parting song often performed in funerals, the moving ballad “Danny Boy” has earned its place in the musical pantheon. Oddly enough, its composer was not a native of the Emerald Isle but instead English songwriter/lawyer Frederic Weatherly, who penned the lyrics in 1913. Set, however, to the unmistakably Irish melody of “Londonderry Air,” it’s easy to understand its connection to Ireland. The melancholy ballad has been famously performed by a slew of artistic heavyweights on the other side of the Atlantic, including Hollywood star Judy Garland, tenor Mario Lanza, rock and roll icon Elvis Presley, classic crooners Bing Crosby and Harry Connick Jr., and country legends Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Our English operatic tenor (of Irish heritage) Sean Boyes brings the ballad back to the Old World with a stirring rendition of the classic tune.
Boyes recalls the exact moment in his life when he realized that classical and operatic music was his calling: it happened during a school Christmas performance of the song “Walking in the Air,” popularized during the 1980s by Welsh choirboy Aled Jones. “I always loved performing as a child and dreamed of being an actor before I realized I could sing,” reminisces Boyes. With the support of family and friends, the young tenor enrolled in the Royal Northern College of Music at the age of 16, where he spent the next 7 years of his life earning undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. “The RNCM and my vocal tutors offered great support and excellent training to ensure I could succeed in a performance career,” adds Boyes.
Since completing his studies, Boyes hasn’t looked back. A member of Luna Rossa Productions since 2015, the English tenor became one of the company’s original cast members onboard Silver Spirit. “I’ve performed at some incredible venues around the world and of course Silversea has become my second home over the past 5 years,” Boyes says enthusiastically.
Where is home right now?
I live in a small town called Bury in the North West of the UK. Not far from Manchester which is, of course, very popular for its football teams. Funnily enough, I actually recorded the song in my bedroom at home!
How are you coping with the global lockdown?
It’s been a really big shock, to be honest. I suppose no one really knows how much they appreciate all the little things until they are taken away. It’s been a rollercoaster so far – I miss performing and traveling so much!
I’ve managed to give lots of singing lessons over Zoom – even to some Silversea guests and crew. Also I have been doing some online concerts from my living room, which has been really interesting. To have time with my family and friends that I don’t usually have has been priceless, but I just wish it was under different circumstances. I’m certainly refreshed and yearning to get back to performing!
Why did you choose to perform “Danny Boy”?
It’s a very special song for me. I actually haven’t sang this song many times since I sang it at my Grandad’s funeral. Irish songs have always been a big part of my life as I come from a huge Irish family; my mum has 7 sisters and 5 brothers! When I was a small child, I remember my Nanny (Irish for Grandma) singing lots of Irish songs to me, including ‘Danny Boy.’ Later in life she, unfortunately, suffered from Dementia/Alzheimer’s. However every time I’d sing this song to her she would remember every single word, which certainly shows the power of music. It has a special place in my heart, reminds me of both of them and always makes me smile.
What are some of your musical influences?
I love all kinds of music, ranging from modern day hits to Baroque opera. I like to draw inspiration from a range of composers and artists, because everyone is so unique. Some of the tenors that have always inspired me include Nicolai Gedda, Jonas Kaufman, Enrico Caruso and, of course, the big guy himself: Luciano Pavarotti!
How does it feel to perform on a Silversea cruise?
Performing on Silversea is always an absolute joy! I feel we get to know the guests so well that I always describe the feeling as performing to an audience filled with my aunties and uncles! There is so much support from the staff and audience that it’s always exciting! I also love the opportunity of freedom when performing individual, duo, group cabarets as the repertoire is always changing which means the audience always has something fresh and I never stop learning!
Is there any particular ship or destination that you enjoy the most?
I have done most contracts on Silver Whisper; three world cruises so far which I feel so privileged to have done as the guests, the ambience and the itineraries are absolutely world class! But, as Silver Spirit was my first ever ship, it will always have a special place in my heart. It’s so hard to pick a specific region as all the places Silversea has taken me have been incredible! But if I had to pick a few places they would be French Polynesia, Hvar in Croatia, Portofino in Italy, Cape Town and, of course, Antartica.
Are there any standout anecdotes of your experiences onboard?
So many happy memories… it’s honestly amazing to perform with such talented cast members, bands, pianists and guest acts! One memorable instance was performing some arias when the Russian Ballet Dancers were performing – it was fantastic to be a part of their show! My favorite memory, however, has to be the last time I was on the stage on Silver Whisper. Before the World Cruise stopped in Sydney this year, the Voices and I performed a best of the best concert. It was incredible hearing so much talent and the range of repertoire we had performed for the guests since the start of January. It was highly emotional for both cast and guests but was so fantastic to share the performance with such close friends in the audience and a wonderful cast on stage for what could be quite a while…
Once cruises resume, where do you look forward to traveling
It honestly doesn’t matter where we go. I’ll just be happy to get back to my Silversea family, perform and sail off into that beautiful sunset!