Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Good Year

We are nearing the end of a major project at work and I 've been stuck with a lot of overtime every day and no days off. I'm only mentioning it to explain the lack of posts lately. I usually try to upload something every 3 or 4 days and I'm behind. Anyway, this is a special one.

February 14th is my one year anniversary of blogging. It’s appropriate because it’s Valentine’s day and I love boy choirs (in a perfectly wholesome and appropriate way, of course).

When I began this blog I didn’t really know much about this music but I’ve learned some things this year, both by researching and with the help of kind readers.

Also, I have collected a lot of CD’s this year and I’ve noticed that there are some albums that I listen to more than others so I thought I would offer my top ten list of CD’s. This is not a value judgment, I’m not saying that one choir or one album is better than the rest. This is only a list of the ones that I find that I play the most often. In no particular order:

1. Angel Voices - Libera (2006)
    A classic recording that won them tons of new fans all over the world

2. Hymn - The American Boychoir (1995)
    Some of the prettiest singing I have ever heard.

3. Heavenly Voices - The Boys of King’s College Choir, Cambridge (2004)
    A very powerful and dynamic album

4. Ave Maria - The Vienna Boys Choir (1998)
    This shows why this choir is the most famous choir in the world

5. Dennis and Polskie Slowiki (2001)
    This boy had one of the greatest voices of our time

6. Requiem - Boys Air Choir  (1997)
    Very haunting

7. Agnus Dei, Music of Inner Harmony - The Choir of New College, Oxford (1996)
    It’s what you would expect angels to sound like

8. Will Your Anchor Hold? - Ely Cathedral Choir (1999)
    A fun and touching collection of music

9. Favorite Hymns - The Choir of the Abbey School, Tewkesbury (2001)
    Very moving and sweet

10. Les Choristes en Concert - Les Petits Chanteurs de St Marc (2005)
      It’s got girls in it but Jean Baptiste Maunier makes up for it

11. The Sublime Treble Voice of James Rainbird - James Rainbird (1987)
      I’m still in love with his voice

Okay, so I couldn’t stop at ten. I could have mentioned the Yeshiva Boys Choir and a few more. It's all good.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Writer's Block

I have been working on a post for a popular choir and it has turned out to be too much work. I finally realized it's because I really don't care much for this CD. Since I can't say something nice I won't say anything about it at this time. Maybe it's a lovely CD and it's my mood that's making it seem unlikable. Maybe I'll like it better at another time so I'll save it. The name will be secret for now in case I hurt someone's feelings.

I've been putting in a lot of overtime at the office for the past week and that has really gotten in the way of my writing, but I have a special post that is almost ready.
Meanwhile, I just wanted to mention this. The Pacific Boychoir took home a Grammy award this year for their participation in the recording of "Mahler: Symphony No.8; Adagio From Symphony No. 10". Two other choirs shared the award, The San Francisco Girls Chorus and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

Their competition included the Chattanooga Boys Choir who sang on the recording "Ravel: L’Enfant Et Les Sortileges".

So it was a pretty big year for boy choirs. That’s really encouraging and I would like to give a big cheer for both of them.
I'll be back in a day or two.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Palestrina Choir

I would like to be like Ebenezer Scrooge after his transformation. Dickens said of Scrooge, “he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge”. I would like to keep it well too, and keep it all year long.

And that’s my excuse this time for plugging another Christmas CD.

Tonight I’m listening to Christmas with The Palestrina Choir. They are, for some reason, the only Irish choir whose album I have. The Palestrina Choir is from Dublin and from the pictures I have to say they are about the cutest choir I’ve ever seen with their big smiles and blue cassocks.

This CD has twenty-five carols and even though many of them are standard Christmas fare they are done with unique arrangements that make them refreshingly different. I Saw Ships is really nice and original.

It’s always fun for me to hear songs sung in Irish and there are some here. Traditional Irish songs like Suantrai na Maighdine (The Virgin Mary’s Lullaby) and Oiche Nollag (Christmas Night) and a few others. I’m glad they included the translations of the titles and lyrics in the CD booklet. It’s fun to read along.

They have a charming soloist named Christopher Graham, who was 13 and had been with the choir for 7 years when the CD was recorded in 2008.
For music they have David Grealy on the organ and Andreja Malir playing the harp. It’s all very beautiful.

I haven’t found anything about the name of the choir but I assume that they take it from the composer Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina whose sacred works had such an influence on Catholic church music.

The choir is from Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and that term confused me. I finally found out that it just means “acting” cathedral. It seems that Dublin has two cathedrals but neither is Catholic, both are Church of Ireland.
I’m still not clear on all of it but it doesn’t matter to me. The music is what I care about and this music is great. I’m going to try and get their other CD The Bells Of the Angelus.

One little bit of humor that I noticed on the album cover is that there is a robin sitting atop the word Christmas and he’s all puffed up to sing. He doesn’t see the snowball that the artist has drawn flying straight at him. Those boys.