Saturday, February 14, 2009


I cannot believe that it is 2009 and I've never blogged before. I suppose I've never had anything important to say before, but now I want to try. This will be an experiment to see if I get enough input to make it worth continuing.

I am really lucky in a lot of ways but my best luck recently was finding out about boy choirs. I was so bored with music that I had not bought a CD in years. I had plenty of Irish music, World music, Opera, Broadway show tunes and classical music as well as old classics like Pink Floyd but I kept hoping for something new; something that would bring back the excitement that I used to feel for music. Then I heard a boys choir in a movie and had I to hear more. A little exploration led me to artists such as the Vienna boys choir, Libera, James Rainbird and lots of others. loves me. I bought over fifty CD’s last year and I’m still trying to expand my collection. Unfortunately there is a finite number of boy choirs and even fewer that record their work and I worry that there may come a time when I can’t find anything else new so that’s the reason for this blog.

I hope that others will post their thoughts, likes and recommendations of this music so I can expand my knowledge of boy choirs as well as my collection. I need the advice of knowledgeable and experienced people and hopefully I will also hear from other new enthusiasts like me.

The place where I live is perfectly nice, but this area is not especially known for sophistication or culture. The prevailing attitude here is that ‘if it ain’t country, it ain’t music‘.
I tried to introduce a few people here to the world of boy choirs, but all I got was blank stares so I gave up.

There is a great deal to know about this sort of music and it would probably be helpful to be brought up Catholic, but I wasn't so I find myself constantly looking up song lyrics, especially one in Latin, and their meanings. How is it I have missed out on so much beauty for so long. Songs like Miserere, Pueri Concinite and Panis Angelicus elicit deep sighs of pleasure from me, but there is also a lot of classical and pop songs out there that I love. Classical music never sounded so good to me as it does when sung by boy's voices.

I suppose I will start by describing some of the music that I already have, beginning with the song that led me into this genre in the first place. I’ll try to add a new post every few days.

James Rainbird
It’s probably a boring story, but one day I watched Stephen Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun” which I had not seen in years. The movie opens with a choir of young boys singing a Welsh lullaby called “Suo Gan”, a really great song that I fell in love with immediately.
I looked into it and found that the soloist was 12-year-old James Rainbird, a British lad. He only had one album in his career and it was appropriately titled “The Sublime Treble Voice of James Rainbird”. The album was recorded on cassette tape and later transferred to a cd so the sound quality could be a lot better but his voice still shines despite the poor recording.

I’m not a musical person and I don’t have the vocabulary to describe musical things properly or accurately so I have to use adjectives like beautiful, warm, rich, sweet… and so forth when I talk about the music I like.
James Rainbird, still, to me is the greatest boy treble that I have ever heard. He has a huge range and he can hit the high notes with ease, without any wispiness or strain, and he does it loudly and clearly. Also there is a quality to his voice that is pure boy. There is no mistaking it for a girl’s voice.
I wish he could have done more recordings but besides Suo Gan he only has two others that I know of. He played Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Christmas opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti. The liner notes quote Menotti as saying “This recording I like very much; the boy has wonderful diction. And it mirrors my concept of Amahl.” He wasn’t pleased with earlier efforts.
James Rainbird tops the list of the people I would most like to meet.


  1. You have excellent incite and appreciation.

  2. Thanks very much for the compliment. Who is your favorite group or singer?

  3. Always fun finding another aficionado of boy-choir music, and I do hope you'll continue your well as continuing your journey through the music. Here are a few of my favorite soloists and boy-choirs, in no particular order: Aled Jones (as a boy-soprano); the Polskie Slowiki (Polish Nightingales), particularly with the amazing "Dennis" (Dionizy Placzkowski); the Tolzer Knabenchor; and, from the WSK, any of the CDs featuring young Max Emanuel Cencic. And, recently, from Britain comes young Master Andrew Johnston, with quite a lovely voice.


  4. Thanks Bucksdavid,
    The first time I heard Andrew Johnston hit that opening note in Pie Jesu I choked up right away and thought OMG.
    I like Aled too, but I didn't know about Polskie Slowiki. I'm going to look into that now.