In 1996 the BBC created and aired a mini-series called The Choir. It was based on a book by Joanna Trollope ( I wonder if she came from a long line of trollopes?) and gave us the debut of Anthony Way as Henry Ashworth, a young chorister.
There is a great story in the CD’s liner notes. It says, ”Whoever we chose (for the role) had to sing well enough to convince us he really could make a recording capable of becoming a commercial hit. We had to believe. He also had to act like a veteran. Harder still, he could only be ten or eleven years old… we were told the part is an impossibility. No such boy could exist.”
They auditioned child actors who could sing but struck out so they looked for a singer who could act. After three hundred auditions they met Anthony Way. He was eleven and a junior choir member at St. Paul’s. They were still worried that he might not be able to pull it off, but it goes on to say, “Never have fears been so triumphantly blown away.”
The show has a magnificent theme song and its best-selling soundtrack made Anthony into a very popular boy with lots of requests for television appearances. Everyone loved him.
His second CD was titled The Choirboy and after that was The Choirboy’s Christmas. I love both of them. He has a couple of others but I dont' own them yet.
There are certain songs such as Pie Jesu and Panis Angelicus that have been recorded so many times they have become standards (I have eight versions of Miserere) so it’s nice to find songs that I’ve never heard. The Choirboy chose songs like The Green Hills of England and One Small Voice and A Grateful Heart.
On the DVD I enjoy watching the boys’ practice sessions and performances in the church with the boys of the Gloucester Cathedral Choir.
There is one scene when another chorister says, “Sing B flat. Go on. Sing B double-flat. There I told stupid Barrett you could.” Both times Ashworth obliges and that always amazes me. I can’t tell a baritone from a tenor so I have no idea how anyone can just sing out a particular note. It’s magic.