Music bridges Il Divo differences

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Diversity and a focus on retaining individuality is what makes Il Divo special, members of the multinational Il Divo band said in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

The four-member band comprising one artist each from the US, France, Spain and Switzerland, was invited to perform at the finals of the Miss Vietnam World contest that ended on Saturday.

They said at a press conference that it was difficult to find a "common voice" between them, but this had actually helped in creating a different kind of music that led to hits when they covered "Unbreak My Heart", "My Way", "You Raise Me Up" and "All By Myself."

Il Divo, which means "star" or "celebrity" in Italian language, was brought together by reality television star Simon Cowell, who first got the idea for the Three Tenors-like group in 2002.

It took Cowell two years to gather the four members of the group. The group didn't have a clear direction at first. But with "Unbreak My Heart", they found agreement and a new feeling, and since then they have gone on to perform many pop ballads in operatic vocals, creating their own style.

The group has been known for performing in different languages including English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Latin. They shot to international fame after performing the 2006 FIFA World Cup official song, "The Time of Our Lives," live with R&B singer Toni Braxton.

Swiss tenor Urs Bühler told a local newspaper that it was not so difficult to bridge the differences between them as they share a common love for music.

Sébastien Izambard, the French member, said they did not perform. What they did was "to transmit music emotions," he said.

"Our love for music helped us overcome difficulties. In the first meeting, there was a big gap among us because of differences in language," Spanish baritone Carlos Marín told local news website VietNamNet.

David Miller, the American tenor member, said the fact that members of the group are not similar and do not really know each other makes them respect each other and remain close.

Bühler said sometimes it could get boring for people who are very similar to each other and understand each other too well to work together.

As professional performers, the connection was not difficult to establish although they didn't know each other at first, Marín said.

The group has been asked by many fans about the delay in releasing new albums as the latest one "The Promise" was released in 2008, Bühler said.

But he said as normal people, they want to give "abnormal" things to those who love them, so they needed much time and energy to create new works.

Other members added that they live in different countries and want to spend a lot of time with their families after each tour and album.

On their debut in Vietnam at the beauty contest in Vinpearl Land in the central coastal resort town of Nha Trang, the group opened the beauty contest final with the classic "Amazing Grace", followed by their rendition of "Unbreak My Heart" and "The Winner Takes It All" three of their most popular songs.

Le Khac Hiep, deputy head of the organization board of the pageant, said "By inviting Il Divo to Vietnam, we have a chance to introduce the culture, people and tourism potentials of Vietnam to the world."

The group's request for a big orchestra could not be accommodated, so they sang the songs with recorded background music.

They are preparing for a tour next year and working to complete their fifth album expected to be released next May with both new and familiar songs.

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