Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New York City Concert Review by Lauren

Hello, Libera fans! This is Lexi's mom, Lauren. I'm here in Manhattan the day after Libera's 1st concert at Church of the Incarnation in New York City. Sadly, Lexi could not attend due to her university classes schedule. Boy, did she ever miss a great concert!

The line waiting to enter the church - photo by Patrick

Luke lighting the candles before the concert

This concert was unique because it was by candlelight. There were candles across the front of the church as well as on tall stands down the center aisle. And there were still the colored lights that Libera is known for that lit up the half dome at the front of the church. It was so beautiful!

Right after the doors opened

View of audience - there were 5-6 people per row on each side.

Musicians to the side of the stage

Musicians to the side of the stage

There are 24 boys on this USA tour. They are -

1.   Marc Alvares
2.   Shay Balsekar
3.   Henry Barrington
4.   Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
5.   Gabriel Collins
6.   Timothy Lee
7.   Thomas Delgado-Little
8.   Dylan Duffy
9.   Ben Fairman
10. Alex Gula
11. Matthew Jansen
12. Isaac London
13. Matthew Madine
14. Eoghan McCarthy
15. Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti
16. Michael Menezes
17. Alex Montoro
18. Kuba Niedermaier-Ree
19. Cassius O'Connell-White
20 Matthew Rangel-Alvares
21. Bertie Smart
22. Camden Stewart
23. Sam Wiggin
24. Lucas Wood

I've heard they've been having great fun so far. And the weather has been spectacular in New York City and New Jersey. The day of the concert it started to rain. Maybe that was to remind them of home in rainy London. Or maybe it encouraged more people to enter the warm, welcoming church to see Libera. :) We all got to see an amazing concert that seemed perfectly geared toward an American audience. Plus there were 5 new songs and lots of new solos!

1. Joyful, Joyful - NEW SONG
What a happy way to start a concert! Robert Prizeman wrote a new arrangement of this very familiar hymn. It's very upbeat and pretty. There was a lovely flute part, especially at the beginning. Tom sang some stunning high notes in the middle and at the end.

2. Sanctus -
This favorite wowed the crowd! Dylan sang the "ah's" in the middle. Lucas and Tom sang the high notes. The last "Sanctus" was sung by Bertie and Dylan. Bertie has such a nice voice! :D

Speech - Ben and Cassius
They told us that Alex Gula is the youngest boy on tour at age 8. Henry is the oldest at 14 (wow, is he tall!). Cassius started singing in Libera at age 7 and has been singing for 5 years. And Isaac is a "middle-ager" at 11 years old. Ahaha!

3. Song of Life -
Fabulous solo by Isaac. That kid can sing! Lucas is still making those high notes look effortless, and Ciaran sang the "ah's."

4. Voca Me -
One of my favorite songs! The acoustics in the church made you feel like you were inside the song with 24-part harmony swirling all around you. You hold your breath as the song gradually crescendos and finally peaks at Tom's clear high note. Ciaran and Matthew J sing the last "Voca me" and then you can exhale. Stunning!

5. Amazing Grace - NEW SONG
And it was amazing! This is probably the most well-known hymn in America. It was written by Englishman John Newton about his own life and God saving him from his sin. Robert Prizeman used the American version with the last verse from Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The boys sang the first lines in unison -
        "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
          That saved a wretch like me."
At "I once was lost but now am found" they broke into harmony. Ciaran sang the next to last verse as a solo while the dome was covered in a blue light. Then the dome lit up a bright yellow for the last, triumphant verse -
         "When we've been there ten thousand years,
          Bright shining as the sun,
          We've no less days to sing God's praise
          Than when we first begun."
Very effective. Quite emotional!

Speech - Ciaran and Cassius

6. Ave Maria -
Beautiful solo by Tom on the first verse, then backed up by 12 singers on the second verse.

7. Salva Me -
What a nice surprise! The high "salva" was sung by Alex Montoro! He has a beautiful voice! :D

8. How Can I Keep From Singing? -
Tom sang the high notes. Just lovely.

Speech - Gabriel and Alex Gula  
Oh my word! The cutest part of the night! They told us how they joined Libera in January 2013 and have already toured in Ireland, the Philippines, and in December came to the US to appear on 2 television shows - the Today show and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. They then described how much they have to memorize ~ all the words and all the notes ~ and remember ~ where to stand. It was so unbelievably cute how they said it. At one point Alex paused, trying to remember his next line. It was just a tiny pause, but everyone chuckled as they thought, "And all the lines you have to remember for your speech, too!" We've all been there. Good job, boys! :)

9. Hymn to Mary - 
Isaac soloed this. It was so mesmerizing that I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I couldn't blink. So perfect! So stunningly good!

10. How Shall I Sing That Majesty? -
Also one of my favorites. The solos sung by Lucas and Alessandro were fantastic! So happy to hear Alessandro's voice for the first time. He's always so cheerful and friendly at Meet & Greets. Now we know how truly great his voice is! He and Lucas were perfectly matched on this song.

- Interval -

11. Dies Irae -
Solo by Ciaran. Fantastic job. The dome was lit up red. This song flowed right into...

12. Gloria In Excelsis -
The high notes were sung by Tom, Ciaran, Sam, Lucas, and Isaac.

Speech - Ciaran and Alessandro
Cute and funny speech about how they love to travel and all the places they've been but sadly, they still have to go to school. lol Then they introduced their mascot, Moose. "He is the most well-traveled moose in the world. He has even been to some of the places in our next song." :)

13. Orinoco Flow -
I love this song. On this cold, wet night it took us to a warm, tropical place. Tom did little high trills on the word "sail." I sat on the right side and could hear many voices quite distinctly including little Alex Gula. He has a great voice!

14. Dreaming of Home -
They started out with 10 boys singing. Their voices are so clear. For the second verse they broke into beautiful harmonies. Tom sang the high notes. And they all held that last note out! Wow! Great breath control!

15. How Great Thou Art - NEW SONG
Solo by Sam. This is another hymn that is hugely popular in the US. The words are just beautiful. And we can make this my new song that makes me cry. The last verse is especially awe-inspiring. There was a purple light in the dome. Tom and Sam sang the high notes at the end. Beautiful job, Libera!

Speech - Ciaran
He has the best speaking voice! He told about the vocal "silly exercises" they do to warm up their voices. They demonstrated 3 of them, and the audience loved it, clapping for each one.

16. Stay With Me -
I've been to so many concerts and can still see Daniel Fontannez singing this, but I REALLY liked this version! Tom started us off with the high notes. The solo part was nicely divided between Alessandro, Lucas, and Cassius. The last "Stay with me" was sung by Cassius.

17. Wayfaring Stranger - NEW SONG
For me it was the most stunning song of the night at this point! I know this song as an American Negro spiritual. The line "I'm just a-goin over Jordan" is a clue to that. Sam's solo was soooo beautiful! Robert Prizeman's arrangement is lovely and flowing with really interesting harmony parts. Multiple colors shone on the dome, green to blue. Just fantastic!

18. Glory to Thee -
Tom did a beautiful job on the solo part at the beginning. There were 5 groups of boys who then sang their parts in a round. Great!

Speech - Ben
He thanked everyone for coming to their concert and then, in his cute voice, said, "Bye!" and waved. :)

19. Exultate -
We end as we began with a happy, upbeat song! Great job by Tom on the solo!

There was a standing ovation from the audience that would not end. They just kept clapping. :D

Encore: What a Wonderful World
And we end with a real stunner! This song was first sung by American Louis Armstrong. My favorite version is by American Hawaiian singer and ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. And now Libera has put their fantastic twist on it! Isaac sang this solo with the choir backing him up on the chorus. His voice was clear and strong. It's hard to believe that he's only 11.

Another standing ovation! Thank you, Libera! What a wonderful concert! :D

Libera boys after the concert!

Libera boys after the concert!

Waving bye!

There was no Meet & Greet due to the time it took for the boys to get back to their accommodations and that they still had another concert the next night (tonight). The church really didn't have a space for it anyway. Many people came up to me asking if there was going to be an M&G with Robert Prizeman, though. He's quite popular. :D

I first saw Alex Gula at the Christmas DVD recording in Armagh, Northern Ireland. I assumed that he was all smiley because his mom was in the audience. But he was soooo smiley all during the NYC concert! He must just be a happy little guy. :)

With all these great, new songs, we need another CD from Libera. In the mean time, if you can, GO TO THE ARUNDEL, UK CONCERT on May 10! You will not be sorry!

It was great to meet so many fans from all over the US, Canada, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, and Indonesia. And several told me that they had seen Libera perform at the Riverside Church in New York City back in 2008!

And let's not forget the musicians and crew!

Musical Director - Robert Prizeman
Assistant Musical Directors - Sam Coates, Steven Geraghty
Keyboards - Steven Geraghty, Josh Madine
Clarinet - Steven Geraghty
Strings, Flute, Horn, & Percussion - members of the New Jersey Festival Orchestra
Lighting - Luke Avery
Sound Mixing & Production - Sam Coates
Stage Management - Jonathan Barrington
Tour Coordination, Chaperones - Barbara Geraghty, Eleanor Lewis
Production Coordinator - Andy Winter
Concert Management - Mattie Fox, Steven Philipp

Matthew R-A & Henry walking in the rain to the bus

I think that's Kuba?, Alex M & Isaac

?, Matthew M, Marc?, ?, & Lucas trying to keep their robes clean

There's another concert tonight at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey! See you there! :D

Concert ticket


  1. Such a good review !! Thankyou it's a shame that Lexi wasn't able to attend

  2. Thanks for the great review

  3. Hi, Lauren!
    wow.what a stunning concert of the boys! thank you for such an amazing review. oh how I wish I was there.
    please tell Mr. Prizeman make a new DVD or at least a CD for those new songs as soon as possible, haha. I'm really curious how the boys sang the new songs in their version

  4. Do the programmes have pictures of the boys in them ? :)

  5. This is a great review, Lauren. I attended both the NYC and NJ concerts and they were equally fantastic! Happy to have met you at both concerts. I also met some new fans from NY, and we enjoyed our conversation with you after saying goodbye to those great kids as they boarded their bus outside the MPAC. Sort of our own, little meet and greet - LOL!

  6. Hi Lauren,

    Do you know if there are any videos of the NYC (or Morristown) concert on youtube?

  7. A late thank you for such a wonderful REVIEW Lauren. You always make your reviews like the reader was there sitting beside you and enjoying the boys singing. I've seen Libera twice and always hope & pray that I will see them again but being retired and living on a fixed income in makes it very difficult but when I read your Reviews I can pretty much picture being there and I thank you for the time you put into your Reviews. I will always love reading what you say about each concert you attend. God Bless. Ian W.