Terrific Tenor Returns to Campus

Monday, October 19, 2015 - By: Jaclyn C, Alex ‘16; Photo by Ian McPherons

The lights dimmed in the Save On Foods Memorial center and the opening bars of “Nature Boy” played over the advanced sound system. Pitch perfect four-part harmony pierced the air and projected itself into my ears. It had begun.

One Tuesday night, five students—accompanied by almost as many staff members—adventured their way to Victoria to watch a very special Brentwood alumnus in action. Clifton Murray, Rogers ’98 is currently part of one of the most seamless vocal quartets I have ever seen: The Tenors.

Formed in 2007, this—according to Wikipedia (and my ears)— “operatic pop” group is comprised of Remigio Pereira, Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters, and of course, Clifton Murray. Touring near constantly, they have an impressive resume which includes sharing the stage with such artists as Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Justin Bieber, and Paul McCartney. They have won a Juno Award with their latest album entitled Lead With Your Heart.

Tuesday night’s concert in Victoria was spectacular. Sitting beside me was Will K, Privett ’16 who agreed that there were no words to describe what we had heard, just looks of awe and “feels”. The Tenors certainly know how to captivate and amaze an audience whether it be with their gorgeous harmonies, raw emotion, or subtle and humble showmanship.

After the show, our small group was able to meet Clifton and say hi to the other Tenors, which was especially nice for Andrew W, Whittall ’17 and I who were to guide Clifton around the school the next morning.

Wednesday morning, Andrew and I—accompanied by Mr. McpPherson—greeted Clifton, his wife Rachel, and his musical director Darryn DeSouza. The primary purpose of their visit to Brentwood was for Clifton to speak to the school about his life after Brentwood, and to sing for us (accompanied on piano by Darryn). However, before any of that could happen, we showed the trio around the campus.

Clifton’s eyes lit up as we brought him into the gym. At Brentwood, he dreamed of being in the NBA and becoming an Olympic high-jumper. He stepped onto the basketball court and explained how some of his best memories were here, the first time he met Mr. Johnston, jump shots, learning new skills. His passion was obvious in his eyes and in his energy.

Stepping into Rogers house, Clifton found his photo on the wall. He pointed out his classmates by name and told us about them and their stories. Smiling, he remembered with impressive detail various shenanigans from his high school years. He listed off where many of them are now, and mused about the vast network of people that knows around the world solely because of Brentwood.

Clifton sang around campus casually, much to our delight. A bar here, a note there. The acoustics in the new Arts building were especially ethereal with his clear tenor tone.  Clifton and Darryn also gave both Andrew and I fantastically inspiring advice about being a working vocalist/musician and about life in general as we chatted the whole time. After the campus tour, it was off to the theatre for his special presentation.

His speech was extremely well received by the student body, and he received standing ovations for both his songs. Mrs.  Widenmaier was beyond overjoyed when Clifton obliged and sang “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific, which he sang as a student for musical when he was at Brentwood.

After the performance, myself and Andrew were given the opportunity to sit down and formally interview Clifton.  We were overly excited. Alternating asking, Andrew and I asked a ton of questions, and got some very interesting, valuable, and generally awesome answers.  It was so inspiring to see someone who had come from nearly our exact positions become so happy and successful.  

Many students approached Clifton after lunch to ask their own questions, and get photos with him to capture the experience.  He was cheerfully accommodating and enthusiastic.  It appears that Clifton’s visit was inspiration to many students, myself greatly included.  His story of perseverance and passion left me with a desire to strive for my dreams even more fiercely than before, and for that I am grateful.

Jaclyn C, Alex ‘16

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