Friday, January 27, 2012

Oliver Putland Letter #2

Oliver Putland was a chorister and soloist in Angel Voices (Libera's old name) from 1987-1993. I've written about him before here. I sent him a copy of the article, and he wrote back to me to clarify some parts. Well, I'm really bad about checking my e-mail or my YouTube messages. So yesterday I checked YouTube, and I got another letter from Oliver Putland! I had written to him to ask what he thought about the new "Best of Angel Voices" compilation CD since he solos on it a lot. I also asked him if he can identify any of the boys on the cover and why he's not in the cover photo. Here's what he wrote,

Hello there, again. Sorry it took me such a long time to get back to you, but I have been very busy lately with extensive redecorating and all sorts of things!

That photo was on the original cd cover (before the dove wing one) so I guess they want to reuse it. I have to say, considering there was a fair write up about me inside the original cd, it does seem a bit eccentric that I wasn't included in the front photo. But to be honest, it was always a group effort anyway, and I didn't even expect the write up about me at all! I suspect I was busy recording some solo thing while the photo was being taken!

My memory with names is awful, but you're right about the ones you have so far.

In front of Daren is Glenn I think. The tall one at the back was Brendon. The one on the far left was Ben. The one directly above Anthony was Luke. It's there that my crap memory ends. I recognise the faces. I know their personalities, voices, and times we shared as a group together (don't ask me about that, that's for them to say not me) but I can't remember their names, sorry.

Thanks for the interest anyway. It's nice to know that what we did all those years ago still is appreciated.

Lots of luck,


Thanks so much for writing back, Oli! We now know 6 of the 14 boys in the picture and why Oli isn't in it. :)

I also realized that I never printed Oli's first letter to me. It's very funny and interesting. He tells what it was like to be in Angel Voices. It sounds very different from what Libera is like now. Here's what he wrote -

Hello there, Lexi. Hope all is well in Chicago.

Sorry I didn't get back to you quite as quickly as I would have liked, but busy busy busy!

It's funny you talking about my singing all those years ago as it seems like another existence altogether. Like some film one remembers watching, it was so long ago.

Thanks for the flattering comments, there. Always nice to hear people's reactions to anything I've done.

Libera- or Angel Voices as it was called in my day (Bloody hell- 'in my day', it makes it sound ancient!) has really blossomed into quite a big thing now hasn't it? I remember it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life, both exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure and part of me can't quite comprehend that people are still talking about it at all, least of which people on the other side of the globe!

I started singing in St Philips Choir at around 1987-88, I must have been around 7 or 8.

My voice soared into the soprano heavens along with the rest of them for about 6 years until one day I was doing jumping jacks in gym class and my voice was unceremoniously jolted into the baritone, in which it still resides today.

When I first started, I was sorted into my house which was Purcell, the others being Attwood, Britten and Tallis- all named after illustrious British classical composers.

I can only assume that other Royal College of Music choirs were given similar houses to join to get a sense of public school style pride and competitiveness, vital to a young boy's education within the Church of England's infrastructure.

Contrary to what you may think, I wasn't very good at first.
Most of the time, if a TV show wanted the choir on it, I would be placed at the back or at worst, left out altogether.

This wasn't because I couldn't sing. On the contrary, I've always had perfect pitch and can hear a duff note in a choir of thousands. My problem was I couldn't keep still. In most of those appearances, we were required to appear like angelic monoliths, resolutely singing into a mystic ether of dry ice framed limbo. While all the others stood with a solemn gaze into the middle distance as if in saintly reverence, I jittered about like a grasshopper with the equally saintly reverence of St Vitus. It was only when I was about ten when my body finally calmed down and my volume increased that I became a viable option for Robert Prizeman (our Choirmaster) to put me more centre stage in his productions.

During that time, I did those two TV series you spoke of, but before then we were whisked up and down the UK in rather fun coach journeys, performing in strange, three act stage shows which involved a medley of random numbers, a comedy showcase and complete musical show-stopper.

These were honed, stalwart, never fail productions which always garnered a warm reception wherever we performed them, but I can't help misremembering the show as a weirdly entertaining mixture of something that Enya, Terry Gilliam and Tim Rice may have created in response to either several holy visions, or the consumption of heavily fermented communion wine.

I loved doing those shows and both series were also lots of fun to do, if hard work.

I've got loads of anecdotes, but I won't bore you with them all. I'm aware that even though I'm now in my early thirties, I can still easily sound like an old fart and I'm too excited about the potentia of the future to get wax lyrical of the past just yet. :-)

All my focus is on my film work now, which I've been steadily working towards as a career since I was about 12, so thanks very much for the mention of Foley Flip. The more publicity I can get for that stuff the better! Oh and thanks for the complements regarding the Website. I think it needs a few more changes to get what I want from it but I'm getting there!

I work for Aardman Animations now, the guys who make Wallace and Gromit. So still in the media biz though very much from the other side of the camera lens now- and very happy this side thank you!

Thanks very much for asking me about the article before printing it, I'm very flattered that you're doing it at all, and if you want to know more, I'll see what I can do. Busy-ness pending.

Take care, and good luck with the blog,



  1. Awesome post! Perhaps he can explain what he means by those houses named after classical composers? It sounds like a boarding school but I don't recall Libera/St. Philip's ever being associated with one...

  2. Hello! I think it would be lots of fun if all the old and new Libera boys would gather as one grand reunion, if time would permit.God Bless to all!

  3. I just want to thank you for sharing these really wonderful posts on Libera. It's amazing how a lot of talented boys had been part of the choir and how timeless their music are.

  4. hey! could you ask Oliver whether he would be able to identify the boys singing in this:
    I would like to know their names, especially the boy whose face appears at 1:23. Thanks!