Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thank goodness Christmas is finally over. I’m so tired of being good and not pouting. Now that the presents have been opened I can relax again.

One thing I got was the 1997 Choir of New College, Oxford CD titled Early One Morning, Music From Past Times, For Our Time. This is an excellent collection of folk songs, mostly from the UK, that have been enriched by these powerful choral voices. Most of the songs are well-known, even by me, such as Linden Lea, Loch Lomond, Greensleeves and The Minstrel Boy.

One really good song is Londonderry Air. (Someone once told me that he used to think the title of the song was London Derriere, a song about a Parisian hooker in London. I told him he was thinking of the story A Tail of Two Cities.)

The choir performs this song without words, just ‘ooh-ing and aah-ing’. I wish I knew what that type of singing is called, there must be a word for it. It isn’t humming yet there are no words, either.

Anyway, I realized something when listening to this song, that words can get in the way. If you are listening to the interplay of beautiful voices then it can be really nice to not be distracted by the lyrics so you can concentrate more on just the sounds. It’s similar, for me, with foreign language songs. Since I don’t understand the words I don’t pay as much attention to them. They become just sounds.

The director, Edward Higginbottom, has included a couple of American spirituals, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Steal Away and also Shenandoah, all which are really pretty.

Some of the other songs are Early One Morning, Waly, Waly, The Skye Boat Song and more.

It’s funny that the credits list Christopher Hughes as the organ scholar because that seems to indicate that the organ is present somewhere on the album, but I can’t hear it. The choir is singing without music, as far as I can tell. They really don’t need any accompaniment.
This is another great CD from the Choir of New College, but I doubt they could ever make a bad one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God Bless Us, Every One!

In case you had not noticed yet, Libera has a short Christmas greeting video on their home page. We get to see some of the new faces in the group, but brace yourself for the shock when Josh and Liam speak their names. They sound like Barry White. Okay, maybe not quite that deep but they’re definitely not trebles any more.
The boys’ and girls’ choirs from Manchester, England are being closed down, according to the article I’ve linked here. And as if that was not tragedy enough, the Boys’ Choir of Harlem is also saying good-bye. Lack of funding seems to be the problem for all of them. I hope this recession ends soon, before more is lost.

Santa came early this year and piled a bunch of gifts under my tree, but the darn things all say, “Do Not Open Until Christmas” so it may be a next week before I post again. I need to see what new CD’s are waiting to be unwrapped on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, I have something special. For Christmas I want to talk about a Jewish choir. I’ve mentioned before about how much I like the Yeshiva Boys’ Choir. I got curious about the faces behind all of those distinctive and interesting voices so I got their DVD titled YBC Live.

Something I always think of when I hear these guys is “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…”. These boys smile as they belt out the words, loudly and with confidence. There are several soloists that take turns at the mike during each song and they are all really cute kids but the most charming one is also the smallest boy. He may be three feet tall but I’m not so sure about that. The director, Eli (pronounced Ellie) Gerstner introduced him as his little brother Yaakov and he has a great Munchkin voice that makes me grin whenever he reaches over his head to take the mike off the stand and belts out the lyrics like a little pro.

Naturally, the music on the DVD, unlike the Cd, has not been polished up by the studio producers, but there is always something fun about seeing a live DVD performance.
All of the boys are very accomplished, more so at singing than at dancing, although they do that well enough. Yossi Newman directs their singing and choreography which is sort of a cross between calisthenics and line dancing with a little bit of Macarena thrown in. They’re not always together on the moves, but it’s a lot of fun to watch them. A couple of the boys manage to do some fancy footwork at the front of the stage during one or two numbers.

They sing in Hebrew so I don’t have any idea what they are saying. It doesn’t matter, though.

There is one thing that I’m not happy about with this DVD and that is the mis-labeling on the cover which says “YBC Live“. It turns out that half the disc is given over to solos by Eli Gerstner and several songs by an adult trio. I don’t recall this being mentioned anywhere in the description when I ordered it. I don’t want to hear a guy's voice if he’s over 18. I’m kidding, of course. There are lots of great adult male voices out there, like…, well…, uh….that guy who, you know, heck, I’ll think of it later.

You can check out their video Kol Hamispalel on YouTube.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Choirboys

This is the last Christmas album I will talk about this year. There’s no use overdoing it.

There are The Choirboys and then there are The Choirboys. Two trios, one recorded their CD in 2005 and the other in 2007. Perhaps the main thing they have in common is their producer, Ian Tilley, who also did editing and mixing on both CD’s.

(Just a quick aside: I once ordered Fiona Pears DVD and Ian Tilley himself emailed me to remind me that it was not in Region 1 format and that it wouldn’t play on my DVD player, only on my computer and asked if I still wanted it. What a nice guy.)

Just as the first trio of Patrick, Ben and C.J. were chosen by auditions the same selection process found this second trio, William Dutton (son of Paul), Bill Doss and Andrew Swait.
These boys have just an outstanding set of voices that are beautiful together on their CD The Carols Album.

The songs here are the standard Christmas fare, everyone’s favorites, so there’s really no need to describe them, but it’s the harmonies and arrangements that make it a special recording. The orchestra is excellent and so is the backup choir. They even have some help from All Angels, a female quartet, on O, Holy Night.

Here is a little biographical information I lifted (stole) from the internet.
“Bill was a chorister at the Belmont Grosvenor School, near Harrogate … He has twice been awarded the Outstanding Performance Award at the National Junior Choir Championships.Bill is now a chorister at St. Olave's School in York.”

“Andrew Swait was just ten years old when he recorded 'Light of the World' in October 2005 as an Abbey School Chorister. In addition to the demands of full choristership in The Abbey School Choir … Andrew was also a member of Tewkesbury Abbey Parish Choir. Upon the closure of the Abbey School in September 2006 Andrew was given a choral scholarship to Cheltenham College where he continues his work as a chorister.”

“William Dutton is a student at St Aidan's Church of England High School and a Chorister of St Mark's Church, Harrogate. In October 2006 he won the title of BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year… and was delighted to be invited to sing with Jose Carreras in his 2006 Royal Albert Hall Christmas concert.
William is also a violinist and… has been a member of the National Children's Orchestra (NCO) since 2003, and in 2006 was awarded a NCO-Leverhulme Trust Scholarship in recognition of his exceptional talent.”

There will be, someday, another trio to be called The Choirboys. I can’t wait to hear them.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Boys Air Choir changed its membership frequently, selecting some of the best boys‘ voices in the UK. The one name that seems to appear on all of their CD‘s is Connor Burrowes, sometimes as a singer and most of the time as a conductor. His brothers appear with him on some of the albums and other boys names appear on more than one CD, but in their 2003 release Merry Christmas the names are all new ones, again with the exception of Connor.

Tom Crow, Marcus Roberts, Charlie Hughes, Hugh Saffrey, Sam Hancock, and Joseph Rawlins make their only appearance here but it’s a memorable one.

It’s interesting that Merry Christmas was followed up the next year with Merry Christmas + Five which had the same 13 songs from this album along with the five Christmas songs from their earlier CD Believe.

I find myself putting down whatever I’m doing when I hear this CD. It’s so pretty that I want to clear away the distractions and just listen closely.
They open with a wonderful version of Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime. The arrangement is unique and the soloist is really good.

Sleigh Ride is one of the best cuts. It’s perky and the harmonies are especially sweet and smooth.

The most unusual song on here is A Spaceman Came Traveling by Chris De Burgh. I’ve never heard this one and I like it. The tune is pretty. The premise of the lyrics is that his ship arrived 2,000 years ago and was the star that hung over the stable.

The Holly and the Ivy has an arrangement that’s really different. This time it’s a fast tempo with a bouncy piano instead of the usual slow song that everyone else does.

Some of the other cuts are O Holy Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and a fast A cappella version of Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.

One of the sweetest songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. They don’t tell which boy is the soloist but his voice is soft and his accent is charming.

This CD should be in every fan’s collection. I like it a lot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I’ve never been to Vienna but I’ve seen lots of pictures and if ever a place was designed to evoke a Christmas feel it is surely this one. The gorgeous old buildings decked out in lights and snow, the beautiful decorations and those choir boys, it all makes me want to be there.

Children and Christmas are a perfect pairing and never more so than when it’s the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Of the choir’s many Christmas CD’s I have three and all three are very different from each other.
The first one, from 2003, is titled The Christmas Album and has a photo of several smiling boys around a small candle-lit tree. There is a small, white Teddy bear dressed in a WSK uniform standing in front of the tree and I want one of those. If you should ever see one somewhere, tell me.

Anyway, the songs on the album are of the very popular variety. Songs like Jingle Bells, O Holy Night, Stille Nacht and the best version of Little Drummer Boy I’ve ever heard.
They also include a powerful version of Suo Gan with English lyrics and John Lennon’s Happy Christmas (War Is Over).
There’s no need to describe the singing. It’s the Vienna Boys’ Choir so of course it’s delightful.

The second CD has more of an English feel to it. This one is from 1995 and is titled Christmas Angels. It starts off with Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and this time has all 11 songs (or 12 if you count 4a and 4b as separate). One of my very favorite songs from this group is That Yonge Child. The vocals on this song are cleverly staggered with each verse repeated in such a way that it makes an echo-y effect. It’s pretty cool.

For more English carols there are Coventry Carol, We’ve Been Awhile A-Wandering and Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. Of course there is also Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, Adeste Fideles and a bunch more popular tunes.

My third Vienna Boys Choir CD is titled Christmas With The Vienna Boys’ Choir and was recorded in 1993. This could have been called A Mozart and Bach Christmas, or perhaps, Christmas for Smart People.
It starts off with Mozart’s Mass in C Major K. 317 “Coronation”, a six-part Mass with Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
The Bach portion is Cantata “Ich Hatte Viel Bekummernis", a two part composition with sections like Sinfonia, Corro and Recitativo.
It’s very nice but somehow it just doesn’t say Christmas to me. I prefer more popular carols to put me in the Christmas mood.

Still, I know I’ll be listening to the Vienna Boys’ Choir this Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Something about the month of December seems to be good for creating choristers. I was looking at the birthdays on BCSD and there are a lot of well-known boys who were born during this month.
Aled Jones, Anthony Way, Jean-Baptiste Maunier, Declan, C. J. Porter-Thaw, Bill Goss, Donny Osmond, Aaron Carter, Joseph McManners, and from Libera, Kavana Crossley, Joe Snelling, Liam Connery and Daren Geraghty were all December kids.

When I discovered Libera I had to rush out and get every recording I could find. It was particularly nice to find Angel Voices 3 by the St. Philips Boy’s Choir, a collection of Christmas songs. This period of Libera's recording history gives us some of the very prettiest voices like Liam O'Kane, Darren and Stephen Geraghty, Alex and Chris Baron and Adam Harris. All of them have something special, a confidence and a level of skill that you might not expect from such youthful voices.

This was my first introduction to some of the great English Christmas songs like In the Bleak Mid-Winter, the Holly and the Ivy and Gaudete.
Several of the songs on this CD were new for me, such as Cliff Richard’s Saviour’s Day, a modern classic from 1990 with a wonderful melody.

Apparently, lots of people recorded versions of Walking in the Air, the song that Peter Auty sang for the animated television show, but this is a very good rendition by Liam O'Kane.

An interesting song is In Dulci Jubilo which is the tune to Good Christian Men Rejoice. These original lyrics are thought to have been written around 1328 by Heinrich Seuse.

They added a fun verse, about sun and palm trees in Beverly Hills, to White Christmas that most singers don’t include. Liam O’Kane solos on this one and it always makes me smile.

Classic carols like Away In a Manger, The First Noel and Silent Night are just wonderful. Especially nice is the way O Come All Ye Faithful is done without the usual adult voices that most choirs rely on to give the song more power. It’s maybe even more lovely with just the boy’s singing.

I’ve always loved Do You Hear What I Hear and little twelve year-old Adam Harris solos on this one and he’s really charming.

There are twenty songs on this CD and they are all excellent. I listen to this all year long.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Maybe my favorite Christmas CD in my collection is the American Boychoir’s Carol album. It’s everything Christmas music should be. The singing is powerful and rich, the orchestral arrangements are brilliant and stirring.

The liner notes say it best, “The American Boychoir, performing with orchestra, chamber ensemble, organ and carillon in the cathedral-like acoustics of the Princeton University Chapel, brings a new sound to this joyous music. The delicate yet brilliant sounds… combine to create a new listening experience.”

They open with, from the Ukraine, Carol of the Bells which makes great use of the carillon and then they move into a regal sounding Joy to the World with a full orchestra that fills the hall to the rafters with joy.

There is a new song that I was not familiar with, This Christmastide (Jesseye’s Carol) and it’s really lovely and soft. The organ is perfect with the voices and together they build to a thrilling peak. It makes me tingle.

Christmas Day, by Gustav Holst, is a great medley of Good Christian Men Rejoice, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Come Ye Lofty, Come Ye Lowly and The First Nowell. There is some complex layering of voices here.

Silent Night! Holy Night!, O Holy Night, Away in a Manger… these are filled with those fabulous American Boychoir harmonies that James Litton designs so well. I know that Angelic is an adjective that is overused to the point of becoming trite, but heck, what other word is there to describe this sound?

I’ve never heard a more beautifully haunting version of What Child is This? It’s very moving. I’m not always accurate when it comes to identifying certain instruments in the orchestra but I believe what I’m hearing here is harp, oboe, flute and violin among others. It’s a great combination.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come, All Ye Faithful are loud, powerful and uplifting songs and the choir sings them perfectly.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a short, pretty version that is less than two minutes long and the interesting thing about it is that the coda was composed by a 14-year-old member of the choir.

I give this album my strongest recommendation. If it doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, well, you might need to be visited by some ghosts to adjust your attitude.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la

Several years ago the children’s choir was performing their part of the church Christmas program and my nephew, who was six, had a small verse to sing.

He knew the words perfectly but when he stood in front of all those people he forgot all of it. I could see that he was struggling but finally he started singing the first thing that came to mind, a little ditty that my brother had taught him.

Jingle bells
Shotgun shells
Rabbits all the way
One jumped up,
Shot him in the butt,
The other one got away.

Everyone laughed and turned to look at my brother who tried to sink through the pew, and his wife, who slapped him on the back of his head.

Over the past few years I have made my own holiday traditions. Around Christmas time I buy a bottle of Godiva chocolate liqueur and a bottle of Bailey’s. A couple of fingers of these mixed in equal parts makes the best chocolate milk ever. It’s great to sip one on a cold night sitting in front of the fire with a good book and some boys singing carols on the stereo.

I always save a few vacation days for that period between Christmas and the New Year. The house is decorated with lights and greenery and ornaments, the gifts have been exchanged and everyone has gone home, the candles smell of cinnamon and the Vienna boys are keeping me company. If I’m lucky there will be snow.

Maybe I shouldn’t tell this, but one thing I like to do each year is to make a compilation CD of my favorite Christmas music and give it to my friends. I find some pretty picture on the internet to use as a CD cover and slap a title on it, then I buy those round adhesive labels and print them to put on each disc. It all looks pretty professional.

I have a lot of Christmas albums by boy choirs so it’s fun and sometimes hard to pick my favorite version of each song, but it's a gift that everyone enjoys receiving.

This may not be exactly legal to do (so don‘t tell Libera), but I only make a dozen copies and they are for people who would not buy the albums anyway. I feel like I’m doing a good thing by promoting the artists and, besides, I think if I was really being bad I wouldn’t get so many cool new CD’s from Santa.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Everyone knows that the Vienna Boys Choir Brucknerchor is touring the US but do you ever read the reports they give on the WSK home page?
If you want a good laugh you should take a look at their blog entries. They are a lot more fun than mine and the humor makes the boys even more endearing.


The painting at the top of this page is titled May Morning on Magdalen Tower and was painted by William Holman Hunt, one of the greatest of the Victorian Pre-Raphaelite painters.
The figures are all portraits (the boy holding the lily is his son) but Hunt never intended to paint one actual performance, only ‘to represent the spirit of a beautiful, primitive and, in a large sense, eternal service’.

Wikipedia says that “May Morning is an annual event in Oxford, on May day. It starts early at 6 am with the Magdalen College Choir singing a hymn, the Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower, a tradition of over 500 years. Large crowds normally gather under the tower along theHigh Street and on Magdalen Bridge. This is then followed by general revelry and festivities including Morris dancing, impromptu music, etc., for a couple of hours.” If anyone has ever been to this tell me if it is as much fun as it sounds.

I always like it when someone suggests a CD to me and this time a friend told me about The Choir of Magdalen College and their new release Carols By Candlelight, Music for Advent and Christmas. This is not the usual collection of carols that everyone else does. The album is divided into sections, The Fall, Good Tidings, The Annunciation, The Birth of Jesus and Epiphany.

There are a few songs that are familiar like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, but most of the songs are new to me and new music is always welcome.

There are songs like I Look From Afar by Palestrina, Britten‘s A Hymn To The Virgin, The Truth From Above by Ralph Vaughan Williams and quite a few more. An especially beautiful number is In Dulci Jubilo by Pearsall, with a soloist named Alexander Knighton.
This is my first CD from the Magdalen College Choir but I’m going to look for more.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I am listening to another CD that I got from Lammas Records. This one is Britten-Missa Brevis and Other Works For Treble Voices featuring Kieran White and the Boy Choristers of Wells Cathedral.
If I close my eyes I can pretend I’m sitting in those dimly lit stone walls and hearing the rich, clear voices of the boys echoing through the church.

Little Kieran White has a fine quality to his singing and he’s one of those singers who can roll his R’s with ease. That’s something I hear in the English cathedral choirs but not so much in the American ones. Apparently it's something that usually has to be learned as a child and they don't teach that here. I like it,though.

The Wells choir is as beautiful a choir as you could want. They do a variety of songs, starting with Britten’s Missa Brevis which is a really interesting mass. I especially love the Benedictus and the Agnus Dei with their dark mood.

Young Ned Berry sings When I Survey The Wondrous Cross, one of my favorites songs. The choir sings Ireland’s Ex Ore Innocentium, Faure’s Pie Jesu, A Grateful Heart by Mary Plumstead and several other good songs.

Most of the songs on this album are solos by Kieran, accompanied by piano or the organ. Be Still For The Presence of The Lord by Archer is one that I particularly like and so is If With All Your Hearts by Mendelssohn.

This is a 2004 release recorded mostly in Wells Cathedral by Lance Andrews, who has retired from Lammas Records. I can’t think of a finer career than to visit cathedrals hearing and recording boys singing. It would be an enjoyable thing to do for a living as well as saving some wonderful music from disappearing forever.

It is interesting that since 1994 Wells Cathedral has a choir of eighteen girls as well as their boys choir. This CD is done by the boys.

A bit of history: The wells, which gave the city its name, are natural springs which can be found in the garden of the Bishop's Palace, including the holy well of St. Andrew.
In 909 the church of St. Andrew became the first Wells Cathedral. By 1180 the foundations of a new church in the Gothic style were being laid to the north of the old one.
In 1477 Bishop Robert Stillington embarked on a complete rebuilding of the chapel on a grand scale. The foundations of this cruciform building are what can be seen today in the Camery garden. This grand chapel did not last long and was blown up with gunpowder in 1552 because Edward VI had abolished Chantry chapels in the height of Reformation zeal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Alan Mould, former Headmaster at St. John’s College choir school in Cambridge has written The English Chorister, A History, a book that’s packed with interesting information dating back to Biblical times.
I’ve mentioned it before and I still like to explore it. I have a tough time remembering all the dates and names and details, though. It might be easier if it were written more like a story than a text book but it’s still fun to sift through it. Some parts are very sad. For example…

Choral music in England was not always appreciated as it is today. During the Protestant Reformation the choirs were shut down until sanity could once again be established. During the reign of Elizabeth I choirs were nurtured and at that time Richard Hooker wrote “Church music is in truth most admirable… They must have hearts very dry and tough” who do not draw spiritual delight from it.

In 1572 the Puritans submitted to Parliament that cathedrals were “the dennes of all loitering lubbers, wher Deane… Canons… the cheefe chaunter, singing men… squeaking queresters, organ players… live in great idleness and have their abiding.”
Reading that passage makes me think that much of the ignorance of the Reformists could be tied to their inability to spell.

Things continued to worsen and later, in 1642, Canterbury Cathedral was sacked, the books ruined and the organ damaged. Windsor Castle saw its choristers expelled. At Winchester Cathedral the music books were burnt and the organ wrecked. The same damages occurred at Chichester, Peterborough, Norwich and other cathedrals.

“At Hereford, York and Exeter… choristers were driven out with the jeering cry, ‘boyes, we have spoiled your trade, you must go and sing Hot Pudding Pies’.” I have no idea what that means but it sounds quite rude.

John Vicars wrote: “Whereas there was wont to be heard nothing but Roaring-boyes, tooting and squeaking Organ-pipes and the Cathedral-Catches of Morley…the bellowing Organs are demolish’d and pulled down and the (choristers) driven out…”
They considered it an improvement and in 1643 “the sound of boys’ voices singing in quire was utterly silenced throughout England”.

It’s hard to imagine. Fortunately, the sons of the men who were expelled from the choirs became the next generation of singers. I love a happy ending.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive. I just noticed something a couple of days ago. On the Libera home page they are giving us a free download of a new song, ‘O Sanctissima’, that will be on their next CD which is hoped to be released in March, 2010.
It’s a beautiful song and it’s unmistakably Libera.


With the great number of choral songs that have been written over the centuries it is little wonder that there are so many I have not heard yet. I do keep on trying, though.
There are a lot of beautiful songs that have become standards, at least for boy choirs. For example, I have almost 20 versions of Pie Jesu, at least 10 of Miserere and 10 of Ave Verum Corpus.

But I have also found songs that I love which are somehow less popular and I wonder why these are not performed more often. Perhaps I'm just not finding the right CD's.

Everyone knows Franck's Panis Angelicus but have you heard his Alleluia! from the Choeur de Pacques? The Choir of King’s College sing it on their Heavenly Voices CD and it's really gorgeous. The funny thing is that I can't find much about it on the internet, not even the words.

I think it must take a special voice to sing Peuri Conceniti by Herbeck because of those extra high notes near the end. The Vienna Boys Choir tackle it easily on their Ave Maria CD and Jean Baptiste Maunier does a pretty version but those are the only two that I have found.

Winchester Cathedral, on a CD titled Allegri Miserere and Other Choral Favorites, has a very good soloist singing This Is The Record of John. I’ve only found it on one other CD, but what a unique song. I love the way the choir repeats each verse and changes it to make it sound more complex.

Zuercher Sangerknaben has a CD called Ave Maria which has a lot of different versions of that song by different composers but one that I had not heard before is the one by Paolo Tosti. It’s sung by a tenor and sounds like it could be from an opera.

The Choir of the Abbey School at Tewkesbury has a Favorite Hymns CD that features more than one outstanding song, but the one I love best is I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky. One particular boy chorister has a voice that shines forth even though the others are singing just as loudly. This is a great song that has great lyrics, like “I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts of love alone.”

I’m not sure what my point is, maybe that we should always welcome music that we are unfamiliar with because there’s no telling when a gem will pop up. I know a lot of people who still listen to the same music they listened to in high school or college and they’re happy with that. Not me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I was complaining one day about the lack of web sites where people were discussing boy choir music. I had found a couple of discussion groups but not much was happening on them so a friend said, “Why don’t you start a blog?”

I wasn’t sure how to start and it took a while to find my voice but soon I got fairly comfortable with it and now this is my 100th post, a goal I had not thought about reaching.

Besides the enjoyment that I get from doing this there is the added bonus that people actually read it and talk to me about it, too. You have all been really kind and helpful and you’ve taught me a lot so I would like to say thanks.

Since this is a special post I wanted to dedicate it to my favorite boy choir, Libera. These kids must have the most loyal and ardent fan base of any choir in the world. Their fans span every age group and every continent (with the probable exception of Antarctica) and there are tons of fan sites on the internet. Even after a couple of years I still feel that excitement, that magic that they bring.

An excellent CD to own is Libera Eternal, the Best of Libera. It’s a double CD with 32 of their best songs. Most of them were recorded for previous albums, some are new versions of previous recordings while some others are remixes of older tunes.

The remix of Heaven, this time sung by Josh and Liam, is especially pretty. Steven Geraghty did the remix of Sempiterna with vocals by Tom and Joseph Sandros Wilde.

There are two totally new songs. One is You Were There, the theme from the Japanese movie “Nobody to Watch Over Me”, with a solo by Tom Cully.
I haven’t seen the film but I watched the trailer and it’s pretty cool to hear them on it.

The other new song is Taverner’s Mother of God, a soft, slow song that showcases their special harmonies.
I can't wait to for their next CD. I hope they do one sometime in the coming year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It isn’t always easy to find these CD’s especially since I don’t understand foreign languages enough to safely order them on the internet. More than once I have misread the description and received something I didn’t care for.

On top of that I worry about putting my credit card number out there in too many places because of the chance of some hacker getting it. It happened to me once several years ago when I foolishly used my debit card on-line and a few days later found that my checking account was short $3,000. The bank replaced it but I’m still a little gun shy.

That’s why I prefer to buy from a few central sources and one that I found recently is Lammas Records. Looking at their web site you might wonder if they are still in business because none of their stock is newer than 2006. They explained that Lance Andrews has retired and will be issuing no more CD‘s on the Lammas label and they will not be replacing any of their stock, but they continue to sell what remains. Plus a lot of their music is available as downloads from the internet.

I ordered a couple of CD’s and was happy with the transaction. They only charged $30.00 for the two and that included shipping.
One of the CD’s from them is a 2005 release from the Truro Cathedral Choir titled Peace On Earth, Sacred and Secular Music by Orlando Gibbons. I’m not that familiar with Gibbons’ work but I did recognize a couple of pieces, Song 46 and This Is The Record of John, both of which I really like.

The choir sings with just the organ quietly supporting them so their voices are not obscured, just the way I like them. Treble soloists Max Spreckley and Matthew Oddy do a beautiful duet on If Ye Be Risen and it’s fun to listen to the interplay of their voices. Young Patrick Windsor sounds great on Nay Let Me Weep.

It may not be a really special thing but I like it when the organ and a boy’s voice hit the same note and the sounds are so similar that they blend together seamlessly. It makes me smile.

The Truro Cathedral Choir consists of eighteen boy choristers and twelve gentlemen. They all sound wonderful. They tour every two years so maybe they will come to the states sometime soon.
An interesting note about Orlando Gibbons is that he was once a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge until 1598.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

For someone with a liberal arts education I sure do have a lot of holes in my learning. I’m always finding out about things that I probably should have known already. I thought about asking the university for a partial refund for the things they didn’t teach me, but I’m sure they would just tell me that I should have paid more attention in class.

I’m trying to learn more about famous composers like Sir Edward William Elgar who was most famous for his Pomp and Circumstance Marches. Everyone knows the tunes but not so many know the man behind them.

That’s why I picked up the CD titled Elgar, Sacred Choral Music from the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The CD was recorded in July, 2003 so many of the boys who sang on their 2002 DVD, Ave Verum were probably still in the choir. I feel as if I know them.

There are thirteen songs including a version of Ave Verum Corpus and one of Ave Maria. There is also Light of the World, Ave Maris Stella, O Harken Thou and more. An interesting one is Rossetti’s translation from Italian of the poem Go Song of Mine, by Cavalcanti.

It's always enjoyable to read about someone’s rise to success in the art world especially if they come from humble beginnings like Elgar. His father was a piano-tuner, organist and shopkeeper but it was from him along with his own studies that Elgar learned music.

He began as a freelance musician but when he was thirty he wrote the Imperial March and that was his first success. Over the next few years he continued to grow in prominence with his Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius.

He wrote the coronation music for King Edward VII and was awarded honorary doctorates along with a knighthood and in 1931 he became a Baronet.

I won’t say this is my favorite CD but I always like hearing the Choir of St. Johns College. They have a rich, full sound with those sweet trebles that rise above the warmer, deeper voices of the men.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eleven-year-old Laurence Kilsby from Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire, and Jaquelyne Hill from St Andrew's, West Tarring in Sussex are the winners of this year’s Chorister of the Year competition from the BBC. Congratulations to both of them. Their performances were outstanding and the duet at the end was really moving.


I've been making my Christmas fruitcakes. Each one takes about a pint of bourbon and they have to age for a few weeks before they are ripe. Maybe it was sampling the bourbon (to make sure it had not gone bad) that made me feel Christmas-y so I put on some carols.

One of my first and favorite Christmas CD's is The Choirboy's Christmas by that charismatic little chorister, Anthony Way. I like this album for a number of reasons, he's young here so his voice is pretty and he's backed up by the St. Paul's Cathedral choir and the English Chamber Orchestra, two fantastic groups.

Also, most of the songs here are traditional English carols so they were new to me. I wonder why these songs are not more well-known over here, or at least, why I had never heard them before I bought this CD a couple of years ago.

Everyone knows carols like Joy to the World, Silent Night and Away In a Manger, but I fell in love with songs like Sussex Carol, Dancing Day, In the Bleak Midwinter and The Holly and the Ivy.
I can never get enough of Balulalow but then who can? Too bad I can’t say the same thing for The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The Brits have grown up with these songs but for the Americans who haven’t discovered them it’s really nice to add some new songs to your Christmas carol repertoire.
This album has especially powerful versions of O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. The choir of St. Paul’s brings something special to all of the songs.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I watched a new video from Libera’s tour of the Philippines and here is a link to it on YouTube. The song is called Banyan Ko and the video is shot from a single view at the back of the theater. It’s a pretty song and it would sound even prettier if the audience would be quiet so I could hear it.
Maybe it’s an ethnic thing but they break into applause and cheers eight times throughout the 3-1/2 minute number. If the entire concert was like that it would have been annoying.

The good thing is that Libera sounds great. The change in members didn’t affect their special harmonies. Too bad there were no close-ups, though. It seems like they were over there for a long time and during some bad weather so I'm really glad they made it home safely.



I’m not like the rest of my family. I never was. When I was a boy I believed that I had been switched at birth and I had faith that someday my real family would pull up in a limo and take me home to our mansion. I think I was 11 when I realized one day that I looked just like my mother and those hopes were dashed.

My family is not very sophisticated. They are happy with gifts in bags that say Sears on the outside. I always wished that mine said Nieman Marcus.

I always look forward to November because this is the time of year when I start my Christmas shopping. The family laughs at me because I buy presents for myself, but I have to, it’s the only way I can get any really good stuff.

I to go to Amazon and start stuffing things into my ‘wish list’. For most of November I load it up with books, DVD’s and lots of music. Then when I get my Christmas bonus at work, which is sometime around Thanksgiving, I start dumping my wishes into the shopping cart. I make sure that they all come in groups just large enough to qualify for free shipping so there will be lots of boxes and when they arrive I wrap them and stick them under the tree. By the time Christmas morning arrives I will have forgotten what I ordered so each box will have nice surprises in it and it’s always something I really wanted.

So, when it comes to CD’s I’m open for suggestions.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I really wanted to write a post for Halloween that has to do with choir boys and spooky stuff, like un-holy ghosts. I went all over the net trying to find ghost stories about choirboys, but I didn’t find much. It looks like choirboys lead exemplary lives and don’t leave behind much unfinished business.

I encountered a lot of ‘dead ends’, like it turns out that the Dead Boys Choir is a hardcore metal group. Boring.
Here are a few things that I did find. This post is a little longer than I usually like. I hope you don’t mind.

In Edmonton, Alberta at Concordia College - On certain nights you can hear a choir sing in the boy’s dorm areas. Doors slam even though no one is around. A female teacher has also been seen wandering the halls.

At the St. James' Theatre in Wellington, New Zealand, built in 1912, there have been numerous reports of several ghosts in the theatre. … A boy's choir is said to haunt the theatre also. The choir played their last song at the St. James during the Second World War before beginning a tour. The ship they sailed on was never seen again and patrons and workers alike often hear their music in the seating area. The excellent Ghost Hunt group of New Zealand held a night investigation here which resulted in some incredible paranormal evidence... This has to be one of the most haunted theatres in the world.

This is from a church in England. “In December 1920 a choirmaster along with two choirboys had gone into the church to rehearse at 6 pm one evening a few days before Christmas. They had been singing for around twenty minutes when they noticed an old lady standing about 8 feet away from them. So real did she appear that one of the boys walked over and placed a chair for her to sit on, the woman nodded her thanks and sat down. She was dressed… in old-fashioned clothing. Her hair was grey…
Their strange visitor mystified the choirmaster. He had most certainly locked the door when they had entered. He had heard no footsteps on the stone floor and, furthermore, the heavy, creaking double doors that led from the main body of the church had been silent since he and the choristers had passed through them.
Then suddenly, just as the practice concluded, the mysterious visitor vanished without trace. They searched the church but could find no trace whatsoever of the woman. Furthermore, when they went to leave the building, the door was still locked.”

I’m sure I’m not supposed to just lift other people’s photos from the web so I’m just including the link to a site that shows a possible choirboy’s ghost appearing on a television. If you ask me though, it’s the little girl in the picture that’s scary. Check it out.
Finally, A neighbor of mine, an older man, once told me about something scary that happened to him back in the 1930's. His family lived in a very rural area and they used to walk to church. One evening he and his brother and their mother were coming home from choir practice. They knew it would be dark, as usual, when they finished so they always brought a lantern.
They had to walk more than a mile to get home, but this time there had been a storm and the bridge was washed out on the road they usually used so they were taking the path through the woods. This path went past the old logging camp and was not used much since the camp had closed.
He and his brother sang some songs as they walked, but when they stopped singing the boys could hear footsteps behind them.
Their mother told them it was nothing, just the wind or something, but a few minutes later they heard it again. Their mother shined the lantern behind them and said again that there was nothing there.
Finally, they were nearing their house when the footsteps became louder, as if they were closer. They were scared so their mother held the lantern up and looked back again.
She told them she didn't see anything but they should hurry and get to the house because their father would be worrying about them. They walked really fast and were relieved to get inside and lock the door. The boys told their father what they had heard but their mother said it was their imaginations. Still, she seemed to be nervous and distracted.
Later that night, when the boys were in bed, he could hear his mother telling his father about it. In a frightened and trembling voice she told how she held the lantern up and didn't see anything until the last time. "That time I saw it, Henry. It was a man standing right there and, oh God Henry, he didn't have a head!"

And finally, I can’t prove it, but I’ve been told that Casper is the ghost of Richie Rich.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

As I mentioned last time, I have another Vienna Boys Choir DVD that I really like a lot. It is titled A Mozart Celebration. This DVD is bigger than the previous one in every way. It’s longer with a larger orchestra and more singers, and it’s also filmed inside a huge cathedral, the Domkirche St. Stephen in Vienna. The opening shot is of the outside of the cathedral and it’s massive and really impressive.
The inside is breathtaking with every surface textured and lavishly ornate. There are a lot of large paintings that are very beautiful, especially the one behind the altar, and there are lots of chandeliers and sculptures. Unfortunately the camera seems to spend more time panning around the interior than focusing on the boys.

2006 must have been a good year at the Palais Augarten because the boys were outstanding. They sang Ave Verum Corpus again and my favorite Mozart Mass, the “Coronation Mass” in C major (I can’t believe I actually have a favorite Mozart Mass). The two boy soloists were really sweet and fun to watch.

There is something I have yet to figure out and that is the purpose of the numbers after the names of the compositions. For example, here they have two versions of the same tune, Church Sonata in C Major, K. 278 and Church Sonata in C Major, K. 317. Could they not think of another name?

This time the men were from the Chorus Viennensis and the music was by the Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien.

I know I shouldn’t say this because it probably makes me look shallow, but there is one thing about this DVD that I don’t care for very much. They have a soprano, Sandrine Piau, who somehow annoys me. She looks quite elegant and has a good voice, but I just wish she would hold still. Instead, she constantly sways left and right while bobbing her head back and forth and making these odd facial contortions.

I think that all singers should emulate Josh Madine and always sing with a big smile on their face (unless they are singing something like I Pagliacci, of course). Anyway, my solution is to simply close my eyes when she’s on and that makes it much better.

Friday, October 23, 2009

There is something special about the Vienna Boys Choir. They have a consistently beautiful sound and a long, interesting history.
I’ve been alerted to the rumors that they may start accepting girls into the choir ; I almost fainted at the thought. The WSK management are saying that it isn’t true and I hope they aren’t stonewalling us.

How hard could it possibly be to find boy singers? What boy wouldn’t love to go live in that palace in Vienna, tour the world with a bunch of friends, meet adoring crowds everywhere and learn a craft that will almost guarantee them a career? I certainly would.

I have two DVD’s from the Vienna Boys Choir that I like to watch. They are both dedicated to Mozart. The first, titled “Waisenhaus Mass” and Other Choral Works, has two performances that were recorded for television in 1988 and 1990. The first part, the Waisenhaus Mass, was performed at the Hofburg Chapel in Vienna.

This Mass was written when Mozart was 12 for the consecration of a new orphanage in Vienna and the Empress Theresia was in the audience.
A newspaper at the time said, “all of the music sung by the orphanage choir in the High Mass was written by Wolfgang Mozart, the twelve-year-old boy famous for his exceptional talent…; it was newly composed for the occasion, and directed by the composer himself to the applause and admiration of all present…”

It goes without saying that the Vienna boys are in excellent form, looking perfectly wholesome and angelic in their white uniforms.

The chapel itself is also very pretty with pale stone columns and walls, deep red lower walls and lots of statues perched high on the columns. There is a nice size orchestra to support the boys and a talented group of men from the Herrenchor Der Wiener Staatsoper to help out.

The Mass is labeled a Missa Solemnis in C minor and has the usual parts, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, etc. It’s Mozart so of course it’s good.

I like the second part, Other Choral Works, better mainly because I recognized more of the music, like Sub Tuum Praesidium and Ave Verum Corpus.
It’s interesting that Mozart composed Ave Verum Corpus, perhaps his most popular sacred composition, in Baden bei Wien for the choir director there. There are two excellent young soloists in this production.
This was filmed in the parish church of St. Stephen in Baden bei Wien, where it was written. The church, again, is very handsome with lots of gold touches everywhere. The orchestra is all strings and the men’s chorus is from the Wiener Hofmusikkapelle.

Uwe Christian Harrer conducts both performances.

This post grew longer than I expected so I will write about the other DVD in a couple of days.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Earlier this year BCSD, one of my favorite sites, featured a CD by Dennis Chmelensky which was simply titled Dennis. I finally got around to getting it and it’s pretty good.

Dennis has one of those special voices that reminds me a bit of Diozny Placzkowski. It’s very smooth, sort of operatic, and he can easily reach the high notes without straining.

On this CD, his first, he has some of the standards like Schubert’s Ave Maria, Pie Jesu, and Abendsegen (Evening Prayer) from Hansel and Gretel. How many times can I listen to Panis Angelicus? At least a million and this one is good.

Dennis takes on three songs from the movie Les Choristes: Cerf-Volant, Vois Sur Ton Chemnin and Caresse Sur L’Ocean.

He does You Raise Me Up in a very ‘American Idol’ style, you know where they repeat a verse three times, each time getting higher and more intense, the microphone held high and their eyes squinched tightly shut.

I’m not a fan of American Idol but he also does a sweet rendition of Moon River and The Last Unicorn. He even gives us some Handel and Mozart and Bach to show he’s not afraid of classical music.

The liner notes are in German and so is his home page but I managed to get a translation of some of it. He was with the Berlin State and Cathedral Choir when he sang Ave Maria on 'Germany’s Got Talent' and made it to the finals. He said he wanted to buy his mother a better hearing aid with the prize money. That was bound to get him some votes from the older female viewers.

At age five he began playing the violin and at seven, the piano. Dennis began singing at eight years old as a member of the Berlin State Opera Chorus where he has performed under the direction of some big name conductors, like Simon Rattle. I could say more about him if only my German was better.

He’s a cute kid and probably should have won that talent show. I hope his mom got that hearing aid.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I have an album that’s… different. It’s title is In the Beginning, Choral Masterpieces of the 1940’s and it comes to us from the Gloucester Cathedral Choir.
This is a 2005 release that features works by four modern composers.

Benjamin Britten is first with Rejoice in the Lamb which takes its text from a poem by Christopher Smart (1722-1771). Smart spent much of his later life in a home for the insane and produced a long, rambling and strange work.
For example: “For I will consider my cat Jeoffry. For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.”
Britten extracted parts of the writings and set them to music in a modern style.

Ildebrando Pizzetti uses a poem by his friend Gabriel d’Annuzio for the first part of his Tre Composizioni Corali and the other two parts are taken from the book of Lamentations.

Gerald Finzi was a Jewish agnostic but used the poems of Thomas Aquinas to create Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice.

Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning uses text from Genesis.

All of these are modernistic and so not like what I expected. Some of it takes getting used to but while the music is okay the voices are great. I love hearing the boys doing such complicated work. True music lovers, those who are better educated in music than I am will probably like this CD. I’m going to have to listen to it a few more times before I decide.

All of the selections are either accompanied by the organ or are voices alone.
Copland’s is the only one to use a mezzo-soprano. The Gloucester choir is impressive, both in skill and in sound. I would like to get something more traditional from them.

I stole couple of words about the choir from their web site.
The Gloucester Cathedral Choir is the successor to the boys and monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, who first sang daily worship in this magnificent building almost 1,000 years ago.
The choir sings six services each week as well as major Easter and Christmas services; it also participates each year in the Three Choirs Festival, Europe’s longest established music festival.
Gloucester Cathedral is also called the Cathedral Church of St Peter and the Holy and Undivided Trinity
The cathedral has been used from 2000 as a location for filming the first, second and sixth Harry Potter films, which has generated revenue and publicity, but caused some controversy amongst those who suggest that the theme of the films was unsuitable for a church.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Metropolitan Boys Choir is from, as you would expect, Metropolis, home of Superman and his friend Clark Kent. Occasionally they are called upon to assist law and order and help Superman put the bad guys in prison. They put them in Sing-sing which is why they need the talents of the choir.

Oh, well. Actually I just made that stuff up. The truth is a little less glamorous. They are actually from the Minneapolis/Saint Paul region.

I picked up their 1994 CD “How Great Thou Art”, 21 Traditional Hymns.
What’s not to like about these boys? They sing with simplicity and charm. These are the hymns that we sang in the Baptist church when I was a boy, Songs like Rock of Ages, Bringing in the Sheaves, the Old Rugged Cross and more.

I wonder if these are just American hymns or if they are sung in European churches as well. They really are very pretty.

Some of the songs on this album are accompanied by a piano and others by the organ so they sound very much the way they did in our church. Except these boys have rehearsed a lot and sound very professional.
Even though there are 21 songs the CD is over too quickly. It’s only about 45 minutes long.

I couldn’t find very much interesting information about them but I lifted some from their web site.

“The Metropolitan Boys Choir is an organization of young men from the Minneapolis/Saint Paul twelve county Metropolitan area. The boys range in age from five to eighteen. Founded in 1971 by Music Director, Bea Hasselmann, they merit the title "Minnesota's Young Ambassadors of Song" given to them by the late Vice President, Hubert H. Humphrey. The Choir regularly appears in concert halls, churches, convention centers and senior residences throughout the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan area. The Choir has performed regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra for twenty-nine years. “

I did find one statement and I hope he doesn’t mind my quoting him “… being in the MBC helped teach me stage-presence. Even now, almost every time I sing or play in front of a group some lesson from MBC comes flashing back to my mind.” That's really nice.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I recently had to laugh at myself because I heard a song that excited me so much I played it a dozen times, then ordered the CD. It was Adon Olam by the Yeshiva Boys Choir, a new choir to me. The Yeshiva Boys Choir was formed at the Yeshiva of Cleveland, but has since moved to Brooklyn, New York

I thought I was ordering the CD with the song Adon Olam but I should have read more carefully because what I got was the song Adon Olamim. Drat those foreign languages, it wasn‘t the same song at all. I turned right around and ordered the correct one and it came today.

I'm happy with both albums. I like these boys because they’re different than anything else I’ve found so far. The music is mostly in Hebrew and done in a very pop style with a snappy beat and great orchestration. The voices of the various soloists are especially nice. They’re all clear and strong and the boys sing loudly with almost a sense of joy. There is no chance of these boys being overshadowed by the orchestra.

If it were not for the crowd of squealing teenage girls I would like to see them in concert sometime. I see from the vids they do some dancing as well as singing and one of their teachers dances back and forth across the front of the stage to lead them. It looks like a lot of fun.

Most of the songs are in Hebrew and the boys put a lot of those Middle-eastern vocal flourishes in them and some of the rhythms are the sort you hear in Jewish dances. For all I know they may be singing about something sad but I can't keep from smiling and tapping my foot whenever I listen to them.

According to Wikipedia the song Adon Olam is rather traditional and is sung in many different ways. They mention a version sung to Yankee Doodle Dandy. I listened to a couple of other groups singing it on YouTube and this group does it in a unique way. It's the best.

The lyrics are fun to follow along with,
Adon olam, asher malach, b'terem kol y'tzir nivra. L'et na'asah v'cheftzo kol, azai melech sh'mo nikra. V'acharey kichlot hakol, l'vado yimloch nora. V'hu haya, v'hu hoveh, v'hu yih'yeh b'tifara.

Also, I learned that a Yeshiva is a school for boys and men that teaches Jewish religion and law.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Students in a psychology class at a Texas university were attending their first class on emotional extremes.
"In order to establish some parameters," the professor said to a student, "What is the opposite of joy?"
"Sadness," replied the student.
"And what is the opposite of depression?", the professor asked another student.
"Elation," she answered.
"And you, young man," he said to a young cowboy. "What about the opposite of woe?"
"Well, sir, I believe that'd be 'giddy-up'."
Speaking of Texas, I have a 1998 CD from the Texas Boys Choir titled Montage. The title refers to the wide variety of songs presented here. They tackle patriotic songs, gospel numbers, a French madrigal, a Venezuelan children’s song, a Bach cantata, some cowboy songs from the American west and even Agnus Dei and Ave Verum Corpus.

Apparently there are sub-groups in the choir. Some numbers are performed by the full choir but others are by The Young Men’s Ensemble and some by the Treble Choir.
The young men do a smooth, haunting Shenandoah and the trebles shine on All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Their Adon Olam, the popular Jewish song, is really pretty and I liked Ghost Riders, too.
It’s a pretty good album, all in all.

The guys in the picture here are taller than I’m used to seeing in a boy’s choir, but I hear that everything is bigger in Texas.

Some basic information: The Texas Boys Choir was founded in 1946 as the Denton Civic Boys Choir and in 1957 moved to Fort Worth and was renamed the Texas Boys Choir. They have made more than 35 albums including two Grammy winners. They got a gold medal in Mixed Boys’ Choirs at the 2004 Choir Olympics in Bremen, Germany.

They provide any boy, regardless of socio-economic or ethnic background a structured environment for developing their talent in an accredited academic institution. Along with music they learn self-discipline, self-confidence, decorum, patriotism, and leadership. I got that from their web site.

Composer Igor Stravinsky called the Texas Boys Choir "the best boys choir in the world", but then he had never heard of Libera.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Windsbacher Knabenchor
There is a famous choir that I have neglected, so far.
Windsbach is a town in the district of Ansbach, in Bavaria, Germany. According to Wikipedia they are proud of two institutions, their high school, the Johann Sebastian Bach Gymnasium, and their renowned boys choir, Windsbacher Knabenchor. (Gymnasium, in German, is a secondary school for gifted students).

I’m sorry to say that I only have one of their CD’s but I‘m sure that more will arrive sometime in December. The one I have was recommended by a friend, Johann Sebastian Bach - Die Motetten.

I’ve complained before about the way boys’ voices are often overpowered by the adult voices and even by the orchestra. Here the young men sing beautifully, but it’s the trebles who are prominent all the way through. Plus the motets are a cappella so the boys’ voices are not hidden at all and the purity of their sound is wonderful.
I don’t know what to say about their singing except that it’s great. That’s not very poetic, I’m afraid.

The name Motet comes either from the Latin movere, ("to move") or a Latinized version of the French mot, “word”, (I love Wikipedia).
There are 6 motets on this CD and I’m not familiar with any of them, but they have names like Komm, Jesu, Komm; Jesu, Meine Freude and Furchte Dich Nicht, Ich Bin Bei Dir. I’m sure that true Bach fans know them well.

Apparently, Bach encountered a “miserable quality of singing” at St Thomas’ Church so the motets originally had musical accompaniment, but later the a cappella versions became favored.
According to their web site, “The Windsbach Boys Choir is one of the leading ensembles of its kind. Sacred music - spanning from the Renaissance to the present - forms the core of its repertoire. In addition to many a cappella pieces, the major oratorios of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky are its primary focus. Founded in 1946, the choir gives approximately seventy performances a year in Germany and abroad, reaching some 35,000 concertgoers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I’ve wanted to say something for a while now about a CD from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge titled Credo. The trouble is I can’t find a lot to say about it. It’s a 1997 album that was recorded in their chapel and it has great resonance, but it’s been around for bit so I can’t find any information on the internet that refers to it. All I can go by is the booklet that came with the CD.

It says that the Eastern and Western churches have been separated since 1054 and this album looks at the common heritage of both churches.
Apparently the Orthodox East and the Latin West couldn’t agree over the contention of a word ‘Filioque’ which is “the assertion that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father”.

That seems like a pretty small reason for a schism. I would have thought that Christians would say, “You may very well be right. We’re just guessing anyway and what does it really matter?”

It’s all beyond me since I know nothing about either the East or the West. I just like the music. This is some hard-core cathedral music, too, with the eastern Europeans represented by Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Penderecki while the burden of representing the west falls solely on the shoulders of Andrzej Panufnik, a Pole who made his career in England.

Actually, some of the pieces like Credo and Ave Maria are done in both Plainchant and a Stravinsky version so I assume the Plainchant is western. Also, Blessed is the Man and Praise the Lord, O My Soul are from the Common Book of Prayer.
There are 3 versions of The Lord’s Prayer.

All of the songs and chants are done without music and most are very slow. The vocals are sophisticated and complex with some beautiful decorations.

I like to listen to this when I’m doing housework, some very slow housework, but there are times when I just have to stop and focus on the music. In the right mood this can be very moving.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Medina Music School Boys Choir

It’s comforting to know that there are a lot of music schools around the world that are teaching boys to sing and that we have many years of beauty to look forward to. The most famous school is probably the Vienna Boys Choir, but there are many more. One that I didn’t know about is the Medina (Jazeps Medins) Music School which was founded in Latvia in 1981. It is a boys’ school with a good choir.

I picked up their 2004 CD What A Wonderful World and I’ve been enjoying it.
The variety of the 18 songs on here reflects the varied repertoire of the choir. Some are English, some French, German and some I can’t identify the language, but I like them.

Of course, the title song is on here and it’s a pretty version except for one thing that I probably shouldn’t mention. There is an adult voice doing a solo on one verse and for some reason I laugh every time I hear it. I can’t explain it, it just sounds like a cartoon voice. The boys sound lovely, however.

I really like the South African song Tshotsholosa which is accompanied only by a drum. The mens’ voices maintain a nice beat with the drum while the boys’ voices weave in and around them. It’s really pretty.

As always, I like to look at the translations for some of the music. The song Kur Tad Tu Nu Biji, in English, means ‘Where did you go my little goat?’

The words to Je Ne Fus Jamais Si Aise are nice and begin:
I never have enjoyed myself so much before
as in these past three days.
I have danced the time away
to the sound of fifes and drums.

Their White Christmas is good and they have a different arrangement, by Ray Charles, of Jingle Bells that is interesting and nice.
For even more variety the final song is Clap Yo’ Hands by the Gershwins.

There is usually some fun information that comes with the CD and here is something, a delightful description of general boy-ness, that I wanted to share.
It says, “The members of boys’ choirs are regular, indeed commonplace boys. Their lives are about (a lot of ) studying, (a tiny bit of) leisure, sometimes knocking about and always getting excited. Some of them are composed and clever, some unyielding and intractable, there are some bright minds and some windbags, there is always someone who reports and someone who sulks.”
But they can sing wonderfully and the teachers are experienced at handling all sorts of boys.

They also say, about their voices, “No other instrument can be so sincere”.
So true.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I’ve been trying to look at as many different boy choirs as I can without focusing too much on any particular one, but I have my favorites and lately I noticed that I haven’t said anything about Libera in a while.

On April 9th, 2008 they came to Pittsburgh and did a concert at the Byham Theater. It was by far the closest venue to me so I made up my mind to get up there. I invited a friend who had a more dependable car and can navigate perfectly, even in cities where he’s never been, and we set off on a road trip.

It is 500 miles to Pittsburgh and we didn’t rush so we arrived at our hotel 10 hours after we left home. I only mention that to show how dedicated (insane) a fan I am.
The concert was the next night and I was hopping up and down with excitement. My friend kept laughing at my impatience, but he wasn’t a fan, he was just along for the ride.

Libera was promoting their newest album, New Dawn, which is still one of their best. It has several new songs like Love and Mercy, Oronoco Flow (okay, that was on Angel Voices 1), Jerusalem and others.
New Dawn has a good solo by Josh, Secret, and Ben’s version of The Lamb is still the prettiest I’ve heard. Tom is still in top form on this album and does a great job, with Josh, on Love and Mercy. It sounds a lot better than it did on television at the Kennedy Center awards.
Liam and Ed are excellent on their solos, as well.

This CD was the first for a lot of the new boys, Henry Barrington, Daniel Fontannaz, Kavana Crossley, Flynn Marks, Ralph Skan, James Starkey and James Threadgill.

I'm happy I have the CD because the show went by way too fast. However, my smile lasted for a couple of weeks. Fortunately the boys signed autographs after the show and my program is framed nicely and hanging on the wall beside my computer.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

As much as I love all of this music I still find that I enjoy certain choirs a little more than others. I guess it’s only natural to have favorites. I’ve been trying to collect all of the available CD’s by the American Boychoir, a group that I never get tired of listening to. Their version of Amazing Grace always makes me pause to listen closely and songs like There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy always make me smile.

I would never have believed it possible but I came across an album by the American Boychoir that I don’t really care for. It’s a CD that was recorded in 1991 and is titled Dixit Dominus.

There are two compositions on here, one by Handel and the other by Vivaldi.
They both have the same lyrics which are from Psalm 110.
The title means The Lord Said.

The music is nice and it’s all very well done, but they are singing with the Albemarle Consort of Voices, an adult mixed choir.
I have nothing against adult mixed choirs but, seriously, I can’t tell when the boys are singing and when the women sopranos are singing. It all runs together. That's my only complaint about this album.

According to the booklet that came with the CD there is a reason for the mixing of the choirs. While Handel’s music was composed for choirs of boys, men and castrati, Vivaldi wrote specifically for girls and young women. He was associated with the Ospedale Della Pieta, a school for orphaned girls that stressed musical education.

It’s also sort of interesting that the Vivaldi piece was only discovered fairly recently, having been attributed to a different composer all this time.

What’s very good here is the music which is provided by The Eighteenth Century Ensemble of Period Instruments. It’s so appropriate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Before I joined the informal and unofficial club of boychoir music enthusiasts I had other musical passions. One of those interests was Irish music. There’s something about the language, the rhythms and the instruments that, maybe, awakens some ancestral memories.

That’s why I was so happy to finally get this 1999 CD titled Air by the Boys Air Choir. It combines the best of the two genres.

There are 11 songs on here, mostly with English lyrics with a bit of Gaelic tossed in for fun.

Silent, O Moyle is a poem written by Thomas Moore and here it’s sung by Andrew Johnson accompanied by a harp. It relates part of an old tale about children who were turned into swans and it sounds really sweet.

Sliabh Geal gCua is a classic poem by Padraig O Mileadha and is one of Ireland’s greatest songs of exile. Those special Boys Air Choir harmonies really get to shine on this one.

I think my favorite might be Shule Aroon, sung by Patrick Burrowes. It’s a foot tapping tune, very traditional sounding.

Dulaman also sounds very traditional and is faster paced.

The haunting song O magnum Mysterium is a responsorial chat from the Matins of Christmas.

All of the songs are great and I love that the music supports the voices without overpowering them as happens on some recordings by other choirs.

If you look at Amazon you probably will be surprised to see this album going for as much as $98, used. I opted for the $35 one. The price was one reason I held back for so long on ordering this but I suppose it isn’t going to get any cheaper. I should have invested in music CD’s instead of bank CD’s.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Live, from New York, it’s… the Saint Thomas Tradition.

The men and boys choir of Saint Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue have an album, The Saint Thomas Tradition, that has been around for some time now and it’s worth looking at. Recorded back in 1978, this was first released as an LP but it must have been recorded digitally because the sound quality is good.

This is one of my favorite types of singing where there are many layers of voices each doing something different, each now and then bubbling to the top and then sinking into the background once more while another piece grows into prominence. I like to try and follow the different layers but it’s not easy because of the complexity of the compositions. It also has that beautiful resonance that comes from being recorded in a big cathedral.

The CD begins and ends with a couple of organ pieces by Marcel Dupre, that are pretty powerful. One is a Prelude and Fugue in G Minor and the another Prelude and Fugue in B Minor.

The rest of the songs are unaccompanied by music, but it is not noticeable at first. There are songs by Tallis and Purcell, Ned Rorem and others. The titles are mostly familiar ones. I'm not sure what I can say about them except that it all sounds really nice.

The 14 Men of the choir are professional singers; the 18 boys attend Saint Thomas Choir School, a boarding school situated in a striking building a block from Carnegie Hall. Approximately eight new boys are accepted each year.

There are some first rate singers in this choir. I expect that the talent pool in New York is a large one to choose from so it’s no surprise that the voices are excellent. After all, if they can make it there… well, you know the rest.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You might not know it but I’m a manly man, very manly. Don’t let the teacup collection fool you. I like manly music about macho things, like the sea. Seafaring songs, that’s what I like.

When I first got the 1999 CD from Ely Cathedral Will Your Anchor Hold I had tepid feelings about it but after a few listens it grew on me until it became one of my favorite CD’s. Our friend, Kelsey, pointed out that there is a companion album titled They That Go Down To The Sea. The title is taken from Psalms 107.

This album came along two years later and is very different from the first one. The covers look similar, an old sepia photograph of a traditionally dressed fisherman, and they are both made to benefit the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, but the similarities stop there.

While the first CD focused on hymns, this one is more secular. There are some well-known names here, Ireland, Holst, Britten and others and the music varies from folk to opera.

Britten’s Golden Vanity is a one-act opera that, if I’m reading correctly, was written for the Vienna Boys Choir back in 1967. It “follows the operatic tradition of greed and betrayal and the ensuing guilt and introspection prompted by a tragic death“. All that in one act.

The Ships of Arcady, by Head, is really beautiful. Originally written for three women’s voices it’s performed here, of course, by boys.

Vaughn Williams has Five English Folk Songs that are easily likable. They are love songs except for the last one, Wassail Song, which is humorously about drinking.

George Dyson has Four Songs for Sailors. The music in these songs moves like the river and the sea, majestic and powerful.
There is a great line in one of them, A Wet Sheet and Flowing Sea, that says, “The world of waters is our home, and merry men are we. While the hollow oak our palace is, our heritage the sea.”

I’m glad I finally caught this one in my net.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I’m afraid I was a little overly optimistic about my recovery time. I came home on Saturday but it’s taken me a few days to get my thoughts together. The operation went well and now I have a new friend that I like to call ‘Mr. Percocet’. If I tend to stray a little we’ll blame it on him.

I’m still enjoying my DVD of L’Or Des Anges. It follows five choirs, Worcester Cathedral, Knabenchor Hannover, Wiener Sangerknaben, Les Petits Chanteurs a la Croix de Bois and Polski Slowiki, and has some fun and interesting scenes of the boys practicing, auditioning, performing and playing.
I enjoyed watching the Worcester boys playing cricket and lolling on the lawn in their cassocks (but Mr. Percocet kept worrying about grass stains).

Two well known trebles are featured, Terry Wey and Dennis Placzkowski. There is a classic staircase scene from Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne with Dennis and Wojciech Dzwoniarski, although someone says that Dennis is only lip syncing to another boy’s voice here. It may be true because I thought I saw a moment when it didn’t quite line up, but that could be the Percocets, too.
The narrator gives some interesting facts about the history of boy choirs and there are some great song choices throughout the film.

I’m still surprised that with all the wonderful things they could have shown us the producers only came up with 52 minutes of footage. I’m sure the length was chosen to fit a television time slot, but it’s like gathering Chaucer, Zola, Dante and Victor Hugo all together just for a short story.
It’s still fun to watch though and happily there are two other good films on this DVD to fill it out more.

A Slight Fever is a short film about a young cellist remembering his days in the choir as his voice changed and his subsequent choice of the cello to take its place.

Rejoice is about the 7th World Festival of Boychoirs of Poznan, 2001. This film gives us samples of a lot of great choirs as they come together for a wonderful festival. I counted 18 choirs from several European countries and the US is represented by the Madison Boychoir. That must have been something great to see.

I have wanted this DVD for quite a while but I held back because of the expense. Lately I’ve noticed that it is growing less available every year. I figured I had better grab a copy now because the price probably will never go down.

Monday, August 24, 2009

L’or Des Anges

Want to hear something crazy? I have to go in tomorrow for a coronary bypass operation. I told the doctor, ‘no way. That only happens to old people‘. He says not to worry.
Anyway now I have to be away for a few days and I won’t be able to post again until probably Friday or Saturday. So, don’t touch that dial… I’ll be back.
I have been as nervous as an expectant father, pacing the floor and wringing my hands, waiting for that special delivery. It’s finally here and it’s a boy. In fact, it’s lots of boys. I just received the DVD of L’or Des Anges, the pseudo-documentary about boy choirs.

Interestingly the first 4 letters of the title spell L O R D, as in ‘Lord, this is too short”. These things are never long enough and the 52 minutes of the feature go by much too quickly, but there are some behind the scenes footage and some outtakes that are fun.

I’ve only had the chance to watch it once so I’ll report more about it when I return. It may take a couple of posts.
If I had any cigars I would pass them around.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I used to think there was only one song called Ave Maria and that was the one by Schubert. Then I started getting educated about these things and found out, of course, that there are lots of Ave Marias.
I have a sweet album from Zurich, Switzerland, recorded by the Zurcher Sangerknaben and the title of the album is Ave Maria. They have one version of this song by Charles Gounod which uses a portion of a song by Bach as its base. This is a great version, sung with intense feeling and some really high notes.

It’s interesting that Franz Schubert’s Ellens Dritter Gesang is often misidentified as "Schubert's Ave Maria" because it opens with the greeting "Ave Maria", even though it is not a setting of the traditional Ave Maria prayer. The original text of Schubert's song is from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake.

Anton Bruckner has an Ave Maria and so do Cesar Franck, Francesco Paolo Tosti, Jakob Ardadelt, Camille Saint Saens and, of course, Schubert. They are all on this CD along with Franck’s Panis Angelicus and Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, and a few others. There is even a Verdi number Laudi Alla Virgine Maria (which I believe is another way of saying Ave Maria) from his opera Otello.

There are some men’s voices helping out in here but mostly it’s the boys who make it such a pretty recording. The cover mentions Daniel Perret and Arian Hohn as sopranos and Roy Egger as alto.

Alphons von Aarburg directs The Zurich Boys Choir which he founded in 1960. More than 130 youngsters from all backgrounds belong to the various groups that make up the choir. Choir members who come from the greater Zurich area rehearse two to three times a week. They also spend two or three weeks at the choir's singing camp in Burgundy (France) during spring and summer holidays. This ’camp’ is at a beautiful castle on a private lake and is far from the rustic image that’s suggested by the term ’camp’. Lucky kids.

Seven and eight year-old boys receive their first training at the Singschule (singing school) and their education culminates in being part of the concert choir. Older boys are given the chance to perform with the men's choruses. The Zurich Boys Choir has toured extensively in Europe and the US and perform also in the Zurich Opera.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There are a lot of choirs around the world and it’s a lot of fun to explore their music and learn things about them and there are many that I want to hear but I just haven’t gotten to them yet. One choir that I kept putting off is the Pacific Boychoir and I don’t know why. I think for some reason I expected them to be sort of ordinary, not a top notch group, but I was very wrong.

I’ve had a lot of CD’s on order for a week or so and the first to arrive was Cantate, by the Troubadors of the Pacific Boychoir. This is music of Bach, Mozart, Posch and Mendelssohn and the singing is top notch after all. These little boys have some great voices and great skill.

According to the booklet the intent on this CD was to perform these works the way the composers intended, with boy sopranos instead of the female sopranos that are favored today. It’s intended to be more historically accurate, combining both boy’s and men’s voices along with a chamber orchestra of “historically informed practice”. It all works so well.

They start with Bach’s Cantata 150 which is in 7 movements. The writer points out the great “tone ladder” in the 4th movement where the voices step up continually from the bass line to the first violins in a beautiful way. You just have to hear it.
Bach also has Mein Glaubiges Herze (from Cantata 68) which is one of my favorites.

Mozart is represented by Sub Tuum Praesidium and Ergo Interest/Quaere Superna which, according to the notes, are little-known or performed church works from his early years. The first is a duet by a great treble, Julian Abelskamp and 11-year old mezzo-soprano Jacob Wilson.
The reviewer says about the second piece it “demands a singer of technical mastery capable of … the vocal range with Bach-like disregard for a singer’s need to breathe from time to time”. Pretty funny.

They give us Cantate Domino by Isaac Posch, another duet by Ableskamp and Wilson, and Mendelssohn’s Surrexit Pastor Bonus, written when he was only 17.

If you are familiar with these songs I don’t need to say much about how beautiful they are and if, like me, you don’t know them then you should check them out on this disc.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I’ve been reading Alan Mould’s book The English Chorister, A History, again and it’s amazing how much ancient information he has managed to find about the various cathedrals and their choirs. The life of a choirboy in those days was often a difficult one filled with hard work and few luxuries. Some of the stories he tells are amusing and some are pretty sad. That the boys stayed with the choir meant either that they loved the music or perhaps that their other life choices were even less favorable.

I was looking at Salisbury cathedral, for example, and learned these things.
At Salisbury, Bishop Roger Martival in 1322 reported that the 14 choristers were not well taken care of and were so hungry that they had to go begging each day at the dwellings of the resident Canons to get enough “victuals to keep the wolf from the door”. They also had to work as domestic servants in the homes where they were lodged.
Bishop Martival improved their situation by providing funds for their welfare, housing them together in one house and in the charge of a warden who would educate them a bit and see to their needs.

In 1519 a serious outbreak of the plague afflicted the Close at Salisbury and several choristers fell ill. At least one died.

The period of high inflation during the late 16th century caused a lot of poverty which in turn caused cathedrals to cut back on the care of their choirs. By the early 17th century Salisbury still retained a house for its boys but there was only one resident. The rest had to find lodging with whatever friend they could.

At Salisbury, their master of choristers, Thomas Smythe was reported to be frequently “quarrelsome in choir… and author of dissention and brawling between the vicars of our church and was a swearer and a drunkard and up all night and player of dice openly and publicly…”
He also got in trouble for engaging in a stone fight with the wife of the organist.

His successor, John Farrant, was also no role model for the boys. There is a great account by one of the choristers describing Farrant’s leading him, in the middle of a service, to the dean’s house and threatening the dean with a knife, tearing his gown and then going back to finish singing the service.

Also at Salisbury in the mid-1680’s a chorister, John Freeman, had a run-in with an unpleasant vicar choral, William Powell, who “reacht over the seate and caught him by the haire and pulled his head back against the seate, and struck his face agst the seate with such force as caused his mouth to bleed, and called him ‘bastard’ which caused him presently to cry.”
The boy’s father made a fuss, not over the abuse but over the term ‘bastard’.

I don’t think I would care to live in ‘ye days of olde‘.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I wish there was a web site for people to swap their CDs with other people. I have a lot of older music that I would gladly exchange for some more boy choir music. I'll trade five Talking Heads for one Tolzer Knabenchor or how about Moby and the soundtrack from Pulp Fiction for something from the Pacific Boychoir?
If anyone decides to start a site like that I hope you'll tell me.

One of the very first choirs that I came to like is the Vienna Boys Choir and I bought quite a few of their CDs. I have more of their albums than any other choir.
An interesting one is their 500th Anniversary CD. It’s a 2006 reissue of an album from 1998, the year of their anniversary.

In 1498 they were known as the “Court Choir Boys” and sang for Emperor Maximilian I and this CD is a collection of music from that time period. Here they share the stage with the Chorus Viennensis, a male choir made up of former Vienna Choir Boys and created in 1952 “to provide the Choir Boys with a matching ensemble of men’s voices“.
There are two male soloists as well, with great voices. Music is by the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, directed by Agnes Grossmann.

I wish the boys were more prominent on this CD but with the loud music and the men’s voices they are often a little overshadowed.

There are two pieces by Schubert, who was himself a Vienna Choir Boy, Magnificat in C Major, D. 486 and Gesang Der Geister, D. 714 and they are both great songs. Magnificat has a really good boy soloist but I don’t know who it is because the liner notes on the reissue don’t tell us anything about the boys.

I really like the first song, Haydn’s Grosses Te Deum. It’s a powerful piece and beautifully written with some exciting violins and soaring violin-like vocals.

Antonio Salieri, whom we all know from the movie Amadeus, has a song here that had never before been recorded, Coronation Te Deum, written for the coronation of Emperor Franz II. He was probably not as bad a person as the movie made him out to be.

Salieri is followed by Mozart’s Mass No. 15 which I like a lot better. The boy soloist here is nice but not as strong as the other one.

All in all it’s a pretty good CD. I can’t imagine a better choir than Wiener Sangerknaben, no matter what they do. Their singing always is distinctive and beautiful.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I have so little musical ability that when I enter a room the average level of musical talent drops dramatically. I do have a cousin who is a musician and I’m trying to get him to learn some of the songs that I like, but somehow Miserere just doesn’t sound the same on a banjo.

Stephen Cleobury, the music director of the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge, said of Kings College…” as well as traditionally minded Christians, we welcome those of all faiths and of none, to whom nonetheless the words and music of the services evidently speak powerfully. Although our services are primarily choral, there are frequent opportunities for congregational hymn-singing, and few sounds are more stirring than the combination of pealing organ with massed voices lifted in song.

I had no idea that they had congregational hymn-singing there. I would love to hear it sometime, but until then I can at least practice with their 2001 CD Best Loved Hymns. This is one that I listen to on Sunday morning with a cup of tea and a Danish but it gets played a lot of other times, too.

There are 18 great songs on this one and they are all done in that powerful King’s College style. It starts with sort of a fanfare, a full orchestra with lots of brass and deep drums on All My Hope On God Is Founded. It’s a very uplifting hymn and the orchestra is fantastic.
There is a stirring version of A Mighty Fortress Is Our Lord and Praise My Lord, the King of Heaven.
For contrast they do When I Survey the Wondrous Cross without music but its so nice I didn’t even notice for a long time.
I love Be Thou My Vision and Dear Lord and Father of Mankind and, as always, I like when there are songs that I don’t know like Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent and several others.
There is one song, Thine Be the Glory, that always amuses me a bit because when they sing the phrase ‘thine be the glory’ is sounds to me almost like they are going to sing ‘frosty the snowman’.
Another fanfare brings up the end with All People That On Earth Do Dwell, lots of horns and that deep, rumbley organ.
This is seventy minutes of really good music, even if it doesn‘t have Miserere on it.