Tuesday, December 13, 2011



**************************************************************

LIBERA TIMELINE
PART FOUR: 2011
(Last updated/revised/edited: May 12th, 2017)

More changes/photos/videos/links/updates to all parts may appear at any time. As sites are continually being updated/revised, please excuse any temporary small errors 
Also please be aware that software on other Libera sites may change or rearrange color accents, photo placement, spacing and type size. For the original Timeline site, make sure you go to  http://liberatimeline.blogspot.com/ 

******************************
PART FOUR: 2011

XVI: WINTER ACTIVITY, 2011 EPSOM CONCERT
(Some Libera Soundtracks)
XVII CANADIAN SPRING TOUR
(More Libera/Alumni Footnotes)
XVIII: 2011 CENTRAL US SUMMER TOUR
            (Tour Complications I)
(Starkey Foundation Gala)
(Tour Complications II)
(Moody Church Videos)
(Tour Complications III)
(Libera and the Paradox of Fame:
A Digression)
XIX: SONGS OF PRAISE 50TH ANNIVERSARY
XX: NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUM
(Solo Variations, A Digression)
XXI: HOLIDAY TOUR IN THE PHILIPPINES
XXII: CHRISTMAS SEASON IN ENGLAND
(St. George's Cathedral Concert,
Nine Lessons and Carols,
Radio/TV Appearances,
Greetings, Reviews)

*****************************************************
XVI: 2011: Winter Activity, 2011 Epsom Concert
Ben Phillip towering in "O Sanctissima"

In the 2011 post-holiday lull, information and videos from Libera were fairly scarce, with one shining exception: on January 16th, 2011, this lovely video, filmed in the Arundel Cathedral in October 2010, debuted on an “all Arundel” program aired by Songs of Praise. Musically, this was almost certainly intended as a strong presentation of the newest Libera regular lineup, with “big people” Josh Madine, Tiarnán Branson, Jonathan Barrington, Liam Connery and the Leggett brothers tucked unobtrusively into the background, leaving no-longer-so-mini-Ben Phillip as lead voice towering over the rest of the youngsters. This was quite probably also the official video “swan song” of another great soprano soloist.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLMdHue0HLk (O Sanctissima/solo by Ben Philipp/2010)

It was by then especially noticeable that the traditional three-voice "tenor section" had, possibly as a result of older boys wanting to continue their participation in Libera, expanded to include deeper baritone voices, adding considerably to the overall richness of sound.

In late January, “personality kids” Ralph Skan, Kavana Crossley, and Cassius O’Connell-White, aged 12, 11, and 9, made their enthusiasm for the Organ Symphony by Saint-Saens hilariously obvious. The piece—aka “Gloria,” as sung by Libera—(see Crystal Cathedral performance in Part Three of this Timeline [link below]) was nominated by the group for inclusion in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.  It subsequently came in as #14 on the final list of 300 classical works.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBMOTw5P1Bw (Ralph Skan, Kavana Crossley, Cassius O’Connell-White/2011)


**************************************************


Some Libera Soundtracks


Ralph Skan, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, and Luke Collins in the recording studio
As mentioned, Libera voices have been featured on a number of TV-show and movie soundtracks in the past. On February 14, 2011, the  soundtrack composed by Mark McKenzie for a 3D animated movie The Great Miracle (El Gran Milagro), directed by Bruce Morris of Pocohontas and Hercules fame, was released. Libera is featured in four songs.

0

Reviewer Tomas Broxton of Movie Music UK wrote: “The choral elements are…magnificent. The London Libera Boys’ Choir [sic], conducted by Robert Prizeman, [is featured] in the astonishing “Benedictus Deus”, which grows from a solo boy soprano [Stefan Leadbeater] to a duet, to the full choir and orchestra over the course of a mere 97 stunning seconds. Later, their angelic cooing gives the triumphant and turbulent “Offerings” and the first half of the bold and vivid “I Miss You” a sense of majesty and grandeur, while their more emotionally charged and tragic vocal performances during “Ultimate Love” provides one of the score’s darkest moments of poignancy.”

http://youtu.be/SwYiXAONy34 (Benedictus Deus and Ascension Gloria Patri, from soundtrack of film El Gran Milagro/with through-the years photos of soloists/outstanding singers/ compiled 1/18/12)/solo/second voice: Stefan Leadbeater/Ralph Skan)

Rare image of 1990s soloist Glen Tilen

Ben Philipp leads a procession.

http://youtu.be/3HYMMKZHV5A  ([Optional]Movie trailer for El Gran Milagro, 2011)
On February 22, an announcement appeared of a forthcoming mini-album of Libera songs, Miracle of Life, to be released 4/13/2011 by EMI Japan. It features the surprising number of Libera songs (listed below) that have been used as theme songs for or featured in various Japanese TV programs and films:

Poster for Madonna Verde
1. “Song of Life:” (Takatsugu Muramatsu, composer, Robert Prizeman lyrics; solo/second part by Ralph Skan/James Mordaunt) This was the featured theme song of a 2011 TV show called Madonna Verde, a program concentrating on the theme of surrogate motherhood. In early May, a produced video appeared, using a combination of visual techniques reminiscent of the earlier “Time” and “Deep Peace” videos (see above). It is also clearly owned by the latest “Libera generation,” with only occasional glimpses of older boys singing lower parts.


Ralph Skan solos on "Song of Life" video. Visible boys (L to R) are Dylan Duffy, Cassius O' Connell-White, Kavana Crossley, Barney Lindsell, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Stefan Leadbeater, Henry Barrington, Matthew Jansen, Eoghan McCarthy, Jude Collins, Freddie Ingles

http://youtu.be/GZZzhGs80rg  (Song of Life/Solo/second voice: Ralph Skan/ James Mordaunt 5/2/11)

(Optional) This Japanese interview with half-a-dozen Libera boys appeared about the time of the Madonna Verde premiere, and following the March earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan. Although it seems a bit opportunistic, slightly forced and carefully scripted, there are some charming and revealing moments.

http://youtu.be/atTWZOj1uL4 (Interview in Japan in May, 2011)

2. “You Were There:” theme song of film Nobody to Watch Over Me; Takatsugu Muramatsu, composer

3. “Far Away,” Takatsugu Muramatsu, composer, used as the theme for a miniseries called Ice Wall.

4. “Salva Me:” used as theme for the NHK drama Storm One Day.

5. “Eternal Light:” theme song of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Shanghai Expo; Akira Senju, composer.

6. “I Am the Day:” used as ending song for NTV show Person Who Wanting Encounters it Most in Space.

7. “Deep Peace/Gaelic Blessing”

An interesting note is that on some Japanese sites, the group’s name is translated as “Rivera,” presumably to accord with common Japanese pronunciation.

*******************************************************************************

XVII: Epsom and Canada (April 2011)

 L to R: Eoghan McCarthy, Henry Barrington, Kavana Crossley, Luke Collins, Stefan Leadbeater, Ralph Skan, Sammy Moriarty, Tiarnán Branson, Jonathan Barrington, Liam Connery, Alex Leggett, Josh Madine, Jakob Wood, Ben Phillip,Daniel Fontannaz, Carlos Rodriguez, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Barney Lindsell, Matthew Jansen, Jude Collins
In mid-March, great excitement ensued among Canadian fans when Libera announced that their next spring tour would be in Canada (a first for that country), between April 14th and April 24th.
There was also great enthusiasm for the group’s long-awaited 3/18 concert in Epsom, England, following the post-holiday hiatus, with fans traveling from the US, Japan, and other countries for this single event. There was neither video coverage, nor the usual meet-and-greet, but numerous attendees wrote and blogged their reviews of the experience, bringing up a number of new facts, observations, conjectures and song selections.

Epsom Poster
Epsom/ Canada Program (changes/additions from the previous touring program are marked by asterisks):
* Jubilate (from the 1999 album Libera ), with segué into Libera ( song)
    Eternal Light
    Sanctissima
    Sanctus
    Always With You (from the 2005 album Visions)
*   Song of Life
    Salva Me
*   Lamentione (“Lament” from the 2004 album Free)
    Exultate

Intermission

    Mysterium
     Gloria
     The Fountain
      When A Knight Won His Spurs/Veritas
      Stay with me
      Ave Verum
      Love and Mercy
      Going Home
      How Shall I Sing That Majesty
      Encore: A repeat of the final chorus of Exultate

1) The boys singing/touring were:

Henry Barrington, Jonathan Barrington, Tiarnán Branson, Jude Collins, Luke Collins, Liam Connery, Kavana Crossley, Jakob de Menezes-Wood, Dylan Duffy, Daniel Fontannaz, Freddie Ingles, Matthew Jansen, Stefan Leadbeater, Alex Leggett, Barney Lindsell, Eoghan McCarthy, James Mordaunt, Sammy Moriarty, Cassius O’Connell-White, Benedict Philipp, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Carlos Rodriguez, and Ralph Skan.

2) According to a between-numbers speech by Liam Connery, Josh Madine and Sam Leggett were absent studying for exams; also missing from the previous ranks were brothers Mine and Sere Akpobome (who have appeared on videos and recordings, but seldom seem to travel with the group) and Matthew Madine. As there was still no sign of older boys James Threadgill, Flynn Marks, or Alfie Smart, it could be conjectured at this point that those three had left Libera.

The newest Libera members with staying power at this point seemed to be Dylan Duffy, Matthew Jansen, Barney Lindsell, Jude Collins, and Cassius O’Connell-White. Making a first appearance was total newbie Eoghan (pronounced “Owen”) McCarthy, an unknown quantity to fans at that point.
Eoghan McCarthy
3) The solo ranks were again in flux; with Ben Phillip and Alex Leggett now singing with the “big people in the back” and Stefan Leadbeater soldiering through with a cold (all of his former showpiece solos were either reassigned or sung as duets), Ralph Skan took over as the solo workhorse of the group, singing solo or duet parts on eight of the 19 songs on the program, including the group’s newest number “Song of Life,” and Ben Phillip’s former solo in “O Sanctissima.”



4) Other up-and-comers included Freddie Ingles, who soloed on the mysterious “Always with you” (with Jacob de Menezes-Wood on the high part). The piece, written by Robert Prizeman with Ben Crawley, is shown below as sung exquisitely by Tom Cully at the 2007 Leiden PBS concert.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbhBV_UxRdU (Always With You/solo by Tom Cully/Leiden 2007)

Ingles also shared “Love and Mercy” solo parts with James Mordaunt and Daniel Fontannaz, as well as presenting two of the between-songs speeches (the first shared with Cassius O’Connell-White) “Mini-James” Mordaunt also soloed on “Going Home,” with Jakob Wood and Daniel Fontannaz (who continued to shine in “Stay With Me” and a new/old song ”Lamentione;” see below).

Jakob De Menezes-Wood
Carlos Rodrigues continued his emergence as a solo presence with “Ave Verum,” and Matthew Rangel-Alvares handled the highest descant work effortlessly and beautifully. Kavana Crossley and Jakob Wood, while singing occasional solo parts, at this point continued in the great “second-voice” tradition of singers like Sam Harper, Anthony Maher, Joseph Sanders-Wilde, Conor O’ Donnell, and Sam Leggett, by enriching the work of soloists.

Kavana Crossley
5) Between-song speeches were made by Freddie Ingles (twice—once with Cassius O’ Connell-White (general introductions), and once on the subjects of the Libera robes and learning music; Kavana Crossley (on harmonies); Liam Connery (on voice changes); and two new boys, Barney Lindsell (introduction of musicians and music director and remarks on plainsong) and young Jude Collins. Collins began with “Hello! I’m Jude! I’m new!” and detailed life as a beginning Libera performer, including having to memorize all of the evening’s concert numbers in two months.
 Jude Collins
6) Besides the recently acquired selection “Song of Life,” two newly “revived” numbers appeared on the program The plainsong-inspired “Jubilate” was first videoed in 1998, with descants and solos by Liam O’ Kane and Steven Geraghty. Stefan Leadbeater and Luke Collins sang the 2011 solos.
Black-robed soloists Steven Geraghty and Liam O' Kane in 1998 "Jubilate" video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYOqbzFGe8c (Jubilate/ solo/descants by Liam O’ Kane, Stephen Geraghty 1998)

The second new “oldie,” also plainsong-influenced, was the 2004 piece “Lament” (called “Lamentione” in this program). Ben Crawley soloed on the Free CD where the song initially appeared in 2004, and either Joe Platt or Joe Sanders-Wilde sang the descantsThe 2011 solo parts were sung by Ralph Skan and Daniel Fontannaz.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2HIqtQXx3o (Lament/2004 Free CD)
**************************************
A quirky occurrence about this time was the inclusion of Libera favorite Josh Madine in an international poll (originating in 1996) to name the “Top Media Boys” of 2010. Surprisingly, with no publicity machine or worldwide media appearances behind him, Madine placed 9th in a field otherwise composed of young musicians, TV stars and actors like Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith and Greyson Chance. Since both nominations and voting were done by fans, this was a surprising revelation of the strength of the Libera fan presence worldwide.

Do we wonder why?
http://www.aftipoll.co.uk/2010/ (Josh Madine places 9th in AFTI [alt.fan.teen.idols] 2010] Media Boy Poll )

***********************************************************

XVII 2011 CANADIAN SPRING TOUR

LiberaOfficial photo: Canadian Tour, 2011: the boys pose happily in their winter coats in front of a moose (at this time their official traveling mascot was a stuffed toy moose). L to R: Ben Phillip, Matthew Jansen, Alex Leggett, Sammy Moriarty, Freddie Ingles, Matthew Rangel Alvarez, Jakob Wood, Tiarnán Branson, Cassius O' Connell White (rear), Stephan Leadbeater, Jonathan Barrington (with CarlosRodriguez Villegas, Barney Lindsell and Eoghan McCarthy in front of him), Liam Connery (with Henry Barrington, Kavana Crossley and Dylan Duffy in front of him), James Mordaunt, Daniel Fontannaz, Luke Collins (top) and Ralph Skan.
1) The Canadian Tour roster of singers, speakers and song selections essentially duplicated those in the Epsom concert described above, with a few changes in song order, lighting, and choreography, which had to be adapted to both small and large performing areas in the Canadian venues, all located in the province of Ontario.

2) The twenty-three boys and assorted adults (production staff, musicians, chaperones) made the trip, plagued in the first few days by an ailment that seemed to affect throats and produce coughs and sneezes, but did not prevent any boy from singing. Their progress was followed, online and in the flesh, by a cadre of fans from several countries and continents, a number of whom attended several or all of the concerts and weighed in on fansites with detailed reviews and impressions.


Unfazed by germs, Jude Collins tries out the Canadian national sport.
3) The best visual/aural coverage was provided, not by the Libera organization, but by Lexi, an ardent Chicago-based fan who at that time maintained the excellent Mini-Angels website. Lexi attended six of the seven Ontario concerts, and subsequently compiled a medley of all the songs in performance order, accompanied by still photos and a few video clips, showing all the venues and post-concert photo ops. The 15-minute video ends with photos of the boys sightseeing and a collection of portraits identifying each singer on the Canadian tour tour by name. It’s notable that a number of the songs were apparently recorded live in recent concerts, as many featured the singing of the actual boys on the tour rather than repeating earlier recordings (others were from the Peace CD).

youtu.be/1nG7OJs0KxM.webloc  (Libera 4/11/Canadian Tour Photos with concert medley and chorister IDs)

"Moose," the Libera mascot
4) There were also several articles and interviews published, although they tended to be pre-event stories rather than music reviews.  One of the more insightful appeared before the first Toronto appearance:

http://www.toronto.com/article/681197--this-boy-band-stays-that-way (Article about Libera on Toronto.com online magazine/4/15/2011; NOTE: readers may have to search archives for this piece)

5) The group brought along its own organist to take advantage of fine instruments in various venues. Organ accompaniments were used to great effect, especially in “Mysterium” and “Gloria.” Stephen Geraghty played clarinet, recorder, and keyboards, and a string ensemble and percussionist also traveled with the group.
Barney Lindsell, Canada 2011

 6) Stefan Leadbeater was back in strong soprano voice for “Libera.” His “Salva Me” descant had been passed to Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, whose spine-tingling soprano was being increasingly used in parts requiring the highest upper range. Newcomer Barney Lindsell also appeared to be making his mark in the group's highest register.
Matthew Rangel-Alvarez in 2010

7) As has become customary, Libera members blogged about their ongoing experience.


"Moose" overlooks the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls
8) Fans who attended concerts were disappointed by the absence of post-performance “meet-and-greet” sessions, which had not been held since the 2010 concert/tour season. The official and quite reasonable reason given was that with seven concerts, rehearsals, media interviews and travel time crowded into a 14-day period, it was necessary to conserve the boys’ energy, especially with illness in the group. Some disgruntled fans were of the opinion that access to the boys had recently and purposely become more and more limited as the group’s popularity had grown. Others blamed “too many concerts scheduled in too little time.”

9) One interesting point made in an interview was that the boys are usually chaperoned on tours, not by their own parents, but by the parents of former Libera members, adults who are familiar with the dynamics of touring but are not invested in any one child.
Barbara Geraghty, mother of former Libera singers Daren and Stephen, keeps an eye on Liam Connery, Michael Vereycken and Sam Leggett c. 2006
10) The tour, well attended, seemed to achieve even more momentum (SRO) at later concerts, as a result of enthusiastic word-of-mouth. The quality of music, as always, received high praise, and the few negatives seemed to involve seating, space and lighting inadequacies in smaller venues.

11)  Here’s a selection of Canadian radio and TV appearances and interviews (the first, on Salt and Light, hosted by Pedro Guevara Mann, is the longest and by far the most comprehensive and interesting):

(Interview with Freddie Ingles, Liam Connery and Kavana Crossley on Salt and Light Canadian TV program, April, 2011/host Pedro Guevera Mann)


http://youtu.be/t--IjweeIzE  (Libera’s Easter Sunday Church of Our Lady appearance in Guelph CTV report 4/24/2011)

******************************
Outstanding Fan Video: It's hard to tell which is better in this video piece by a fan known as TheFurby (Joe Snelling's Libera nickname); the wonderful set of morphing portraits of mid-2011 Liberans or the exquisite 1999 solo by Liam O' Kane on "Agnus Dei."

http://youtu.be/65zmpxexZJU (TheFurby’s 2011 roster morph video/Agnus Dei/Liam O' Kane)


Michael Horncastle, Josh Madine
***************************
More Libera/Alumni Footnotes 
In mid-May, it was announced on several websites that Freddie Ingles, Stefan Leadbeater, Kavana Crossley, James Mordaunt, Daniel Fontannaz, Barney Lindsell, Ralph Skan and Cassius O’Connell-White had taken part in a film called, of all things, Venus in Eros, directed by Takako IMAI, a British production (RME Films). The boys played (what else?) archangels, and the soundtrack included “Ave Virgo.” “Air,” “Touch the Sky,” “Panis Angelicus” and “How Shall I Sing That Majesty?”
Publicity shot for Venus in Eros
According to the Libera Dreams website (see below), the Premiere took place in Cannes on May 13th.

The same director apparently planned another project for 2012 called The Boys in a Dream, described as “a beautiful and emotional boys’ choir’s story.” This never materialized.


Several other Liberans’ springtime accomplishments were noted on various sites. Stefan Leadbeater, a student at Trinity School, Croyden, was named one of three boy soloists in the Carsington Opera Company’s production of The Magic Flute.

 Newcomer Eoghan McCarthy, apparently a kid to watch, drew compliments for his solo rendition of the 23rd Psalm at a St. Philip’s service.


Eoghan (pronounced "Owen") McCarthy
In early June, it was announced that the prodigious Stefan Leadbeater had landed yet another plum part: that of Miles in Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, to be performed by the Vienna Opera Company at the Theater an der Wein from September 14th to 27th, 2011. This precluded him from participation in Libera's upcoming summer tour.

Photo from Vienna Opera Company program courtesy of Yuki; Stefan Leadbeater as Miles in Benjamin Britten's opera adapted from Henry James's The Turn of the Screw.  September 2011. Stefan, as usual, received rave reviews. 
In alumni news, Flynn Marks, who had by spring of 2011 officially left Libera, continued his music career by receiving a Distinction for Singing, and the Overall Solo Singing Cup for Under-18s at the Coulsden and Purley Music Festival in mid-March.


Meanwhile, Josh Madine displayed an excellent tenor voice in a small-group rendition of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl" as part of the Bishop Grant School Choir at the Lambeth Schools Music Festival in April. (Optional video almost not included because of sub-standard acoustics.) 
Josh Madine (R) singing with school group. Tom Cully (L) from a 2011 YouTube video.
http://youtu.be/HYOeEB0Hrlw (Josh Madine with Bishop Grant School Choir/Lambeth Schools Music Festival)

In mid-June of 2011, the upcoming release of another Libera-related CD was announced (See also Part One of this Timeline). A compilation of old St. Philip's Boys Choir/Angel Voices songs, including some still performed by Libera, it was produced by California-based Varese Sarabande, a company that specializes in movie scores and in reissuing rare or unavailable albums. the CD was scheduled to be released on August 23, 2011.


 The CD contained 16 songs from the 1992 Angel Voices and 1996 Angel Voices 2 albums, with soloists Oliver Putland, Daren Geraghty, Anthony Maher and Liam O'Kane. Distributed by Universal Music Christian Group and EMI Christian Music Group, and became available at Varese Sarabande's website here and on Amazon.com. Its cover picture is from the 1992 Angel Voices album (see section I). 

*****************************************************

XVIII: 2011 CENTRAL US SUMMER TOUR
Josh Madine gets his Texas on
In Mid-June of 2011, the following video appeared announcing that the group's 2011 summer tour would begin in Minneapolis, MN, and end in Houston, TX. http://youtu.be/Bk7zy8BhzfQ  (Promo video for Summer 2011 US Tour)
An added touch of excitement for this tour emerged when it was announced that Libera would be performing at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, MN, at a charity gala on Sunday, July 24, 2011 to benefit the Starkey Hearing Foundation (which provides hearing aids to children in disadvantaged countries).

Honorees included former US President Bill Clinton and actress Marlee Matlin, and performers and guests included both Hollywood and Nashville A-listers. As of July 8th, the $1500 tickets were entirely sold out. A Libera photograph appeared prominently on the poster, along with those of headliners like Miley Cyrus, Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks.


Libera’s blog about the group’s upcoming summer-tour activities began early, with one of the boys (unidentified) writing about the activities and atmosphere leading up to a tour.


Libera Business Manager Steve Philipp
Tour preparation was, however, not as simple behind the scenes as it may have seemed to the boys. According to a post-concert conversation between AngelVoices site manager Craig and Steve Phillip (father of singer Ben Phillip), this tour was originally headed for China.
Philipp acts as group chairman and spokesperson, traveling with Libera and dealing with administrative duties to free up Robert Prizeman for musical activities. Below is a paraphrase by Craig of Philipp's comments:



[Steve Philipp: "We were supposed to go to China this summer but in the spring they backed out. It was to be a full tour. We don't know why, they just did. We then turned our attention to coming back to the US, and quickly tried to get a tour together. Had we known we were going to the US this summer all that time planning China would have gone to the US. That lost us a lot of time.

As of three weeks ago it looked like the US tour would get cancelled too, because of visa issues. (The boys all need performer visas to get into the US, which all together typically costs $15,000 US—Ed.).

We got the paperwork in as soon as we could, but apparently not soon enough. You have to remember that we can't even buy airline tickets or commit funds at all until we know we have visas.

Three weeks ago there was a very difficult Trustees meeting where the decision was made that if the visas didn't come in by the end of that day, the tour would be cancelled. I called the visa place to plead my case and try to get them to release the visas that day. I was told point-blank there was no way at all that would happen.

I then mentioned that the Starkey Foundation would be disappointed because we were invited to perform there for former President Bill Clinton. The visas were approved within the hour and the tour was saved."

Libera backs up singer John Rich and actress Marlee Matlin at the Starkey Foundation Gala, 2011

This bureaucratic snafu resulted in late announcement of US tour dates, late availability of tickets, and (as a result) mostly full and enthusiastic, but not packed, houses. Undaunted, a surprising number of Libera enthusiasts showed up from the US, UK, Europe, and even Asia, some attending all the concerts, and one fan even traveling from Singapore for a single concert.

*********************************************************

26 boys began the tour:

Henry Barrington, Tiarnán Branson, Jude Collins, Luke Collins, Kavana Crossley, Jakob De Menezes-Wood, Thomas Delgado-Little, Dylan Duffy, Ben Fairman, Daniel Fontannaz, Freddie Ingles, Matthew Jansen, Alex Leggett, Sam Leggett, Barney Lindsell, Isaac London, Josh Madine, Matthew Madine, Eoghan McCarthy, Cassius O'Connell-White, Benedict Philipp, Matthew Rangel-Alvares, Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Ralph Skan, Orlando Woscholski, and Carlos Rodriguez Villegas (a new addition to Carlos' name, adding to the growing collection [six at this point, to expand to eight in the spring] of double-barreled surnames).
      

                                                                               
They were joined in Minneapolis after the Starkey Gala and the St. Paul concert by Liam Connery and Sammy Moriarty (the latter newly elevated to tenor status after a brief 2010 career as a soprano soloist and a growth spurt); both had been on a school trip to Poland.

The only others missing from the main group were Stefan Leadbeater (off performing with the Vienna Opera Company), and Jonathan Barrington and “Mini-James” Mordaunt, for reasons not explained. At this point, brothers Mine and Sere Akpobome were no longer appearing in videos or onstage, and their continuing status as Libera members was unknown.

There were six touring newbies; four tiny LBBs (Little Blond Boys, at first sight almost indistinguishable from one another) Ben Fairman, Isaac London, Thomas Delgado-Little, and Michael Ustynovych-Repa; and two dark-haired lads: Matthew Madine and Orlando Woscholski. This was the first tour for all of them, and the first public performances by Isaac and Orlando.

This tour was notable for an excessive July-August Midwestern heat wave, with outdoor temperatures often rising above 100ºF, and several of the venues without air conditioning.

The Starkey Foundation Gala 
In the photo below, Libera is singing backup for up-and-coming country singer John Rich on an original song written for the program, entitled “For the Kids” (Marlee Matlin is signing the words).
Libera’s first appearance was at the much-anticipated Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala, which they opened with “Song of Life” (see section X, above), with Ralph Skan soloing.

http://youtu.be/VdnofVUMROE (Very brief clip of Libera singing backup to John Rich at Starkey gala)


http://youtu.be/LvrBV6NfBcs (Complete video of Starkey 
Hearing Foundation Gala “So The World May Hear,”
 Chicago, 2011/Libera appears at 1:20 and 3:23) 

Although they didn’t meet Bill Clinton, they did get to (literally) rub elbows with young American  songstress Miley Cyrus.


The irresistible Cassius O'Connell-White charms Miley Cyrus, as older boys look on, presumably with envy.
The five-hour concert raised $7.2 million for the Starkey Foundation.


A somewhat facile Twin Cities’ Channel 9 interview with Kavana Crossley, Ralph Skan, Cassius O’Connell-White, and Josh Madine on 7/28 revealed some interesting personal facets of the individual boys:


<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsvTWi33hqw&amp;feature=player_embedded> (7/28/11 Interview with Jason Mattheson on Fox TV “Buzz” morning show)

CONCERT SELECTIONS:

(soloists/duet parts/small-group parts identified thanks to Lexi of the Mini-Angels site and various other concert-goers who provided details):

1. JUBILATE – Small-group parts by Ralph Skan, Alex Leggett, Jakob Wood, Barney Lindsell and Carlos Rodrigues; segué into:

2. LIBERA -  Eoghan McCarthy and Luke Collins, duet; Ralph Skan on final high descant.

Speech – Barney Lindsell and Cassius O’ Connell-White spoke about how there were 28 boys here, old and new (who waved their hands at the appropriate designation). Barney remarked that he started singing with Libera when he was nine. There are two eight-year-olds on the tour.
Eight-year-old Michael Ustynovych-Repa

3. SONG OF LIFE – solos by Ralph Skan, backed at times by Daniel Fontannaz and Kavana Crossley. Daniel, at age 15, is still reaching the highest notes.

4. SANCTISSIMA – Another solo by Ralph Skan, who, judging from reports, handled the potential pressure of his many solos with ease and grace.

5. SANCTUS – Jakob Wood, at age 14, still on the highest notes; solo "Sanctus" phrase at the end sung by Luke Collins.



Speech – Kavana Crossley and Cassius O’Connell-White gave the second speech about Moose, Libera’s mascot, who has been on every tour since Libera began and now has his own passport and seat on the coach. The boys remarked that he is a very spoiled moose.

6. ALWAYS WITH YOU – solo by Freddie Ingles, high descant by Jakob Wood.

7. ETERNAL LIGHT -  (Because of an unexpected change, here’s a charming report by Lexi, expressing the almost-universal affection for eight-year veteran Josh Madine, by then grown to a towering 6’4”)

“Ralph and Daniel came out to sing Eternal Light, and I figured they must have given Stefan [Leadbeater]’s solo to Daniel, but then, much to my surprise, the big boy in the middle began to sing the solo. AND IT WAS JOSH!!!!...He sang the solo down an octave, which sounded different, but really good! He was totally enjoying every minute of it, you could tell. He had this look on his face like Oh yeah, Josh is back.’…From that excitement we launched right into...”]

8. SALVA ME – Descant by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez

Speech – Barney Lindsell introduced the musicians (this tour is accompanied by a pianist/organist, percussionist, and string ensemble) as well as the next song.


9. LAMENTIONE – Daniel Fontannaz, Jakob Wood, Carlos Rodrigues, Ralph Skan, Matthew Jansen, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Dylan Duffy, Eoghan McCarthy, Barney Lindsell, and Freddie Ingles sang the main parts, with the rest of the boys providing a hooded backup chorus.

10. EXULTATE – The solo, formerly sung to great effect by Ben Phillip, was taken by Freddie Ingles, Eoghan McCarthy and Ralph Skan (see Moody Church video below).

Intermission – Libera Administrative Chairman Steve Philipp spoke, mentioning, among other details, that the boys came from 15 different schools in South London.

11. TE LUCIS – This new/old number provided a showcase for the lower voices—seven-to-eight-year veterans Ben Phillip (with newly bleached-blond hair), Josh Madine, Sam and Alex Leggett, Tiarnán Branson, and Liam Connery, with the recent addition of Sammy Moriarty (who had a very limited solo career before his voice changed). Sam Leggett handled most of the low solo parts.

Grown-up Angel Voices Alex Baron, Simon Beston and others sang the original low-voiced section of "Te Lucis" in 1999
The dramatic low-voiced opening of “Te Lucis” also provided a kind of running gag throughout the tour, as the configurations of the various venues dictated where the isolated group of tenors/baritones would appear (Onstage? Above-stage gallery? Side Balcony? Back balcony? Organ/choir loft?) One concert had them singing from a large empty raised baptistry (“We were standing on the drain,” observed one of the boys). 

(Musicians on tour often find themselves likewise shuffled about.)

 Segué to:

12. MYSTERIUM – Solo parts by Ralph Skan and Luke Collins. Segué to:

13. GLORIA (see Moody Church video below; the organist is Sean Groombridge)

Speech – Cassius O’ Connell-White and Freddie Ingles gave the usual speech about their robes, their huge hoods, and practicing blindfolded, after which Freddie yanked Cassius’ hood down completely over his head, cutting off his vision.

(This bit of byplay escalated throughout the tour, beginning with Kavana Crossley breaking ranks to drag the hooded and apparently bewildered Cassius back into line, and eventually ending with one of the bigger boys spontaneously tucking the diminutive imp under his arm and carrying him back to his place.)


Boys in the hoods: Jonathan Barrjngton, Ralph Skan, Daniel Fontannaz, Tiernán Branson


14. THE FOUNTAIN – Solo by Ralph Skan, with Kavana Crossley.

15. WHEN A KNIGHT WON HIS SPURS – Rearranged by Robert Prizeman for the Canada tour, this song remains a crowd-pleaser, with Ralph Skan once again soloing.

16. STAY WITH ME – Solo by Daniel Fontannaz, descant by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez.

Speech – (Another personal observation by Lexi, echoing popular appreciation for the talented, kindly, modest and ever-dependable Sam Leggett.)

[“Sam, yes, SAM, gave the voice-changing speech, which was really nice, because we don’t get to hear from Sam a lot. He fist-bumped Jakob in the dark just before he started. I'm so happy Sam is here! He has such a kind, serene face, you just sigh, and think ‘Sam's here. Everything's going to be great.’”]


17. AVE VERUM – Summing-up by Lexi again: [“Carlos (Rodrigues) did a great job on his solo with Jakob (Wood) harmonizing. This song never fails to give me goosebumps at the V formation at the end. And there's Josh (Madine) in the center, in charge of everything.”]

18. LOVE AND MERCY – Cassius O’Connell-White, ably replacing the absent James Mordaunt, sang the duet part with Freddie Ingles, and came in with the final “Mercy and Love.”

19. GLORY TO THEE – Solo by Eoghan McCarthy. This version of the canon by Thomas Tallis (video below under Moody Church Videos) actually breaks up into a seven-part round before coming together at the end, probably a real challenge for newbies standing in random onstage formations.
Speech – Jude Collins and tiny newbie Ben Fairman (who balked at becoming Mini-Mini-Ben, and had thus by this time become “Nano-Ben”) played on Jude’s Canada-tour speech, which began "Hello, I’m Jude, and I’m new." When the former repeated this line, Nano-Ben waved and volunteered, "But I’m newer!", and, as Jude had on the Canada tour, spoke about joining the group and having only two months to learn all the songs, words and stage movements.

20. HOW SHALL I SING THAT MAJESTY? – (Moody Church video below) Solo parts alternating at different performances between Eoghan McCarthy, Jakob Wood, and Jude Collins

Encore – EXULTATE

Observation: For this tour, Cassius O’Connell-White, Kavana Crossley, Freddie Ingles and Barney Lindsell handled most of the onstage speaking roles, with specialty walk-ons by Sam Leggett and Ben Fairman. Radio and TV appearances fetured Kavana Crossley, Ralph Skan, Cassius O’Connell-White and Josh Madine.


Boys standing in mixed-voice groupings during concert
There were no post-performance “meet and greets” (M&Gs) for the first three concerts. It was explained by spokesperson Steve Philipp that these occasions depended on timing (the boys need to eat a full meal and rest after each concert), availability of security personnel (Libera has none, and a recent random bombing/shooting incident in Norway had adults accompanying the group a bit nervous), and finding proper post-concert venues.

At St. Louis and Dallas and Houston, M&Gs were held. In Houston not only posters and programs, but bags, T-shirts, watches, and cell phones were presented for signing.

(On the subject of M&Gs, Steve Philipp remarked: “We are very, very appreciative of our audience, and are well aware that none of this would be possible without the many fans around the world that support us.

However, people must understand that any relationship [with the boys] must be at arm's length. There are people that have let their fanship become an obsession. Quite honestly, we don't know how to deal with that. There have been incidents at our church….You must understand that nothing we do in Libera goes ahead of the health and safety of the boys. That is of prime importance no matter what.”) ‘Nuff said.

Liam Connery connects with a fan at a meet-and-greet, while alumni staffer Callum Payne looks on.
As usual, the boys blogged throughout the tour; certain phrases indicated that the main “voice” of the blog was one of the seven “big boys,” and the writing is delightfully amusing, articulate and illustrated with “insider” photos.




http://www.libera.org.uk/blog/usa_tour_2011_part_three
Liam Connery connects with goats at Grant's Farm, St. Louis

*************************************

MOODY CHURCH VIDEOS

Vast interior of Chicago's Moody Church
The Libera organization, as mentioned earlier, is known for being reticent about posting concert tapes, which they generally reserve for their own in-house videos and promotional materials.

Sunday-morning church services at the giant Moody Church in Chicago (founded by noted 19th-Century Midwestern evangelist Dwight L. Moody) were, however, broadcast by the church, and four current videos thus entered the public domain.

This gave Libera watchers who were unable to attend live concerts a look at the newest lineup and allowed them to hear recent arrangements. 

This was, however, Libera in church-choir mode (as opposed to concert mode), i.e, slightly subdued, reverent and not drawing attention to themselves as individuals—lots of lowered eyes and semi-slouches on the older boys; poker faces all around; no lighting effects, showmanship, or choreography as in the regular shows, although the singers were accompanied by the mini-orchestra and organist that traveled with them.

Boys with church faces: Liam Connery, Eoghan McCarthy, Ralph Skan, Ben Philipp, Luke Collins, Jakob Wood, Sam Leggett (hidden), Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Josh Madine, Barney Lindsell, Sammy Moriarty. 

Boys with concert faces

(Additional Viewing/Listening Note:) The standing microphones used by the church (as opposed to the personal mikes often used in Libera concerts), were not always properly adjusted for the soloists’ voices.

(Exsultate Live at Moody Church, Chicago, July, 
2011/Duet by Daniel Fontannaz and Ralph Skan)

The clip below features the famous Tallis Canon (“Glory To Thee” on the program), composed by noted 16th-century composer Thomas Tallis (who held the priestly office of Canon in the Anglican Church. It’s a variation of the Doxology that the puckish Canon Tallis is said to have intended as a kind of musical pun on his title).

The song is started and ended by young Eoghan McCarthy, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere in early 2011, and within four months was firmly established as a budding soloist.
Eoghan McCarthy
At its height, the song is broken up into seven parts (Libera has also recorded an eight-part version). 

 

http://youtu.be/qhpLFhWAbr4>  ( Glory to Thee/ Moody Church, 7/31/2011/Solo by Eoghan McCarthy)


This is another fine rendition of Robert Prizeman’s rendition of the “Gloria” section of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony.” The panning of the camera gave a closer look at all the boys, the newbies, as always, looking tiny in comparison to the older boys. (It also appeared here that one or two of the newest boys hadn’t learned all parts of this song yet and were trying to be unobtrusive about not singing)




 
 http://youtu.be/TCcfg4q9PrA>  (Gloria/Moody Church, 7/31/ 2011)



This number has been used as a concert-closer for several seasons. The first soloist is Jakob Wood (who was at that point feeling less than well), the second Eoghan McCarthy. As usual, the boys were not divided into individual sections according to their vocal parts, which are instead distributed throughout the group to help create the Libera richness of sound.
 At the end of the song, the newbies on the left seemed confused about whether to add the accustomed hand movements, and about when to bow. At right front, three-year veteran and soloist Freddie Ingles, a little mentor to the young ones, seemed to be trying to vibe them instructions.




Behind the scenes at Moody Church
 http://youtu.be/-bFB38HXUqE> (How Shall I Sing That Majesty?/Moody Church,7/3/12011/ Solos by Jakob Wood & Eoghan McCarthy)


The tour was an artistic success all around, and appeared to be somewhat of a turning point in the US perception of Libera. For example, the Minneapolis-St. Paul TV interviewer spoke to the boys the day after the Starkey Gala as if they were stars, asking“Are you able to get your heads around how big you really are?” (to which the boys replied with refreshing humility), and concert posters throughout the tour described them as “The British Boy Choir Sensation.”

Tour Complexities III
                                         
Behind the scenes, however, the tour’s reputed $225K price tag—$17,000/day, including $15,000 for visas and $50,000 for air fare (plane tickets at that point were no longer fronted by Libera’s recording label, EMI); a chartered bus; accommodations and meals for 28 boys and their entourage; sightseeing plus extracurricular activities; and salaries for musicians and key personnel)—kicked up a storm of concern, especially as the short-noticed early concerts failed to sell out entirely.

Libera fansites worldwide began buzzing with discussion of why money was so short. Steve Philipp commented:

“There seems to be a misconception that we make loads of money off of the sales of many thousands of albums. We don't. How it works is we don't get a penny until EMI recovers their investment into the album. For nearly all our albums (maybe a couple of real old albums are exceptions) none of our albums have reached that threshold. As a result, we get next to nothing in royalties.



Unfortunately, the idea that we were making big royalties hurt us at last year's US tour. We did those shows for donations and [I think fewer people] donated because of this misconception.”

The numerous fansites got to work on money-making ideas, from grants to pass-the-hats to corporate sponsorship. By the end of the US tour, Philippine-based Libera360º (Liberans are treated like rock stars by Filipino fans) actually had an October tour in the works, from 10/23-10/29 with a Manila concert date nailed down for 10/25/11 and Cebu on 10/28.

AngelVoices member Carl wrote of the proposed tour, incidentally giving a look at one version of the funding process for previous tours:

“This seems to be another undertaking of the British Alumni Association (just like in 2009). They can probably get Philippine Airlines back on board to sponsor, so that takes care of at least a part if not all of the airfare. They can probably get the Shangri-la Hotels to come on board again, which would take care of the accommodations. They are launching a CD which would make EMI PolyEast more involved than in 2009, which would take care of the marketing. Unless there's a drastic change in the taste of music of their Filipino fans, I don't see how these shows will not sell out.”

Fans were also encouraged to purchase CDs and other materials from Libera's site on Amazon.com, as the group receives a portion of the proceeds.

**********************************

Digression: Libera and the Paradox of Fame

Although Libera, if not exactly a household name in some countries, seemed (in mid-2011) to be on the brink of  some kind of international stardom, Robert Prizeman's oft-repeated interview statement continued to be: "We didn't create Libera with the idea of being famous; we didn't have a 'concept.'"  

But when one considered the increasing fan base; the growing list of concert requests; the chart-topping CDs and near-viral YouTube videos; the performances for the famous and powerful; the massive SRO crowds in certain countries; the interviews and autograph sessions; the thousands of fans worldwide watching (via the Internet and at concerts) and commenting as individual boys literally grew up before their eyes, it was easy for new fans to perceive Libera as a confident, growing, and lucrative superstar phenomenon. 

The truth, however was that at that point, in spite of all this, the group remained, against all odds, a small church-based, mostly volunteer organization (according to Steve Philipp, all of the participating adults at this time had day jobs), and truly a "hobby" (albeit one with great perks) for the unpaid but sincerely dedicated boy singers. The group had been growing and evolving organically for years, occasionally straying in an unexpected direction, but always maintaining the same high standards of musical excellence and spiritual motivation.

James Mordaunt and James Threadgill on a Philippines poster
Since there has never been any kind of big PR machine in the Libera organization (which seems mostly to be comprised of former choristers, parents and other family members), bookings in 2011 were still often the result of word-of-mouth networking and fan enthusiasm, and costs were covered with a patchwork of sponsorships, exchanges, donations, fund-raisers, and free labor. According to Steve Philipp: "We don't charge the boys anything. There are no fees, the parents aren't charged anything and they don't pay for these tours at all. It is all managed to be free for them." 

This has not always been an easy task, especially in tough economic times: Steve Philipp again: "EMI is a good label to have as recording companies go. They actually are one of the best—but unfortunately they are in a bit of a financial crunch right now. EMI used to front us the money [e.g. $50k for airfare] for tours which we would pay back with the tour income. They don't do that anymore so we have to find a way to front it ourselves."

(For an official look at Libera's income/outgo for 200/mid-2011, go to: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Showcharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithoutPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=1127722&SubsidiaryNumber=0)

All this only underscores the fact that Libera's growing success has come, not out of a desire for celebrity, but from a deep love for the music itself, for using it for charitable purposes, and for sharing it with those who appreciate its authenticity.

Underneath the trappings of special sound systems, lighting effects, live-music accompaniments, magnificent venues, excited fans, Libera is, at heart, still just a sometimes-goofy gang of boys for whom the love and spiritual joy of learning, singing, and performing extraordinary music is enough of a reason to do it.

***********************************************************************************************************

Meanwhile, back on the home front, the boys added two more blogs to round out the summer.

http://www.libera.org.uk/blog/on_the_bus
http://www.libera.org.uk/blog/hotel_life

( Optional) In September, the indefatigable Lexi of "Mini-Angels" put together her photos and some end-of-concert video clips for a two-part "slideshow" of the tour. Though well presented, these are probably of more interest to diehard fans, and as a historical document, than to newcomers on the Libera scene.

http://youtu.be/goEbAS7l-y4 (Lexi’s USA Tour 2011, Pt. 1)
http://youtu.be/U5-D6v1Fm-U (Lexi’s USA Tour 2011, Pt. 2

********************************************************************************

XIX: SONGS OF PRAISE 50TH ANNIVERSARY



As the 2011 summer tour ended, it was announced that Libera would participate in a special concert celebrating the BBC Songs of Praise program's 50th anniversary, to be recorded on Sunday, September 25th, in London's Alexandra Palace, and broadcast on BBC-1 on October 2nd.


First Songs of Praise Broadcast, October 1st 1961
Thousands in the "Ally Pally," 10/2/2012

SOP really pulled out the stops for this wingding, turning the barn-like "Ally Pally" into a cathedral setting, packing it with an audience of 6000-7000 happy hymn-singers, importing a full orchestra as well as guest soloists (famed tenor Andrea Bocelli, exquisite mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, American country artist Leanne Rimes, gospel singer Beverly Knight), and enlisting the ubiquitous Aled Jones to serve as host.

They also fielded a 300-strong onstage choir that included Libera, along with previous winners of the BBC Songs Of Praise School Choir of the Year  competition and members of the Royal School of Church Music Millennium Youth Choir.


(Screen capture by Inna)


The Libera boys, while not featured as an individual group, provided descants and ultra-high notes to backup vocals for several soloists and for the stage choir's stand-alone number, New Orleans gospel with a decidedly British accent.

 http://youtu.be/sAzb8I2_5kc  (When the Saints Go Marching in/Libera in Stage Choir at Songs of Praise 50th Anniversary broadcast)

Libera was out in full strength, with Robert Prizeman (who also served as advisor for the show) taking the opportunity to slip in a few little newbies for some onstage experience. Also joining the group were alumni Stephen Geraghty, Sam Coates, Samir Abouelfaid, Simon Lewis, and Simon Beston. Jonathan Barrington (absent from the summer tour) was present, but James Mordaunt and brothers Mine and Sere Akpobome were not visible.

For a celebration of joyful noise and a fascinating cultural experience (grannies in fancy hats, traditionalist Anglicans, rockin' kids in dreadlocks, Britons of all colors and descriptions), try these videos.
SOP host interviews long-time attendees

http://youtu.be/Wejpnjbqjsk (Songs of Praise 50th Anniversary Special, Part 1)
http://youtu.be/iGMARZpmQYc Songs of Praise 50th Anniversary Special, Part 2)

*********************************************************************************************************

XX: NEW CHRISTMAS ALBUM
 Libera: The Christmas Album

Stefan Leadbeater, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Cassius O' Connell-White, Barney Lindsell, Ralph Skan

If it's Libera and it's Christmas, it's probably an instant classic. One of the group's pre-tour summer activities was the recording of their first Christmas Album (puportedly available in the Philippines on October 1st, on Amazon.com by November 1st and in the UK on November 21st).

Libera's first all-holiday CD (the 2010 Peace Deluxe CD contained as bonuses two new holiday numbers and several older Christmas videos) featured song choices ranging from hackneyed to inspired, ancient to contemporary, all elevated from the usual by Robert Prizeman's arrangements. Two songs (*) were carried over from Peace Deluxe, other selections had previously appeared on CDs recorded by earlier Libera groups, and some were new to the Libera canon.  (song list with soloists below)

Track list: 
1. Joy To the World
2. Still, Still, Still (Solo: Ralph Skan)
3. Carol of the Bells
4. Veni, Veni Emmanuel (Solo: Daniel Fontannaz)
5. Once In Royal David’s City (Solo: Eoghan McCarthy)
6. O Holy Night (Solo: Ralph Skan)
7. White Christmas (Solo: Stefan Leadbeater)
8. Corpus Christi Carol (Solo: Ralph Skan and James Mordaunt)
9. In Dulci Jubilo
*10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Solo: James Mordaunt and Ralph Skan)
11. Sing the Story (Solo: Luke Collins)
12. Coventry Carol (Solo: Josh Madine, Ralph Skan and Stefan Leadbeater)
13. The First Nowell (Solo: Freddie Ingles)
14. Jubilate Deo (Solo: Jakob De Menezes-Wood)
15. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Solo: Cassius O’Connell-White)
*16. Lullabye (Solo: Josh Madine, Jakob de Menezes-Wood and Benedict Philipp

Amazon.com also provided a preview sampler, while another sampler of longer segments (and different from Amazon’s) appeared on YouTube:
ht
tp://www.amazon.co.uk/Libera-Christmas-Album-


http://youtu.be/F3E9KEjpMiA  (Longer 2011 Christmas Album previews)

One complete tune became available on YouTube in early September. 
Libera Joy to the Worldy#9CBCD8 (Joy to the World/2011 Christmas CD)

Many of these arrangements, especially the usually uninspired “White Christmas,” were said by several critics to evoke the feeling that one is hearing the song for the first time. 

In late August, posters for the Philippine concerts added a back-image of other boys, and it was announced that the concerts would be composed of Christmas Music, to compliment the upcoming CD release. 




A short "teaser" video (optional) was also released:  http://youtu.be/RvfVkJ2nI7k  (2011 Christmas Concert Teaser)

*********************************************************************
Solo Variations: A Digression: 

What these previews reveal, especially for those who were unable to attend live concerts in the past year, is the number and variety of stand-alone solo voices. This would seem to be the result of an increasing Libera trend: giving onstage solo appearances to many boys instead of relying on a featured few.
This LiberaOfficial photo of the fresh-faced 14-and-under  regulars of fall, 2011, appeared 9/19/11 along with an online article on the Philippine Entertainment Portal(From back: Carlos Rodriguez Villegas, Kavana Crossley, Ralph Skan; Jakob de Menezes Wood, Matthew Jansen (MJ), Luke Collin; Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Henry Barrington, Freddie Ingles Cassius O' Connell-White; Dylan Duffy, Jude Collins, Eoghan McCarthy, Barney Lindsell. By the end of 2011, ten of these boys had sung solos onstage, in videos, and/or on CD.

One of the newest solo singers on this CD was Eoghan McCarthy, who, like Ben Phillip in earlier years, comes off as both charming and a little cocky, and has a similar high, strong and sometimes-edgy voice. His solo sound is a marked contrast to the gentle purity of veteran Jakob Wood's; the versatile sweetness of Ralph Skan's; the cultivated precision of Stefan Leadbeater's; the poised clarity of Daniel Fontannaz's (at this point still soprano at age 15); the bright tones of Freddie Ingles and the slightly mellower sound of Luke Collins; the clarion descants of Matthew Rangel-Alvarez;  the appealing little-boy tunefulness of James Mordaunt; the poignantly clear notes of Cassius O' Connell-White; and not one but two versions of Josh Madine's changing-and-changed voice, the latter perhaps the first tenor solo to appear on an all-Libera CD.

This seems to accord with another new trend: capitalizing on the changed voices of past soloists with arrangements that spotlight the lower voices. In 2007 the performing group of 19 boys featured three tenors;  by the end of 2011, there were eight changed voices in the roster of 28 touring singers.

**************************************************************************

XXI: HOLIDAY TOUR IN THE PHILIPPINES 


Libera boys try their feet at "Tinikling," the traditional Philippine bamboo dance, during a welcoming dinner in Manila.

A group of 28 Libera boys with entourage arrived in the Philippines on October 21st. The roster included:


Henry Barrington
Jonathan Barrington
*Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey 
Tiarnan Branson
Jude Collins
Luke Collins
Liam Connery
Kavana Crossley
Thomas Delgado-Little
Dylan Duffy
Benjamin Fairman
Daniel Fontannaz
Matthew Jansen
Stefan Leadbeater
Alexander Leggett
Barney Lindsell
Isaac London
Josh Madine
Matthew Madine
Eoghan McCarthy
Samuel Moriarty
*Jakub Neidermaier-Reed 
Cassius O'Connell-White
Benedict Philipp
Matthew Rangel-Alvares
Carlos Rodriguez
Ralph Skan
Michael Ustynovych-Repa 

Two new hyphenated "mini-boys" made the trip, Ciaran (pronounced "KEE-ran") Bradbury-Hickey, who made his onstage debut in the winter 2010 series of UK concerts, and Jakub (Kuba) Niedermaier-Reed, an entirely new face to Libera audiences.


Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
 Jakub Niedermaier-Reed

Jonathan Barrington and Stefan Leadbeater had returned for this tour, but fan favorites  Jakob Wood, Sam Leggett, and Freddie Ingles were not present, nor was newbie Orlando Woscholski.  James Mordaunt, prominently missing from the US roster, was also absent, although his voice is featured in several solos on the Christmas CD promoted on this tour. Mine and Sere Akpobome appear to have left the performing group permanently.

Shortly before the trip, a contest-and-CD promo video with a hastily-concocted look was released, giving a look at the adorable speaking (or at least cue-card reading) skills of two of the newest "mini-boys:"



http://youtu.be/EDDiG-02Ri0 (Christmas Album/contest promo, with (L. to R.) Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Kavana Crossley,“Nano-Ben” Fairman, and Cassius O’ Connell-White)

The Libera kids were quickly put to work, with an October 22nd appearance on ASAP Rocks, a program that reached 20 million viewers. Though probably jet-lagged, the singers showed no sign of it in this spirited performance (though Cassius O' Connell-White seemed to be suffering from a touch of it in the announcements following the performance). The video features excellent close-ups of most of the group members. 

Videocapture of Libera on ASAP Rocks, 2011
 http://youtu.be/TqqJ63-ZcFs  (ASAP Rocks Live!/Carol of the Bells/Philippines Fall 2011/ Solo parts by Stefan Leadbeater/Ralph Skan/Cassius O’ Connell-White)
The first of the promised meet-and-greets (sponsored by the PolyEast branch of EMI Records) showed the more challenging side of touring in the Philippines; the event was held at The Block, a huge Manila shopping center. Only the first 300 people of those who stood in line to wait were allowed access to Libera members for autographs. Other hopefuls were relegated to floor seating to watch the signing, and still others were reduced to staring wistfully from balconies.

 Overflow audience at Manila M&G at The Block (Photo by Yuki)
The three brief videos below give a idea of the experience, and of the apparent discomfort level of some of the boys (especially the newer and smaller ones), as husky guards hustled the lucky 300 through the lines, a loudspeaker blared instructions to those waiting, and recorded Libera songs competed with excited fan squeals in the background. 
Libera chaperon Barbara Geraghty reassures young Kuba Niedermaier-Reed at his first meet-and greet. Sammy Moriarty is in foreground. Note bodyguard controlling access on right (Photo by Hannah) Below: security guards snap to attention as the boys get ready to leave the backstage area.




While most of the veteran singers were their usual affable, waving, photo-posing selves, a number of the boys, no doubt still somewhat jet-lagged (at least in these videos by fan Eric Paulin), were uncharacteristically reluctant to engage with admirers, giving minimal responses and hunching over the table and signing as if doing homework. In the third video, the overexcited girls are singing "Happy Birthday" to Josh Madine (turning 17), as they wait for Libera to emerge from a holding area. 
(AllOptional) http://youtu.be/4ewqP9Wv_90 (Philippines 10/23/11 Meet &Greet/Pt. 1 http://youtu.be/5dlxvBe4evg (Philippines 10/23/11 Meet &Greet/Pt. 2)http://youtu.be/u_ZxUPuTkm4 (Philippines 10/23/11 Post-Meet &Greet/Pt. 3)
The following video, however, by a dedicated fan (Yuki, who maintains the "Dear Libera" site and frequently travels to foreign concerts), allows the boys' true personalities and degrees of poise to emerge, as they greet a familiar and friendly face. The older woman moving the line along is longtime music mistress Eleanor Lewis.
http://youtu.be/D45mozBYgEk (Yuki’s Video of Manila M&G/PhilippinesTour, 10/11)

The group's next appearance was on October 24th, as the boys took part in the unveiling of a plaque for the "Libera Playground," a facility created by The Children's Hour Charity, a Philippine group formed to promote children's health and education. This was a clear example of the (relatively) new practice of combining newbies with veterans in non-singing public appearances. Stefan Leadbeater, once nearly inarticulate and inaccessible in interviews, was at that time (possibly as a result of his recent role in a Vienna Opera Company production) emerging as a confident public presence. Barney Lindsell, on his third tour in 18 months, had become poised and charismatic. 

Tom Delgado-Little, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Barney Lindsell (front) and (rear) Eoghan McCarthy and Stefan Leadbeater stand with children from Caluan Laguna, site of the new Libera  Playground.

The playground fund was bolstered by a P100,000 donation from the British Alumni Association, a faithful Libera sponsor, and it was announced that some of the proceeds from the three sold-out concerts in Manila and Cebu would benefit The Children's Hour.

http://youtu.be/8kYwxtr52Rg (Philippines 10/11 Tour/ Press Conference and Children’s Hour Libera Playground  plaque unveiling)

(Optional) Online article/interview on PEP Philippines Entertainment Portal, 10/25/11)  http://www.pep.ph/guide/music/9191/all-boys-choir-libera-will-donate-proceeds-of-concerts-to-daycare-complex-in-laguna

The group's first concert was held on October 25th at the PICC in Manila, revealing an ambitious program, but one that wisely mixed previous concert favorites with songs from the new release, while cannily avoiding CD solos featuring the absent James Mordaunt and the unchanged CD voice of Josh Madine (who, however, soloed/duetted with Ralph Skan to great effect in "Veni Emmanuel").

Concert Program

1. Jubilate into Libera - solos by Cassius O' Connell-White and Barney Lindsell
2. Joy to the World - solo by Ralph Skan
3. Still, Still, Still - solo by Ralph Skan
4. Song of Life - solo by Ralph Skan 
5. Sanctus
6. Salva Me - high "salvas" by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez
7. Stay With Me - solos by Daniel Fontannez & Cassius O'Connell-White, descant by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez
8. Veni Emmanuel - solos by Josh Madine and Ralph Skan
9. Exultate - solo by Stefan Leadbeater

Interval

10. Carol of the Bells
11. Gloria in Excelsis
12. The Fountain - solo by Ralph Skan
13. Eternal Light - solo by Stefan Leadbeater
14. Sing the Story - solo by Luke Collins
15. Ave Verum - solo by Carlos Rodrigues Villegas
16. In Dulci Jubilo
17. Glory to Thee - solo by Eoghan McCarthy
18. How Shall I Sing That Majesty - solos by Stefan Leadbeater & Eoghan McCarthy


Encore: White Christmas - solo by Stefan Leadbeater

Encore: Tagalog song Himig ng Pasko - solo by Ralph Skan & Isaac London


Liam Connery and Josh Madine duet on a shopping trip; Tiarnán Branson looks on 

(Optional) For those interested, here’s a (slightly edited, with singers' last names provided) young first-timer’s delightful step-by-step-song-by-song view of the Manila concert by hannah.kirsten, who lives and blogs in the Philippines:
*****************************
*******************
HANNAH: Let me just start off by saying this is my  first Libera concert, and I loved every millisecond of it! 
Part 1

1. Jubilate transitioning into Libera – Cassius O’Connell-White and Barney Lindsell started off with the “Jubilate” part, though I can't technically call it a solo. Then Eoghan McCarthy and Luke Collins moved to the front for their solos on "Libera." Loved the descants!

*Speech: Barney told us about the boys' age range and that [the song]  "Libera" was written before he was born. Cassius told us it's the group's third visit to the Philippines.

2. Joy to the World - sounded even better than the album version.

Sammy Moriarty, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey and Stefen Leadbeater in video of "Still, Still, Still"

3. Still, Still, Still - I wrote in my CD review that this is my favorite. The boys did not disappoint me! The younger boys were kneeling in a sort of semi-circle with Ralph in the middle and with the big boys standing behind them. Ralph's solo almost made me cry! Loved the third verse showcasing the deeper voices. Magical!
4. Song of Life - so happy I got to hear this live! Ralph did the solo, backed by Daniel and Kavana. Ralph a little 'winded' from previous song, but still did a wonderful job.

*Speech: Cassius introduced us to their mascot Moose and joked about not calling him a reindeer, as that would hurt his feelings!  Michael [Ustanovych-Repa] told us about the effort that goes into preparing for a tour and how the big boys show the little ones the ropes.

Moose the Mascot observes a rehearsal.
5. Sanctus - Opened with a clarinet solo by Steven Geraghty. Stefan did the high descants (wow!) and Luke sang the last word 'Sanctus.' PERFECT!

6. Salva Me - Matthew Rangel-Alvarez on the descants. Good, but...the audio could have been louder.

7. Stay with Me – Daniel Fontannaz soloed, backed by Cassius O’ Connell-White. For a boy of 16, I don't know how [Daniel] does it! Still very high notes, though definitely with signs of voice breaking. Also, please note that he was in the front row for most of the songs. Go Daniel!

Speech: Jude Collins introduced us to the musicians. He has a very high speaking voice. Hope he gets a solo soon!

8. Veni Emmanuel - Talk about theatrical! Josh Madine and Ralph Skan stood alone on left side of stage, with all other boys hooded and with heads bowed on the left. Spotlight on Josh and Ralph w/ dim light on hooded boys. Then Josh starts off with “Veni, Veni” in a LooooW voice. Surprised but also amazed at how beautiful and rich his voice sounded. Ralph did the harmony and the "gaude" parts. AWESOME!

Rehearsal for the dramatic "Veni Emmanuel" lighting, with soloists Ralph Skan and Josh Madine shown on video monitors
1.Exultate - solo by Stefan Leadbeater. Much preferred this version to the Moody Church one. One soloist works better for this song, versus three.

15-minute intermission

Part 2

9. Carol of the Bells - Even better than the ASAP TV version...you could hear the vocals so clearly! Stefan Leadbeater and Ralph Skan did the descants as they did on ASAP, and Cassius O’ Connell-White the final 'ding-dong.' People [were] a little confused on when to clap because Cassius was a little late on the last 'ding-dong.' You have got to hear this live, people!

2. Gloria - perfect as expected!

*Speech: Barney Lindsell joked about how hard it is to keep their robes clean, especially when drinking orange juice. Then the classic part when he pulls Cassius's hood over his face and everyone laughs. Those two are too adorable!

Libera boys are engulfed in hoods for "Veni Emmanuel," as Ralph Skan and Josh Madine duet. (OfficialLibera)

3. The Fountain - Ralph Skan soloed, backed by Kavana Crossley. He sounded amazing! Low notes were beautiful and high notes perfect. Perfect! 

4. Eternal Light - So happy this was included in the set list! Solo by Stefan, backed by Ralph and Daniel. Even better than CD version. Bravo, Stefan!!

5. Sing the Story - Very nice solo by Luke Collins! Cue the stage lights shining like stars in the evening sky every time they sang "shining like silver the stars in the sky."

*Speech: Liam Connery gave the voice-change speech and told us he's been with the group since age 8, and is now 15 (16 in a month!), cue: audience applause and cheers. He also told us to listen for the low notes of “Ave Verum" towards the end of the song.
Carlos Rodriguez Villegas
6. Ave Verum - Solo by Carlos Rodriguez Villegas backed by MJ (Matthew Jansen) and Barney Lindsell. Pleasantly surprised by Carlos' voice! Matt Rangel-Alvarez did the descants. For the last verse, the older boys came to the front and changed to V formation with Josh Madine in the center. Loved the last verse!

7. In Dulci Jubilo - at this point, poor [tiny newbie] Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey had eyes closed most of the time and looked like he was about to fall asleep right there.  Noticed yawns from Matt Madine and Thomas Delgado-Little. Poor newbies! (this was around 10 pm). Ralph Skan did the descants for this song.
Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey and Michael Ustynovych-Repa; singing, not yawning

8. Glory to Thee - Solo by Eoghan McCarthy, pitch-perfect, though a bit hesitant at the start. Can't wait until Eoghan's voice matures some more. Love the tone/quality of his voice, perfect for classic treble pieces.

*Speech: Nano Ben [Fairman] came forward and told us he's new and had about 2 months to learn all the songs. Then he said this was the end of their concert  and said "Maraming salamat po, mahal namin ang Pilipinas" (Thank you so much, we love the Philippines!). Awwww...!  

Ben Fairman
9. How Shall I Sing That Majesty - perfect end to a perfect concert. Stefan Leadbeater wowed me with his solo on the first verse, and Eoghan McCarthy, too, with his solo on the second verse. Almost in tears!


Encore: White Christmas - Solo by Stefan. The Beverly Hills first verse was omitted, and I liked this version much better. You could tell everyone loved it by the thunderous applause at the end. Himig ng Pasko - Immediately recognized the song when they started humming, and it got instant applause just like Bayan Ko [in 2009 concerts]. Ralph Skan sounded wonderful on the solo parts, I hardly noticed his accent! It was SOOO GOOD!! Then, surprise at the end, [little newbie] Isaac London sang "And a merry Christmas to you!" What a darling, sweet voice! This is now my favorite. 

http://youtu.be/ceDtUHTTJ58  (Himig Ng Pasko/Philippine tour 10/11/solos by Ralph Skan and Isaac London/PICC Manila)

New Soloist Isaac London, 2011

ENGLISH  TRANSLATION  OF "HMIG NG PASKO"

  It's like a gift from heaven      
                                The sound of Christmas is all over                   
   Everyone has vitality
     There's no sadness 
The joy is perfect
                                                  

                                     The blowing wind is cold
                                          Every feeling is so joyful
                                          The beating of the heart in the chest
                                               Is like a gift from heaven

                                                   The sound of Christmas is all over                   
   Everyone has vitality
     There's no sadness 
The joy is perfect


The inclusion of "Himig Ng Pasko," a traditional holiday song of the Philippines, as with last season's "Bayan Ko," was  considered newsworthy, and received warm applause and press coverage:


Two concerts were scheduled in Cebu; the boys were flown there by private jet, and received a pull-out-the-stops welcome to their hotel that appeared to overwhelm the sleepy lads, who managed, however, to get into the spirit.


(Optional) http://youtu.be/PnKj_SB4axM (2011 Philippines/Cebu Welcome)

Meet-and-greets in Cebu were a jolly and riotous affair, and the brief noisy home videos below are notable for conveying the feel of being there, the love of the fans, and the level of security required to keep the crowds from rushing and hugging the boys.
http://youtu.be/nCwxyh3K3UE (2011 Cebu M&G/Pt1)
http://youtu.be/viLJKUQOq4s (2011 Cebu M&G/Pt. 2)



http://youtu.be/K5E1NDWYRHs (2011 Cebu M&G/Pt. 3)
http://youtu.be/le9sQs_X9bc (2011 Cebu M&G/Pt. 4)
Ben Phillip charms a fan; Cassius O' Connell-White and Luke Collins in background
Concerts were a sellout success, and the boys flew home on October 30th. As usual, they produced a couple of chatty blogs detailing the experience from the inside. 

http://www.libera.org.uk/blog/philiblog (10/28/11/ Libera Blog from Philippines #1)
http://www.libera.org.uk/blog/philiblog_ii (10/29/11/ Libera Blog from Philippines #2)

***********************************************************************
XVI: CHRISTMAS SEASON IN ENGLAND: A Calendar


11/05: After arriving back in England from their Philippines tour on 10/30, ten of the 28 Libera boys (Stefan Leadbeater, Barney Lindsell, Cassius O' Connell-White, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Eoghan McCarthy, Ralph Skan, Daniel Fontannaz, Matthew Jansen, Luke Collins and Kavana Crossley) made a live appearance-with-interviews on the November 5th edition of the QVC TV show. This fulfilled the double purpose of promoting both the Christmas CD and the group's upcoming 11/25 concert at St George's Cathedral in London. It was notable that Robert Prizeman chose the most poised, personable, and skilled of his current crop of treble singers for this live show, and (in an echo of the Christmas Cooks TV appearances in the mid-2000s) fascinating how ten boys out of 28 managed to convey the spirit and virtuosity of Libera.


http://youtu.be/ol-MfUbk7KA (11/05/11/ QVC UK/Libera appearance/Joy to the world/Carol of the Bells/White Christmas/solos by stefan Leadbeater, Ralph Skan, and Cassius O' Connell-White)
http://youtu.be/TkYj8d7VSo8 (11/05/11/ QVC UK/interviews with Ralph Skan, Kavana Crossley, Cassius O' Connell-White)
On November 7th, the Libera Organization announced the next concert tour in Japan, with appearances already scheduled in Bunkamura on April 14th and 15th.
On November 9th, 2011 several Japanese fans posted this lovely never-before-seen 2010 video:


http://youtu.be/yZWSPOaC5Cg (Alternate version of “Eternal Light” [2010] from 2011 Winter Songs CD [aka Christmas Album] released only in Japan: solo/second part by Stephan Leadbeater and Ralph Skan)

Several months later, a marvelous "director's cut" of the "Eternal Light" video appeared. This video was filmed  by Japanese Director Tomoyuki Katoh in early September 2010 in the Chiswick House Gardens and on Primrose Hill outside of London. In 2013, Director Kato replied to an article by Japanes fan Yuki on her Dear Libera site:


I've been a Libera fan for a long time. Their great music has helped me so many times. And luckily I got the opportunity to work with Libera.

'Eternal Light' was composed by Mr.Senju, and I wrote the original Japanese lyrics, then a songwriter from New York wrote the English lyrics of it. 'Eternal Light' was completed by the unite - Tokyo, New York and London.

Therefore, I was very passionate for directing this. Libera's music videos in the past were sometimes slightly different from my image for Libera. So I made this video having a image as one of fans, and from the lyric writer's point of view, and with wish that people will love Libera by watching it.

We were filming [on Primrose Hill] in early morning. Some local people jogging around there stopped to hear and were saying "Wonderful song!"
We made a storyboard, and searched places matching with that, then decided the locations. It was also an important point to be able to express the world of the lyrics - "this eternal light will find you to shine its guiding light in you...". We looked for a place where we can look the city (London) down, and Primrose Hill was perfect for that. Chiswick House & Gardens was chosen by such the way as well.
Thank you very much indeed. Let's keep on supporting Libera together!—Tomoyuki Kato



http://youtu.be/umT-G6v5-EM (Eternal Light/Director’s Cut by Tomoyuki Kato/ 2010/ solo & second part by Stefan Leadbeater and Ralph Skan)

As is customary with each new major Libera CD release, an album preview/promo video appeared in mid-November. This was a well-crafted look at stage performances (briefly), backstage shenanigans, and a bit of an intro to Libera. The spokespersons, as usual, were from the younger contingent, with Kavana Crossley and Ralph Skan at 13 and 14, the oldest of them (one remembers when 14-year-olds were the "big people" of the group, whose oldest performing member is now 17). Others included the ever-loquacious Cassius O'Connell-White and Barney Lindsell, a slightly hesitant Jude Collins, eight-year-old charmers Michael Ustynovych-Repa and Ben Fairman, and high treble Matthew Rangel-Alvarez (singer of the most challenging high solo descants onstage, but managing—as usual—not to say a word here).


http://youtu.be/EDDiG-02Ri0 (Christmas Album promo, with Kavana Crossley, Cassius O’ Connell-White, Michael Ustynovych-Repa, and “Nano-Ben” Fairman)


W
aiting to go onstage; big boys Ben Phillip, Liam Connery, Jonathan Barrington, Ralph Skan, Kavana Crossley, and Barney Lindsell help eight-year-old Michael Ustynovych-Repa with his smiling skills.


On November 15th, the Libera Christmas Album debuted at #15 in the US on the Billboard Classical Music charts. On the 16th, a well-written article and review of the Christmas Album appeared on the Amzine Online music Magazine. An informative quote:

Previous best-selling albums from the three-time Classical BRIT-nominated Libera include Peace, Angel VoicesFree, Visions, and New DawnPeace, released in 2010, reached #1 in the UK, Japanese and Philippine classical charts; in the United States, the release went to #2. Libera’s video for "Going Home,"  from their PBS special, has had over 1.5 million hits on You Tube. Libera is currently the best-selling group of its kind, reflecting the surge of interest in choirs as a result of television shows such as Last Choir Standing and Glee.

http://amzine.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/libera-christmas-album/ (Online music magazine, Part of Access Music UK/11/16/11)

If there was one Libera piece that got thoroughly overexposed in the 2011 holiday season, it was "Carol of the Bells." Obviously not expecting the ASAP and QVC-TV appearances, the Libera organization both used it in their preview video (above) and on November 23rd released an authorized video version with about 18 boys performing and refreshingly less showbiz razzmatazz.

http://youtu.be/YVGKfDoANRA (Carol of the Bells LiberaOfficial video version/2011/solos by Stefan Leadbeater, Ralph Skan, Cassius O’ Connell-White)

**********************************************************************
St. George's Cathedral Concert, Nine Lessons and Carols, Radio/TV Appearances, Greetings, Reviews



On November 25th, the long-awaited (and sold-out) St. George's Christmas Concert took place. The 34 boys participating included (with additions and subtractions) five newbies singing on several of the numbers: Misha Lieven, Oscar McFall, Bertie Smart, Michael Menezes, and Lucas Wood (the last three possibly related, respectively, to former chorister Alfie Smart, and to the five-strong de Menezes-Wood/Leggett/Madine clan).

1.   Henry Barrington
2.   Jonathan Barrington
3.   Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
4.   Tiarnan Branson
5.   Jude Collins
6.   Luke Collins
7.   Liam Connery
8.   Kavana Crossley
9.   Thomas Delgado-Little
10. Jakob De Menezes-Wood
11. Dylan Duffy
12. Benjamin Fairman
13. Daniel Fontannaz
14. Matthew Jansen
15. Stefan Leadbeater
16. Alexander Leggett
17. *Misha Lieven

18. Barnaby Lindsell

19. Isaac London

20. Joshua Madine

21. Matthew Madine

22. Eoghan McCarthy

23. *Oscar McFall 

24. *Michael Menezes

25. Samuel Moriarty

26. Kuba Niedermaier-Reed

27. Cassius O'Connell-White

28. Benedict Philipp

29. Matthew Rangel-Alvares

30. Carlos Rodriguez

31. Ralph Skan

32. *Bertie Smart

33. Michael Ustynovych-Repa

34. *Lucas Wood



Libera at St. George's Cathedral, November 25th, 2011 with Robert Prizeman in the foreground
Sam Leggett and James Mordaunt attended the performance, but sat in the audience. Their status as members of the group was not revealed at this concert. From Ms.Takako Imai, film director (and Japanese translator for Libera), it was learned that Freddie Ingles' family had moved away from London, thus ending his Libera career.  There was no sign of young Orlando Woscholski, who participated in the Philippines tour, nor of Mine or Sere Akpobome. Jakob de Menezes-Wood was noted as singing with the lowvoices, his high soprano apparently a thing of the past. As usual, Robert Prizeman used an at-home event as a vehicle for immersing new boys in public performance and introducing them to the Libera audience.

Post-concert photo op, St. George's 2011  (photo by Bullehynka)
The song list was the same as for the Philippines concert, with several changes in personnel and speeches, and with the addition of the new boys for certain numbers.

1. Jubilate into Libera - solos: Cassius O' Connell-White, Barney (now Barnaby in the program notes) Lindsell, Eoghan McCarthy and Luke Collins

Speech: Barney Lindsell & Cassius O' Connell-White on Josh Madine & Jonathan Barrington being the oldest in the group.

2. Joy to the World
3. Still, Still, Still - solo: Ralph Skan
4. Song of Life - solo: Ralph Skan

Speech: Cassius O' Connell-White & Michael Ustynovych-Repa introducing the group's mascot, Moose

5. Sanctus
6. Salva Me - high "salvas" by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez
7. Stay With me - Daniel Fontannaz & Cassius O' Connell-White, descant by Matthew Rangel-Alvarez

Speech: Jude Collins introducing musicians

8. Veni Emmanuel - solos: Josh Madine & Ralph Skan
9. Exultate - solo: Stefan Leadbeater

Interval

2011 soloists Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Cassius O' Connell-White, and Eoghan McCarthy



10. Carol of the Bells

11. Gloria in Excelsis


Speech: Barney Lindsell with Cassius O' Connell-White on keeping robes clean, and the perils of  big hoods. Usual Cassius comedy hood routine.


12. The Fountain - solo: Ralph Skan

13. Eternal Light - solo: Stefan Leadbeater

14. Sing the Story - solo: Luke Collins


Speech: Liam Connery on changing voices, and the fact that he's been with Libera since age eight.


15. Ave Verum - solo Carlos Rodriguez Villegas

16. In Dulci Jubilo

17. Glory to Thee - solo Eoghan McCarthy


Speech: Ben Fairman on being new and how he got his "Nano Ben" nickname


18. How Shall I Sing That Majesty - solo: Stefan Leadbeater & Eoghan McCarthy



Encore: White Christmas - solo: Stefan Leadbeater

***************************************************************************
Libera Footnote: Johan, a visiting fan from the Netherlands, attended both the St. George's concert and the St Philip's Christmas Fair on November 26th. He reported that Alex and Sam Leggett, Josh Madine, Liam Connery, Tiarnán Branson, Jonathan Barrington, Sammy Moriarty, and Daniel Fontannaz, dressed in White Libera robes performed a number of tenor-harmony selections with Robert Prizeman's keyboard accompaniment. Johan was amazed by the fact that Fontannaz, who had performed the high-treble solo in "Stay With Me" at St. George's the previous evening, had, seemingly effortlessly, switched to tenor for the Christmas-fair performance. The last Libera singer known for this facility was James Vereycken, who sang both treble and bass lines between 2002-2007.

Daniel Fontannaz
The next holiday offering from LiberaOfficial was another video, probably shot on the same day as the "Carol of the Bells," with the same camera technique and personnel. Here "O Holy Night" is presented almost calmly, and beautifully free of the usual bombast and vocal pyrotechnics


http://youtu.be/BTQKU6uUBjU (O Holy Night/LiberaOfficial/2011/Solo/duet by Ralph Skan and Stefan Leadbeater

In hilarious contrast, five of the group's most impish spokesboys were recruited to introduce songs on Bliss-TV's Christmas Carol Takeover. The boys started out trying to play it trés cool, but were soon having way too much fun snarking, mugging and ad-libbing between cue-card readings, giving a rare look at what life with Libera must be like offstage; the boys here were obviously good friends who loved playing off of each other. A surprise addition to the group was elfin eight-year-old Isaac London (already a two-tour veteran), who demonstrated both a charming assertiveness and a great sense of comic timing. An interesting note was the impromptu  the discussion by the eight-to-13-year-olds as to who was the greatest fan of Glee, an American musical TV series with marvelous singing and dancing that also deals with issues such as teen pregnancy, homosexuality, loss of a parent, adoption, bullying and adult foibles with extreme frankness.

Isaac, Barney,Cassius, Michael, Jude
http://youtu.be/hb4fi-HrTRo (Libera’s Christmas Carol Takeover on Bliss TV Intros/Isaac London, Cassius O’ Connell White, Kavana Crossley, Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Jude Collins)

On December 1st, it was announced that the Libera Christmas Album CD had gone to #2 on the US  Billboard Classical Charts. 


On December 2nd, LiberaFan4ever (aka Michael) posted a short, non-musical pre-and-post-concert video, which is mainly interesting for 1) the marvelous remix of the 2009 "Gaudete" by Steven Geraghty, and 2) the looks of obvious pride and affection on the faces of many of the boys as Robert Prizeman takes the stage post-concert.
 (Optional)   http://youtu.be/SUqYS2UB_W4 (Libera 11/25/11 St George’s concert 2011/pre- and-post-concert scenes/ Steven Geraghty remix of “Gaudete”)

On December 5th, An exquisite  two-minute version of "Still, Still, Still" (minus Ralph Skan's CD solo), part of a 12/4 Songs of Praise special, was posted by OfficialLibera on YouTube. It was shot at All Saints' Church, Cheltenham, with 23 boys participating. 



http://youtu.be/nL3OjTU_C7M (“Still, Still, Still”/LiberaOfficial version/Songs of Praise/12/04/11) 
This video is notable for combining the oldest boys with the youngest, the lowest voices with the highest, and letting the tenors carry the melody line.

Hyphenated eight-year-olds and tall teens (L to R): Tom Delgado-Little, Tiarnán Branson, Jonathan Barrington, Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Josh Madine, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Liam Connery, Alex Leggett, Sammy Moriarty

On December 6th, it was announced that Singapore had been added to April, 2012 Asian tour destinations.
( Optional) On December 8th, Cassius O' Connell-White, Barney Lindsell, and Kavana Crossley were interviewed by Joan Coward on the Classic FM program, deviating from the usual measured formality of such interviews:


On the 15th of the month, a group of 14 boys negotiated a performance on a lively chat show with reasonable aplomb. ("Carol of the Bells" sounding a bit shrill with only Alex Leggett representing the lower voices. The three boys interviewed were back to polite mode, their comments obviously influenced by a recent viewing of the 2009 Songs of Praise Libera special.




http://youtu.be/EbXIIo3ImJQ Libera/Carol of the Bells on Live with Gabby/12/15/2011/ Interview with Barney Lindsell, Kavana Crossley, and Cassius O’ Connell-White)


(Optional) http://youtu.be/PZX9znBGfxM Libera on Associated Press Interview clip/interview with Jude, Kavana and Cassius/12/19/2011)

On 12/18, the seemingly indefatigable Stefan Leadbeater appeared on a Michael Bublé special, Home for the Holidays, with the Trinity Boys' Choir. It was noted  that Orlando Wolcholski also performed with the Trinity Choir this season, perhaps explaining his absence from Libera holiday activities.

***************************************************************
Nine Lessons and Carols

On December 19th, St. Philips' Church's annual " Nine Lessons and Carols" Service was held in the evening, following a morning mass sung by Libera alumni (and almost-alumni) Ben Crawley, Andy Winter, Sam Coates (who also played keyboard and organ), Simon Lewis, Samir Abouelfaid, Josh Madine and Jonathan Barrington.

St.Philip's altar decked for 2011 carol service


  
  Libera-related singers participating included members of the above men's group, with the addition of Libera Alumnus Raoul Neumann, along with Sam and Alex Leggett, Daniel Fontannaz, Tiarnán Branson, Jakob Wood, Sammy Moriarty, Stefan Leadbeater, Ralph Skan, Kavana Crossley, Carlos Rodriguez Villegas, Luke and Jude collins, Henry Barrington, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Matthew Jansen, Cassius O' Connell-White, Matthew Madine, Barney Lindsell, Dylan Duffy,  Eoghan McCarthy, Tom Delgado-Little, Ben Fairman, Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Isaac London, Jakub Niedermaier-Reed. Four as-yet-unidentified mini-boys also participated. Missing were Liam Connery, who was ill, Ben Philipp (revising for GSCEs) and Ciaran Bradbury Hickey. Former Liberans Oliver and Thomas Cole, and Callum Payne were in the congregation.
The musical part of the service was a mixture of appropriate Libera concert pieces, classical selections, and traditional carols. Unprecedented solos were Stefan Leadbeater in G.F. Handel's "Rejoice Greatly,"  first-time soloist Matthew Jansen in "Once in Royal David's City," Ralph Skan in the "Coventry Carol," and Josh Madine in "The Angel Gabriel." Sammy Moriarty participated in the reading of the lessons.
Matthew Jansen
*****************************************************************

On 12/21, Barney Lindsell, Kavana Crossley and Cassius O' Connell-White (three boys who seemed, along with Jude Collins,to have taken on this season's chat-show duties), appeared dressed in ordinary-boy clothing for a comic sketch on ITV's This Morning, and then joined 14 other boys to perform "joy to the World," with a tenor section slightly beefed up from their high-pitched Live With Gabby performance.


http://youtu.be/8OVtD73sLKk ( Christmas Cracker Sketch on ITV’s This Morning/12/21/2011)
http://youtu.be/8OVtD73sLKk  (Joy to the World on ITV’s This Morning/12/21/2011)

On 12/22, 14 boys appeared on a popular BBC-2 radio show with ebullient host Chris Evans.
(L to R) Barney Lindsell, Stefan Leadbeater, Ralph Skan, Josh Madine (top) Kavana Crossley (bottom), Jakob Wood, Eoghan McCarthy (top to bottom) Alex Leggett, Matthew Rangel-Alvarez, Cassius O' Connell-White, Daniel Fontannaz, Jude Collins,Luke Collins, Mathhew Jansen, host Chris Evans.

These 6-plus minutes of broadcast highlights are worth listening to for 1) the almost-hilarious contrast between frenetic talk-radio blatting and the Libera sound; 2) several (truncated but lovely) performances, of songs neither on the Christmas CD or concert schedule, sung either a cappella or with basic piano accompaniment; 3) the exquisite close-harmony rendition of "In the Bleak Midwinter" by a small group of the boys

http://youtu.be/AIC-nwpK1-4   (Highlights of Libera on Chris Evans Breakfast  Show. BBC-2)
By Christmas Day, "Carol of the Bells" had advanced to #1 in iTunes Store Top 10 Classical Songs in the UK, and a delightful Christmas video greeting had appeared, featuring Barney Lindsell, Cassius O' Connell-White, and Moose the Mascot).
http://youtu.be/O25gv39joTo (Libera Christmas Greeting, 2011)

This was followed by a seasonal report and new year's greeting on the LiberaOfficial website:


"The boys were very busy in the run up to Christmas, and [in addition to performing and recording] many many carols, they appeared on television and radio shows, including Live with Gabby (Channel 5), This Morning (ITV) and the famous Chris Evans Show (BBC Radio 2).Some of the boys were interviewed for news TV and radio.


We were very proud to notch up the Christmas Number One slot on iTunes. This is absolutely brilliant and we are so grateful to all our supporters, both old and new, who downloaded songs or bought the album.
The Christmas Album has also done well in charts all over the world, including a number 2 in the USA Billboard Classical chart and it even spent 2 weeks at number 1 in the overall Album chart in the Philippines - ahead of pop stars such as Michael Bublé, Coldplay and the Black Eyed Peas!
 We are now looking forward to 2012 and our first tour of the year, which will be to SE Asia. 
Happy New Year!"

(Optional) As an additional holiday treat for true Libera fans, überfan Yuki from Japan, who attended every single Libera concert worldwide in 2011, created the following compilation, which contains pictures and videos from the Epsom concert, seven Canada concerts, six USA concerts, the London Songs of Praise Anniversary TV taping, two Philppines concerts, and the London concert in St. George's Cathedral. The video shows no performances (it's primarily composed of exits/entrances/meet-and-greet footage, and the occasional live post-concert bows), but is accompanied by recent performance audios. It gives excellent views of all the venues, and a real idea of what a busy year it's been for Libera.
http://youtu.be/8NqYZ_eakEY (Libera 2011 by YukiBOL)
********************************************
(Optional) A number of online reviews of The Christmas Album, flattering and otherwise, appeared at various sites throughout December:
http://entertainment.inquirer.net/24763/stress-busting-yuletide-music (Review of Christmas Album by Pocholo Concepcion, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/qmb6 (Snide BBC review of Christmas Album by Charlotte Gardner/11/23/2011)
************************************************

            For Part One (1981-2007 and Overview), please go to:  http://liberatimeline.blogspot.com/  
            For Part Two (2008-2009):

For Part Three (2010):
For Part Five (2012):

 EXTRAS/MISCELLANEOUS LINKS, Fansites, blogs, interviews, resources, disclaimer, author info.

  Disclaimer:
 This essay-with-videos is strictly an informal ongoing history, and, while I've attempted to make it as accurate as possible, some of my sources (or my interpretation of them) may be flawed or inaccurate. If you notice errors that I have made, or facts that were taken from inaccurate sources, please let me know at my email address <aahill@sonic.net>, so that I may make appropriate changes.

This piece of writing has not been authorized by, nor is it connected with, the Libera/St. Philip's organization, or with EMI Records. It is not to be posted on Facebook, MySpace or any other Internet site, (including other Libera fansites) without permission of the author.

 Thanks,
 Amie Hill

*************************

LINKS to Official Sites, Blogs, Fansites, Groups, and Video Sites
(With Great Thanks to Timjanni from Germany)

 Official Libera Websites

Link
Description


Libera's Official Homepage


Libera's Official YouTube Channel: Libera performances and related videos


Libera's Official Facebook Site



Libera's Google+ Site   Google+

Libera Songs on

Libera's MySpace Site 

Libera's Official Twitter Account

Support libera directly here with Donations

Shop for LiberaCDs and other products (Libera gets a percentage if you use this site


 Forums and Communities

Link
Description


A discussion group with over 1000 members, Excellent research site, with files, links, database.

The largest Libera Facebook Group, with around 2000 members

International Fansite with about  6.000 members. Very active and innovative.

 Libera 360 Forum

International Forum with about 600 members

British/international Fan Community


 Libera-Fans-UK Forum

 Other Libera Sites

Link
Description


Largest Libera Facebook Group

Blog 
(Philippines)

Fan blog with profiles of Libera Members  

British Fansite

Blog with the history of Libera 1981-present 

Blog by Syafiqah H. (Singapore)

Libera's Site for the  BCSD, which is a great information and research tool

Information site

Blog by orangecat (Philippines)

Blog

Official Libera page on Wikipedia


Other Blogs in English From Around the World (Many include links to translations into other languages.)

Link
Description


Blog by Dennis  (Scandinavia)

Blog by cayleb101, who also posts excellent videos

Blogby Yuki (Japan)

Blog by Inna (S. Korea)

Blog by Liv (USA)

Blog by music4 (USA)

 music4's information on Libera members

Blog on the history of Libera (1981-present) byAmie H. (USA)

 Blog/database of Libera information/videos/photos etc. going back to 1982

Blog by Michael (UK) 

Blog by Enyu (South Korea

Blog by a fan group from the Philippines)

Blog by Zoe (Philippines)

Blog by Yuni (Indonesia)

Blog by Charmaine (Malaysia)

Blog by Lexi und Lauren (USA)

Blog by emma (USA)

Blog by   Liberaholic (USA)

Blog by Rebecca (USA)
 Libera Video Sites

Link
Description

Official Libera YouTube Video Channel
YouTube Channel by TygrHawk (USA)
YouTube Channel by Yuki  (Japan)
YouTube Channel by  Rebecca (USA)
YouTube Channel by  LiberaUSA (USA)
YouTube Channel by   Paulmartin47 (Spain)
Youtube-Channel by LiberaFansGermany
Alternate Official Libera YouTube Channel 
YouTube Channel by Inna (Korea/USA)
YouTube Channel by JimmyRiddle (USA)
YouTube Channel by  Murkskis  (Lettland)
YouTube-Channel by PinoyLiberian (Philippines)
YouTube Channel by several UK Fans 
YouTube Channel by cayleb101 (USA)
YouTube-Channel by choiretto
YouTube Channel by Lexi (USA)
YouTube Channel by iloveLibera 
YouTube Channel by Le Furby Libéré (France)
YouTube Channel by  libefan (Spain)
YouTube Channel by Libera Fans UK
YouTube Channel for Libera360
YouTube Channel by LiberaFan4Ever (UK)
Youtube-Channel by   liberafraters
YouTube Channel  by LiberaWish
YouTube Channel by Liberic1 (France)
YouTube Channel by liberlu1
YouTube Channel by  MrJoesnelling (Canada)
YouTube Channel by psychestef
YouTube Channel by Snelling06
YouTube Channel by symphonica7
YouTube Channel by TheDearlibera (Taiwan)

 International (Non-English-Language) Libera Sites (Many of these include links to translations in various languages.)

Link
Description

Blog by necook (Japan)
Blog by junialee (South Korea)
Blog 
(Russia)
Blog 
 (Japan)
Blog 
 (France)
Fansite 
(S. Korea)
Fansite (France)
Forum  (China)
Blog   (Mexico)
Fangroup  (Russia)
Fangroup (Japan)
Forum Holland)
Forum (France)
Blog     (Japan)
Blog by Liberaddict (France)
Blog     (Japan)
Blog
(Japan)
Blog by miho (Japan)
Blog 
 (Japan)
Blog by sacura2506  (Japan)

8. Libera – Libera Members' or Member-Based Sites
Link
Description

Ben Philipp fansite by music4 
Ben See (Ben Crawley's) YouTube Channel 
Ben Philipp's YouTube Channel 
Josh Madine fansite by music4 
Videos by Sam Leggett, Jonathan Barrington, Josh Madine, Alex Leggett and Liam Connery 
Fansite dedicated to Tom Cully

ODDs & ENDS
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiSBrWV5vyU (Radio Interview with James Mordaunt and Daniel Fontannaz/ITV Inspirational Breakfast Radio)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbTlHA6kgOA (2010 Holiday video by French fan Dikoy/features several generations of Libera, atmospheric animation)
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G1tfYr-6LQ (extended 2010 fan video by Japanese fan Snowy0155/includes Japanese, Korean, US and UK tour footage and stills)