PENINSULA PROFILE: She brings international starts to the community

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Profile

Songs of the Irish to benefit students

IRISH TENOR ANTHONY Kearns and pianist Patrick Healy will perform a mixed program of traditional Irish songs and popular music at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Port Angeles High School Auditorium, 304 E. Park Ave.

Tickets are priced at $15, $25 and $35 at Northwest Fudge & Confections, 108 W. First St., Port Angeles; Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim; and www.NWPerformingArts.com.

Proceeds will benefit the Port Angeles High School Orchestra trip to New York City next spring, to include the orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall.

Peninsula Profile
Her husband, Larry, on the road one night, started it all.

He told his wife, Lynnette Crouse, about “that kid,” then a 20-something Irish singer Larry saw on a PBS station somewhere in America.

Larry Crouse, while working for the Spangler Candy Co. of Ohio, traveled 48 weeks a year. He watched a lot of PBS in his hotel rooms. That’s where he saw Anthony Kearns, one of the Irish Tenors beloved for their sean nůs — old style in Gaelic — songs.

A year later, Lynnette herself saw Irish tenors Kearns, Finbar Wright and Ronan Tynan on Seattle’s PBS station, KCTS. She too was smitten by Kearns’ sweet, bell-clear voice.

“Larry told me to begin researching, and if I could find an Irish Tenors concert in his territory, he’d take me,” Lynnette said in an interview at her Port Angeles home earlier this month.

Tracking down concerts

She found out about just such a concert in Denver, where she and Larry were from.

“Off we went, and it was wonderful. Larry said to me halfway through that concert, ‘Find me a place where that kid [Kearns] is singing solo; I want to be there.’”

She quickly learned that Kearns would be giving two solo concerts in Southern California, so she and Larry flew there next.

At that time, Lynnette was the lead secretary at Roosevelt Middle School. She became friends with Ron Jones, who in addition to teaching music at the school, taught her to use the school’s computers.

“I don’t do change real well,” Lynnette declares, recalling that it took her a year to make the complete switch from typewriters — at which she was phenomenally fast — to the new machines.

“Technology and I don’t get along,” she says.

Lynnette has managed, however, to get along with computers and the Internet well enough, thank you, to be Kearns’ webmaster. At one of his California concerts, she happened to meet another fan who wanted to learn to build websites; the two collaborated on building a site for the singer. Lynnette managed to bring the website to the attention of Kearns’ management. It was soon declared the singer’s official site, and Lynnette has been maintaining it since, at www.AnthonyKearns.net.

There are of course videos, links to interviews and a panoply of information about where and when to hear the singer. And Lynnette, now 65, has turned one website into a whole set of skills; she’s built Web portals for a variety of clients. In addition to Kearns’ site, she maintains one for his accompanist Patrick Healy, www.PatrickHealy.net and for Crescent School, www.CrescentSchoolDistrict.org, along with its homeschooling site, www.OlympicPeninsulaHomeConnection.org.

But there’s something more unusual than this leap into the world of Web design. Lynnette is also a booking agent — one who has brought internationally known performers to her home town.

It was Jones, also leader of the Port Angeles High School Orchestra, who asked her to bring Kearns to the Olympic Peninsula. This was back in 2003, after Lynnette had returned from trips to see him in distant cities.

Jones asked, “How was your weekend?”

Lynnette replied that she and Larry had had a great time seeing Kearns, though it was an awfully long jaunt.

“I was being a smart-aleck: ‘Well, why don’t you bring him here?’” Jones remembered.

Neither he nor Lynnette thought Kearns would so much as consider Port Angeles.

She asked his management anyway. And got a yes. Kearns gave his first Port Angeles High School Auditorium concert in September 2003.

The hall was filled; the singer was dazzled.

When he walked out on stage and beheld the audience of 1,100, “he did a double take,” Lynnette recalled.

Kearns has been coming back to Port Angeles ever since, giving six more solo concerts with accompanist Healy. Then, in December 2006, the three Irish Tenors came to town for two shows. Each time, the men sang with the Port Angeles High School Orchestra, to raise money for improvements to the school auditorium, the largest concert hall on the North Olympic Peninsula.

And the Irishmen, who themselves have played venues like the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden, also have been part of fundraisers for the Port Angeles High orchestra’s trips to Carnegie Hall.

The man who originated this is gone now. Larry Crouse died, at age 71, in June 2011 after a long struggle with emphysema. He and Lynnette were married 44 years.

“The last two years of my husband’s life, he listened to one song every morning,” Lynnette noted. It was Kearns’ “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He and the Irish Tenors had sung it here, and it was, in a word, “magnificent,” she added.

“You could have heard a pin drop.”

This fall, Lynnette is presenting yet another benefit concert starring Kearns, Healy and the musicians of Port Angeles High. It’s a fundraiser for the orchestra’s March 2013 trip to New York City, to culminate in a performance at Carnegie Hall.

The event, set for this Saturday night, is dedicated to Larry, and one in a pair of the new Larry Crouse Concerts for Causes. Kearns, Healy and the orchestra will take the Port Angeles High School Auditorium stage at 7 p.m. and perform selected songs with the school orchestra under Jones’ baton. Tickets go from $15 to $35, and complete details about the show and the Irishman’s music, of course, are on the website Lynnette built.

On another of her sites, www.CMIEntertainment.com, details can be found about a whole other fundraiser: “Rocky Mountain High,” with John Denver tribute artist Ted Vigil. Vigil will come to the Port Angeles High auditorium May 4 for a night of tunes such as “Annie’s Song,” “Calypso” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Tickets range from $10 to $25.

A “season ticket” package of tickets to both this Saturday’s concert with Kearns and the Denver tribute in May ranges from $20 to $55.

Lynnette’s work with such performers has led to more than a few peak experiences. She’s taken groups of fans to see Kearns sing in operas across this country and in Europe. She has visited Dublin and Galway, Ireland, and Prague, a city whose cathedral and vivid colors have stayed bright in her memory.

In the United States, Lynnette is Kearns’ agent, promoting his performances and working with venue operators on publicity.

Here at home, Lynnette is focused on the fundraisers for Port Angeles’ high school students. Her own children, who went through school here, are grown up and prospering: Lyle works at ESPN in New York City while Leslee lives in Gig Harbor and recently finished her training as an emergency medical technician.

Lynnette, after close to a decade of hosting fundraisers, is a tireless promoter. She is determined to make sure the orchestra students get to Carnegie Hall next spring — and she also wants to see the community benefit. People come from far afield for Kearns’ music, she added, and they stay in local hotels and dine in local restaurants.

Kearns, reached at his home in Dublin last week, had words of praise for his friend.

“Lynnette has a great vision and great tenacity,” he said. “She’s still learning at this stage of her life, dealing with promoters and agents.

“She is strong-willed,” Kearns added. “She will press on, regardless.”

Last modified: October 13. 2012 5:57PM
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