• Embassy Listings • Ambassador Listings • Medical • Education • Hotels • Travel • Automotive • Real Estate • Foreign Film Directory • Diplomatic Spotlight • Classifieds


Irish Tenor Anthony Kearns Headlines Concert at Perry Belmont

By Mackenzie Weinger

Embassy officials and guests gathered in early March to kick off both spring and the Irish season in one of Washington’s iconic historic homes, the Perry Belmont House.

The stately Beaux Arts mansion, which now serves as the headquarters of the Order of the Eastern Star, a social order akin to the Freemasons, provided the setting for an afternoon concert on March 3 with tenor Anthony Kearns, an original member of the Irish Tenors.

Anniversary Israel Poland
Acclaimed Irish tenor Anthony Kearns performs during a March 3 concert at the Perry Belmont House.

Brian Cahalane, senior counselor to the Embassy of Ireland, was at the show representing Ambassador Daniel Mulhall. Cahalane said he was “delighted” to attend the event featuring Kearns, whom he described as “such a great interpreter of the Irish songbook.”

“This is obviously a very special moment here in the U.S. as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Irish-American heritage month…. It’s a great pleasure to be here to begin our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with compatriots, with the Irish diaspora, friends throughout the U.S. and across the world. Anthony Kearns needs no introduction. He’s a fantastic singer and performed for presidents and popes,” Cahalane said before the performance began.

Anniversary Israel Poland
Interior designer Barry Dixon, tenor Anthony Kearns and former Fox 5 anchor Will Thomas, now of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

“[He’s] such a fantastic ambassador for Ireland and Irish culture,” Cahalane continued.

In addition to the Embassy of Ireland, co-hosts included Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmonícek; his wife Indira Gumarova; Ambassador of Slovenia Stanislav Vidovic; his wife Ljiljana Vidovic; Ambassador of Malta Keith Azzopardi; and his wife Daoruang Pimpila.

Interior designer Barry Dixon discussed the house’s history and design prior to the performance, noting that “the design of this house is spectacular — I don’t have to tell you that.” As an “aristocratic palace,” he said, the home was a favorite gathering place of Washington’s elite and a guesthouse for foreign dignitaries before the U.S. government purchased Blair House.

Anniversary Israel Poland
Brian Cahalane, senior counselor to the Embassy of Ireland, welcomes guests.

“When it was built, reporters said it made the White House look tiny. Can you imagine?” Dixon said.

And the house — which Perry Belmont, a millionaire congressman and ambassador to Spain, began construction of in 1906 — is magnificent. The Belmonts used the home from 1909 to 1925, and a decade later it was purchased by the General Grand Chapter. Much of the original decorative pieces of the house remain, like Tiffany vases, oil paintings and furniture, as they were sold with the house and still are on display for visitors. The house, true to its style, employs a number of stunning classical details and occupies an entire, triangular city block.

Lawrence von Weigel, headquarters administrator of the Perry Belmont House, said in a statement that “this was a spectacular event, and I’m glad we were able to host Anthony Kearns at the finest example of a Beaux Arts manor in the D.C. area. The audience was transported back in time to an era when world-class singers performed in the parlors and manors of the wealthy.”

Kearns said prior to the event that “this is an incredible setting for a concert. The house will come to life again.”

The tenor performed for over an hour, mixing Irish folk classics like “Kitty of Coleraine” with American folk songs and contemporary tunes like “You Raise Me Up.” Before performing “Danny Boy,” Kearns joked to the crowd, “I wouldn’t get out of the building if I didn’t sing it.” In return, he received a standing ovation after his rendition.

Anniversary Israel Poland
Indira Gumarova, wife of the Czech ambassador, welcomes guests.

In a statement after the event, Dixon noted that “there were several songs such as ‘Shenandoah,’ ‘Over the Rainbow,’ ‘You Raise Me Up’ — and of course ‘Danny Boy’ — that struck a chord, and touched my heart due to their special significance to me at different times in my life. I felt he was singing just for me.” Before the final song, Kearns told the crowd, “We’re going to finish up with an Irish song — feel free to join in.” Those gathered in the ballroom for the event complied, belting out the chorus to close out the evening.


Mackenzie Weinger is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.



List your upcoming events here. For $275 per listing (as low as $150 with a term contract), your event listing will reach our thousands of subscribers. If you are reading this ad, you know it works. Call (301) 933-3552 for more information.

Subscriber Services

• Advertising • Contact us

You are receiving this message because you provided your email address to us for The Diplomatic Pouch. If you do not want to receive future emails from us, please click Unsubscribe to be removed from the list.

About the Pouch

The Diplomatic Pouch is an email newsletter distributed to opt-in subscribers and produced by The Washington Diplomat, an independent monthly newspaper. The Pouch covers the diplomatic community, international affairs, politics, arts and culture, and social life in Washington, D.C. Although a complement to The Washington Diplomat newspaper, all content is original and exclusively written for the Pouch.

© 2017 The Washington Diplomat. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication is prohibited.