Hey everybody! Lexi here! Oh my word you guys...I realized tonight that this is my first concert in 2 years!!! All the guys who were little in Houston 2011 are so big now! I mean, I knew theoretically that they're bigger and older now, but I feel like that one relative that tells you you've grown every time they see you! There's such a huge difference from when I last saw them that I can hardly wrap my mind around it! And newbies!!! But I'll get to all that in a moment....
First things first: This wasn't an entirely normal concert. No, this concert was special, because it was done specifically for the filming of a DVD! A Christmas DVD to be specific. My mom and I were joking that we should be handing out scarves and hats at the door for those people who actually dressed for August. :) That's one of those things you forget about when they're doing a DVD...it has to be filmed months in advance so that it can come out in time! But, it was definitely Christmas in that cathedral! Trees, holly and candles and all! Lovely!
Anyway, it was a very different kind of concert, because instead of the fluid sort of song-to-song that they usually do, they would stop in between each song to reset the lights and microphones again and to adjust hair and all that. They even did the first part of one song again because there had been a sound problem. I thought it was fascinating, and I think everyone really enjoyed it! It was very interactive, and really cool to watch how the DVD was being made! There was even a director's assistant to tell us when to clap!
One other thing that I'm sure everyone will be very excited about is that many of the songs from the concert tonight were different from the songs on the Christmas CD that came out in 2011. And honestly, I don't know how, but Robert Prizeman managed to make the songs even better. Honestly. There was also an Irish flavor to some of the songs. The violin, flute and drums were played in an especially Irish way. And shout out to the acoustic guitar! Has there ever been a guitar in a Libera video?
First the 31 choir members -
1. Marc Alvares
2. Henry Barrington
3. Anthony Blake
4. Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
5. Gabriel Collins
6. Jude Collins
7. Kavana Crossley
8. Tiarnan Branson
9. Thomas Delgado-Little
10. Dylan Duffy
11. Benjamin Fairman
12. Daniel Fontannaz
13. Alexander Gula
14. Matthew Jansen
15. Alex Leggett
16. Sam Leggett
17. Isaac London
18. Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti
19. Joshua Madine
20. Matthew Madine
21. Eoghan McCarthy
22. Michael Menezes
23. Alexander Montoro
24. Kuba Niedermaier-Reed
25. Cassius O'Connell-White
26. Matthew Rangel-Alvares
27. Carlos Rodriguez
28. Ralph Skan
29. Michael Ustynovych-Repa
30. Sam Wiggin
31. Lucas Wood
Musical Director - Robert Prizeman
Keyboards - Steven Geraghty
Percussion - Simon Roth, Tony Quinn
Strings - Zoe Conway, Sylvia Roberts, Nicole Hudson, Ailbhe McDonagh, Dan Bodwell
Woodwinds - Jessie Grimes, Paddy McErlean, Brian Dunning
Guitar - John McIntyre
Sound mixing & production - Sam Coates
Stage management - Ben Crawley, Simon Lewis, Jonathan Barrington
Photo by lighting director
1. Angels From On High - 31 boys sang. In the US we call this song "Angels We have Heard on High." Tom and Lucas did the high part on this song, and it sounded amazing! (Or "brilliant" as I'm learning to say while over here.) :) Again, I thought it was quite interesting to see how everything worked in this concert, because there was a tech problem at the beginning of the song, and so we got to hear the first verse again at the end.
2. What Child Is This - 29 boys sang. The solo was by Isaac with Jude singing the harmony with him. These two blend so well! I can hardly tell where one stops and the other starts. I'm quite impressed with them both being able to come in on top of the other and still be perfectly on pitch!
Speech by Ben Fairman and Cassius - They gave us the speech about "Libera" meaning "Free", they're from South London (although apparently about half have an Irish ancestry), and mentioning that the youngest are Gabriel Collins (Luke and Jude's brother) and Alexander Gula. Both are only eight years old. In fact, Alexander just turned eight in July! Then, they announced that they were going to sing the most Irish of all Christmas songs, a song called The Wexford Carol.
3. The Wexford Carol - 22 boys sang. It started off with Isaac singing off-stage behind the orchestra. I always love this effect, because when you can't tell where the voice is coming from, it just kind of gives this mystery to it. And Isaac sang in Gaelic which was just awesome! :) Add that to the list of languages they've sung in!
A lot of the time, in between shots, the hair and makeup ladies would come out to fix the boys' hair. We soon found out that this wasn't because their hair was messy, but because the microphones that they were using weren't along the side of their jaw but actually came straight up from the back of their neck to the top of their forehead and could sometimes be seen in the close-ups. So their hair had to be adjusted so that the microphones would not be seen!
4. In Dulci Jubilo - 31 boys sang. The high parts were done by Lucas, Tom, and Michael U-R. My mom was saying that it's so hard to tell when Lucas is singing the high parts! You really have to watch him because he makes it look so effortless! :) This was also the song where little newbie, Alexander Gula, realized that his mum was in the crowd. She had come and surprised him at his first tour, and he beamed all the way through the rest of the concert! I hope you can see him on the DVD. He is absolutely adorable!
5. Away in a Manger - 22 boys sang. Ben Fairman sang the solo, and he did a fantastic job! He has very nice diction and a phenomenal singing voice! And added to all this, he's so cute! :D
6. Joy to the World - 31 boys sang. This is always one of my favorites. I just love the lighting that goes with this! It's such a happy song! Michael, Tom, and Cassius sang the high parts together. Again, here's another group that blends superbly! Henry, Eoghan, and Matthew R-A all stood together singing some of the lower parts. They're all so tall now!
7. Once in Royal David's City - 29 boys sang. Tom soloed at the beginning, and then was joined by Ciaran and Jude. This was really beautiful!
8. Sanctus - 31 boys sang. No Libera concert would be complete without it! It is the favorite song of so many people, and I'm really glad that they did it. It sounded excellent! Dylan sang the special middle part with the camera right on him. He is so cool under pressure! Matthew J did the last "Sanctus" perfectly!
Speech by Ciaran and Michael U-R introducing the next song. They said it isn't a Christmas song, but they couldn't go to Ireland without doing it. And that next song is...
9. Danny Boy - 7 boys sang. This song was so beautiful. The first verse was performed solo by Isaac, and then he was joined on the 2nd and 3rd verses by six other young boys. The amazing thing about this song was that it was all a cappella and all in unison. It gave it this incredible quiet sadness that it wouldn't have had otherwise, I think. (Mom cried). :)
10. Gaudete - 31 boys sang. I love this song. It's just so exciting and lively. And it gets the bigger boys really involved which I LOVE! :) Matthew J. sang the high part so clearly and loudly above everyone! And shout out to the low parts!
11. Carol of the Bells - 31 boys sang. The choreography for this song was great. There were five groups on stage to start out with. Four groups were turned around with their backs to us, while the center group faced toward us. Then, as the song opened, the first group slowly started to turn toward us. Once they were turned around (with the rhythm of course) the second group began to turn, then the third, then the fourth - when the whole choir sang together. After that, all the movements were very sharp and excited. Tom, Michael, and Lucas sang the high part on this one, and Cassius did the last "Ding dong, ding dong. That is their song." It was such a good way to go to intermission!
12. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - 29 boys sang. This is another one of the songs that got re-arranged. I LOVED the arrangement! It was so peppy and up-beat! More great high notes too!
13. O Holy Night - 29 boys sang. I think this is the one where they stood in 3 or 4 rows. This and many of the other stage positions will definitely make for cool overhead shots!
14. Still Still Still - 29 boys sang. There were 12 boys kneeling in front with the rest standing behind them. This was so beautiful that it made John from Canada cry! :) Wait until you see it!
Still Still Still pic taken by lighting engineer
15. Exultate - 31 boys sang. Tom sang the solo and it was fabulous! He has a very clear voice. I was a little worried about the rearrangement on this song, just because I love the original so much, but I love what Robert Prizeman did with it. Little Alexander and Gabriel were so cute and smiley during this song! I hope you can see them in the DVD!
Speech by Ben - He thanked everyone for coming to the Christmas concert. There was a boy in front of me who was maybe 9 years old. He turned to his mom, obviously confused, and whispered quite loudly, "It's not Christmas!" lol.
16. Silent Night - 31 boys sang. Tom sang the solo. It was really great! Lots of beautiful "ooh's" also. :)
17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - 21 boys sang. The solo was sung by Michael U-R and Ciaran. They sound so good together too! All the big boys left the stage, and only the littler boys sang. This was perfect for this song, since it's a cute song made cuter by the treble voices. Michael sang the final "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Now" and smiled sooo big!
Bonus Track - Voca Me - 31 boys sang. This song is a wow! I don't know if it'll be on the Christmas DVD, because they removed the Christmas tree for this one, but I must have this version! It's one of those songs where everybody sings, and it builds and builds in power right until the very end. Tom stood in the back and sang the crazy high part. The jibby-jib is the really high camera that they used. It will give a great view of Tom on the DVD.
What a great concert! Thank you, Libera! I had such a good time meeting new people! I got to meet a lot of fans whom I have never met before, and even some for whom this was their first concert! I also got to meet the family (shout-out to the sisters in particular) ;) of one of the boys who is in, but has not yet publicly performed with Libera! Can't wait to see him up there on the stage! One of the most exciting things for me was getting to meet a few of the boys' parents. Just wanted to give them a BIG thank you for everything they do! I know it can't be easy lugging them to and from practice three times a week and giving up family holidays so that they can go on tour, but all of the fans out here really appreciate it! Thanks! :D
The church had about 250 people for the concert, and many were from Ireland. Some drove from quite far away to see it. But the winner is my friend, Momo from Japan. It took her 33 hours to get from her home in southern Japan to Armagh via Tokyo and Bangkok! Wow! Now THAT'S a fan! :D
It was great to have so many of the older boys back for this concert - Tiarnan, Daniel, Alex, Sam, Josh, Ralph and Carlos made an awesome back row. Josh has the record for the oldest soloist ever in Libera, but today Sam Leggett set a new record for the oldest chorister to ever sing in the white robes. He is 18 years and 10 months old! Congratulations, Sam!
My other observations are that Ralph is so tall now! He's almost as tall as Josh,! And Alex is now taller than Josh! What?! The younger cousin outgrew the older! Let's see what Jakob and Matthew can do. :D
Well, there you have it, fans! We're finally getting the new DVD that we wished for! I met the director, Medwyn Hughes, who also directed the Aled Jones Christmas DVD that Libera was featured in and a lot of the BBC Songs of Praise programs, so you know it's going to be great! The big surprise is that they want to make this a 2-disc DVD! There would be a special bonus "Behind the Scenes" feature. I love those! And the plan is to release it before Christmas. It may also be seen on TV! I can't wait to get this DVD! Merry Christmas in August everybody! :D