Monday, January 2, 2017

LIBERA HISTORICAL TIMELINE: PART 10 (January 1st, 2017 to August 11, 2017)



 
Last Revised/Updated on August 11th, 2017

Greetings to all new readers. If you are unfamiliar with Libera, you may wish to go to Part One (link below) of this Timeline for an overview and history of the group, including the story of its beginnings. I welcome corrections, suggestions and comments at aahill@sonic.net.

For Part One (introduction to Libera and to the Timeline, extensive overview & 1981-2007), please go to: 



For Part Two (2008-2009):



For Part Three (2010):



For Part Four (2011):



For Part Five (2012):



For Part Six (January-May 2013)



For Part 6A (May-December 2013)



 For Part Seven (January-July 2014)



For Part 7A (August-November 2014)



For Part 7B (December 2014)



For Part 8 (January-March 2015)



For Part 8A (January-March, 2015):



For Part 8B (August-December, 2015)



For Part Nine (January-July, 2016):



Please note: new additions are made to the END of each section, rather than the beginning.
*****************************
Table of Contents:
(New Year's Appearance with Kaden Bart Rockett)
(Shooting New Video(s)
(Passing of Libera Chairman Steven Philipp)
NEW ALBUM ANNOUNCEMENT: HOPE 
(Official Announcement of 2017 Japan Tour) 
(Some Songs for the New Album, with "teasers") 
(Ely Cathedral Concert Announced) 
(Benedictus Deus Re-released) 
(Robert Prizeman Interview and Premiere of "Smile")
ELY CATHEDRAL CONCERT

(Ely Cathedral Concert Review)
("Smile" and "Salve Regina" Videos)
(Release of Hope CD)
(USA Tour Official)
(USA Tour Promos) 
(Libera Online Shop Opens)
(Arrival in Japan and Photo Sessions)
JAPAN CONCERTS IN TOKYO AND OSAKA
(Libera Passion Database Entries)
(Notes on Translation) 
CHRIST CATHEDRAL CONCERT, Los Angeles, California
CALVARY COMMUNITY CHURCH CONCERT, Westlake California
TALLOWOOD BAPTIST CHURCH CONCERT, Houston, Texas
ASBURY BAPTIST CHURCH, Tulsa, Oklahoma
CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF ST. LOUIS, St. Louis, Missouri

*********************************
Welcome to the tenth year of the Libera Historical Timeline, which is now read in over 90 countries (top dozen last year: the US, UK, Canada, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Indonesia, Russia and Slovakia).



For all those who would like to know more about the individual boys of Libera, I continue to recommend the wonderful Libera Passion site, stewarded by Patrick Fandelok and Quentin (aka The Furby). This site (in French, but fairly easy for non-Francophones to decipher) maintains an up-to-date photo, media, tour and concert record of:

"Membres Réguliers" (Current Members) — Boys who have participated in the most recent concert or tour.
"Miniboys" — This is Libera lingo for young singers in training. Names are not paired with faces unless the boys have been positively identified by photo.
"Absents du Dernier Concert" — Singers who have performed regularly with the group, but were absent from the previous concert or tour.
"Anciens Membres" — Former Libera singers, going back to the 1980s, when the group was known as "Angel Voices."
"Staff" — Staff members (often Libera alumni) and their roles with the group.
• "Liens" — Family groupings of brothers or cousins who have been members of Libera.

If a name appears in blue, you can click on it to see additional photos and statistics on that singer. The site also hosts an active fan forum (in French) with reviews, photos, and discussions.
Go to: http://libera-passion.exprimetoi.net/t1110-apercu-des-membres-actuels-maj-decembre-2016#24512

NEW YEAR'S APPEARANCE WITH KADEN BART ROCKETT

On January 1st-2nd, Libera appeared on an America's Got Talent broadcast, featuring young performers from around the world.



ROCKETTING INTO THE NEW YEAR -2017 w/ Guest Stars from this seasons America's Got Talent, a trip around the world, some of our brand new magic and a countdown party compete with over 300 of our friends to ring in the New Year! Laura Bretan & Jayna Brown join us on set for special live performances, Skylar Katz debuts her brand new single, Kadie Lynn performs one of her original country songs, and we go to London, England for an unforgettable performance by Libera Boys Choir! Special appearances by Calysta Bevier, Lori Mar Hernandez, Deadly Games & a trip all the way to Estonia (on the Russian border) to surprise Vello Vaher! #KidMagician #AGT Brooklyn Nicole Rockett

Libera's  selection was, appropriately enough, "What a Wonderful World," with solo by Gregor Lumsden, previously recorded at the December 2nd, 2016 St. George's Cathedral in Southwark, London.


Gregor Lumsden at St. George's
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY1CBuxvhns (What a Wonderful World/St. George’s Cathedral 2016/ solo by Gregor Lumsden/4:20)

On January 2nd, the entire program became available on YouTube. The Libera segment begins at about 29:20 and includes a setup scene in which the young hosts magically travel to London and burst in on the Libera boys relaxing before a concert.


 (America’s Got Talent “Trip around the World,” hosted by magician Kaden Bart Rockett and his sister Brooklynn [1/1/1]/1:42:48)


On January 8th, the Libera Passion site tweeted that it was now up to date on information and photos for all current Libera singers (excluding miniboys, who are added as they become full touring-group members) at:


 
Partial page for Camden Stewart
On January 9th, fan Yuki tweeted a photo of  Libera singers and mini-boys as a reminder of the group's upcoming tour of Japan in May-June 2017.

 

On January 14th, the Kajimoto Company, producers of the the upcoming Japan tour tweeted a charming poster announcing the events. 

Front row, L to R: Peter Kielty, Taichi Shinokubo, Arthur Palmer, Ben Bywater 
Middle row: Oliver Mycka, Alex Montoro, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti (with Leo Barron leaning on him),Camden Stewart, Gregor Lumsden
Back row: Rocco Tesei, Marc Alvares, Gabriel Collins, Alex Gula, Merlin Brouwer, Tadgh Fitzgerald

On January 15th, fan Surpinto noted two more interesting tweets from the Official Libera site:

A few more “Libera Moments” posted on Twitter. The footage used seems to be mostly videos taken from the past, although the dance video is a mix.



The boys cut loose.



https://twitter.com/officiallibera/status/819297030266830859
Caption: "A few of the boys can't resist a good dance-off!"
https://twitter.com/officiallibera/status/820617998616686592
Caption: "Isaac and Michael enjoying a cool butterbeer at Universal Studios Japan"

 
On January 18th, a short video clip appeared on Twitter, promoting the 2017 "Angel Voices" Japan Tour .


https://www.instagram.com/p/BPZJ6McjD-k/ (30 seconds of “Angel Wings” for ad by Kajimoto Company for 2017 Japan Tour)

On January 19th, a fan going by "Rewatisabotaz" posted an interesting video featuring early Libera/ Angel Voices soloist Liam O' Kane (spotted by gingerthedog1). From the sound of his voice, it appears that this was a fairly early guest appearance by Liam, probably from the early 1990s.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdhnbUAHeXw (Video by Lyra/Celtic Spirit, in which Liam O’ Kane sings the first two minutes/early 1990s/4:02)


  
Liam O' Kane
For those not familiar with this marvelous soloist, who sang with the pre-Libera Angel Voices from 1992-1998, and for a short time with the  newly renamed Libera in 1999, the marvelous compilation below, "The Best of Liam O' Kane," is a look at both a glorious singer, and at the "Angel Voices" phase of Libera (1987-1999). It also contains a number of rare songs, video footage and photographs from that era.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdhnbUAHeXw (2012 Compilation, by shnarashi: “The Best of Liam O’ Kane"/13:51)
 Also on January 19th, the Official Libera site posted a gallery of new photos of the December 2nd, 2016 concert at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, London.

Front, L to R: Miniboys Oliver Watt=Rodriguez,
 Fyfe McGaughrin, and Koji Shinokubo. Percussionist Jon Ormiston is in the center. Back row: Ben Bywater, peter Kielty, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, James Menezes, Michael Menezes, Neo Parson, Lucas Wood.

 
Samuel-Francis Collins (R) jousts backstage with unidentified Miniboy.


 ( photos from St.George’s 2016 concert}
 
WELCOMING MR. CHEN...

Mr Richard Chen (shown here with Emanuele Borrelli) recently joined the management staff of Libera.


,,,AND A FAREWELL TO STEVEN PHILIPP 

 On January 25th, the Libera Official posted the following tribute to former Libera staff member and parent Steven Philipp:


Steve Philipp with son Ben in 2009

On January 29th, Libera fan hiskeys posted an interesting discovery: 
 
I see that a Japanese fan included Libera in two compilations for boy groups/bands, one for 2012-2015 with Libera at 12:00-12:50 with the Isaac London version of “You Were There,” and the other one for 2014-2017 with Libera at 3:25-3:47 with "Santa Will Find You." I don't think of Libera as belonging in this category, but it might draw a few new fans.
This was intriguing on several levels. The compiler, Pori Den, posted the following comment(s) with the videos:
"I chose (27) 22 groups of boy singers who became famous from (2012-2015) 2014 to 2017."
The singers are primarily performing pop/rock songs or modern ballads. The attention here seems to be on Isaac London, who is featured in both clips. One intriguing note is that the video of  "You Are There," which ends the first section, is one that is not available on YouTube or on the Libera Channel, and presumably was only released in Japan, where the song has long been a kind of cult hit. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnszTPDGSuk (Video compilation 2012-2015 by Pori Den/featuring Libera and Isaac London singing "You Were There" at 12:00-12:50/12:52)
Isaac London sings "You Are There"
Top (Video compilation of 2014-2017 by Pori Den/featuring Libera and Isaac London singing "Santa Will Find You" at 3:25-3:47/8:45 ) 

The original version of "You Were There" was first sung by the marvelous Tom Cully in 2008, with backup by Libera greats Ben Philipp, Josh Madine, Liam Connery and Sam Leggett.
From left: Tom Cully, Liam Connery, Sam Leggett, Ben Philipp, Josh Madine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwDRZMoJtkk (You Were There/solo by Tom Cully/2008/4:12)

JAPAN TOUR POSTERS
 On February 3rd, The Kajimoto Company producers of the upcoming tour in Japan, tweeted posters for the event, and revealed that the title of the tour would be "Hope."

 
Front row, L to R: Alex Gula, Taichi Shinokubo, Ben Bywater, Alex Montoro, Gregor Lumsden, Marc Alvares, Leo Barron. Second row: Mathias Montoro, Peter Kielty, Rocco Tesei, Camden Stewart, Merlin Brouwer, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Arthur Palmer. Back: Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Oliver Mycka.

Fans wondered at this time whether the new CD rumored to be in the works to coordinate with the tour would also be called "Hope." 

A TWEET FROM LIBERA (February 6th)

 
Taichi Shinokubo, Leo Barron, Tadgh Fitzgerald (top), and Romeo Tesei.


On February 11th, OfficialLibera tweeted a new photo taken during the filming of a new video. The boys faces and tan robes appear to be smudged with dirt and patches of color.
 
Adam Izghouti, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Tadgh Fitzgerald and Mathias Montoro take a break from video shooting.
On February 12th, another photo of a lad who appears to be Romeo Tesei appeared on Twitter, prompting the following comment from Surpinto:

































"And another tweet this morning with one of the choristers wearing the same sort of costume and fake dirt as they used in the "Wonderful World" and "America" videos. I am mystified as to what they may are doing in these videos; but I hope to find out soon! As Dani [another fan] mentioned [on Libera Dreams], filming multiple videos makes perfect sense for financial and organizational reasons."—Surpinto
 
Steven Philipp Memorial Fund

A GoFundMe Site has been set up for the family of Steve Philipp, former Libera Chairman and father of  Libera soloist (2006-2010)  Benedict Philipp. The family is now in need of help with expenses. Steve is in the lower right of the family photo below; Ben is at upper left.


  https://www.gofundme.com/steven-philipp-memorial-fund

 On  February 13th, Libera's mascot "Moose" (with earplugs) Tweeted the following:


 

On February 15th, a number of photos of the video shoot appeared on the Libera Facebook page, establishing that at least part of the action takes place in a dark cellar-like setting.
Camden Stewart and Gregor Lumsden relax between takes.
Alex Gula and others react to the spookiness
 
Dirt by assembly line: Alex Montoro gets daubed, while Gabriel Collins waits his turn.


Libera  Footnote: the urchin look is hardly a new one for Libera. In addition to employing it for the videos of "It's a Wonderful World" and "America the Beautiful" in 2015,  a number of videos from the TV show Thora on the Straight and Narrow (1993) saw Angel Voices (pre-Libera) rocking the same styles.

 

The boy in the white shirt is Angel Voices soloist Liam O' Kane. No names for the others.
A NEW CD CALLED HOPE

On February 17th, it was announced that a new Libera CD entitled Hope will be released on May 10th. Patrick Fandelok of the Libera Passion site commented:


"Here's the link to the news on the Japanese site Libera-Records : http://libera-records.com/news/%E3%83%A ... A%E3%81%A7

A summarized translation from Google says :
The long-awaited new Libera album by studio recording since 2011's release of "Winter Songs" [The Christmas Album] will be released on May 10!

The title is "Hope"

'I want to deliver an album that can make you happy feeling by putting dreams and hopes in harmony ...', it is undergoing acclaimed recording right now.

We decided to release two kinds, the first limited edition with DVD with the music video just finished shooting earlier this week and the regular one with CD only.
The contents of the recording will be announced later.

I will also paste poster present tickets with autographs of all the members coming to Japan who have many requests from fans!

The recorded songs are nearly solid, but I will show you when I am confirmed.

Depending on the shop, as early as possible, you will be able to make a reservation from today!

When they write the album is being recorded right now, it's not a joke. Yesterday the strings group 'Project Instrumental' that played at the last Libera concerts in UK, posted on twitter, Instagram and Facebook, about the recording they are currently doing for the new album (see here).
 
It's uncertain if the limited 1st edition that includes a bonus DVD will be available outside Japan, but even if it's not the case, this shouldn't be an issue; there are various Japanese record-selling sites that post English pages and accept foreign credit cards and international shipment.

The ticket for a poster with autographs is something they did at the last Japan tour in December 2015: you find a ticket inside your CD box and you have to present it at a booth at one of the three upcoming concerts in Japan. They then give you a (small) poster where all the signatures are printed. If I'm correct, last time it was A3 -sized. 
These signature posters are made because of the craziness of the incredibly huge lines in Japan. The boys have to be split in different groups that have different queues so you can't collect all the signatures by yourself.—Patrick

SMILE

Arthur Palmer and Tadgh Fitzgerald in the video's dismal basement setting.

On February 18-19, Official Libera released more photos of the photo shoot(s) (Facebook link above) for upcoming videos, and announced that the "urchin"-look video is called "Smile." It was not yet clear whether this was the song first recorded in 1954 by Nat King Cole, or another song of the same name. Since the CD is called Hope, the nature of the popular tune and its hopeful lyrics, made it a strong possibility.

Adam Izghouti, Rocco Tesei, and Oliver Watt-Rodriguez (?)


"Smile"
Smile tho' your heart is aching
Smile even tho' it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by

If you smile
Thro' your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through, for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide ev-'ry trace of sadness
Altho' a tear may be ever so near

That's the time
You must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worth-while

If you just smile 

 Song by Charlie Chaplin
Published
1936 (Instrumental theme), 1954 (Lyrics added to song)
Length
2:52
John Turner (Lyrics)
Geoffrey Parsons (Lyrics)
Language
English
 
Another interesting aspect was the inclusion of a tawdry-looking young woman (here shown with Gabriel Collins).


 Also appearing was a 30-second promotional ad for the Hope CD, with Alex Gula and Leo Barron in the speaking parts.
L to R: Taichi Shinokubo, Alex Gula, Leo Barron, Romeo Tesei and Tadgh Fitzgerald


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8Rd0VU29pg (30-second announcement of upcoming release of Hope CD/2017)

On February 20th, the concert schedule for the 2017 Japan Tour was made official:

On February 29th, Libera tweeted the title of the second song that was videoed in the same block as "Smile," and published a new series of photos taken during the making of "Salve Regina."
 
Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Tadgh Fitzgerald 

Boys in the atmospheric location for their video of "Salve Regina."
 SONGS FROM THE NEW ALBUM (A Report by Patrick from the Libera Dreams Forum)
Also on February 24th, as usual, Libera fans were on the cutting edge of news concerning the upcoming CD, Hope, as Patrick Fandelok in France relayed news of album contents from Japanese enthusiast Yuki, and provided some excellent links and guesses.


Yuki tweeted this morning about news published on the Japanese site "Sony Music Shop'" that unveils seven songs of the new CD Hope:
https://twitter.com/DearLibera/status/8 ... 8204692480

Thanks to Yuki, the translation of the titles to English is guaranteed.

  • Smile
  • From a Distance
  • San Damiano
  • Salve Regina
  • Stabat Mater
  • Angel
  • Jupiter

We already know four of these seven songs:
- Smile, it uses the tune of the end credit of the Charlie Chaplin film "Modern Times" (here) and was sung by countless great artists, here Nat King Cole.

- San Damiano, sung in concerts since Summer 2016 in Krakow,

- Angel, sung in concerts since Summer 2015 in Osaka, and already released on the mini-CD 'Angel',

- Jupiter, the new version of "I Vow to Thee, My Country"sung in January 2016 for the Mao Asada ice skating performance, also already released on the mini-CD 'Jupiter'.

The new songs are :
- From a Distance
It could be this song sung by Bette Midler (watch here)

- Salve Regina
Salve Regina will most probably be this latin text composed during the Middle Ages. There are many versions available everywhere, like this one.
This song would fit perfectly with the beige robes the boys wore on the recent filming session.
 
A robed Taichi Shinokubo and a bowl of...gruel?

- Stabat Mater 

Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been set to music by many composers, see here, so many that it's a bit tricky to guess which version has been chosen by Robert Prizeman.—Patrick



 [Note: an earlier Robert Prizeman-arranged version of this lovely song appears on the 2001 CD Luminosa.—Ed.]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oEiRcze77U Stabat Mater/ Luminosa 2001/4:50


These song selections evoked a varied response from Libera fans, some appalled at the inclusion of "pop" songs, and seemingly forgetting that the history of the group includes songs by ABBA, Joe Cocker, Enya, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson, Cat Stevens and Sal Solo (who wrote "San Damiano"), as well as the now-beloved "Wonderful World." Libera does after all mean "free" in Latin, and was founded by Robert Prizeman as a vehicle for escaping the constraints of the usual boy-choir repertoire.

On March 2nd, the following exchange between two thoughtful members of the Libera Dreams Forum presented a reasoned view and historical perspective on the situation:


Well, they did change their name to Libera after all -- they're not bound to a specific musical style. And this freedom to explore options has always been there really, at least for the 28 years that I've been listening to them.

I think the reason I enjoy a wide variety of their recordings is because no matter where each song falls in the casual / classical spectrum, they all still have that signature sound that Robert Prizeman is able to awaken out of the humble voices of children.

Anyway, we're not listening to these on records, or cassette tape right? So if you don't like a track, go on to the next one. —enjaysea

Angel Voices (pre-Libera) sing Barry Manilow's "One Voice" in 1993. Soloist Daren Geraghty (older brother of Assistant Libera Music Director Steven) is on the TV screen. On the left are harmony singers Anthony Maher  (red shirt) and Oliver Putman (stripes).

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttTCIxRFyTI (One Voice/St. Philip’s Boys’ Choir & adult male chorus/1993/Solo & second voices by Daren Geraghty, Anthony Maher and Oliver Putman/2:43)


I agree with this very much. When looking at Libera's music one must look at the recordings made as Angel Voices and prior. If we look at the totality of their recordings we can see that the variety of influences truly do stretch from ancient to modern. Many songs (e.g. "One Voice" from the "New Day" album of 1990 which was an arrangement of a 1979 song, not to mention "San Damiano") are much more modern than most of what they are doing now.

The amazing part of Libera, aside from the incredible training they provide to the choristers and the professionalism of their singing, are the arrangements of songs, old or new, that create the distinctive sound that makes them who they are. The harmonies Prizeman and associates add even to "pop" songs totally divorces those songs from their prior context and gives those songs a style that creates the song anew. 




Sam Wiggin solos on "Wayfaring Stranger."

Though it is not pop, "Wayfaring Stranger" to me is an example of such a song. Those familiar with the American bluegrass and folk genres know quite well just how unsuitable that song would appear to be for a boy's choir; but few people criticized the song in advance because only a few of us here are familiar with that sort of music. In fact, because I very much am familiar with this piece in its American folk music context, I was rather skeptical of how it would sound. Yet, the arrangement was superb and has renewed this song for me such that I no longer even think to compare Libera's version to the American folk versions with which I was familiar prior. This is an amazing feat; to re-create a usually twangy bluegrass song (that was the most popular version though there are others) into an ethereal choral work that is one of their best pieces of recent times.

Across their history many of their albums contained pieces I did not care for as much for others. But in my experience, there has never been, nor shall there ever be, an artist whose music I enjoy 100% of the time. Even my favorite composers or modern rock groups have entire albums or series of works I would never choose to listen to under any circumstances! We are all entitled to our opinion but we will never all enjoy every single work created by Libera or anyone else. The fact that about 90% or more of what Libera puts out is enjoyable to me is what makes me a major fan. This is a far higher percentage than many other groups that I listen to; choral, modern, or otherwise. Whenever I am listening to my Libera mix and "The Lamb" or "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam" (AV2) come on, I move on to the next track just as enjaysea says.

I see no danger of Libera going pop as we can see by the very pop choices they have made since the 1980's in their recordings; so this is nothing new. Let us wait to hear these songs before prejudging them. After all, I never thought I would like "Wayfaring Stranger."—Surpinto
 


Between takes: Taichi Shiokubo (seated), Merlin Brouwer, Peter Kielty, Adam Izghouti, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Mathias Montoro, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Romeo Tesei, Leo Barron.

ELY CATHEDRAL CONCERT ANNOUNCED

 
On March 5th, Libera announced an upcoming concert on April 29th in the magnificent Ely Cathedral. This was predicted to be a preview of their latest concert tour material.

A TWEET FROM KAJIMOTO

On February 8th, the following enigmatic tweet appeared (Libera is known in Japan as "Rivera"):


  
On March 10th, Patrick Fandelok posted:
 

The small-big announcement is the launch of a Libera loyalty card from the cultural chain "Tsutaya", in Japan. (Tsutaya is  a big Japanese store for renting CDs and DVDs and you can find a store in every small town.) Read all the information here (in Japanese). The card also offers an entry for a lottery to win signed goodies. The card will also be on sale at the concert venues, limited to one per person.—Patrick

The ever-vigilant Jimmy Riddle posted (on Libera Dreams Forum) this fascinating article on the acoustic difficulties of performing in the vastness of Ely Cathedral ( April 29th on Libera's schedule).


http://www.psneurope.com/ely-cathedrals-centuries-of-echo-tackled/ 


By March 16th, some intriguing tweets came through from the Libera mascot, "Moose," who had at that point acquired his very own Twitter account.
 

For more tweets from Moose, go to:
 
THE GREAT MIRACLE RETURNS

On March 16th came the news that one of Libera's most exquisite pieces of music, the "Benedictus Deus" from the 2011 animated film El Gran Milagro/The Great Miracle was to be re-released in conjunction with the film's new release in France. Since the Mark McKenzie piece was described as "newly recorded," it was not clear at the time whether this was a remastered version of the original Stefan Leadbeater/Ralph Skan version, or a new recording by the current group of Libera Singers.



Happy to see that this tiny film "The Greatest Miracle" will be released in Paris, Lourdes and across France next week. Very pleased the London boys choir LIBERA will release a newly recorded and extended "Benedictus Deus" and that this iTunes top performing McKenzie soundtrack is finding a life.

 

This original short version is accompanied by photos of St. Philip's/Angel Voices/Libera soloists up to 2011, ending with then eight-year old Isaac London, who in 2017 was still in Libera, singing with the lower voices after a stellar solo career.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwYiXAONy34 (Benedictus Deus/Ascension/Gloria Patri/from El Gran Milagro/solo & second part by Stefan Leadbeater and Ralph Skan/2011/3:33)

On March 19th, SoundCloud featured a new album featuring two favorite Libera alumni. This  collection of a cappella covers was brilliantly arranged by current Libera keyboard player (and former soloist) Josh Madine and performed by Vox from the University of York.  At least one of the songs, "Tongue-tied," was composed by Libera great Ben Crawley (Ben See).


 

https://soundcloud.com/user-759053276/sets/vox (SoundCloud/Album of a cappella covers arranged by Josh Madine and performed by Vox from the University of York)

Josh Madine in 2005
Ben Crawley in 1999


 (Tongue-tied/ by Ben See/arranged by Josh Madine)



On March 20th, a teaser preview of Libera's new CD appeared on Twitter...



 
  ...followed on March 24th, by another short listen. Libera fan Surpinto summed up the knowledge of the upcoming CD's contents on the Libera Dreams Forum http://www.forum.libera-dreams.com/index.php:


Based on the tweet by Libera today with further previews for the new album, we can definitively add yet another track to the list: "Wayfaring Stranger." Although the clip is short and the sound quality limited, it sounds as though they are not using the live version from the "Libera in America" album but have instead recorded a studio version. I notice differences when listening to that segment side-by-side with the live version.

So yet another new track! My fears of another EP have been completely eradicated by these latest announcements; and who knows how many more songs the album may have? —Surpinto


So far we have:

From the Japanese vendors
Smile
From a Distance
San Damiano
Salve Regina
Stabat Mater
Angel
Jupiter

From Libera and Libera Moose tweets
The Three Ravens
Wayfaring Stranger
Angele
Home


And there may be more!

We know of 11 tracks at the minimum, with a minimum of 5 totally new, never-before-recorded-by-Libera songs. This is excellent. New recordings of old songs or the inclusion of old recordings released prior on various EP's can of course be nice as well, but it is the new songs which I am most anxious to hear.


 On March 30th, Libera released the third teaser for its upcoming CD:


https://twitter.com/officiallibera/stat ... 1784721409

The four songs are:

- Angel
- Salve Regina
- ?
- Dreaming of Home


The  inclusion of "Dreaming of Home" was a long-awaited satisfaction for fans of this lovely song, first performed four years ago. At this point fans were still guessing about about the titles of at least two of the 13 songs revealed.

On April 1st, Patrick Fandelok of Libera Passion discovered that the Facebook rumor of an extended version of Mark McKenzie's transcendent "Benedictus Deus" was a reality, based on the following post on McKenzie's website, which included a sample of the original 2011 version.        




An Unusual Tweet from Ely Cathedral






A Tweet from the Past

Identifiable in this photo: Front row (Best guesses): Michael Vereycken, Joe-Sanders-Wilde, Samir Abouelfaid, Sam Leggett, James Vereycken, Jake Shortall, Zach Lockett, Ed Day. Second Row: Chris Robson, Anthony Chadney, Ben Crawley, Simon Lewis, Josh Madine, Callum Payne. There were 22 boys on this tour; they performed in Tokyo and Yokohama. For more photos, etc., go to: http://liberasworld.blogspot.com/2005/04/japan-concert-archive.html
NEW CD SONG LIST REVEALED


On April 7th, Libera Records released images of the cover of the Hope CD, a full list of the songs, and the names of the soloists: http://libera-records.com/news/20170407release
Cover of the regular CD:
The boys on the cover are (out to in on both sides): Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey (?) Isaac London, Taichi Shinokubo, Lucas Wood, , Alex Gula, and Camden Stewart.


1. Salve Regina
Composer: Franz Schubert
Lyrics: Lori Bath
Arrangement: Robert Prizeman
Solo: Rocco Tesei


2. San Damiano
Composition & lyrics: Sal Solo
Arrangement: Robert Prizeman


3. Smile
Composition: Charlie Chaplin
Lyrics: Jeffrey Parsons & John Turner
Arrangement: Sam Coates
Solos: Gabriel Collins & Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti


4. Stabat Mater
Composer: Robert Prizeman
Poetry: Traditional
Solo: Isaac London


5. Dreaming of Home ~ From the movie Aria of the Battlefield
Composition: Philippe Lomby
Lyrics: Loli Bath
Solo: Camden Stewart


6. Angel ~ Universal Studios Japan "Universal Wonder Christmas" tie-up song
Composition: Muramatsu
Lyrics: Robert Prizeman
Solo: Isaac London


7. From A Distance
Composition & Lyrics: Julie Gold 
Arrangement: Sam Coates
Solo: Alexander Montoro

Cover of the CD-DVD:

 
 

8. Angele Dei
Composition: Robert Prizeman
Verse: Traditional
Solo: Alexander Montoro


9. Benedictus Deus (from the movie The Great Miracle)
Composition: Mark Mckenzie
Verse: Traditional
Solo: Thomas Delgado-Little


10. The Three Ravens
Composition: John Haar
Poetry: Traditional
Solo: Gregor Lumsden with Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti & Alexander Montoro


11. Hymn to Mary
Composition & Lyrics: Beth Nielsen Chapman
Solo: Isaac London


12. Venite Adoremus
Composition: Robert Prizeman
Verse: Traditional
Solo: Merlin Brouwer


13. Home
Composition: Muramatsu - Yoshinori
Writing: Robert Prizeman
Solo: Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey


Bonus tracks:


14. Jupiter
Composition: Holst
Lyrics: Cecil Spring & Mao Asada
Arrangement: Robert Prizeman
Solo: Isaac London & Taichi Shinokubo


15. Wayfaring Stranger
(this track is only on the regular CD, not on the CD-DVD)
Song & Poetry: Traditional
Arrangement: Sam Coates
Solo: Alexander Gula




DVD (only on the Initial limited edition)


DVD (only on the Initial limited edition)

Salve Regina

Smile


On April 10th, a Tweet from Libera:


Leo Barron (left) and Rocco Tesei prepare for the April 29th concert in Ely Cathedral.
And another Tweet on April 17th:


Clockwise from upper left: Camden Stewart, Alex Montoro, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Peter Kielty, Victor Wiggin.

On April 18th, fan Surpinto speculated about the upcoming release of the Hope CD, detailing recent changes in record companies and distribution:

We know that Libera has ended its contract with Warner and has gone independent; we can see this in their Libera at Christmas album. Aside from whatever exclusive deal they have in Japan with Wisteria/Libera-Records, which appears to include tour funding, they seem free to do whatever they want. So the unknown factor is: What are the terms of their deal in Japan? Are they allowed to release the same album outside Japan independently? Is the album exclusive to Japan? Are the release dates exclusive?
Obviously, we do not have answers to these questions but the way this album release goes down will indicate the likely scenario.

If I had to guess I would say that album will be released internationally not long after the Japan release, but it remains to be seen.—Surpinto
On that same day, the following announcement appeared at
https://libera.org.uk/news/new-cd-announced-hope/

 

On April 19th, Libera fan Patrick Fandelok explained what was to many an unfamiliar term:

a CD digipack is a physical media, a case made of cardboard instead of crystal plastic, with layers of printed paper on it, that has a least one fold, and with a plastic support pasted inside the case to hold the CD. For example, the Deluxe version of the Christmas Album is a CD digipack, with 3 folds.—Patrick

Libera Dreams also provided a link to the Invisible Hands website:


On April 23rd, fan Surpinto posted CD-release information on Libera Dreams:


An official update of the staggered release dates and information for the album was posted. Apparently, the album will not be released as a physical CD in the United States until June 15 but will be available for digital download on the international release date May 26.

Also on that date, the industrious Jimmy Riddle tweeted with enthusiasm about a BBC 30-second snippet of the extended version of "Benedictus Deus:'




Tom Delgado-Little


It was, indeed stunning, with Delgado-Little at the peak of his treble powers, and the rest of the boys living up to his example.  The full piece apparently was played on BBC Radio 2, and Riddle commented: ...I'm not going to audio grab it due to copyright but UK listeners can hear it http://bbc.in/2pRSzNr  here at 50:30. (Other tweeters reported that it was also available to US listeners.)




 By April 26th, several versions of the piece were available on YouTube.


(extended “Benedictus Deus”/solo by Tom Delgado-Little/3:28)

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT PRIZEMAN

The industrious JimmyRiddle Retweeted Samuel Ball:

An interview with Robert Prizeman 

#Libera begins at 1:16:45 ucb.co.uk/catchup/166094 exclusive first play of 'Smile'; tours to US & China

And from Surpinto on Libera Dreams:
  A radio interview was conducted with Robert Prizeman about Libera. In it he talks about Libera, their upcoming plans, and forthcoming album. The feature of the interview (aside from a surprise announcement about a summer tour to the US), was the playing of the new song "Smile". I have listened to it several times and it is certainly growing on me. Nicely done. —Surpinto


CONCERT AT ELY CATHEDRAL


On April 29th, Patrick Fandelok tweeted a photo of the boys arriving at the cathedral, noting that alumni favorites Josh Madine and Kavana Crossley were present. The boys' rehearsal was open to the public, and posters for the new Hope CD  were prominently displayed.


Ely Cathedral tweeted photos of the sound check. The red patches on the boys' faces are holding microphones in place.

 
Left to right: Taichi Shinokubo, Arthur Palmer, Nathaniel Bates-Fisher, Luke Jelley, Samuel-Francis Collins, Adam Izghouti, Leo Barron, Marc Alvares, Alex Gula, Gregor Lumsden, James Menezes, Rocco Tesei.

 

The evening's Song List:

 
(Program photos by Patrick)
The list of choristers named 34 boys, including the "Joe ..."  in the miniboys chart (below), now identified as Joseph Cranich. Other newbies included Nathaniel Bates-Fisher, Cassius Collard, Samuel-Francis Collins, Luke Jelley, Alexandre Menuet, Neo Parson, Koji Shinokubo, Laurence Taylor, Romeo Tesei, Victor Wiggin and Theo Wood. 

Among the missing were Sam Wiggin, Lucas Wood, Finn Wood (though third brother Theo was present),Timothy Lee, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Matthew Madine and Michael Menezes. The lower voices in the back row were former treble soloists Alex Montoro, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, and Isaac London.

 
 


 

Fan Lauren noted that the program design was by the mother of Libera singer Peter Kielty.

ELY CATHEDRAL CONCERT REVIEWS
The indefatigable Patrick Fandelok (from the French Libera Passion site) got in quickly with the first review—entirely on Twitter.
Johan from the Netherlands contributed this fine rehearsal photo of "San Damiano" that clearly shows the majestic depths of the front or "choir" section of Ely Cathedral, and a glimpse of the lighting effects. Elmear McGeown is seen leaving the stage.
1. San Damiano: The flutist Elmear McGeown went onstage alone, playing an intro, then the boys entered the stage from both sides. She left the stage at the end of the intro, which is a novelty. The song is mainly chorus; I have not noticed a specific soloist.

2. Sanctus: On that song and the third, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Isaac London left the stage. Merlin Brouwer sang his usual beautiful long harmony; Adam Izghouti sung the high notes.

3. Speech: by Peter Kielty and Alex Gula. They introduced the concert and announced new songs from the new CD Hope.
Soloist Adam Izghouti (Photo by Patrick)
4. Dreaming of Home: Chorus song with final high notes by Camden Stewart. Such a wonder to hear it again !! Really looking forward to the CD.

5. From a Distance: (Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Isaac London back onstage) Wonderful solo from Merlin,Brouwer, located alone front stage. This song is soooo beautiful!! Possibly my favorite, but difficult to say— there were so many great songs tonight.

6. Angele Dei: A surprise, the solo is now performed by Rocco Tesei.  Eleven boys surround him in an arc, hands joined in prayer, the others in a second wider arc.
7. Speech by Alex M. (another one, Alexandre Menuet) and Victor Wiggin, about living in London.

8. Far Away: That song was last sung in Guilford 2013 . If I'm correct, it's back for the Japan tour in four weeks. Outstanding solo by Gabriel Collins!! I mean, Gabe was really, really, really good! Worthy successor to Michael Horncastle, Ralph Skan, and Isaac London. The high notes that give all the flavor to the song were sung together by three or four boys, difficult to say exactly: Adam Izghouti, Leo Barron, Rocco Tesei and Taichi Shinokubo.
Gabriel Collins
9. Sacris Solemnis :The song started with the boys arranged in two rows facing the audience and ended in a large arc covering the whole stage.

10. Wonderful World: Solo by Gregor Lumsden, located stage front, as brilliant as always.

11. Speech from Gregor and... perhaps Alex Gula (not sure...) about the many different layers of voices used on some songs.

12. Libera: Solo on English words by Alex Gula and Rocco Tesei singing together, located alone front stage. Final high notes by Adam Izghouti and Rocco.
Emerging stars Rocco Tesei and Alex Gula pose during an autograph session. (Image from Mini-Angels)
13. Dies Irae: Nice to have that song back in concert!  It started with a new musical introduction, with piano and violins responding to each other. During the intro the boys entered the stage. As with “Sacris Solemnis,“ they started in two rows facing the audience, ending in a large arc.

14. Joyful Joyful This one was chained directly after “Dies Irae.” I missed who sung the high notes... Perhaps Adam Izghouti, who did a lot on many songs.

14. Speech by Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and perhaps Alex Gula (Not sure) about their mascot, “Moose.”
Gregor Lumsden
16. Angel: Solo by Camden Stewart, with everyone arranged in a large arc and Camden alone in the center of it.
17. Salva Me: Two rows of seven on each side, two rows at the center, facing the audience. Behind them was Taichi Shinokubo, who sung all the high "Salvas.”

18. Amazing Grace: I think they knelt on this song, arranged in two arcs. A piano intro and a beautiful solo verse by Rocco Tesei.

19. Speech about the various origins of some boys’ families—Alex Gula’s from Poland, Alex Menuet’s and Victor Wiggin’s from France, Theo Wood’s from Mexico, Oliver Watt-Rodriguez’ from Spain, Tadhg Fitzgerald’s from Ireland, Alex Montoro’s from Italy, Taichi and Koji Shinokubo’s from Japan.

 

20. Sempiterna: Four boys next to each other, front stage: Gabriel Collins, Ben Bywater, Adam Izghouti and Taichi Shinokubo. Beautiful performance!! High notes by Gabriel, alone.

21. Wayfaring Stranger: Solo by Alex Gula at the center at the back, the others in two lines on both sides. Alex walks slowly to the center and they all form a large Very funny to see Alex framed on both sides by the two "towers"—Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Isaac London.

22. Smile: Solo by Gabriel Collins, who stands center stage. Behind him on his right is Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti . Gabe starts alone and then he is joined by Alessandro. Alé brings a beautiful low harmony to Gabe's solo; they really fit well together. Gabe is again wonderful in his solo.

 
Merlin Brouwer
23. Speech by Tadhg Fitzgerald announcing the last song.

24. Exultate: Solo by Merlin Brouwer, located front stage. As usual Jon Ormston the percussionist and Elmear McGeown the flutist played from opposite sides of the stage. At the end Merlin sings his solo part 'we hear a distant music' while walking back to join the others, and Camden Stewart sings the high notes.

25. Encore: “Libera” (shortened) Again with Alex Gula and Rocco Tesei alone in the front of the stage, before joining the others in a large arc. —Patrick
 
 
Also on April 29th, a fan called thisisturok posted the following:

I posted a couple of the new songs from Hope on my Youtube channel.
Here's the link to "Smile:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAR-dqR5qno
Here's the link to "Benedictus Deus:" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIGBvbYt19I

The goal/purpose behind this is to help to give the fans a little relief until the album is released.
I also want to to energize people to purchase the album. —thisisturok



On May 1st and 2nd, fans from the Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Yorkshire contributed personalized and highly observant reviews to the Libera Dreams Forum.


http://www.forum.libera-dreams.com/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=2702&start=105 (Reviews of  Ely Cathedral concert on 4/29/17 by maartendas, Yorkie, Johan, andmar, and filiarheni [scroll down on pages 8 and 9]) Some review excerpts:

On Saturday afternoon we were lucky to experience Libera’s soundcheck, as the Cathedral was open to public. At about 3.30 p.m. the boys entered the stage in their blue shirts. It was great for me to see them all live from such a short distance...The boys sang five songs and did some voice exercises. Some of the younger ones practiced their speeches too. I had the impression, that some of the boys were somehow tired. While stretching the arms may be considered a warm-up for singing, yawning was quite possibly something else. I was wondering, if they had such a long rehearsal or maybe a party the previous night. The soundcheck was the first taster of the concert to come and I was the more excited.—andmar

 
A lot of space to fill:  the
interior of Ely Cathedral has a seven-second sound delay. (Photo by Johan)

A general impression of the concert was the wonderful overall sound. For me, this was the first Libera concert where the choir sounded so light and so much as a whole. No one voice or group went over the other, the dynamics were there and the instruments blended wonderfully as well. Special mention deserve the flute at the opening of San Damiano, the percussionist (especially in Libera), the horn in Amazing Grace and the strings in Sacris solemnis. The new opening of Dies irae, which builds up slowly in tension, works really well - and the joining of that song to Joyful, joyful is a surprising contrast.


Camden Stewart in Korea (Photo by Hiroshi Kiku)

The concert itself went by way too quickly. There were so many highlights it was hard to pick just one but afterwards my memories went mostly back to Angel, the song I had hoped to hear again. Just as in Vallendar the solo was sung by Camden and he did it beautifully. He has a soft tone in his voice which gives it a very special silvery shine and when he sings he is so focused he easily took me in. As the song builds up and the choir enters the intensity grew, and when they reached the chorus it was nothing short of heavenly for me.—maartendas


Robert Prizeman
 For the first time in quite a while the audience (as is appropriate at a concert) applauded Robert as he took his seat before the start. There was also applause at the start of the second half and RP gave a smile and a bow, which was lovely to see.



"Cute overload" was provided by Romeo Tesei and Cassius Collard [at eight years old, the youngest boys] who, during the final applause, came to the front of the stage and gestured left and right with broad grins to acknowledge the musicians who were positioned at the side of the stage.—Yorkie

 
Romeo Tesei and Cassius Collard



During the concert we discovered we probably have a new star soloist in the making with little Rocco Tesei.—Johan

 
Rocco sings

My unchallenged highlight of the evening was Angele Dei. This is such a beautiful song, as I said, just marvellous! It is quite a Libera piece, as I imagine it, and this song at the beginning of my Libera journey would have been sufficient as a starter drug. It is very characteristic of what I consider a Libera song: mystical, calm and then flourishingly developing, bilingual (although to a minimum only) and so on. I cannot even call it "listen" anymore, I only enjoyed and enjoyed the song. It literally gave me one goosebump after another, the whole song consisted of it, and for me, these are definitely the most enjoyable, most haunting and most impressive moments when I listen to music.
I was totally fascinated by this song's soloist, Rocco! Is it true that he is 10? Hopefully, because then we may count on a long Libera future lying ahead of him. He has a strikingly beautiful voice, may have sounded a bit shy, but he didn't have any reason for this at all. Exact intonation, absolutely clean (do you say that in English?), and I was highly impressed with how reliably and accurately he hit even the highest notes! Please go on like this, Rocco, and stay with Libera as long as you can, I really look forward to your further development! 


Before the first song, there was a short speech as well as the usual recorded announcement that filming etc was forbidden. This time was used by a little boy in the back row - Luke Jelley, presumably - to arrange his wardrobe. It was the fight against a too-short robe sleeve. With an unhappy face, he tried incessantly to pull down the right robe sleeve, which ended in the middle of the forearm and his shirt sleeve was visible, so that it would fall all the way down. A fractious matter, and the poor boy was very busy. But he was attentive immediately, when the first song, San Damiano, began without having been successful concerning that robe. After this, I did not pay attention anymore, so I cannot present a happy ending here, but it is quite possible that there was one.

 
Luke Jelley



 
Camden sings.

Angel.  Camden's voice differs from all other current soloists. It owns something special, interesting. I can only try to describe what I mean. It has such a shining sound, a certain luminous depth, which you can say about none of the other soloists, even if their notes are fully "round". During the song, I closed my eyes from time to time to let Camden's voice work on me and feel it more intensely. Goosebumps again, only through his voice!

 
Victor Wiggin

Two boys came forward and gave a speech. One of them began, then it was the other one's - Victor [Wiggin]'s - turn. Silent period. What was my text? Blackout. Visible clattering in his head. Then he said hesitantly and with an embarrassed smile: "My name is Victor." This was right, and from this moment onwards, he did fine. I love the small mishaps, which make a live performance so unique and really (a)live! And Victor was given all the time he needed to center himself, without anyone intervening in an unnecessary hurry. That was very good, relaxed, and I liked it.
 


 
Taichi smiles

The children were mostly serious and focused. But there were two exceptions: Taichi Shinokubo, who always smiles with enthusiasm - when he sings, the mouth is so big that you nearly can see an open mouth only and nothing around, it is adorable - and Victor Wiggin, who seems to me as if he could not look serious, even if he wanted to. He simply has to smile, he can't help it, because singing and performing is so much fun. —filiarheni 

On May 5th, Anna, a German fan, posted this pleasing and informative collage.
 

On May 5th and 7th, Libera tweeted two video "teasers" of the songs "Smile" and "Salve Regina," remarkable for the onscreen debut of Gabriel Collins and Rocco Tesei as marvelous soloists.

  
A mystical Rocco in"Salve Regina"

 Gabriel Collins in "Smile"


"SMILE" & "SALVE REGINA" VIDEOS 

On May 8th, the long-awaited video of "Smile" appeared, featuring a simple but touching story line and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti in a sympathetic supporting role. 

 
Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lPN6DsMhPI  (Smile/Solo/second part by Gabriel Collins and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti/Hope/May, 2017/3:51)
 
This was followed closely by a video featuring the dreamily evocative "Salve Regina," based on Franz Schubert's  Impromptu No. 3, Opus 90 for piano.

Romeo Tesei gets a clean face in "Salve Regina."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3oqzcIFVJU (Salve Regina/Solo by  Rocco Tesei/Hope/May, 2017/5:23)

MORE FROM ELY CONCERT

 On the Libera Dreams site, Polish fan andmar posted a link to translations of excellent reviews as well as photos from the German Libera-Welt site hosted by mawi...



 (Translations from German of Ely Cathedral Concert Reviews, with photos from the Libera-Welt site [scroll down] 4-29-17)




(Photo by mawi)

 

...and Yorkie provided a list of all the boys who sang on the CD:




Marc Alvares
Shay Balsekar
Leo Barron
Nathaniel Bates-Fisher
Emanuele Borrelli
Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
Merlin Brouwer
Benedict Bywater
Gabriel Collins
Samuel-Francis Collins
Tadhg Fitzgerald
Alexander Gula
Adam Izgouti
Matthew Jansen
Luke Jelley
Peter Kielty
Timothy Lee
Isaac London
Gregor Lumsden
Alessandro McKinnon-Botti


 



Matthew Madine
James Menezes
Michael Menezes
Alexander Montoro
Mathias Montoro
Oliver Mycka
Cassius O'Connell-White
Arthur Palmer
Neo Parson
Taichi Shinokubo
Camden Stewart
Rocco Tesei
Romeo Tesei
Samuel Wiggin
Finn Wood
Lucas Wood
 
REVIEWS OF HOPE 
 
Also on May 11th, long-time fan Yorkie posted a review of the Hope CD (in green) on the Libera Dreams Forum. This was followed on May 13th by a review (in red) by Vince, a sound engineer,  instrument builder, and fairly new Libera fan living in Korea. The contrast is educational, interesting, and, at times, amusing.




Yorkie: So, having had 24 hours with the new album (well most of it. I have the Japanese special edition which doesn't include “Wayfaring Stranger. “I'll need to wait for Libera to ship me the international version of the album to listen to that one) I thought I would give my impressions.

VINCE: I have the Japanese white version with the mirror image of the boys in a sort of V formation, so I have "Wayfaring Stranger."



Salve Regina: [People] seem to have split opinions on this one and I must admit I'm leaning towards the not-so-liking end of the spectrum. It is a rather slow burner and I can appreciate the comments about it being peaceful and relaxing but it just lacks a bit of sparkle for my taste. And I would have liked more Rocco Tesei rather than just the last few words. A competent start but not a wow start for me.

 
Rocco Tesei in Salve Regina"
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3oqzcIFVJU (Salve Regina/Solo by  Rocco Tesei/Hope/May, 2017/5:23) (From above)

This is slow. Majestic. The last solo voice soars over the chords in the rear. Beautiful major chords that are always bringing tranquility.

San Damiano: Re-surfaced at concerts last year and has received a makeover from the Angel Voices version. No solo part to this one sadly. I like it but it isn't a classic. The one thing I noticed about the electro backing track is a strange (to my ear out of place) beep beep bop sound effect in places.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdQFft_zWdE (San Damiano/Hope CD/2017/3:44)
 
Very bouncy. Nice note pattern. Soaring. Nicely done though it is true there certainly could have been a solo voice over it. But it is easy to see why it was a hit when it was first recorded by Solo and the Libera boys.  Yes, it’s a shame no one took the solo line. BUT – that does not spoil the pleasant run, smooth, with some nice harmony lines.

Smile: My heart sank a little when the song list was released and this was on it. Hands up, I was wrong Libera can take any song and breathe new life in to it. As I mentioned in my review from the Ely concert the harmony between Gabriel Collins and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti is perfect and is the essence of the Libera sound. Great vocals by Gabe and a thumbs up to Sam Coates for his arrangement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lPN6DsMhPI  (Smile/Solo/second part by Gabriel Collins and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti/Hope/May, 2017/3:51) (From above)

Gabriel Collins in "Smile" video. 

This is a piece I can remember being sung when I was a child. It was a happy day piece during WWII and people sang it at home parties and just in general. Very catchy. Nice solo work.  As far as the video version – not on the CD but I have seen it. The little movie is not complete . Chorally – nothing wrong. Revival of an old favorite that was immensely popular. This might go over well in N. Korea. Among the farmers in the north.  Rich background without drowning out the vocals. Nice mix, nice sort of original arrangement of the orchestral parts. But definitely enhanced with the Libera style of harmonies much lacking in the original solo albums released a very long time ago.

Stabat Mater: Oh yes! This is a nod back to the early days of Libera where they take a classical Choral tune and remake it with that Libera sound and harmony. Has Isaac London? sung better on any Libera song before? I'll put my neck out and say no -" Stabat" is the finest moment of a great Libera soloist. His verses are 'pull at the heart' plaintive and the chorus brings in the full group harmonies. The backing instrumentation is predominantly strings and they enhance the vocals. A true classic for me.
Isaac London has the voice to carry the solo. BUT his voice in some areas is not stable – there is a slight warble to it. But he has a nice clear voice and carries the lead line well. The orchestral arrangement is as expected. Nice strong bass. I think Robert is beginning to learn that this generation wants heavy bass. This trend was begun by Paul Rothschild – record producer from the 1960 to 1990 period. I want to hear the chords. They are/ /not clear. But the overall sound is nice, smooth. Isaac has the last clear word.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1U-2kgUuNQ (Stabat Mater/solo by Isaac London/Hope CD/2017/4:08)

Dreaming of Home: To hear this live is something very special and it is great to have a studio version. The verses are a group effort, it is the solo chorus that really blasts this one in to the air, requiring a strong and capable voice. TDL is a tough act to follow and Camden Stewart demonstrates that he can reach those dazzling high notes.

Interesting electronic piano to back up the boys singing. Arpeggios. The piano is way too loud and obscures the clarity of the vocals. This is a poor mixing job in the studio. In fact likely this whole album is done in the studio and that gives absolutely no excuse for bad mixing. This is one of those romantic saccharine songs that deserve a light hand from the music to give the vocals a chance to impact.  The vocals are very nicely done. The orchestral arrangement appropriate but slightly heavy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vCOoBxwmWI (Dreaming of Home/Solo by Camden Stewart/Hope CD/2017/4:33)

SO FAR THE MUSIC RATING IS VERY GOOD

Angel: A song we have grown familiar with and is very likeable with that Muramatsu/Prizeman blend. Vocals by Isaac London[ you've all heard it so nothing more to say other than it is a good song for them.

Around May 11th, Libera released a high-definition video/sound version of Takatsugu Muramatsu's "Angel" (sometimes known as "Angel Wings," or "Angel Take Your Wings and Fly"), with Isaac London soloing. This song appears on the new Hope CD, in pretty much the same vocal/instumental form, and this video is much clearer in image and sound than those formerly available on YouTube.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j13d5eFgQk (Angel/Solo by Isaac London/Universal Studios Japan/2017

Once again we have the instruments dominating the voices a bit. But then the piano takes over to support the solo line. Isaac London sounds very light and boyish in this. He carries the tune well. But again, the slight unsteadiness. Very few would notice it, except for those sensitive to that. I can’t turn my ears off to the sensitivity of pitch and tuning. He has a nice clear voice in the open solo parts. In the second chorus you can hear him in the group. Nicely done.

From A Distance: Sam Coates, what are you doing to us! Another warbly diva song. First "Smile" and then this? Do you hate us so much? Or so I thought when I first heard of its inclusion on the new CD. The first hearing was on the radio broadcast RP did before Ely and it didn't grab me. Sitting through the rehearsal I started to change my mind. Hearing at again in the concert and I was converted. The album version has Alex Montoro on the vocal of course (Merlin Brouwer I think it was at Ely) and his vocal is excellent, so glad that he got to sing on a CD. The lyrics are, of course, very much suited to the Libera message but how Sam could take the song and make it into a Libera classic is beyond me. True talent.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCr81V7I9kE (From a Distance/solo by Alex Montoro/ Hope CD/2017/4:59)
 
Another typical Libera piece. Nice harmony. Once again the full orchestral backing just a little too loud. Pull it down a notch and it would be perfect. Someone is forgetting that the boys not the orchestra are the feature of the music.  Where the music is down, under them, they are positively brilliant, clear and bright. That old Libera sound when they did minimum instrumentals on live shows.

Angele Dei: Début at St George's last year and was an instant hit. Many people's favorite at Ely. A tune that builds and then sinks back, builds and sinks back, with a stunning vocal by Alex Montoro entwined with a great backing vocal from the group. The Amen finish is wonderful.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgrwZs_Q_NU (Angele Dei/solo by Alex Montoro//= Hope CD/2017/3:44)
 
The opening sounds like another PLANETS excerpt. not that one could object, for the music is only to support the choir. Alex Montoro does a nice job with the solo. He is bright, steady and has the range to do the job. The choir is, for the most part, supported by only a bass-line instrument. This leaves the voices floating over this firm support. They could do well with a bass choral line.

Benedictus Deus: Nailed it. Perfect. Classic. You all know it from the Radio 2 broadcast and it is everything that makes me love this group. Fantastic vocals with Tom Delgado-Little at his imperious best; a stirring tune. What more could we ask for? It will be one of my favorite Libera songs forever.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvp6zuiYM9k (Benedictus Deus/solo by Tom Delgado-Little/Hope CD/2017

 
Tom Delgado-Little


This is well done. Firm bass-line lets the vocals sit on a firm base. The voices are in front. Soaring high notes. Lovely sounds. The descant notes poke through but not regularly. The abrupt static-like short words make an interesting effect. I think audiences will like this. They do some beautiful vocal arpeggios. Really nicely done. There is an AMEN at the end that is beautifully done.

SO FAR WE ARE STILL IN GOOD MARKS – A+ for grades

Three Ravens: Completely unexpected, completely wonderful. This might challenge some fans as it so far removed from the 'Libera' sound, but what a sound. Gregor Lumsden's vocals are just stunning (with great support from Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti  & Alex Montoro) I just can't stop playing this one. I posted a version above that is almost identical apart from not having those Libera vocals and we all know what a difference they make. In the video the high solo parts towards the end are a little 'heavy' as sung by the soprano, but on Libera's version that part is light and clear and just floats heavenwards. Truly another classic. If every other song on the album had been rubbish (and of course they aren't!), this alone would have made it worth it for me.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYfWKKyNedg (The Three Ravens/solo by Gregor Lumsden/Hope CD/2017/5:46)


Yes. Completely unexpected. Solo work is good. Disconnected vocal lines. Note interval way too wide. Modulation from major to minor not necessary…FOR ME, this is not a likeable piece. The ending does not make sense…This constant interruption for the down down nonsense.  No question about the words; I am reading them in plain English.  Huge abrupt pitch jumps – not good.

Vocals – Not sure how he got through them and it must have been difficult because this is not the Libera style. The sustained end-note was like fingernails on a chalkboard. A miserable first attempt at trying to do a tone poem or illusory music effect. 

With the Three Ravens song, I couldn't help wondering if John Harle and Robert Prizeman have known each other for a long time. They are both alumni of the Royal College of Music, and it's possible that they were both there at the same time, even if RP is about four years older than John. In addition, Simon Haram, who is the soprano sax player on the album, studied under John Harle when he was a professor at Guildhall. The two of them have also performed together on several occasions.—bachmahlerfan

Hymn to Mary: An Isaac London song, and only an Isaac song as here are no other voices unless I'm mistaken. Liked it when I first heard it in concert and still like it now. Simple song, simple accompaniment but Isaac's execution is excellent.



 Isaac London has done a nice job of it here. Clear, soft, smooth but a tad unsteady. BUT – maybe that is my sensitive ear and I should not be so critical , but the dulcet tones of Josh Madine, Tom Cully and Ed Day remain [for comparison]. You have to be good to beat that. Oh – Perfect.  Now that’s the way it should be done. Still a little warble at the end.  But it is good. Really. He did a nice job of it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHRPbBTus_o (Hymn to Mary/Solo by Isaac London/2016/3:02)
Venite Adoremus: A very dramatic start and a lovely recurring high vocal (by Merlin Brouwer (I assume). The first listen through I was slightly disappointed as I didn't feel that the whole song lived up to the start and it didn't resolve. However, with repeated listening it has grown on me and I now very much like the simple chant repetition of the words with that oh-so-pretty vocal embellishment. Yes it's simple but it's effective. 
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLsHYU9SE4A (Venite Adoremus/ Solo by Merlin Brouwer/ Hope CD/2017/5:24)

Merlin Brouwer
Yes, it was Merlin Brouwer who did the solos. Lovely harmonies. Thick, solid, orchestra underneath, firm, beautiful support for the towering harmonies. Descants top it off like a cherry on a sundae.  Yes, this is a nice one. The kid who did the high descant was not all that loud but it was likely at the bottom of his range. Still, High marks.

Home: The magic combination again - Muramatsu/Prizeman/Bradbury-Hickey. We all know it as it has been around for ages but it is definitely album quality for people not as dedicated as we are and who don't buy every MP3 and mini-CD release.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktS7pj17yqo (Home/Solo by Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey/ Jupiter CD/2016/5:08)

This is a nice piece, typical of Libera. Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey  is able to hold his notes nicely on this one. This is important. After all a solo puts the singer out front. His voice is his instrument. A violinist or flautist would not be tolerated if they could not hold notes in pitch. This is a critical point.

Jupiter:  A perfectly decent version of 'I Vow to Thee' and included because Libera always add previously released singles to their latest album just so that those people that only buy albums can own it. Nothing wrong with that. I do like the Taichi Shinokubo finish to this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8px8mmZp9Y (Jupiter/Solos by Isaac London and Taichi Shinokubo/2016/4:46
  
The vocals are well done. Nice harmony/melody and group lines supported by the orchestra. I had a better review but the cat decided to send it to somewhere and my last two comments were lost.

Isaac London


So, overall this is a very good album and is a welcome return to the studio for our favourite boy band. In my opinion there are three absolutely top drawer songs on here that will stand shoulder to shoulder with anything they have ever released -" Stabat Mater," "Benedictus Deus" and "Three Ravens." I think that is some accomplishment to be honest and shows that the whole team is still fresh and creative. Add to that "Smile," "From a Distance," "Angele Dei," "Venite Adoremus "and "Home," and you get more than half the album of real top quality songs (and I expect to add "Wayfaring Stranger" to that list when I get the international version direct from Libera in a week or so). Of the other tracks all have a decent quality and I expect many people will put some in with my own choices of top quality songs.

All that remains is for me to congratulate all the boys, the team and the musicians for once again bringing me such enjoyment. My only gripe; please don't leave it so long until next time!—Yorkie

Overall the rating is a B simply because of that Ravens thing…I wish I could remove this from the disc. Then it would be perfect.—Vince

All those also bemused by the inclusion of "The Three Ravens" might want to check its history out on Wikipedia:


On May 12th, a video appeared, featuring charmers Peter Kielty, Victor Wiggin, Taichi Shinokubo, and the irrepressible Leo Barron in "You Heard That Right!", along with footage from the group's "America the Beautiful" video, and a fund-raising message from the newly revived "Libera of the United States."

Leo Barron
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4oa4hC-l7k&feature=youtu.be (Promo for Libera’s 2017 US Tour/1:22)

On May 14th, fans provided a link to the Amazon UK site, where 30-second excerts of all songs on the Hope CD (including the elusive "Wayfaring Stranger," with Alex Gula) could be heard. Though the songs were at that time all listed as "not available," they were accessible by clicking the arrow next to "Sample This Album."


https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B071485FFM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1494723011&sr=8-3&keywords=libera+hope (30-second samples of songs from the 2017 Hope CD)

On May 17th, a YouTube version of "Dreaming of Home" from the Hope CD appeared. Camden Stewart proved to be a dazzling soloist.

Camden Stewart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vCOoBxwmWI (Dreaming of Home/Solo by Camden Stewart/Hope CD/2017/4:33)
 
A NO. 1 TWEET

 
On May 18th, an item appeared on the Libera Homepage:


Libera Across the Atlantic

The release date for CDs of our new album ‘Hope’ in the US is 16th June, but the album can be downloaded digitally from the 26th May.  Click here for more details
AND…….
Though the cost of the visas is frightening us, we’re looking forward to being in the US this summer – visiting places such as Houston, St Louis, Los Angeles…..for starters!
If you can help support us, please visit libera.org [Libera of the US]

 
 

The Libera of the US website supplied a breakdown of potential expenses and suggested a number of ways that fans could support the tour.

On May 21st, a promotional ad for the Hope tour appeared, featuring video segments from three songs to be featured.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGpI7PSodJY  (Promo for 2017 Hope tour, featuring video clips from “Angel,” Smile,” and “Salve Regina”/1:30) 


 On May 22nd, a YouTube video of "Stabat Mater" appeared, along with a review of the CD by "The Furby," one of the hosts of the French Libera Passion site (here in English translation).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1U-2kgUuNQ (Stabat Mater/solo by Isaac London/Hope CD/2017/4:08)


https://translate.google.fr/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=fr&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Flibera-passion.exprimetoi.net%2Ft1258p60-cd-nouvel-album-hope-sortie-le-10-mai%2327183&edit-text=&act=url (Translation of review in French by “The Furby,” from the Libera Passion Site)

(On May 24th, Libera Passion announced a total re-vamping of their site)

On May 25th, a second short promotional video appeared on YouTube, featuring portions of the song "From a distance," with Alex Montoro soloing and re-appearances by spokesboys Victor Wiggin, Peter Kielty, Taichi Shinokubo and Leo Barron.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HDkv9ixG84 (From a Distance/solo by AlexMontoro/promo #2 for Libera’s 2017 US Tour/1:16) 

 

Also on May 25th the OfficialLibera site announced the opening of an online shop where items such as CDs, DVDs, programs, etc can be purchased directly from Libera.

 
SOME PRE-JAPAN-TOUR TWEETS
On May 26th, the following tweets appeared:

 


 

On May 27th,  Libera fan Yuki tweeted the following image, the first solid indication of a concert venue for the upcoming US tour. She also mentioned that his would be the group's third concert in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Missouri.



http://www.cathedralconcerts.org/events/libera/ (Announcement and ticket information  for August 9th, 2017 Libera concert at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in the US)

Also noted by Yuki:

 
 
 ....And a Tweet from Libera, heralding the beginning of the:

2017 JAPAN TOUR

Clockwise from lower left: Tadgh Fitzgerald,  Mathias Montoro, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and a bunch of screenboys
 MEETING, GREETING & PHOTO SESSION

On May 28th, the seemingly omnipresent Patrick Fandelok, of the newly revamped Libera Passion site, posted the list of singers on tour, and a humorous account of autograph and photo sessions.

Concert Locations:

  • Tokyo
    Monday 29 May at 19:00
    Tuesday 30 May at 19:00
    Location: Bunkamura Orchard Hall
  • Osaka
    Friday 2 June at 19:00
    Location: Osaka International Conference Hall (Grand Cube Osaka)





From a photo tweeted by Kajimoto we know the group that attends the Japan tour:

(*= first time on a foreign tour)
Alex Gula
Adam Izghouti
Alex Montoro
Alessandro McKinnon-Botti
Alexandre Menuet*
Arthur Palmer*
Ben Bywater
Camden Stewart
Gabriel Collins
Gregor Lumsden
Isaac London
James Menezes
Leo Barron
Lawrence Taylor*
Marc Alvares
Merlin Brouwer
Mathias Montoro
Neo Parson*
Oliver Mycka
Peter Kielty
Rocco Tesei
Romeo Tesei*
Tadhg Fitzgerald
Taichi Shinokubo
Victor Wiggin*

Relaxing during the photo session (see below).
There are no new boys that were not present at the Ely Cathedral concert.

And, still referring from Ely, the boys that are missing are:

Cassius Collard
Emanuele Borrelli
Joseph Cranich
Koji Shinokubo
Luke Jelley
Nathaniel Bates-Fisher
Oliver Watt-Rodriguez
Samuel-Francis Collins
Theo Wood



A few comments on the meeting of Meet & Greet this Sunday in Tokyo, it was quite funny.

Waiting outside in front of a large office building over 100 meters high.
Eventually we were allowed into to the lobby, and in the very organized way of the Japanese we were placed in a line. After a few minutes, we  went into a
9th-floor café (closed on Sunday).

In the large open space there were three queues, separated by guideposts with attached ribbons. 


The first queue, on the right, was guided in front of tables offering for sale goodies in Libera colors: t-shirts, bags, pocket protectors, documents, etc. (but no program of the concert, that will be for tomorrow). The goal here was to buy also a T-Card for those who didn't already have one, and a CD, which came with a specific coupon for the autograph session/M&G.

The second queue checked the "Open Sesame" holders:
- A T-Card +  a
CD coupon  = Access to the signature session with a blank coupon
- A T-Card + a CD + coupon + a concert ticket of the next day = Access to the photo session with a blue coupon, in addition to the signature. As I had prepared well, I could proceed directly to this central file.

The third queue on the left was the "parking" queue, waiting for access to the rest of the program.

At 5 pm, the 25 boys passed by quickly, greeting the crowd. Dressed in white robes, as for a concert. Then they took their seats for the M&G. This took place in two rooms in a row, where we were asked for our coupons (white, then blue) in order to enter. 

White coupon = signature session (no photos allowed). 

They were only five boys in my session to sign; in order: 

- Neo Parson
- Alex Gula
- Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti
- Victor Wiggin
- Tadhg Fitzgerald

We could chat a bit with them while signing, CDs, T-shirts, bags ... I tried to speak a few French words with Victor Wiggin, but curiously he did not understand me, and it was Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti who translated my French into English, which triggered laughter around the table.

Then comes the second room, for the photo session, the one where you had to have a blue coupon to access. (It seems a little complicated like that, but it was very well organized.)

  Arriving in the room we understood the principle, we were going to have a photo taken, we the public, one by one sitting on a chair in front of the 20 boys who were lined up in 3 rows just behind. Wow! 
Patrick gets his photo.
From my memory (fallible) I believe that it is a first that the public is thus invited to pose alone with the boys around oneself.


It was a bit lengthy as a procedure because each person of the public arrived with his camera, smartphone and other heterogeneous gadgets, and it was necessary to explain to a person of the staff where to press to take the picture. Not a very talented person, I saw several occasions where she centered the heads in the middle of the photo, cutting the torsos down and with 50% of the photo occupied by the wall of the bottom and the empty ceiling ) Luckily on my picture it was going OK.

 


Atmosphere very relaxed, the boys said "Cheeeeese" at first to smile on the photo but very quickly it became "Sushiiiiii." In the flood of visitors there was a lady and a young child of 2-3 years, who made a high-five with almost all the boys. There were two ladies in lovely kimonos, a guy with an all white suit, electric blue shirt, pink tie, a feast for the eyesI regret not having taken a picture.


As the pace of the photos was a bit slow the M&G got a bit overwhelmed, it ended around 6:30 pm instead of 6pm, the boys waved farewell  as the organizers guided us to the exit. 

High-fives from a small fan (top photo).
Between visitors the boys joked and laughed, it was a very relaxed-like atmosphere.

Rendezvous tomorrow (Monday} for the first concert, this time with the 25 boys gathered together onstage.—Patrick

https://translate.google.com/translate?depth=1&nv=1&rurl=translate.google.fr&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=http://libera-passion.exprimetoi.net/t1260-tournee-au-japon-mai-juin-2017

CONCERTS IN TOKYO - BUNKAMURA CONCERT HALL, May 28th and 29th
  

On May 29th, the first Libera concert in Japan was held in the Bunkamura Concert Hall. The hall was filled to capacity, and the concert received a standing ovation, rare for Japanese audiences. The song list was identical to that of the recent Ely Cathedral concert, with the exception of the encores, which added "Orinoco Flow" and a shortened reprise of "Libera." (Thanks to Patrick, Yuki, and John45 for their commentaries and photos.)


SONG LIST:

San Damiano
Sanctus (Final solo by Merlin Brouwer)
I'm Dreaming Of Home (Solo by Camden Stewart)
From A Distance (solo by Merlin Brouwer)
Angele Dei (Solo by Rocco Tesei)
Far Away (Solo by Gabriel Collins)
Sacris Solemnis (High descant by Taichi Shinokubo)
Wonderful World (Gregor Lumsden, with assists from Camden Stewart and Rocco Tesei)
Libera  (Duet by Alex Gula and Rocco Tesie; high notes by Alex Montoro)

Dies Irae
Joyful Joyful
Angel (Solo by Camden Stewart)
Salva Me (High “Salva”s  by Taichi Shinokubo)
Amazing Grace (Solo by Rocco Tesei)
Sempiterna
Wayfaring Stranger (Solo by Alex Gula)
Smile (Solo/duet by Gabriel Collins and Alessandro Mackinno-Botti)
Exultate (Solo by Merlin Brouwer)

Encore: Orinoco Flow, Libera

Photo of program by Patrick
Several of the solo parts had been switched around, with Merlin Brouwer, Rocco Tesei , Camden Stewart and Gabriel Collins as the leading voices, Taichi Shinokubo on the high descants, and Alex Gula soloing on "Wayfaring Stranger." Gregor Lumsden sang the solo on "Wonderful World," as usual, but was assisted by Camden Stewart and Rocco Tesei, whether because of a cold or impending voice-change.

The concert was followed by an autograph session with all the boys, for which the waiting lines were apparently very long and enthusiastic.

 


On May 30th, another faithful Libera fan, John45, posted his synopsis of the May 29th concert on the Libera Dreams Forum.

 


The program might be the same but every Libera concert is unique. Tonight we had some soloist changes with Camden Stewart and Gabriel Collins swapping places for “Angel” (Camden) and “Dreaming of Home” (Gabriel) and extra back-up for “Wonderful World” (Camden and Rocco Tesei).



 Different songs made my personal favourite list. Tonight they were: “Angele Dei” – Rocco was spot on; “Sacris Solemnis” – the full choir at its best; “Wonderful World” – great performance without any glitches; “Sempiterna" with wonderful harmony and solos from the four lead singers: Gabriel Collins, Ben Bywater, Leo Barron and Taichi Shinokubo; and, believe it or not, once again “Smile”. There is something about the Gabriel Collins/Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti combination which is just magical and moving – as was their interaction in the video.
Speeches all went very well and Taichi Shinokubo did a great job translating in addition to his other role as principal descant provider. His grandparents in the audience must have been very proud.
Special mention should be made of Victor Wiggin, whose infectious smile once again lit up the proceedings and was alone worth the price of admission.

Bullet train to Osaka tomorrow and one more concert to look forward to on Friday.—John45
 
Autograph session, Part Two. Left to Right: Tadgh Fitzgerald, chaperones Eleanor Lewis and Andy WinterRomeo Tesei, Marc Alvares, Gabriel Collins, Peter Kielty, two unknown boys, chaperone Barbara Geraghty, Gregor Lumsden, Alexandre Menuet, Isaac London and Taichi Shinokubo.



On  June 1st, Libera tweeted photos of the group on their day off,  having a good time at Universal Studios Japan, including a rare shot of Robert Prizeman (center, with hands to face) having the time of his life.

 
 
CONCERT IN OSAKA
Some Tweets:
Taken by flautist Elmear McGeown during sound check at theOsaka International Conference Hall (Grand Cube Osaka) 
 
 
 

On June 3rd, John45 posted a very-mini review of the concert in Osaka:

 
Very few changes to report from the Osaka Concert.
Camden Stewart was back for “Dreaming of Home”; Gabriel Collins was replaced by Merlin Brouwer for “Far Away” – he was excellent. Gabriel appeared to have developed a cold but he was still able to perform “Smile”. The slight huskiness of his voice added a pleasing layer of pathos to the song. Adam Izghouti replaced Leo for "Sempiterna."

 Great attendance; wonderful performances; standing ovation; wild signing session. A fitting end to a wonderful series of concerts. Many Thanks to all.—John45

A big Libera fan, johnjohn5380, gets a big reaction at the Osaka photo session.

Tadgh Fitzgerald obliges an admirer with an autograph.
FIRST ROW, L to R: Romeo Tesei, Lawrence Taylor, Taichi Shinokubo, Arthur Palmer, Mathias Montoro, Victor Wiggin, Leo Barron, Alex Menuet, Rocco Tesei. SECOND ROW: Neo Parson, Oliver Mycka,Adam Izghouti, Merlin Brouwer, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Peter Kielty, James Menezes, Ben Bywater, Gabriel Collins. THIRD ROW: Marc Alvares, Alex Montoro, Camden Stewart, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Isaac London, Gregor Lumsden, Alex Gula.



NEW US CONCERT VENUE ANNOUNCED



On June 4th, fan ludwig1874 posted a video slideshow produced by the Kajimoto Company (tour producers), and a collection of 91 photos from the group's previous tour of Japan.




https://vk.com/club3560020 (New slideshow by Kajimoto with photos from May-June 2017 Japan Tour; photo gallery from previous Japan Tour. [Scroll down past “Angel” video]/2:20)

On June 5th, a very brief promotional ad for the US tour appeared:

 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie6pIR1X-1A (16-second promo for 2017 US tour, with Leo Barron and “Moose”)

On June 8th, an article and interviews appeared on Japan's encore website, featuring interviews with soloists on the Hope CD.:




リベラ「LIBERA Angel Voices Tour 2017 Hope」スペシャル!後編はソリストたちのインタビューです ▼詳しくはこちら ow.ly/6ikA30cqczJ #リベラ #LIBERA #AngelVoicesTour

 Soloist of "Salve Regina" : Rocco Tesei
"Because this song had never been sung before, recording it was a very good experience.We made "Salve Regina "into a music video (recorded on the DVD of" Hope "first limited edition), and I got a chance to do a little acting. "

Soloist of "Smile": Gabriel Collins & Alessandro Botti
"" Smile "is a truly amazingly wonderful song with harmony intertwined, and it fits perfectly with Gabriel's soft and clear voice. When singing this song, Gabriel says that he smiles a lot; he says that it is really fun. Perhaps it's the best song that Libera sings. The music video shooting was also memorable. "

"Dreaming of Home” ~ Soloist of the movie
Battlefield Aria: Camden Stewart
"This song is actually a very hopeful song, a person singing a lonely wish to someday reach a peaceful and quiet place. Personally, each time I sing it I think that the development of harmony brings the silence."

Soloist of "From A Distance", and "Angele Dei": Alessandro Montoro
"" From A Distance "is sung about world peace. Singing surrounded by harmony is really nice. I think having a melody that everyone can remember is very good. "Angele Dei" was also an amazing song, it was fun to stand in front of a 3D camera singing. I like the way I feel when it’s a bit scary. "

Soloist of "Venite Adoremus": Merlin Brouwer
"Venite Adoremus" is a very exciting song, when I am singing it I feel great joy. I like the atmosphere with transparent feeling flowing in the back. "

Soloist of "Wayfaring Stranger": Alexander Gula
"There are lots of big showy  choruses in this song and I enjoy all of them as I'm singing. It's very exciting to sing the last verse on the stage, standing in the central unique place, It's even more fun if it's with the orchestra; it's really the best song. "
Alex Gula (center) at an autograph session
Soloist of 'Stabat Mater', 'Hymn to Mary: Isaac London
"" Stabat Mater "is very similar to" Hymn to Mary" in the sense of being a song to remember Virgin Mary. In the Catholic church, Mary is very important, so these two songs were exceptional. "Stabat Mater" was very difficult to sing, but I enjoyed it. "Hymn to Mary" was a song in English, so I felt it was a lighter and easier singing song, so I could interpret the words on the song more correctly.”

Isaac London also served as a soloist in Hope on "Angel" and "Jupiter ~ I Vow to Thee My Country," but as we are in a period of change, now I am in charge of the bass section on tour.

During this visit to Japan, we held the first photo session "LIBERA × T Card Issuing Memorial Visit Special Event · Autograph & Photo Session ~" for the first time as Libera. At the Tokyo venue on May 28th, we took pictures with fans while saying "Sushi!" (Sushi) instead of "cheese," as we do in England. I enjoyed interacting with fans in a gentle atmosphere.”
In Tokyo performance on May 30, Mao Asada who co-starred in "Jupiter ~ I Vow to Thee My Country," " visited and enjoyed Libera’s's concert. After the performance, Mao visited their dressing room of and after the first reunion in a year and a half, she took a souvenir photo with a smile.
With Mao Asada (back row)
On June 2 Libera traveled to Osaka for the final performance of "LIBERA Angel Voices 2017 "Hope" at Grand Cube Osaka. On January 31 of this year they had enjoyed free time at Universal Studios Japan with which they collaborated with "Universal · Wonder · Christmas."
(end)

Coverage / writing / Yoko Kodama
Photo / Daisuke Akita
 
 On June 9th, another US concert date was announced, as Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, listed an August 3rd Libera concert on their website at: http://www.tallowood.org/calendar/ 
 Tallowood was the final stop on Libera's 2011 Summer Tour.

 
 
On June 10th, Yuki of the Dear Libera site posted a translation of the first part of the encore article (see above) a rare interview with Assistant Music Directors Steven Geraghty and Sam Coates (Photos courtesy of Dear Libera).

Angel Voices Tour 2017 “Hope”

So, the first one is about a special interview with Libera by Libera Records. I’ve translated the article as it’s all in Japanese.

Special interview “Libera – where the harmony originates” vol.1
Link to the original article: http://e.usen.com/special/17609/


Interviewer: I’m going to interview with Sam Coates and Steven Geraghty, who performed on the stage as Libera boys on their first Japan Tour in 2005. Sam and Steven, you two have worked on the new album Hope as a producer/assistant producer with Robert Prizeman, haven’t you?

Steven Geraghty (L) and Sam Coates as Angel Voices trebles in 1997


Sam: Yes, we know the sound of the boys’ voices and have a shared image of the various sounds coming from the combination of their voices through our experience of singing in Libera for a long time and working with Robert. The boys are different ages and have their own voices, so that leads to making new arrangements and new ideas for songs.

Interviewer: What do you pay attention to when making a chorus?



Steven: If we needed to take a balance, we should keep the unique Libera sound even when trying a new style of song. Diverse musical sensibilities can be brought to the group, as many of the Libera old boys participate in creative process.

Interviewer: Sam, you have made the arrangements for “Smile,” “From a Distance,” and “Wayfaring Stranger?”

Sam: “Smile “and “From a Distance” became more Libera-like in the end after I got advice from Robert Prizeman and Steven. We revised it listening to their singing during the recording process. It’s just the result of our teamwork.


Sam: I think so, yes. The current Libera has a fresh and exciting sound, which is well blended. If there are things that are the same, I would say that it’s that the boys always help each other to memorize the songs and their positions: they cooperate to develop the skill of reading music sheets, listening to each other and dealing with various situations. Teamwork like this is absolutely essential for Libera.
 

On June 12th, Libera posted an official video of the recent Japan tour, including backstage/onstage scenes, autograph sessions and short interviews with boys and fans.

Young fan gets a high-five from Victor Wiggin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o6CrZ0iTbQ (Libera in Japan/summer 2017/official video/5:14)

On July 16th OfficialLibera posted a series of five concerts to be held in the US between July 28th and August 9th, along with a charming 19-second promo featuring Victor Wiggin and "Moose."





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t64-LgJ1b7I&feature=youtu.be (19-second promotional ad for 2017 US Tour/Victor Wiggin and Moose)


Upcoming US Concerts: Summer 2017


  • 28 July


Christ Cathedral LA

Time: 7:30pm

  • 30 July


Calvary Community Church

Time: 7:00pm

  • 03 August


Tallowood Baptist Church

Time: 7:00am

  • 06 August


Asbury United Methodist Church

Time: 6:00pm

  • 09 August


Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Time: 8:00pm
 

 ELY CATHEDRAL PHOTO GALLERY


On June 19th, Libera posted a marvelous Facebook gallery of photos from the April 29th Ely Cathedral concert.  




L to R: Alex Montoro (partial), Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Alex Gula, Isaac London, Camden Stewart, Gregor Lumsden, James Menezes, Alexandre Menuet.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialLibera/photos/pcb.10154794206717992/10154794204512992/?type=3&theater (Photos of Ely Cathedral concert 4/29/2017) 


Libera USA Tour 2017 —A Letter From Libera





Can You Help?

Soon we shall travel to the USA to perform in some wonderful venues from LA, across Texas to Tulsa and on to St Louis – please see our events page for details.

In common with most classical touring ensembles and orchestras, the ticket sales will not cover the traveling costs for such a large group as Libera.

If you are able to consider making a donation towards this, or sponsoring us, please either email us at sponsorship@libera.org.uk or use the links below to donate in your preferred way.

US Citizens, and other international supporters can support us by making donations directly via our USA charity.  This is a 501(c)3 charity and donors benefit from US Tax relief if eligible. Use this link to donate via our USA charity.

UK donors can donate via JustGiving.  We benefit from UK Gift Aid for all donations received in this way from UK Tax Payers.  Use this link to make a UK donation via JustGiving.

Corporate sponsorship is also very welcome.

We shall be publishing a free 20-page souvenir programme for the tour which will carry a list of significant donors, and will also include advertisements from corporate partners. The venues are all large, some in excess of 2000 capacity. We expect to reach a large and broad audience during our tour.

For substantial sponsors we offer:

  • recognition on our websites and social media account and in the souvenir programme
  • by agreement, personal greetings at concerts for guests and clients

There will be an opportunity for items to be autographed by the boys at the end of each concert. In addition we will be holding at least one meet and greet event during the tour.

Libera in all its many manifestations, its music, its concert tours across the world, its church and cathedral singing, its training for talented boys in South London, would not be possible without the generosity of our donors.
Thank You 
On June 22nd, Libera posted 28 photos taken backstage and at rehearsals for the Ely Cathedral Concert on April 29th, revealing some charming moments. 
Mathias Montoro arranges Laurence Taylor's hair.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialLibera/posts/10154802770172992 (28 Ely Cathedral backstage and rehearsal photos/2017)


Koji Shinokubo dons shoes for his first full concert.

Chaperone Barbara Geraghty oversees organized chaos. Behind her are Merlin Brouwer, a very tall Isaac London, Alex Montoro (in Mirror) and Rocco Tesei.
Also on June 22nd, a new version of the "You Heard That Right" promotional video appeared, this one backed by "America the Beautiful."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu02EG8nkbE&feature=youtu.be (“America the Beautiful/”You Heard That Right” ad for 2017US tour/1:37)

On June 24th, the official poster for the 2017 US tour appeared: 




June 25th saw yet another short promotional ad, and the unprecedentedly early announcement of a winter concert.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCiEKdkcSmY&feature=youtu.be (49-second ad for 2017 USA tour, with Taichi Shinokubo and “Smile”)

 
 On June 27th Libera posted another installment of photos,  taken on the day of the Ely Cathedral concert.
The irrepressible Taichi Shinokubo with Libera chaperones Barbara Geraghty and Eleanor Lewis.
Leading the pack: Victor Wiggin, Neo Parson, and Romeo Tesei.
Marc Alvares wrestles with pre-concert carbs.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialLibera/photos/rpp.10137632991/10154818165072992/?type=3&theater (Photos taken before Ely Cathedral concert 4/29/2017)

On July 3rd, more photos appeared, this time from the recent Japan Tour.

James Menezes gives Camden Stewart a shoulder rub

A backstage selfie with Isaac London, Alexandre Menuet, Gregor Lumsden,Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti
A lovely stage portrait of Gregor Lumsden

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialLibera/photos/rpp.10137632991/10154839380197992/?type=3&theater (Photos from 2017 Japan Tour/ on- and offstage)

NEW LIBERA PASSION DATABASE
 
On July 9th, the Libera Passion Site unveiled a stunning new set of databases, along with profiles of some of the newest Libera members. This was primarily the work of "The Furby," long-time co-host of the site, and was a marvelous boon to Libera fans.


http://libera-passion.exprimetoi.net/t1272-la-discographie-st-philip-s-boy-choir-angel-voices#26744 (Discography of St. Philip's Boys' Choir and Angel Voices releases/1987-1999)


http://libera-passion.exprimetoi.net/t1273-la-discographie-libera#26746 
(Discography of official Libera releases/1999-present)




(Discography of alternative releases for St. Philip's/Angel Voices/Libera/1988-present) 


http://libera-passion.exprimetoi.net/t1280-les-morceaux-interpretes-par-le-st-philip-s-boy-choir-angel-voices-libera#26871  (Alphabetical listing of all songs sung by St. Philip’s/Angel Voices/Libera, with links to videos for each)








  





 




 











 
On July 13th, a Libera fan, Jay S., posted these helpful comments on the Libera Dreams Forum, detailing further sources of information available to those interested in the history of the group.

I recently visited the Libera website https://libera.org.uk/music/hope/ and I was very happy to see the lyrics to the songs on Hope. I hadn't noticed this feature before now. Click the little blue page icon to the right of the songs and the lyrics show up!



I have visited the [German site hosted by mawi]] http://www.libera-songs.de/ for lyrics of previous albums. I think mawi's site is [excellent] regarding the information about songs. It not only provides the lyrics, but also indicates which parts are sung by soloists and which by the choir. Additionally there is data about different versions of the song (authors, recording/first publishing year, soloist, lineup and so on) plus in many cases some interesting remarks about the song or its background (this is in German only).


I even noticed that the lyrics on Libera's page are sometimes different from the words sung, while the ones on mawi's site are correct and even with remark, that the lyrics was changed (for instance: look at the lyrics for "Santa Will Find You" - on the Libera site there is the original text, while in fact the words sung are slightly different in two lines - this is mentioned on  mawi's site).—Jay S.


The excellence of the non-English sites, combined with a request from reader E. Wick for help in translation, led to this small tutorial on
 Translation Assistance

I find that much of the information on the Libera Passion site and Die Deutsche Libera Songseite  http://www.libera-songs.de/ is pretty accessible because of its context (lists of songs, videos, singers, etc. 

However, for more clarity, especially on  reviews, comments, etc., go to "Google Translate," https://translate.google.com/. There you'll see a blank to enter the material you want translated, and buttons to indicate the original language and the language you want to read. 

 

(See above screenshot from Libera Passion for an example of the more accessible content; it details video appearances by Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, translated from French to English. Note how similar the two pages are.)



Sometimes the translations of more complicated paragraphs are a little off, but one can generally figure them out, as with the second screenshot here, the opening paragraph of Die Deutsche Libera Songseite's introduction to Libera:
A RARE FIND

Angel Voices in blue monk robes for a1992 Titchmarsh on Song episode
On July 16th, fans re-tweeted a YouTube post that featured an early appearance by Libera predecessor Angel Voices. Here is the accompanying note by the Archive of Recorded Church Music:


In 1992, Alan Titchmarsh presented six programmes in a series described in the Radio Times as “a countrywide pilgrimage ... that explores religious music-making in Britain.” In the fifth edition, which was broadcast on 19 July 1992, he visited Wells Cathedral and York Minster, listened to their choirs and talked to some of the choir members. (The group Angel Voices - later to become Libera - was also featured.)
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JonKdjKo3pk (Titchmarsh on Song/Wells Cathedral & York Minster/Angel Voices appears in opening credits [“Praise to the Lord”] and at 23:30 [“Glory to Thee/Tallis Canon”]/34:19)


USA TOUR A GO
On July 23rd, Libera fan Jay S shared (on the Libera Dreams Forum) a promotional postcard received from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.





2017 USA TOUR
On July 24th, Libera arrived in Los Angeles, and showed up on the 26th looking happy and relaxed on the beach at Santa Monica. John45 and Patrick Fandelok provided commentaries on their tweeted photo:
 
The list of 26 looks to be, from left to right:
- Oliver Mycka
- Neo Parson
- Romeo Tesei
- Ben Bywater
- Nathaniel Bates-Fisher
- Lawrence Taylor (front, with tye towel)
- Peter Kielty (back)
- Marc Alvares
- Gabriel Collins
- Emanuele Borrelli (?) (back, next to Marc Alvares)
- Merlin Brouwer
- Leo Barron
- Alex Montoro
- Alex Gula
- Mathias Montoro
- Isaac London
- Adam Izghouti
- Alessandro McKinnon-Botti
- Joseph Cranitch
- Taichi Shinokubo
- Tadhg Fitzgerald (behind Taichi)

- Camden Stewart
- Arthur Palmer
- Gregor Lumsden
- Samuel-Francis Collins
- Rocco Tesei

I guess it's Emanuele Borrelli between Marc Alvares and Alex Montoro because I doubt a newbie already that tall can join the choir 'out of the blue'. So if he is a returning boy from a missed recent tour, I see only Emanuele... with a new trim.



Looks to be missing Victor Wiggin, James Menezes and Alexandre Menuet from the Japan Tour. Gained Nathaniel Bates-Fisher, Joseph Cranitch, and Samuel-Francis Collins—John45 

 
On July 27th, a full-page article on Libera's upcoming concert at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis appeared in the Cathedral's online newsletter. It included excerpts from a phone interview with Libera Director Robert Prizeman.


http://stlouisreview.com/article/2017-07-27/cathedral-concerts (Article in St. Louis Review/6/27/2017 on the Cathedral of the Basilica of St. Louis [Missouri] summer concert season and on Libera)
 
CHRIST CATHEDRAL CONCERT, JULY 29TH
 


 

(Program photo by Yuki)


On July 29th, veteran reviewers John 45 and Patrick Fandelok (in bold type), along with katyafan (in italics) provided a thorough description of the Christ Cathedral concert (with an endnote by nate_sdakota. Photos are from the Cathedral's Facebook page.

Concert Review 

The quality of the recent reviews of the Hope CD and the Ely concert makes me somewhat reluctant to offer my usual brief scribbles, but knowing how eager the Libera faithful are for any news of their heroes, here goes.

First the venue. The concert was held in the Arboretum, which is an attractive large hall separate from the Cathedral itself with a capacity of over 1000. I arrived just before 7.00 to see a crowd of about 30 lining up by the front door. The doors opened and the line began to move. I waited to join the end of the line – and waited and waited and waited. The line which had seemed so short, extended around the side of the Arboretum for the full length of the building and more. I then discovered that there was a separate line and entrance for premium ticket holders!



The stage/altar was about four steps up offering a good view of the performers. The orchestra was stage right and included local musicians as well as the familiar Eimear McGeown and Jon Ormston from Libera with Sean Groombridge (who organised the 2011 Canada Tour) on piano.
Libera members and set list are recorded elsewhere and need not be repeated.

“San Damiano” and “Sanctus” were performed in the usual way.

Camden Stewart did the first part of the “I’m Dreaming of Home” solo as usual, but the longer second part was performed, and done beautifully, by Taichi Shinokubo. You could see the relief on his face when he reached those difficult highest notes so perfectly.



I was glad to hear Camden Stewart’s soft and textured timbre singing the first descant. I was hoping to catch him before his voice break, and now I can die happy. Taichi Shinokubo did the rest of that line after another round of the chorus, and he showed his experience. He initially missed the first couple of notes due to what sounded like a voice crack or small throat issue (no one who didn’t know the song would have caught it), and decided to skip the next couple notes in order to come strong into the rest of the line. A mature choice and a confident young man! Smiling all the time.—katyafan
 
Camden Stewart (L) and Taichi Shinokubo
As expected, an excellent performance of “From a Distance” by Merlin Brouwer, followed by an equally excellent performance of “Angele Dei” by Rocco Tesei, whose treble voice is maturing so beautifully.



Wow. My goodness, Rocco has the whole package. Despite a few coughs in between songs, which I hope isn’t a cold, he managed to draw in the audience and at the same time set himself flying above the stage with a measured, well-timed performance. His voice is crystal clear and he has full control of it. Glad to see he has such a large solo/mini-solo/descant load. I love the balance of this piece, not too loud or piercing on the higher bits.—katyafan

New choreography for “Orinoco Flow” and “Sacris Solemnis” but otherwise no changes. The high parts were sung by a trio composed of Adam Izghouti, Leo Barron and Taichi Shinokubo.

Wonderful performance of “Wonderful World” by Gabriel Collins. His voice has developed great strength and richness. This was one of the audience favorites.

Gabriel Collins
“Libera” was followed by an extended interval during which there was opportunity to purchase merchandise, which included CDS, two different tote bags, hoodies and umbrellas. It was also an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, which is one of the pleasures of a Libera Concert. Another is to see and hear the reactions of first- time concert-goers and those who are completely new to Libera. “They sound even better live;” “The best choir I have ever heard;” “How can they produce such a beautiful sound?;” “I never expected such wonderful music;”  “So moving;”“The harmonies are unbelievable."

The second half opened with “Dies Irae” and segued into “Joyful Joyful” at which point a group of local choristers dressed in royal blue robes approached from each side and formed two lines in front of Robert and joined the singing. They were about twenty in number with the majority being girls. I’m not usually in favor of mixed choirs but it was a great performance and they blended in very well. Obviously much appreciated by the audience, which included their families.



Lovely performance of “Angel” by Camden Stewart, who always gives of his best.

For “Salve Me” Taichi Shinokubo climbed up some stairs to the organ “loft” above the stage where he was bathed in a purple light to deliver his familiar “Salva”s . Very nicely done.

“Amazing Grace” —not my favorite song but the performance could not be faulted especially that of Rocco Tesei who sang the solo verse with such expression. As expected, the American audience showed much appreciation for one of their favorite hymns.
The Tesei brothers
“How Great Thou Art” saw an outstanding performance by Alex Gula and was the first to earn vocal appreciation (yelps, bravos etc.) as well as applause from the audience.

Alex immediately followed with another outstanding performance of “Wayfaring Stranger” with the usual staging. Sam Wiggin was a hard act to follow after his performance of these two pieces in Washington (on the DVD) but Alex Gula is certainly equal to the task.


Lovely, lovely performance of “Smile” by Gabriel Collins and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti; it drew the longest applause and shouts of appreciation from the audience. I don’t really understand why Robert exhorts the boys to smile for this song, which, for me, is a sad song.



Solo on “Smile”by Gabriel with Alessandro next to him, singing lower parts. At the front center of the stage stood Romeo Tesei, holding a recorder (a big flute) and he played a few notes from it twice during the song.
A boy playing an instrument during a song is quite rare but it's not exactly a premiere. Matthew Jansen played the tubular bells at the start and the end of “Angel” at its premiere in Osaka 2015. And if I'm correc,t a couple of years ago Josh played the piano for one song while he was dressed in his white robe, but I don't remember exactly when and where.
Having little Romeo on the recorder brought a touch of cuteness to the song

Lastly came “Exultate,” led by Merlin Brouwer.
Merlin Brouwer
The prolonged standing ovation was only interrupted by the opening bars of the encore, “America the Beautiful.” Wonderfully rousing performance, which I’m sure went straight to the hearts of the American audience. The lighting featured colours of red on the organ pipes, blue on the frot of the organ balcony and white on the boys' robes. A second standing ovation with more vocal appreciation ended this superb opening concert.



I have not mentioned the speeches but they went very well and even the old jokes (Harry Potter at King’s Cross) drew laughter. There were only four participants in the foreign language speech Alex Gula, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Mathias Montoro, and Taichi Shinokubo. Peter Kielty, who introduced them, revealed that he was “half-American” which produced laughter and warm applause. 
Alex Gula
 

From John45 on 7/29: "Libera participated in the 6.00PM service at the Calvary Community Church this evening. It is a modern Evangelical Church with a strong emphasis on Contemporary Christian music. Libera joined the principle guitarist for one such song - which they appeared to have learned by heart in a very short period of time. They also sang "How Great Thou Art" alone (Alex Gula as soloist) which was very well received by the congregation. The pastor spoke of Libera's achievements and encouraged the congregation to buy tickets for tomorrows concert. They will also participate in morning services tomorrow. A busy schedule. Good job they will have a few days off before the next concert in Houston."

The evening service, with impressive visual aids. The song: "In Christ Alone."
 
CALVARY COMMUNITY CHURCH, July 30th

On July 30th, the boys performed their second concert in the impressive Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, CA. Although the huge venue was not filled, there was still an impressive crowd. katyafan had these additional comments about the occasion:




Very well done, group cohesion and awareness between harmony parts were well-above par for even a seasoned professional youth choir. I noticed several glances from boys checking with each other that they were on time with their group.

Professionalism was outstanding. They are boys, they giggle, they trip, they flub, but each time they regained composure, didn’t miss a beat, and focused on their tasks, even through small giggle fits (that only added to the magic). This is something adult musicians can have trouble with. I was very impressed. It is obvious that RP doesn’t rule with an iron fist, but rather encourages discipline along with joy. What a remarkable man.

Focus and enthusiasm were also readily apparent. We all know which boys wear their love of singing on their faces at all times, and they brought me great joy. What most casual observers wouldn’t notice was the ability of most of them to visibly tie their emotions to the songs. This cannot be taught, is obvious when faked, and to have it occur in young boys is rare indeed.

Last general observation: they work as a team. They noticed when those next to them had a great descant, for example, or a bit of a pitch issue, and smiled together each time. Warmed my heart. —katyafan
 
Clockwise from left: Leo Barron, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Camden Stewart, Ben Bywater, Alex Montoro, Taichi Shinokubo, Marc Alvares, Emmanuel Borrelli

On August 1st, the following excellent review of the Calvary Community Church concert appeared on the Libera Dreams Forum. It's remarkable for it's notation of small but telling details of the performance. (Photos from California appearances by Viktar).

 

CALVARY CONCERT REVIEW BY gingerthedog1


Here is a review from the Calvary concert. Firstly, I very much enjoyed the concert. What follows are general observations as well as specific highlights for each song. I agree with much of what katyafan said about the boys working together to sing. They were constantly communicating with each other through glances. Teamwork was very, very apparent. There were slight technical issues during this concert, mostly sound-mixing issues. Many times, the soloist’s mic would be turned all the way on before his part. Yet the boys were very much aware, and compensated by blending their voices almost immediately. The result was that it barely affected the concert at all. In fact, many probably didn’t even notice. There was also a popping microphone that would periodically go off, but being the professionals the boys are, the singing went on unperturbed.

Besides these minor issues, the concert was overwhelmingly positive.

Other tidbits:

Peter Kielty and Ben Bywater have been getting more supporting roles, joining the “core” group of the choir. (Example: when there is an inner ring in certain song formations) 



Leo Barron and Taichi Shinokubo have become principal descanters. They shared most of the highest descants in many of the songs. Adam Izghouti joins them at times as well. This trio reminds me of Michael Ustynovych-Repa, Tom Delgado-Little, and Lucas Wood carrying most of the descants in 2013. They were about the same age as well. These three definitely live up to their predecessors.

I noticed that Isaac London  and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti walked off for some of the songs, yet Gregor Lumsden and Alex Montoro stayed on, and even sang some treble lines. Interesting that though their voices are changing, they are still able to sing with the trebles, unlike Isaac and Alé who are older and probably further along in their voice development.

Romeo Tesei is definitively nine years old. I asked him at the signing.

On the topic of the signing, I would like to give special mention to Neo Parson. Understandably, most of the younger ones were sleepy and tired. Neo was an exception. He was friendly, outgoing, and full of energy and gratitude. While he must have been tired, he didn’t seem it in the slightest. I was very impressed with his enthusiasm and obvious joy at meeting fans.

I also told Alex Gula that Wayfaring Stranger was my favorite song. This was not strictly true, but it was ONE of my favorites! In response, he said “Thank you, that really means a lot.” I took this as a genuine expression of gratitude on his part, which confirmed all the more that these boys are grounded and level. 



Now, onto the songs:

San Damiano: One of the highlights of the night. Dynamics, pitch, rhythms, were all perfect. The energy on this song was great, the boys also seemed to enjoy this one.

Sanctus: Merlin Brouwer was was excellent, Taichi Shinokubo and possibly Leo Barron? did the high notes. There was a nice moment when Camden Stewart patted Merlin on the back after the song ended.

I’m Dreaming of Home: Minor issue coming in for Taichi, but his highest notes were very well done. katyafan mentioned this happened last concert as well, so maybe what we think is a mistake was actually intended. Camden was excellent, his mic was a little loud coming in but he still managed to blend well.

From a Distance: I’ve always loved the ah’s at the beginning of the song in the recordings, but hearing it live was even more incredible. I could pick out more separate notes of the chord, and I could even “feel” the shimmer that vocal chords can create when they are accurately intoned.

 
Despite the lyric mess-up at the end (he switched “love of loves” and “hope of hopes”) Merlin Brouwer sang well; his face showed dismay for only a split second. His voice is sweet, soothing, and mellow. It brought out some of the happier notes in a somewhat sad song.

Angele Dei: Very impressed with the blend the choir produced when backing Rocco Tesei during this song. It was so good it sounded exactly like the recording. Rocco showed how versatile his voice was, the manner in which he sang was mysterious and a little dark, completely different from his Amazing Grace solo later on.





Orinoco Flow: I loved the energy they sang this with; you could tell they really enjoyed singing it.


Sacris Solemnis: One of my favorites. The harmonies were again well blended. Towards the end, Leo Barron had a mini descant solo, and Rocco Tesei finished it with another mini solo. Both sang confidently and strong. The descants in this song stood out, done by Leo, Taichi Shinokubo and Adam Izghouti.

Wonderful World: Gabriel Collins did very well on this, but I appreciated the “seven- part harmony” portion in the middle of the song the most.

Libera: Alex Gula had a special part towards the end of this song; his voice is deeper, but still quite expressive and beautiful. Alex and Rocco Tesei shared the words, and harmonized with each other. The whole time, they were communicating with each other and Robert Prizeman, which was cool to see.

Dies Irae: First time hearing this, I was quite impressed. I loved it, but can’t remember anything in particular to say because I was enjoying the song for the first time.

Joyful Joyful: Taichi Shinokubo stood out during this song because he had the biggest smile on his face. No wiggling baton sticks by Mr. Prizeman needed for Taichi. Note: At one point in the concert, Mr. Prizeman actually mimed shoving his baton down his throat, possibly in an effort to get the boys to smile. I found it hilarious.

Angel: Camden Stewart was so gentle, calming, he almost sang it like a lullabye. Again, Leo Barron’s and Taichi’s descants made this song extra amazing. 



Salva Me: Taichi has much improved from last year. His “salva”s were accurately pitched and very well done.

Amazing Grace: Rocco was amazing during this. His voice was warm, yet powerful and expansive. He made it sound loving and sweet, yet powerful all at once. The sound was very emotionally expressive, something which is difficult to do for any singer, not to mention a 12-year-old one. I have to say Rocco’s rendition has become my favorite.

How Great Thou Art: Out of tonight’s concert, it was Alex Gula that impressed me the most. (This is obviously a close call, because many other boys were impressive as well). But it was his plaintive and haunting tone matched with a gifted skill for phrasing that made Alex a standout. Both this and Wayfaring Stranger suit his voice perfectly, and Alex sang with skill that I had previously only associated with his predecessors. He, as well as all the boys, have shown that Libera’s quality has maintained itself through the years.

As the boys got into position for the next song, they were a little out of formation. Robert made small little shifts with his baton, and six boys would adjust their positions in unison. They almost worked like a machine, each cog moving to the dance of the Prizeman baton. It goes to show how closely they monitor their director and practice working together, even when they are not singing but simply finding positions.




Wayfaring Stranger: Not only do I love the song itself, Alex Gula sang it mind- blowingly well, as an understatement. Even the slight vocal imperfections became my favorite qualities of his singing. An example is when he would run out of air towards the phrases ending, the sound would become thicker but softer, and would get a little husky. This roughness added the perfect eerie quality to the music. Though Sam Wiggin sang a technically more perfect version on the DVD, Alex’s performance added complexity and depth. Neither sang it better; both were wonderful. Both boys did the song justice and then some, and both definitely deserve the praise they have gotten from fans.

Smile: Romeo Tesei was so nervous for his recorder solo. He kept moving his recorder up to his face, as if he wanted to practice before he would actually have to play. The look of concentration and seriousness was He did very well, and it was definitely the cutest moment of the concert. Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti and Gabriel Collins were quite good, as always. The back row did indeed sing along with Alé on the lower parts when the whole choir sings together. I agree with others that they play an irreplaceable role in making the song as great as it is.

Exultate: Merlin Brouwer mumbled a small bit of his first solo with a sheepish grin on his face, as if he was thinking about the previous lyric mess-up. Also, something was very funny during this song. Tadhg Fitzgerald sang with extra gusto and pomp, and got a few smirks and giggles from boys around him (as well as on the other side of the stage). Maybe an inside joke? The rest of the song went great, and at the end you could see the happiness in many of the boys faces at the applause and standing ovation.—gingerthedog1


HOUSTON, TEXAS—Tallowood Baptist Church

Tweets from Yuki
 

On August 3rd, a note from Viktar on the Libera Dreams Forum: Christ Cathedral just mailed another batch of photos from the concert as well as from the radio interview they did (clickable).

L to R: Radio Host John Romeri, Leo Barron, Robert Prizeman, Peter Kielty, Alex Gula
On August 4th an interview with Robert Prizeman, joined by Peter Kielty, Alex Gula and Leo Barron, was recorded for the Christ Cathedral Radio Station's "Music from the Tower" series, including the following songs:

Sanctus  (based upon the Pachelbel Canon)
Angeli Dei   by Robert Prizeman  from their new album HOPE
Wayfaring Stranger  from their new album HOPE
Joyful Joyful we adore Thee   Beethoven/ Prizeman

The stations are: KHJ 930 AM & KCEO 1000 AM

The broadcast was slated for August 12th at 9 PM.
https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/emails ... RBDMwugQ==
http://christcathedralmusic.org/music-f ... -program-1 seems to suggest the program will be available online but It doesn't show yet. May have to wait until after the official radio broadcast on Saturday.

We Love America—A Note from Libera

Neo Parson, MarcAlvares, Gregor Lumsden and Arthur Palmer at Houston autograph session.
 On August 4th, the following message appeared on the Official Libera site.

Thank you so much to all the good folk in California – and many other States and Countries – who came to our concerts in Garden Grove and Westlake Village.  We loved the warmth of your welcome!
We have had many kind donations towards the expenses of the tour, and we are incredibly grateful for every nickel, dime, dollar and penny that has been given.  We have received some emails from people asking if they can still make contributions – and the answer is a big yes!  The best way is via our US Charity website and every gift will be spent on funding this tour! All donations are processed by Paypal for us, but you don’t need to have a Paypal account to donate to Libera – just a credit or debit card.
Again – thanks to everyone for your fantastic support.

Some notes on the Libera concert held at Tallowood Baptist Church by frankstuart on the Libera Dreams Forum, with a note by bachmahlerfan (italics):

The boys sang to an almost full house. It had to be a great experience for them to see a concert so packed!...One of the things that I enjoyed throughout the concert was being able to watch Mr. Prizeman as he directed the group... I had always assumed his would be a formal, orchestral style of maintaining the beat and gesturing important entrances, crescendos, etc. Instead he seemed to flow with the music as his hands sculptured the phrases and encouraged the group on in their endeavors. He also seemed to spend much effort in trying to get the boys to smile as they performed. I told Taichi Shinokubo at the meet and greet that he needed to teach the rest of the group to smile. He got a big kick out of that and “Yes, I know.” While Josh Madine. will always be known as the “Smile of Libera”, Taichi is giving him a run for the title!

Taichi Shinokobu, photographed by John45
 Even though I taught choral music for over 20 years I will not attempt to do an in-depth critique of the concert. Anyone who attends a live concert should go realizing that they will not hear a CD- perfect version of the songs. When you cut a CD it take hours and hours of performing and you are able to as many retakes as needed and the control booth and adjust balances, volumes, etc. At live performances you have one shot at it. The first half of the concert was a perfect example of that. Unfortunately, the instruments were too loud and overshadowed the voices, especially in the loud portions of the songs. When the boys sang a capella or with just the piano, you could hear then just fine. When the instruments joined in it was difficult to hear the harmonies and words. This was through no fault of the boys. The sound board was just not set right. Because of this, I don’t think the audience really got to get emotionally involved in the performances of the first half. Their response and applause was polite but measured. 

Gabriel Collins, Merlin Brouwer, Oliver Mycka, Alex Montoro (top) and Romeo Tesei, photographed at Tallowood by J. Broussard.
By the second half the balances had been corrected and by the end of "Joyful, Joyful," Libera had won their hearts! If their response had been “polite” in the first, it was overwhelming throughout the second. The boys seemed to recognize the difference and put even more into their music. The final applause was rousing and heart felt and everyone left the concert hall full of the joys of Libera!—frankstuart

Well, I suppose part of the challenge is that other than Eimear, Jon and Josh, the instrumentalists are unfamiliar to the group. I wonder if some of the instrumentalists played some parts louder (for example, fortissimo instead of forte) than they did in rehearsal, throwing off the balance somewhat. One other factor is that the orchestra and choir probably didn't go through all of the music together, because the boys' voices could wear out with so much use. Otherwise, the fact that you were sitting close to the front may have caused you to hear the orchestra more loudly than people farther from the stage.—bachmahlerfan

 


(photo by J. Broussard)

Also on August 4th, the online version of the newspaper Tulsa World announced the free Libera concert to be held at Asbury United Methodist Church on August 6th.
 



On August 5th, fans discovered  an excellent one-minute video ad running on a local Tulsa TV station, promoting the upcoming concert.


https://www.facebook.com/asburytulsa/videos/vb.208874125908545/1280165712112709/?type=2&theater (Video ad for Libera appearance running on KXOJ 91.4 in Tulsa, OK/1:00)
 

On the Libera Dreams Forum, Jimmy Riddle wrote: With regards to tomorrow's appearances: Libera appear to be participating in both the 9:15 (Traditional) & 11 am (Modern) services at Asbury United Methodist Church, prior to their live concert later on.

The latest bulletin http://5caed95bc29ae517134c-b64e6aa5245 ... -08-06.pdf details their contribution and with any luck the live streaming http://asburytulsa.org/get-media/watch-live/ should play nice and possibly allow those not in attendance to watch the service.

I think only the sermons are served as archived podcasts, so I hope somebody captures it because I may not be able to.


On August 6th, although fans were able to watch Libera's participation in the above services, Libera requested that videos captured not be shared online, presumably because of quality-control issues. The songs were "How Great Thou Art," with Alex Gula soloing, and a hymn "In Christ Alone." Only the sermons from these services were available on podcasts.

Alex Gula solos in the Asbury Methodist Church Service.
Libera Unbuttoned: boys will be boys during rehearsal at Asbury Methodist Church.
Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Oliver Mycka, Cameron Stewart, Alex Gula


Screencap photo of church service in Tulsa by J. Broussard
Review of Tulsa Concert by LiberafanICT (on the Libera Dreams Forum)
Bottom line: this was the best concert I have ever attended or been a part of (I used to be an instrumental and choir performer as a kid and through college). It was my first Libera concert, so I'm sure others have had the same experience their first time seeing the group live. If you have the opportunity to but are on the fence about going to the St. Louis concert, just go. It's well worth the effort/time/money to get there. I've seen many YouTube videos of them performing and always wondered if they sounded so great because of having backing tracks while singing or something, as they always sound so perfect. Well, they don't. They really are that good. 

(Yuki, the host of the Dear Libera website, has attended over 80 Libera performances worldwide).
I still am not sure how in the world this area of the country was so lucky to have a world-class group come here, considering Tulsa is a city of only 400,000 people, compared to the millions in cities like LA, Houston, and St. Louis. The church was packed for the concert, which was really inspiring to see, as we in the Midwest are generally not known to the rest of the country for being the most "cultured." If a city of 400,000 can draw as many people to a concert as it sounds showed up in LA, that gives me hope for future tour locations. The person next to me, who was a member of the church where the concert was held, made the comment that it "was like Easter" there in terms of attendance. It sounds like many people came to the concert from that congregation after hearing them during the services in the morning. I drove for a few hours to get there and bumped into people who had come from Houston and Dallas. 

 



…Speaking of the autograph session, none of the boys seemed tired, and all seemed very engaged in talking to their fans. I was especially impressed with Tadgh, who was actively asking people questions ("Which song was your favorite?") and Merlin, who asked my son his name and if he liked to sing. Leo wins the award for the largest signature, as he signed the back of the program and took up about 1/3 of the page. I'd be happy to scan a copy of the autographed program here, but I'm not sure if that is allowed or desired...

The concert in Tulsa was free, and they gave out thick programs with all of the lyrics, background about the group, pictures from recent performances, etc. It sounds like this was an extra cost at the other venues; again, I have no idea how they managed to have Libera come to Tulsa and cover all of these costs…The venue had various colored LED lights around the stage and on the back wall that would change for different songs and even to accent certain words or phrases. They then had equipment that could project various things over the entire back and sides of the auditorium, such as stars, stained- glass windows, etc.

Something that hasn't been mentioned in other reviews here is how great the instrumentalists have been. Most are different in each city, though a few seemed to travel with the group. These were very professional musicians who backed them and sounded great. I was also impressed with the people who handled sound, as the balance between instruments and vocals, at least where I was sitting (second row), was perfect. They also knew exactly where to increase the volume of soloists or add in effects (like on Taichi Shinokubo singing "Salva me"). The only minor criticism in this regard is that the sound wasn't switched over to pick up speaking voices better, so it was sometimes tougher to understand the speeches that the boys made.

At the end of "Exsultate," the standing ovation was instant. Usually I've seen crowds where a few people stand up, followed by a few more, and then the whole crowd is up after a few minutes. In this case, the second the last note was sung, the entire crowd jumped up to show appreciation, which was only broken by the start of the encore. Something that those from other countries on here may not know is that the Midwest of the US is known for being rather conservative (we're in what's known as the "Bible Belt") and fiercely patriotic. So, they sang "America the Beautiful" to a patriotic crowd, which caused most in the audience to stand back up through the song with hands over their hearts. At the end of the song, the projection was of a waving American flag. I think this was a deeply moving moment for everyone there. I think the applause would have continued indefinitely had Libera not waved goodbye and left the stage. 
Robert Prizeman takes a well-earned bow.
As a side note, I took my 8 year old to the concert to try to get him inspired to sing. His review of the concert was that it was "epic"; and he wants to find a "team" (choir) to join. Parental goal accomplished. —LiberafanICT

On August 8th, a note from John45 on the Libera Dreams Forum:

I believe that what put Tulsa on the tour itinerary was the Sean Groombridge connection. As you may know he is the current musical director at Asbury Church – but in 2011 was the main organiser of the Canadian tour and has always been a good friend to Libera. Many thanks, Sean.

I have often suggested that Libera might attract bigger audiences in the smaller cities and towns that are not used to regular visits from A-list performers . For example, in New York, out of a population of 10 Million or so, less than 500 came to Libera’s last concert there. Perhaps not so surprising considering the surfeit of choices. Tulsa’s remarkable support and warm welcome I think proves my point.—John45 


 


CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF ST. LOUIS, St. Louis, Missouri 
 

Some very interesting news from the Viking Cruises® online report, the MarketsInsider:
Not a Viking Cruise. Though Libera did appear at the London launch of a VCL ship several years ago, this photo was taken during the filming of "America the Beautiful" in 2015.

Viking Cruises Celebrates Summer Of Culture With New Partnerships


PR Newswire

Aug. 8, 2017, 01:00 PM

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Viking Cruises® (www.vikingcruises.com) today announced it has expanded its portfolio of partnerships with premier cultural institutions, with a summer season of events around the country. Viking has signed on to sponsor the United States tour of the acclaimed English boys choir, LIBERA, and the Ballet Sun Valley international festival this summer. The company has also extended its sponsorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl for the fifth consecutive season. These new partnerships build on Viking's commitment to drive cultural insight and personal enrichment, with current partners that include National Geographic's "Genius," PBS' MASTERPIECE, TED, The Metropolitan Opera, BBC, Highclere Castle, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Oslo's Munch Museum, St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, among others. 




The St. Louis Cathedral Concerts series begins its 25th season on Aug. 9 with a concert by Libera, an internationally known boys choir from South London.
"We are thrilled to be kicking off the season with such an amazing group," said Scott Kennebeck, executive director of St. Louis Cathedral Concerts. "They are unlike any other boy band you have ever heard, with their shimmering, mystical chords and ecstatic harmonies."
Cathedral Concerts, a nonprofit organization, promotes cultural enrichment, education and enjoyment by presenting affordable, live concerts by international, national and local musical artists in the Cathedral Basilica.


http://www.southcountytimes.com/Articles-Features-c-2017-07-25-201576.114137-sub-Great-Music-In-A-Great-Space.html

Review of St. Louis Concert by surpinto on the Libera Dreams Forum (Photos to come as available) 

On August 10th, long-time Libera fan surpinto wrote a stirring and quite personal review of the concert:

 

Although this tour has been heavily reviewed, I wish to add my own commentary about the concert. Many other reviews have described how fabulous Taichi Shinokubo, with his amazing stage presence, was; or Alex Gula on his solos (I was totally unprepared for how well he performed his solo and other lead parts); or Camden Stewart on “Angel.” All of this is true and all of these were well performed and I loved every minute, but I am unable to add anything that was not already said about those songs or performances aside from acknowledging that they did great. Of course I do not mean to focus exclusively on the soloists as the choir as a whole put in a great effort into all of the songs.

Taichi Shinokubo in a final "You Heard That Right!" video. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZcv6mlRS0I (You Actually Did Hear That Right! video at the end of the 2017 USA Tour/Leo Barron, Peter Kielty and Taichi Shinokubo/:21)

So I will instead focus on personal, and maybe surprising, highlights which for me were “Angele Dei” and “Exultate,” neither of which I expected to blow me away the way that they did. “Angele Dei” was performed very well and Rocco Tesei’s voice on the solo parts had a power behind it that was absolutely amazing. We were all impressed by his solo on “Salve Regina” from the album; well, I can tell you that our impressions were not overestimated. He is fantastic as a soloist and that song performed live blew me away. He was incredible on “Amazing Grace” too although I personally like that song less than “Angele Dei”. The song itself requires a good soloist and the choir as a whole in tip-top shape to sound just so; and they absolutely did!


(Photo by Jay_S)
As for the concert as a whole, there were definitely some rather technical issues with microphone volume and crackling microphones in the first half of the concert. Much of those seemed to be resolved in the second half, but in some cases the errant microphone was rather jarring. Having said that the boys powered through it very well. In fact, Robert Prizeman, while in the middle of conducting the group, and in the middle of “From A Distance,” actually stood up from his chair and walked up to Merlin Brouwer so as to redirect him to an on-stage microphone so that his solo parts would be picked up properly. He was a real trouper through it all, not getting thrown off the way that someone would be expected to in a similar situation. You can tell how well-trained they are to make do in such situations because he even leaned down a bit to make sure his voice was going into the microphone – understanding without being told that they were remediating a technical issue. This situation was minimally disruptive and was due entirely to the errant equipment. Merlin’s solo on that was beautiful by the way, which brings me to his other solo: “Exultate”.

Now, I know that many people don’t like “Exultate,” and while I always have, I never for one second thought it would be my #1 for this concert. It has never been a top favorite for me and I personally thought that one of the other songs that I adored from the more recent recordings would affect me. But I was so so very wrong. Merlin’s voice is so very pure and he sang with great poise the entire time with no issues. I cannot emphasize enough how well he sang that song and how much I loved his voice on both solo parts he had in the concert. I knew I enjoyed his solos from "Venite Adoremus" and was looking forward to hearing him live....and wow, I was not disappointed! As I walked out of the concert, that song was playing in my head over and over again. Just to be clear, that almost never ever happens to me unless I am struck in a concert by a brand new song (or arrangement) - I felt this way about "Joyful Joyful" after the 2014 Washington concert which was the first time I heard Libera sing this piece and which is now one of my top favorites. Well, this song was not new and I had heard it countless times before on recordings so something else about the performance affected me.


(Photo by Jay_S)
  I do not know what it was but this was in the second half of the concert with the technical glitches forgotten and the choir sounding their best. Maybe it was the power with which they delivered it too? Because the choir as a whole sounded great on it. Anyway, I am not sure why I enjoyed it so much, but Merlin’s solo was definitely a major part of it. I was able to express that to him in the autograph line afterwards in far fewer words than I have written here.

Worth mentioning was that the show ended with a bang on “America” which was absolutely flawless too, and certainly noteworthy because it was so well done. 


(Photo by Jay_S)

So I am still amazed by the wonderful experience that I had in Saint Louis. Meeting fellow fans from this forum was tremendous fun; especially to hear, in person, the impressions others had of songs, recordings, and other concerts on this tour was most enjoyable. It is certainly true that being a Libera fan practically requires one to be a nice person (usually lol) because everyone I met was super kind and lots of fun. It is my theory that the type of beautiful music that Libera delivers is not the sort that caters to the cold-hearted.surpinto

END OF PART 10; FOR PART 10A (JULY 11th to PRESENT, please go to: https://lib-era-historic-altimelinepart10a.blogspot.com/