Friday, May 15, 2009

It seems a shame that boys can work so hard to perfect their singing only to have those beautiful treble voices fall prey to maturity. Opera singers can have a career that lasts for decades but a boy has only a few fleeting years in which to shine. Sometimes I wish they could stay young forever, but I may have found a solution to this persistent and vexing problem.

I was at my niece’s birthday party and we were sucking the helium out of some balloons and talking like Alvin the Chipmunk, as helium will make one do. I started singing Pie Jesu and to my surprise it sounded pretty darn good. I was no Tom Cully but it wasn’t bad. I’m thinking that if they put a small tank of helium on a boy’s back under the choir robe and ran a tube up to his mouth, perhaps disguised as a microphone, then the lad wouldn’t have any trouble hitting E above high C. Unless, of course, he passes out from lack of oxygen.

Yes, a treble’s career is sadly short but then so is life. I suppose we just have to enjoy life and music while they last.

One choir that I think sounds especially youthful is the Choir of the Abbey School, Tewkesbury on their 2001 CD Favourite Hymns for All Seasons. This is one of the youngest choir schools in Britain, founded in 1973 and they did a lot of touring.
I say did because the Abbey school closed on 15 July 2006 at which point the choir moved to Dean Close Preparatory School, Cheltenham and was renamed 'Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum', a choir of men and boys which sings the weekday services in Tewkesbury Abbey.

The choristers moved to Dean Close Preparatory School, Cheltenham in September 2006 when The Abbey School closed. They have a cd titled ‘The Three Kings’, a Christmas album, that is supposed to be good. I have it on order so we’ll see. I’m sure it’ll be great.
Some of the songs on the Favorite Hymns cd were familiar ones like I Vow To Thee, My Country, There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy and O Little Town of Bethlehem, but I’m always happy to find songs that I haven‘t heard before.
I, the Lord of Sea and Sky is so stirring and Sweet Sacrament Divine is a really pretty song. There is one called I Would Be True that uses the tune to Danny Boy. I looked it up and learned that the tune has been used several times before Danny Boy, something I didn’t know.

There are three soloists, Adam Jondelius, Toby Marshall, both trebles and James Mustard, bass. They are all just charming. One voice sort of leads the way on most of the songs and I’m not sure which one it is, but the boy has a wonderful tone.
This CD is sort of addictive.


  1. This is the aspect of the boy-soprano voice (I'm still a that is so appealing to me...and, that is so tragic, if that's not too strong a word: that voice *is* so fleeting, so get a 7 or 8 year old lad who has, at best, hints of something "special" in his voice...if he sticks with singing and works very hard, over the next few years you'll have a creditable singer....if you're exceedingly lucky, you might get that once-in-a-blue-moon voice that simply stops you in your tracks. And,'s gone.


  2. For some reason, iTunes only has the first volume of that hymn anthology...but they do also sell Tewkesbury's CDs of Christmas music...The Three Kings is good, if a bit too resonate: Welcome, Yule! is a lot of fun and very festive.

  3. I don't think tragic is too strong a word, David. I wish they could stay young forever.