Thursday, August 14, 2014

Washington DC Concert & DVD Recording

Basilica of the National Shrine - photo by Roberto Ibanez

Hello to everyone from my nation's capitol of Washington DC! It's time to talk about another DVD filming! Yes, that's right! There's a new DVD coming out in March 2015 from PBS! We're going to get so spoiled! The filming of this DVD was a two-day-long process, and it was a little different from the one last year in Armagh. The boys did a "practice concert" on Wednesday where just the stage was filmed, and then they did the big concert on Thursday with a full audience of about 1,500 people and all the camera shots that go along with that. I was able to go to both of the concerts, and they were both spectacular! I cannot wait for this DVD! So let's talk about the concert. 

Sign in Basilica vestibule - photo by Patrick

Stage - photo by Steve Centanni

Musicians on the left

Musicians on the right

Audience of 1,500 - photo by Steve Centanni

It's hard to describe how many people were here.
You can't see the front or side sections at all. It was packed!
Photo by Patrick

The filming was an interesting process. The flow is very different from your normal concert. Libera would perform a song, we would clap, and then we'd all sit quietly (while the boys stood patiently) and wait to make sure the director was happy. Sometimes he asked for all or a part of a song to be shot again, and different camera angles were used. We could hear the production team talking to each other through their microphones. Our assistant director, Andre Teelen, was from Holland, and he didn't really prompt us to clap longer as in Armagh, but he did explain if we had to wait awhile. Once the director said everything was good, Robert Prizeman would wave to the boys, and they would take their positions for the next song. There wasn't as much fussing with hair and makeup as in Armagh (that seemed to be after every song), but sometimes Steven would come out to reposition a boy or fix a microphone.

There were ten cameras in the Basilica, including the tall jibby-jib, cameras on the floor and front pew, cameras in the balconies, a handheld camera, and a steadicam! That was fun to watch! I can't imagine lugging that heavy thing around for all that time! The steadicam guy ran across the stage or down the aisles while another guy squatted down and followed him around holding a black box. He was electronically adjusting the focus so the first guy didn't have to let go of the camera. It was fun to talk to them about how all of the equipment works!

There were 30 boys listed in the program as choristers. As in the last DVD filming, we had a lot of our big boys back up on stage! Tiarnan, Daniel, Sammy, and Sam were all there, and now Sam has beaten his own high score for being the oldest boy to sing in Libera! He's now 19 years and 10 months! We got another nice surprise when Josh came off the piano to don the white robe and sing in two of the songs! We had some who are not newbies to the stage, but this was the first big tour for them - Shay Balsekar, Timothy Lee, Rocco Tesei, and Camden Stewart! They did so well! Camden's dad was even able to come see him perform! I got to sit next to him during the concert! :) 

Here is the chorister list. I added Josh. :) 

1.   Marc Alvares
2.   Shay Balsekar
3.   Henry Barrington
4.   Anthony Blake
5.   Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
6.   Tiarnan Branson
7.   Gabriel Collins
8.   Kavana Crossley
9.   Thomas Delgado-Little
10. Ben Fairman
11. Daniel Fontannaz
12. Alex Gula
13. Matthew Jansen
14. Timothy Lee
15. Sam Leggett
16. Isaac London
17. Joshua Madine
18. Matthew Madine
19. Eoghan McCarthy
20. Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti
21. Michael Menezes
22. Alex Montoro
23. Sam Moriarty
24. Jakub Niedermaier-Reed
25. Rocco Tesei
26. Cassius O'Connell-White
27. Matthew Rangel-Alvares
28. Bertramo Smart
29. Camden Stewart
30. Sam Wiggin
31. Lucas Wood

Musical Director - Robert Prizeman
Assistant Musical Directors - Sam Coates, Steven Geraghty
Violin - Christina Wensel, Regino Madrid, Mari Uehara Washington, Luke Wedge, Armine Graham
Viola - Robin Massie-Pighee, Nick Hodges
Cello - Ben Wensel, Jessica Nilles
Double Bass - Regan Brough
Flute/Whistle - Laura Byrne
Clarinet - Adrienne Hodges
Oboe - Alison Lowell
Horn - Aaron Cockson
Percussion - Mathias Kunzli, Sidonie Wade
Keyboard - Joshua Madine, Steven Geraghty

Sound mixing & production - Sam Coates
Stage management - Jonathan Barrington, Luke Avery, Simon Lewis
Lighting Director - Jeroen Jans
Tour co-ordination & chaperone - Barbara Geraghty, Eleanor Lewis
Concert management - John Rexroad, Steven Philipp
Production co-ordination - Andrew Winter

Libera performed 17 songs. The assistant director told us they would not necessarily be in this order on the DVD. There was no encore, but we did get 2 new songs!

1.   Joyful Joyful
       Robert Prizeman wrote a new arrangement of this hymn and introduced it for the first time in April in New York City. It was a really happy and invigorating opening to the concert. The beginning of the song was all new with a nice flute part.

2.   How Can I Keep From Singing
       Solo by Isaac on the first part of the first verse and the last part of the third verse. Tom sang the high notes.

3.   Be Still My Soul
       Josh put on a white robe and sang for this song. On the second verse, everyone sang quite low, even the treble boys. Tom sang a new, beautiful high part. Really lovely.

4.   Morning Has Broken
       Here's where the lighting started to get really amazing. On this song it looked like sun rays were coming out! Wait til you see it! Alessandro, Ciaran, Sam, and Isaac sang by themselves at first.

Speech - Ciaran and Ben explaining that this is Libera's third PBS concert, but it's the first one they've ever made in the USA. :)

5.   America the Beautiful - NEW SONG
       This is a very patriotic song in America, and Libera just made it spectacular! Isaac sang by himself at first then with Alessandro and Sam. Tom and Lucas sang the high part. There were red lights shooting out from the altar with a stripe of white light coming out of the center. As the song went along it got more and more powerful until it swelled on the last verse. For the last verse, all the boys moved to the center of the stage, but Gabe was so into the song that he didn't realize everyone had moved and just continued to sing from his spot on the left side. At the end of the song, everyone clapped then Steven came out and put him back in position. It was so adorable that everyone clapped and cheered again. I'm really glad that Libera did this song because my great-uncle and great-aunt came and his is a retired US Navy commander. They came to the concert with a large group of their friends who are also retired US military officers. One was a 3-star general! He told us he loved the concert! :)

6.   Wayfaring Stranger
       This song is stunning! Sam W soloed the first verse from the back of the stage then the full choir sang the chorus. Sam then slowly walked forward while singing the second verse, and the choir formed a "V" with Sam front and center. This song has such amazing harmonies. It's just gorgeous. You're going to love this one when you see and hear it!

Speech - Cassius and Ben told us that Rocco is the youngest on stage at age 9. Cassius is "old" at age 12, and he's been in the choir for 5 years. Then 6 boys spoke in the language of where their family is from - Alex G - Polish, Lucas - Spanish (Mexico), Tom - Spanish (Spain), Sam W - French, Isaac - Gaelic (Ireland), Alex M - Italian. They said their names and what parent had heritage from another country. They each finished with the line "It's a wonderful world" in their language.

7.   Wonderful World
       The solo by Isaac was fabulous! This was a new song in April. I'm so happy that I got to hear it, and you will be, too! :D

8.   Amazing Grace
       This is another song that was new in April, and it may make you cry. They filmed a close-up of Josh playing the piano at the beginning. There were red lights shining up the pillars of the altar. Ciaran has a beautiful solo on the next to last verse.

9.   The Prayer - NEW SONG
       You may know this song because it's been sung by Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, and Josh Groban. Now it's Libera's turn. The boys started out kneeling. Isaac sang the solo then beautiful harmonies joined in. This one is stunning and made many people cry.


10. I Vow To Thee My Country
       The first verse was sung by Tom, Alessandro, Alex M, Lucas, Sam W, and Isaac. Ciaran and Matthew J sang the "ooh's." Tom sang the last "And all her paths are peace" with Ciaran harmonizing with him.

11. Ave Maria
       Tom was in the center with 11 boys kneeling behind him. Tom's solo was so pure that it was like a crystal bell. Just amazing!

12. How Great Thou Art
       Aaah! This is my favorite hymn! Sam W sang the solo on the first verse. His voice reminds me a little bit of Josh's voice. It's very smooth. The song builds in volume and intensity. It's very moving.

Speech - Ciaran and Alessandro introduced the next 2 songs.

13. Rest In Peace
       This song was written after 9/11. Tom sang the solo. Sam W sang the ah's.

14. Sanctus
       Bertie sang the middle "ah's" and the last "Sanctus, sanctus." Lucas sang the high part. There was a beautiful green light effect.

15. Song of Life
       Really great solo by Isaac with the rest joining in on the chorus.

16. How Shall I Sing That Majesty
       This song was stunning! Lucas and Alessandro sang the solos with Tom on the high part. 

17. Voca Me
       My favorite of the concert!! Josh was back singing for this song. There was a moving white light shining out from the altar. Tom was in the back by the altar to sing the high notes. Matthew J sang the "Lacrymosa" solo. He has always had a great voice. It's a little lower now but still great! As you know, this song just builds and builds until there's an ecstatic peak, then Ciaran and Matthew J sang the last, quiet "Voca Me." 

Next came the longest standing ovation I've ever seen. The assistant director didn't even have to tell us to stand up and clap. lol. We just kept clapping and clapping! After a while, the boys coaxed Tom to move forward to the front of the stage, and the crowd started loudly cheering and clapping some more! I think the boys really realized how great of a job they had done and how much the audience loved it. When we finished clapping, we sat down to await the director's instructions. But there were none. No retake needed on that one! Robert Prizeman dismissed the boys and they waved to the audience as they left the stage. And the audience clapped again. lol.

At the end of the first "rehearsal" concert on Wednesday

There were a lot of Libera souvenirs for sale (they should also be on sale on soon) in the lower level of the Basilica. That's also where the Meet & Greet was held. 

Libera t-shirts, hoodies, hats, Christmas ornaments, Moose!

Libera CDs, DVDs, 13-month calendar! - photo by Patrick

Libera Moose, wrist bands, lanyards, UK & USA flags - photo by Patrick

Libera posters, special 36-page picture book - photo by Patrick

People buying Libera souvenirs

The Meet & Greet was listed in the program, but the line for it was not super long. I know for sure there weren't 1,500 people waiting. I think some people didn't go to it because it wasn't announced during the interval or they had to catch their train home. This was a Thursday night, so many probably had work the next day.

First in line!

The boys walking in for the signing

30 boys at the signing table!

It's really fun to go to a signing (what we call a Meet & Greet). The boys are in such a good mood after a concert, and they're so fun and funny to talk to. Even the newbies are good at talking to people they don't really know. Now get ready for a lot of pictures! :)

Isaac, Kuba, Ciaran




Matthew J, Tiarnan


Rocco, Alex M - photo by Patrick (they weren't looking right at me in my pic). lol

Daniel, Marc

Ben, Tom

Lucas, Sam W, Alex G

Matthew M, Michael M

Kavana, Eoghan, Cassius

Cassius, Gabe



Henry, Sam L, Tom, Matthew R-A

Shay, Camden

And now some candid shots. All photos on this blog are by me unless I credit the person who took them. If you copy any pictures, please remember to give the photographer credit.


The line... 



...the line.


Cassius & Gabe talking to Camden's dad

Anthony, Henry, Sam L, Matthew R-A

Ben, Tom, Lucas, Sam W, Alex G - photo by Patrick 

Alex G, Gabe, Timothy - photo by Patrick

Now a message from my mom - 
Thank you to the many people who sent pictures to me. If anyone else has any pictures you'd like to share with the fans, please send them to 

We'd like to thank John Rexroad for sponsoring this tour for Libera. We also want to acknowledge the many donors all over the world who helped to sponsor this DVD production. Donations are still needed to finish paying for the DVD and can be made at

Thank you to the volunteer usher crew on Thursday. You may have noticed them in red Libera polo shirts. They are Kent, Tom, Patrick, Andreas, Paul, John, Luke, Fred, and Roberto. Thank you to the volunteers at the Will-Call desk - Stephanie, Mike, and Stephanie - and to the Basilica staff, especially Brandon. He's so amazing and efficient that he should be running the White House!

And now back to me, Lexi... thank you to Libera staff and boys for all your hard work and for coming to the USA again to make another DVD for all of your fans to enjoy! Can't wait until March 2015 to see it! These were the most amazing concerts ever! :D


  1. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Dear Lexi and Lauren: Thank you so much for the detailed accounts and the pictures. From all accounts, the boys did really well. They can be very proud of their accomplishments. I regret that I had to miss the concerts, but I do hope that I'll be able to take in a concert (or perhaps more than one) in the future. In the meantime, I'll be waiting for the DVD/CD. Thanks again for all you do for Libera. Leslie

  3. The best collection of photos of a live event, as well as the knowing commentary, I've seen in ages. Thanks loads.

  4. Wait I thought Cassius was 13, or did I get that part wrong? How old is he finally?

  5. Thank you so much for the pics and commentary. I would love to have been present to witness the filming of this concert. Your description of the process left me filling a bit sad that we could not attend (only 400 miles away). After looking at the pics posted, I see some of the boys are rather tired, evident by the droopy, wide, blank, deer-in-the-headlight stares (especially Ben). Thanks again.

  6. Hey! Thanks for such an amazeballs post; love the pics and the reviews! Ughhh I wish I was there, but I had camp during that week :(. At least there's a CD and DVD coming out soon! Keep writing!

  7. It was so great to read about so amazing concert! Photos are very good too. I can only wish to have a chance to to to one of theese amazing concerts of Libera!

  8. Thank you, Liesma! It was a really fun time. I hope you get to go to a Libera concert soon! :)

  9. And thanks to everyone else - Izzie, Leslie, and Anons. Hope you all are enjoying the DVD. They are still showing it here on our PBS station in Chicago this summer! :D