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February 11, 2012

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Il Divo marches to its own rhythm

IL Divo will be in Shanghai later this month to perform their unique operatic pop songs.

The four men from different countries are currently on a world tour. More than 60 percent of the program will be selected from their latest album "Wicked Game," but fans will be pleased as they will also perform some of their hits from years gone by.

"There are some new elements in 'Wicked Game,' compared with our previous album," says Sebastien Izambard, a member of Il Divo. "We think it is more mature and dramatic, probably the best album by us so far."

Il Divo, meaning divine male performer in Italian, was established in 2003 and is composed of French pop singer Sebastien Izambard, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, American tenor David Miller and Swiss tenor Urs Buhler.

Music manager and executive Simon Cowell dreamed up the idea. Cowell sent invitations to opera agencies worldwide and spent two years selecting the four members from candidates in 17 different countries.

"Simon thought it would be interesting to combine pop and classic, which can help our music be accepted by ordinary audiences more easily; after all, not all people know much about classic vocal arts," says Izambard, the only pop singer in the group.

"I was invited to bring more pop elements to the group."

Though both Buhler and Marin initially rejected joining - Buhler because he thought it wouldn't work and Marin because he was more interested in a solo career - they are now happy that they agreed to join eight years ago.

Different cultural backgrounds and language barriers did create difficulties at first, but a shared goal in music helped them gain mutual understanding and cooperation over the years.

"Throwing off our airs, we all find it interesting and fun to work together, which helps us produce better music and gain more popularity," says Izambard. "We are very different today from what we were. We only thought about individual success eight years ago, but now it is the group success that overweighs all."

According to Marin, the four members work as four captains on a ship. They discuss and make decisions together, especially in the song selecting process.

And nobody can force anyone to sing songs they don't like.

Different from most pop groups whose teenage fans grow together with the band, Il Divo has targeted more mature audiences, generally people over 35 years old.

Buhler says: "Except for our vocal skills, the key to our success probably lies in our differences. Different nationalities, different cultural backgrounds and different personalities help more people see their reflections in us, which is a big advantage to win more fans."

The best part of being a singer is to communicate with people regardless of language and cultural background, according to Marin.

"We sing for different fans in different countries in different languages. Even though the audiences cannot always understand the lyrics, they can still appreciate our songs," Marin says.

"That's the best part of music, it is one of the few arts that links people with true emotion."

Date: February 28, 8pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Stage, 1111 Caoxi Rd N.

Tickets: 180-1,280 yuan (US$29-203)

Tel: 962-388


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