Libera on stage with their typical white robes during a concert in Exeter, July 2015
|Also known as||Angel Voices|
|Labels||Warner Classics, EMI Classics|
|Associated acts||Aled Jones|
Libera is an all-boy English vocal group directed by Robert Prizeman. Most members come from the parish choir of St. Philip's, Norbury, in South London. According to a 2009 Songs of Praise TV special, the group usually consists of approximately 40 members between the ages of seven and sixteen, including new members who are not yet ready to fully participate in albums or tours. The group recruits from a variety of backgrounds in the London area, and does not require its members to belong to any specific denomination.
In addition to recording albums, touring and making regular TV appearances as Libera, the group sings on a weekly basis as part of the full choir of men and boys at parish choral services. Libera is run as a not-for-profit registered UK charity, "providing the opportunity for suitable boys to train as vocalists from any background". Members do not get paid for their work within Libera, but their expenses are covered when touring.
The group's name comes from its signature song. "Libera," which is based on the Libera Me portion of the Requiem Mass. "Libera" is the Latin singular imperative of "liberare," meaning "to free."
The Anglican (High Church) parish of St. Philip's, Norbury has a long choral tradition. Their first non-traditional commercial work was in 1984, when the boys of the St. Philip's Choir backed Sal Solo on his song "San Damiano." In 1987, the boys of St. Philip's Choir released the single "Sing Forever." In 1988, the choir released the single "Adoramus." In 1988, the choir released their first full commercial album, Sing For Ever under the name St. Philip's Choir. The title track for this album was chosen by the BBC as the first Children in Need telethon anthem.
The second album, New Day, released in 1990, was the first album to use the name Angel Voices. During the 1990s, the names "St. Philip's Boy Choir" and "Angel Voices" were both used to refer to the choir. The third album, Angel Voices, was released in 1992. It was re-released in 1993, with the choir referred to as the St. Philip's Boy's Choir. Angel Voices 2 was released in 1996 and Angel Voices 3 was released in 1997. Both were released under the name of St. Philip's Boy's Choir, by the record label MCI.
In 1999, Robert Prizeman released a single and a CD entitled Libera. The CD contained seven remixes of his original song, "Libera". The first 4 tracks feature Libera with Daren Geraghty as the main soloist; the last 3 tracks are performed by other artists. In the same year, the choir, calling itself Libera, performed the song on the TV program Sunday Live. In 1999, the choir released another album entitled Libera, published by Warner Classics. From that point on, the choir has been consistently referred to as "Libera" when acting in its commercial capacity. The next Libera album, Luminosa, was released by Warner Classics in 2001. In 2003, Warner Classics re-released Libera and Luminosa as a two CD set entitled Complete Libera. Ever since 2004, Libera has been under contract with EMI. Their first EMI album was Free. Visions came out in 2005. Libera's 2006 album, Angel Voices, was nominated as Album of the Year by the Classical Brit Awards. New Dawn was released in March 2008. In December 2008, they released their first double CD entitled Eternal (The best of Libera) which contains 26 tracks taken from earlier albums and six new tracks. Their album Peace was released in 2010. November 2011 saw the release of Libera: The Christmas Album.
Television appearances and concerts
As Angel Voices, the group made frequent appearances on UK television, mostly on the BBC. During the earlier years as Libera, the group seldom made any TV appearances and concerts were also few and far between. It is only since the group turned into a registered charity in the UK, where a board of trustees consisting largely of parents of members makes all decisions, that Libera have made regular tours (usually three times a year) and more frequent TV appearances.
Major roles in the 1992 TV programme Titchmarsh on Song, presented by Alan Titchmarsh, and the 1993 TV programme Thora on the Straight and Narrow, introduced Angel Voices to a wider public. The show featured the first public performance of the song "De Profundis", which would become "Libera" and give the choir its name. Libera has made numerous music videos for Songs of Praise and Classic FM TV. Other TV appearances include guest spots on GMTV, Blue Peter, Sunday Live, Christmas Cooks, Top of the Pops, Wogan, and Last Choir Standing. In 1994, St. Philip's Choir sang in an episode of the TV series Poirot. In 2003, Libera was the last act to perform on the UK version of the famous TV series This is your Life; they performed for guest Aled Jones. During the episode, it was mentioned that Libera had performed at Aled Jones' wedding. In February 2007, Libera appeared on the television contest When Will I Be Famous presented by Graham Norton on BBC One. They won, and were invited back the following week. Libera has made several TV appearances in Japan and Korea. Libera also recorded the signature tune for Songs of Praise. Their rendition of "How Can I Keep From Singing" was featured on a British television ad for Waitrose.
On 30 and 31 May 2007, Libera recorded two free concert performances at the Pieterkerk in Leiden, the Netherlands, with the cooperation of the American Public Television. Footage from the performances was combined to create the TV special Angel Voices: Libera in Concert. The programme was featured on Public Broadcasting Service channels in the United States and released by EMI on DVD and CD. The DVD includes a bonus feature entitled "Libera in Their Own Words", which features interviews of some of the boys.
A 35-minute special about Libera aired in January 2009 as an episode of the BBC1 TV show Songs of Praise.
Libera has provided choral backing to a number of artists, including Aled Jones, Björk, Luciano Pavarotti, Hayley Westenra, Peter Skellern, José Carreras, Neil Diamond, Cliff Richard, and Michael Crawford. Libera has also sung for several film soundtracks, including Romeo & Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Shadowlands and Hannibal. A movie preview for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button uses a brief selection from one of their songs, but they do not appear in the film's final soundtrack.
Several Libera members have performed solo work outside of Libera while still members of the choir. For example, Tom Cully sang for Silence, Night and Dreams by Zbigniew Preisner, and can be heard singing in an episode of the British television series Foyle's War. In 2002, Libera member Steven Geraghty was a featured soloist for the soundtrack of the PlayStation 2 game ICO. Libera member Ben Crawley did solo work for Paul Joyce's production of The Snow Queen in 2004.
Libera has a distinctive sound. All of its singers are boys, most with unchanged boy soprano (also known as treble) voices, with those boys in their early teens singing the lowest parts. Almost all their songs are either new compositions by Robert Prizeman or new arrangements of classical and contemporary tunes. Prizeman often composes and arranges pieces with individual soloists in mind, to emphasize the variety of characteristics and qualities in the boys' voices. His compositions blend innovative textures, meditative soloists and vibrant ecstatic chorus harmonies that stretch across the full range of the boys' range. Libera's music frequently combines elements of Gregorian chant, classical composers such as Debussy, Beethoven and Pachelbel, as well as contemporary pop and new age music. Some of their songs, such as "Sanctus", have appeared in different versions on several of their albums. Some more contemporary songs have been covered by the group, such as Enya's Orinoco Flow.
Most of Libera's lyrics come from traditional hymns, the Latin Rite liturgy, and contemporary songs by artists ranging from Brian Wilson to Enya. However, lyrics from various poems and original lyrics are also used. For example, We are the Lost uses the poems "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae and "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, along with a single stanza from the English hymn, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" by Isaac Watts. While most of the Libera's original lyrics are written by Robert Prizeman, other individuals, including former Libera soloist Steven Geraghty, have also contributed new lyrics to recent albums.
Libera uses a variety of instrumentation. Robert Prizeman, Ian Tilley and Steven Geraghty play electronic keyboards, piano and organ. Steven Geraghty also played clarinet for Free, Visions and Angel Voices, and percussion for Visions and Angel Voices. All of their EMI albums feature Fiona Pears on the violin. Angel Voices: Libera in Concert has additional backing by Il Novecento Orchestra. The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra provides backing to their New Dawn album.
For most of their performances, the boys of Libera wear distinctive white hooded robes based on monastic cowls. The boys can be seen wearing the robes on the covers of several albums. Other Libera uniforms include white or black hoodies and black slacks with light blue shirts. Some of their videos have featured the boys wearing ordinary, casual clothing.
Common motifs in the cover art of the choir's albums include birds, clouds, light as well as pictures of the choristers. The 1993 release of Angel Voices, Angel Voices 2, Angel Voices 3, Libera, Luminosa and Welcome to Libera's World all feature white birds on their covers. Sing Forever, the 1992 release of Angel Voices, Angel Voices: Libera in Concert and New Dawn show several of the boys dressed in white robes. Free and Visions both show a single, ghostly figure in white robes against a cloudy background. On album Free the ghostly figure featured is Callum Payne. The 2006 Angel Voices album shows several boys wearing what appear to be white hoodies.
- "Sing For Ever" (1987)
- "Adoramus" (1988)
- "Libera" (1995)
- "What a Wonderful World" (2015)
As Angel Voices:
- Sing For Ever (1988), featuring Jaymi Bandtock, Jonathan Arthey, Ian Grimley, Sam Harper, Gareth Lowman and Mathew Arthey as vocal soloists.
- New Day (1990), featuring Robert Chee-A-Tow, Jaymi Bandtock and Gareth Lowman as vocal soloists.
- Angel Voices (1992), featuring Oliver Putland, Daren Geraghty and Anthony Maher as vocal soloists.
- Angel Voices 2 (1996), featuring Chris Baron, Daren Geraghty, Liam O'Kane as vocal soloists.
- Peace on Earth (1996)
- Angel Voices 3 (1997), featuring Liam O'Kane, Steven Geraghty, Adam Harris, Chris Baron and Alex Baron as vocal soloists.
- Libera (1999), featuring Liam O'Kane, Adam Harris, Steven Geraghty, Alex Baron as vocal soloists. No instrumentalists are credited on the album, however Robert Prizeman did the keyboard work.
- Luminosa (2001), featuring Steven Geraghty, Ben Crawley, Sam Coates, Simon Beston as vocal soloists.
- Complete Libera (2003), two disc set with Libera and Luminosa.
- Free (2004), featuring Ben Crawley, Joseph Platt, Christopher Robson, Anthony Chadney and Raoul Neumann as vocal soloists, and Robert Prizeman, Fiona Pears, Dominic Kelly, Steven Geraghty, Chris Dodd, Ian Tilley and Helen Cole as instrumentalists.
- Visions (2005), featuring Tom Cully, Conor O'Donnell, Michael Horncastle, Joseph Sanders-Wilde, Callum Payne, James Vereycken as vocal soloists and Robert Prizeman as director, conductor and instrumentalist. Other instrumentalists included Ian Tilley, Fiona Pears, John Anderson, Steven Geraghty and Chris Dodd.
- Welcome to Libera's World (2006), featuring Joseph Platt, Ben Crawley, Liam O'Kane, Michael Horncastle and Joseph Sanders-Wilde as vocal soloists, and Robert Prizeman, Fiona Pears, John Anderson, Steven Geraghty, Chris Dodd, Ian Tilley as instrumentalists. The album was released only in Japan. Most of the tracks are re-released from the earlier albums. It includes only one new track, "Far Away".
- Angel Voices (2006), featuring Michael Horncastle, Ed Day, Connor O'Donnell, Tom Cully, Joshua Madine, Joseph Platt, Christopher Robson, Anthony Chadney, Joseph Sanders-Wilde and James Vereycken as vocal soloists, and Robert Prizeman, Fiona Pears, John Anderson, Steven Geraghty, Chris Dodd and Ian Tilley on various instruments.
- Angel Voices: Libera in Concert (2007), featuring Joshua Madine, Ben Philipp, Tom Cully, Ed Day, Liam Connery, Sam Leggett and Joe Snelling as vocal soloists, and Robert Prizeman, Fiona Pears, Steven Geraghty, Il Novecento Orchestra as instrumentalists.
- New Dawn (2008), featuring Tom Cully, Joshua Madine, Ed Day, Liam Connery, Joe Snelling and Benedict Philipp as vocal soloists. Robert Prizeman, Fiona Pears, Ian Tilley, Steven Geraghty, Sam Coates and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra filled instrumental roles.
- Prayer: You Were There (2008), with Tom Cully, Ed Day, Joshua Madine, Liam Connery, Ben Crawley, Joseph Sanders-Wilde, Joseph Platt, Christopher Robson and Anthony Chadney as vocal soloists. The album was released only in Japan. Most of the tracks are re-released from the earlier albums.
- Eternal: The Best of Libera (2009), a two disk compilation album with a mix of old and new songs.
- Peace (2010), featuring Benedict Philipp, Joshua Madine, Tom Cully, Stefan Leadbeater, James Threadgill, Jakob De Menezes-Wood, Daniel Fontannaz, James Mordaunt and Ralph Skan as vocal soloists. The album was also released in a DeLuxe Edition.
- Miracle of Life Life (2011) was released only in Japan. "Song of Life" was used in a Japanese television drama.
- The St. Philip's Boys Choir: The Best of Angel Voices (2011), a compilation of songs from Angel Voices (1992) and Angel Voices 2 (1996), from the time period from before the choir became known as Libera.
- Libera: The Christmas Album (2011), a Christmas album, also released in a deluxe edition and Japan edition under the name Winter Songs.
- Angel Voices 2012, a special compilation CD for the Japanese market, was released for the April 2012 Spring Tour in Singapore and Japan.
- Song of Life: A Collection (2012), featuring a new song, "Song of Life", and songs from Free (2004), Visions (2005), Angel Voices (2006), Eternal (2008), New Dawn (2008), and Peace (2010).
- Angels Sing: Christmas in Ireland (2013), a live concert recording of Libera's performance at the Armagh Cathedral.
- Angels Sing: Libera in America (2015), a live concert recording of Libera's performance at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington DC, US in August 2014.
- Twelve Monkeys (1995)
- Romeo and Juliet (1996)
- Cousin Bette (1998)
- Hannibal (2001)
- The Merchant of Venice (2005)
- Nobody to Watch Over Me (2008)
- The Greatest Miracle (2011)
- From the New World (2012 anime)
Supporting roles on albums and singles
As Angel Voices:
- San Damiano (1984), by Sal Solo
- Christmas Wrapping (1990), by Tony Robinson
- The Christmas Album, Vol 2 (1994), by Neil Diamond
- The Big Picture (1997), by Elton John
- Aled (2002), by Aled Jones
- Higher (2003), by Aled Jones
- The Christmas Album (2004), by Aled Jones
- Aled's Christmas Carols (2008) by Aled Jones (DVD)
- Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker, with Berlin Philharmonic cond. Simon Rattle (2009)
- The Prayer (2010) by Classical Relief for Haiti (various artists)
- The Olympic Experience (2012) released by Warner Classics
- Christmas at Downton Abbey (2014) released by Warner Music TV
Concerts and appearances
Since becoming a registered charity in the UK, Libera has made numerous appearances on TV, radio, and in concert.
- February 2007
- Libera won an episode of the BBC's talent show When Will I Be Famous? hosted by Graham Norton. They received prize money of £10,000.
- May 2007
- Libera recorded two free-admission public concerts at St. Pieterskerk in Leiden, the Netherlands, which were later released as a DVD entitled Angel Voices.
- December 2007
- August 2008
- Summer Tour 2008 – Concerts in the USA, including a performance where Pope Benedict XVI was in attendance.
- December 2008
- Libera appeared on UK television with Aled Jones in a Christmas special where they performed new versions of carols. This was subsequently released on DVD.
- January 2009
- BBC TV's Songs of Praise aired an entire programme dedicated to Libera on 25 January 2009.
- February 2009
- Promo appearances on Japanese TV in Japan.
- March 2009
- Concerts at St. Phillip's Church, Norbury, London and Arundel Cathedral, UK.
- April 2009
- Spring Tour 2009 – Concerts in the USA.
- June 2009
- Summer Tour 2009 – Concerts in Belfast, Dublin (National Concert Hall), Edinburgh.
- October 2009
- Autumn Tour 2009 – Concerts in the Philippines.
- April 2010
- Spring Tour 2010 – Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. (Due to air travel disruption after the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the group was forced to return from the Philippines back to Europe via land and sea connections.)
- May 2010
- Concert at Arundel Cathedral, UK.
- August 2010
- Summer Tour 2010 – Concerts across the Deep South of the USA.
- October 2010
- Autumn Tour 2010 – UK Concert Tour – Clifton Cathedral, Bristol – Chester Cathedral, Chester – St. George's Cathedral, London – Beverley Cathedral, Yorkshire.
- November 2010
- Appearance on BBC TV Songs of Praise performing "Eternal Light".
- December 2010
- Various UK TV appearances including "Christmas Cooks", "This Morning", and BBC "Breakfast".
- March 2011
- Concert at Epsom Playhouse, UK.
- April 2011
- Spring Tour 2011.
- Concerts in Canada.
- July 2011
- Summer Tour 2011 – USA – with concerts and TV appearances.
- September 2011
- Recording of the BBC TV "Songs of Praise" 50th Anniversary Concert at Alexandra Palace, London, broadcast on BBC1 on 2 October 2011.
- October 2011
- Autumn Tour 2011 – Concerts in the Philippines.
- November 2011
- Live appearance on the QVC Shopping satellite TV channel in the UK on 5 November 2011.
- Concert at St. George's Cathedral, Lambeth, London, UK on 25 November 2011, with 34 members on stage.
- December 2011
- Appearance on BBC TV's Songs of Praise performing "Still, Still, Still".
- UK TV appearances included "Live with Gabby" on Channel 5, and ITV's "This Morning".
- Christmas appearance on BBC Radio 2 on the "Chris Evans" show.
- April 2012
- Appearance on BBC TV's Songs of Praise performing "How Shall I Sing That Majesty".
- Spring Tour 2012 – Concerts in Singapore and Japan.
- May 2012
- July 2012
- Japanese TV promo filmed at All Saint's Church, West Dulwich, London, UK.
- August 2012
- Summer Tour 2012 – Channel Islands – Jersey and Guernsey, four concerts in total, between 1–8 August 2012.
- April 2015
- Spring Tour – U.S. Concert Tour – Boston, Massachusetts – San Antonio, Texas – Chicago, Illinois – Atlanta, Georgia.
- Daniel Ross (12 March 2010). "Libera Peace Review". BBC.
- Bryan Harris (May 2006). "St. Philips, Norbury ... and the phenomenon that is Libera" (PDF). The Bridge (Monthly Newspaper of the Anglican diocese of Southwark). Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "Libera". Songs of Praise. 25 January 2009. BBC One.
- Lacrymosa.org[better source needed]
- Ian Tilley | Record Producer and Musician | Discography[self-published source]
- http://www.boysoloist.com/album.asp?AlbumID=348&ArtistID=167&gid=187[better source needed]
- Libera Official Website | Music[self-published source]
- Lacrymosa.org[better source needed]
- Internet Movie Database
- Libera Official Website | News[self-published source]
- Libera Official Website | About Libera[self-published source]
- "Soundtracks for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". imdb.com. Retrieved 25 December 2011.[better source needed]
- Amazon.com: Silence, Night & Dreams: Teresa Salgueiro, Tom Cully, Zbigniew Preisner, John Parricelli, Mitchell Dalton, Alasdair Malloy, Konrad Mastylo, Marek Mos, Aukso Orches...
- ZBIGNIEW PREISNER: Silence, Night & Dreams – Teresa Salgueiro, voice/ Tom Cully, boy soprano/ Aukso Orchestra cond. by Marek Mos/Camerata Silesia dir. by Anna Szostak – EMI Cl...
- Tom Cully - The Libera Database
- Masterpiece | Foyle's War: Series V | PBS
- Musical Monday: “You Were There” (Ico), composed by Michiru Oshima » Matchsticks for my Eyes
- Steven Geraghty | videos, music, lyrics, pictures and photos | Planet Lyrics - Tons of lyrics, artists, videos, wallpapers
- "Melody light comfort that invites the ultimate healing of hard Romantic. ... Released Soon!" (in Japanese). HMV. 2003-06-01. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
大島ミチルが手掛けたゲーム・サントラICO霧の中の旋律ではLiberaリベラのヴォーカリストSteven Geraghtyスティーブン・ガラティがヴォーカルで参加" – "Oshima Michiru who managed the game soundtrack for ICO with vocals by Steven Geraghty of Libera
- The Snow Queen [RCA] - Various Artists : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic
- The Snow Queen [RCA] CD - Sony Classics : OLDIES.com
- The Snow Queen Cast and Crew - Full List of The Snow Queen Credits
- Libera website
- CD Japan
- Libera Official Website
- C Music TV
- C Music TV
- Warner Classics
- BBC - When Will I Be Famous? - Contestants
- Libera - Angel Voices Live In Concert [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Libera: Film & TV
- Libera Sanctus Yankee Stadium!!! Concert of Hope!!! - YouTube
- Aled Jones - Christmas Carols [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Aled Jones: Film & TV
- BBC One - Songs of Praise, Libera
- BBC One - Songs of Praise, J Arthur Rank
- BBC One - Songs of Praise, 50th Birthday Celebration
- Libera's World: QVC
- Libera's World: St. George's Cathedral Concert Archive
- BBC One - Songs of Praise, God Made Man
- Libera's World: Live with Gabby - Carol of the Bells
- BBC Radio 2 - The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, 22/12/2011
- BBC One - Songs of Praise, Palm Sunday
- Announcing our Spring Tour | Libera Official Website
- Libera's World: Arundel 2012 Concert Archive
- Libera on Japanese TV show | Dear Libera