Thursday, January 1, 2015

Libera Historical Timeline: Part Eight (January through March, 2015)

Photo by Brenda Ladd

Last revised/updated Saturday March 28th, 2015
Those who are new to Libera and to this Timeline might also want to check out its other sections:

For Part One (introduction to Libera, extensive overview & 1981-2007), 
please go to: 

For Part Two (2008-2009):

For Part Three (2010):

For Part Four (2011):

For Part Five (2012):
For Part Six (January-May 2013)
For Part 6A (May-December 2013)

 For Part Seven (January-July 2014)
Please note: new additions are made to the END of each section, rather than the beginning.

(Wonderful World Blog and Video)
(Off to Moscow)
(CD/DVD Release)
(Concert Reviews)
(Debut of YouTube Video)
(Behind the Scenes Video)
(CD/DVD Release)
(DVD Reviews)
(Pre-Tour Activities)

Welcome to another new Libera year. In contrast to the usual January post-holiday downtime, fans were greeted on January 1st with a delightful blog from the boys about the experience of making a video of "It's a Wonderful World." The location was the historical Armley Mills Museum (located in Leeds, England), which is preserved as it was in Victorian times.

Isaac London solos wistfully (and beautifully). (What a Wonderful World preview/solo by Isaac London, 1:11)

Armsley Mill workspace

Sam Wiggin, Isaac London, Michael Menezes

Alex Gula and Matthew Jansen

Alex Montoro, Sam Wiggin and Camden Stewart take a 21st-century break at Armsley Mill.
In addition, Libera enthusiasts had the upcoming concert in Moscow on January 18th to anticipate, as well as the January release of the above video in full, the March release, with attendant previews and glimpses, of Libera in America, the new CD/DVD, and a scheduled US concert tour in April.

Timothy Lee shows a shining face on tour. (Blog by John Rexroad, 1/1/15)


On January 5th, the following report from the Chicago Mini-Angels site appeared:
Awesome news! Libera's new DVD and CD "Libera In America" is available for pre-order in some countries! It's also available on some sites in Blu-ray. The US release date is March 3, 2015. European sites show a release date of March 20, 2015, but a site in Sweden shows a release date of February 25, 2015! Japan shows a release date of March 25, 2015.
Song List:

1.   Libera - Opening Titles
2.   Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
3.   How Can I Keep From Singing
4.   Morning Has Broken
5.   America the Beautiful
6.   Wayfaring Stranger
7.   Amazing Grace
8.   Wonderful World
9.   The Prayer
10. Be Still My Soul
11. How Great Thou Art
12. Rest In Peace
13. Sanctus
14. Song of Life
15. Ave Maria
16. Voca Me
17. How Shall I Sing That Majesty
18. Libera In Washington Behind the Scenes

First close-up view of DVD/CD cover, with Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Ben Fairman,  Isaac London,  and Cassius O' Connell-White. This is Cassius's third CD-cover appearance since 2011 (four if you count the Christmas in Ireland crowd scene).


On January 7th, Libera staff member James Phillip posted a slideshow of photos taken at the "Libera by Candlelight" concert at St. John's Church, Norwood on 12/20/14.

L to R: Cassius O' Connell-White, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Camden Stewart, newbie Merlin Brouwer, Kuba Niedermaier-Reid

A final wave (Slideshow of December, 2014 concert at St. John’s Church, Norwood by James Phillip)


On December 29th, Libera was mentioned on Russian television (at 0:28, soon after the shift from the reporter).The occasion was a press conference at the TASS Russian News Agency, in which conductor Vladimir Spivakov, the artistic director of the Moscow International House of Music, stated that choirs from the most famous temples and monasteries will perform there during the 5th Christmas Festival of Sacred Music, held from January 9 - 23. (Russian Orthodox Christmas is on January 7, Libera's concert slated for Sunday, January 18). (Mention of Libera on Russian TV/12/29/2015)
Libera poster near the Arts Center in Moscow (Photo by Patrick)

On January 15th, an English-Language report appeared in the Moscow Times.  (January 15th, 2015 
Moscow times article about Libera)


Also on January 15th, unofficial information on a proposed South Korean tour in July began to circulate.


Arriving in Moscow: Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Alex Gula, Isaac London,
Camden Stewart 

On January 17th, a Spanish-language article appeared in the Sputnik News, based in Moscow, in which the Google translator rendered the name of the group amusingly as "Child Choir Free." It included interviews with Robert Prizeman and Tom Delgado-Little. (Translation of article in Sputnik News about Libera’s participation in the Moscow choral festival/1/17/2015)

Photo by Patrick

French Libera-Passion reporter Patrick, on the spot in Moscow, tweeted photos of the cityscape, the concert stage and the program, revealing the song list:

A single program, printed on heavy paper, for the entire festival (Program photos by Patrick)

The program listed three accompanists: Candice Hamel on flute, Josh Madine on keyboards, and Jonathan Ormiston on percussion. There were nine accompanying musicians, so these were presumably local Russian instrumentalists. 

Josh Madine on Piano (Photo by Anna Zubareva)

Another airport photo shows some of the 22 boys on this trip. (L to R): Lucas Wood, Bertie Smart, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti (waving), Matthew Madine (tallest), Isaac London (behind Matthew), Timothy Lee (in front of Matthew), Alex Montoro (in front of Timothy), Alex Gula, Michael Menezes (behind Alex), Camden Stewart (behind Michael), Gabriel Collins and Merlin Brouwer. Kavana Crossley also traveled to Moscow as stage manager.


(Photo by Nika Alskaya)

Patrick, from the Libera Passion site, sent faithful Twitter bulletins throughout the concert, here transcribed and condensed into report form. The Russian fan site he mentioned  (below) became a marvelous source of photos.

           22 boys on stage. Compared to the 24 members who sang at the Christmas concert at St John’s, Norwood, the two missing are the two juniors, James Menezes and Mark Ustynovych-Repa. Regular Ben Fairman is still among the missing.

1.   Marc Alvares
2.   Shay Balsekar
3.   Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
4.   Merlin Brouwer 
5.   Gabriel Collins
6.   Thomas Delgado-Little
7.   Alex Gula
8.   Matthew Jansen
9.   Timothy Lee
10. Isaac London
11. Alessandro MacKinnon-Botti
12. Matthew Madine
13. Michael Menezes
14. Alex Montoro
15. Jakub Niedermaier-Reed
16. Cassius O'Connell-White
17. Matthew Rangel-Alvares
18. Bertie Smart
19. Camden Stewart
20. Rocco Tesei
21. Sam Wiggin
22. Lucas Wood


Finale of "Gaudete"

The hall was sold out, with people even standing on a balcony to the side, behind the stage. So many highlights that I can barely single out one song from the others. “What Child is This” was a blast, as was “The Prayer.” Thomas Delgado-Little was incredibly good; he is at the top of his form. His “Ave Maria” gave me goosebumps.

Tom Delgado-Little sings "Ave Maria" (Photo by Patrick)
    (At Intermission) What a GREAT concert so far! They nailed it !! Very long applause at each song and yells of  'Bravo, Bravo' !

Some changes in the song list from the printed program:

1.   Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
2.   Joy to the World
3.   What Child is This
4.   The Prayer
5.   Sanctus
6.   Voca Me
7.   Wexford Carol (instead of "Still, Still, Still")
8.   Carol of the Bells
9.   Ave Maria 
10. How Shall I Sing That Majesty (Moved from spot #18)


11. Conditor Alme Siderum (Instead of "How Great Thou Art," which was moved to #18)
12. Angels We Have Heard On High
13. Away In a Manger
14. Wayfaring Stranger
15. Amazing Grace
16. Gaudete
17. Song of Life
18. How Great Thou Art (See above)
19. Silent Night
20. In Dulci Jubilo

Encore - What a Wonderful World

           “Still Still Still” was not sung and was replaced by “The Wexford Carol.” The first song in the second half was “Conditor Alme Siderum” (Sempiterna), then “Angels We Have Heard on High.” “Orinoco  Flow” was not sung. “How Great Thou Art” replaced  “How Shall I sing That Majesty in the song order. How Shall I Sing That Majesty” was sung as the last song of part 1, after “Ave Maria.”

Merlin Brouwer, Camden Stewart, Timothy Lee, Matthew Madine, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Sam Wiggin, Matthew Rangel-Alvares, Alex Montoro, Alex Gula, Lucas Wood. (Photo by Patrick)

The clapping was very long, and when it started to decline a bit it then restarted even more, with yells of “Bravo!” The 2nd part was as incredibly good as first, huge HUGE success ! to the point that Robert had to ask the public to calm in order to start the encore. After they had calmed down enough, Libera sang "It's a Wonderful World." The Russian fans site is boiling

And here is Patrick's full review: 

 by fan_de_LoK 

Photo by Karolina Kolniskova

Robert Prizeman usually tries to go quietly to his place, but is name was announced over the microphone and he had to cross the room to his desk in front of the stage at the bottom of the aisle in full view.

1) Joyful Joyful

The boys came onstage simultaneously from the two sides and arranged themselves in two arcs, facing the center, with the tallest boys in the back row. On the last verse they all rotated to the right to turn to the audience and direct the last “joyful joyful” energy to the audience.This was a full-choir song, with no soloist, Tom Delgado-Little sang on the high notes, which would be excellent throughout the concert.

2) Joy to the world

Another full-chorus song, with a lot of changes in the music and various different harmonies.

Photo by Dimitri Tdv

3) Speech by Alex Gula

Alex walked to the front of the stage and spoke in Russian without notes. Don’t ask me what he said but it excited the audience, who interrupted it with a round of applause. Alex then completed his speech and returned to his place to more applause.

4) What Child Is This: the first of many solos by Isaac London.

Isaac stood in the center front of the stage, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey to his side and a little behind; Ciaran sang the second harmony part on the chorus. Isaac was in top form. The first part of the song was sung by Isaac and Ciaran, then was taken up by the whole choir. I think this where the music started to evoke the first real enthusiasm from the audience.

5) The Prayer - Solo by Isaac London

The boys all knelt with their hands clasped in front of them. The first verse was sung by Isaac then taken up by the whole choir. One passage, in which there was a lot of emphasis on Tom Delgado-Little’s high and powerful notes, gave me chills, probably not only me, because afterwards there was renewed applause and cheers whenever the applause began to decline.

6) Sanctus - Solo by Bertie Smart

The singers were arranged in a wide arc, as is usual for this song. The special harmonies were sung by Bertie Smart and Tom Delgado-Little, as usual. Bertie sang the last two “Sanctus.”

7) Voca Me Solos by Lucas Wood, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey

The high descant notes were sung by Lucas Wood from the bottom of the stage and it was super good! Beautiful just-dark-enough mystical blue lighting. The couplets were sung by several singers, mainly Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, and it was he who sang the last “voca me.”Again, very long applause and cheers.

Robert Prizeman conducts

8) Wexford Carol – (not included in the program but a pleasant surprise)

 Solos by Isaac London and Sam Wiggin. Isaac sang the first verse in Gaelic, then a solo by Sam, then all the choir. This was also a big success.

9) Carol of the Bells – Solos by Tom Delgado-Little, Lucas Wood, and Isaac London

The singers were arranged in five or six small groups under intense white lighting They didn’t do the usual rotational motion that always illustrated to me the beating of bells. Tom and Lucas sang the solo parts near the end, and IsaacLondon the “ding-dong” ending formerly sung by Casius O’ Connell-White

10) Ave Maria – Solo by Tom Delgado Little

All except nine boys left the stage by the two side doors. Tom stood in the center, with eight others kneeling around him. Tom sang the whole song as a soloist, with the choir singing accompanying harmonies in the second part. A great performance by Tom, received by much applause and many congratulations.
11) How Shall I Sing That Majesty – Solos by Lucas Wood and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti

The soloists were standing front and center, turned three quarters towards each other, with the choir behind. Tom Delgado-Little did the high notes at the end.

12) Conditor Alme Siderum

This song was sung during the return of the boys on stage. Sam Wiggin came in first and sang the first lines, joined by others scattered about the stage. Four boys sang the next stanza, and ten joined for the last verses. The others remained silent but joined the group onstage. They sang a capella without any instruments. This led directly into…

13) Angels We Have Heard On High, with many high notes by Tom Delgado-Little

14) Away in a MangerSolo by Alex Gula

The boys were arranged in two concentric arcs, with Alex at the center front. The first two verses were sung by the choir, and Alex sang the solo to begin the third verse.

15) Wayfaring Stranger

The group was in a familiar configuration for this song: aligned in two rows apart, with Sam Wiggin in the center at the back. He sang the first verse solo, then moved slowly forward, both lines moving closer to him and forming a large V with Sam at the point in front. The song started slowly with only Sam singing, gained momentum gradually and then decreased gradually, until Sam was singing alone at the end.

16) Amazing Grace – Solo by Isaac London

This song was sung by the whole choir for the two first verses, then Isaac sang a whole solo verse, and the whole choir sang the last verse.

Photo by Darya Tulskaya

17) Gaudete - solo by Lucas Wood I think.

There was a lot of movement on stage on this song; the words seemed repetitive but there were many different divisions and assigned roles, surely a big job here. At one time they fell into two parallel lines facing the audience and sang quite different parts. Then I think the members of these two lines reversed what others had sung just before. Much applause again.

18) Song of Life – Solo by  Isaac London, excellent as always

19) How great Thou Art

Solo by Sam Wiggin on the first verse, with a sustained choral note in the background, very solemn, then the rest sung by the choir.

20) Silent Night - I think Tom Delgado-Little was the soloist but I don’t know for sure (I'm tired. ..)

21) Speech by Alex Gula

Second and final speech of the concert, still in Russian. I guess it was to announce the last song and to thank the audience for coming.

22) In Dulci Jubilo

This received very long applause and a standing ovation, well deserved.
The applause lasted so long that at one point Robert Prizeman turned to the audience, smiling and requesting silence for the encore.

23) Encore: What a Wonderful World – Solo by Isaac, excellent. With the upcoming video, this could be a signature song.

After this, a new round of wild applause broke out, with shouts of joy and cheers, and it did not stop until the boys were completely offstage after bowing and waving good-bye to the audience.

Photo by Viktor Kavalchuk (Patrick’s video of Libera boys leaving the concert hall in Moscow/1/18/2015

Libera Passion's latest photo roundup of current members, courtesy of "The Furby":

Dedicated Russian Libera fan George Scerbakov wrote a review full of interesting commentary on individual singers,  cultural observationsaudience reception, and the limitations of the performing venue.


Concert in Moscow - my review
by George Scerbakov

Touring in Moscow: Marc Alvares, Bertie Smart, Sam Wiggin, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti

Preface: Yesterday, after I wrote my traditional review in Russian, I, out of curiosity, 'translated' my review into English using Google Translate. What came out of it was hilarious and, obviously, had little to do with what I really intended to say. So, as an exception and owing to this extraordinary circumstance (AFAIK, there were only three 'regulars' in the audience, apart from me), I decided to write this review in English as well. Please note though that this English text is not a translation of my review in Russian!


As I suspected (based on the experience of attending this Christmas festival previously), no separate programme dedicated to Libera only was published - just three pages on the general programme of the festival. Obviously, no list of Libera members who were participating at the concert was given, but thanks to Patrick we've been able to figure out who did participate at the concert…totally 22 persons; plus Josh Madine on the keyboards, Kavana Crossley as stage manager (didn't see him at all, but he definitely was in Moscow as well), Andy Winter and, obviously, RP himself; plus usual Libera orchestra members Candice Hamel (flute) and Jonathan Ormiston (percussion). Alas, no Steven Geraghty.

First Part:

1. Joyful Joyful

2. Joy to the World

Alex Gula's welcome speech (in Russian - quite a good Russian, btw, except for some wrongly placed stresses).

3. What Child is This? (solos Isaac London, Ciarán Bradbury-Hickey)
4. The Prayer (solo Isaac London)

5. Sanctus. (final 'Sanctus' sung by Bertie Smart)

6. Voca me (high harmonies by Lucas Wood, final 'Voca me' 
by Ciarán Bradbury-Hickey)

7. Wexford Carol (solos Isaac London (first phrase in Irish), Sam Wiggin).(The programme had 'Still Still Still' instead, but Wexford Carol is much better, so I can't complain!)

8. Carol of the Bells ('vocalises' by Isaac London, Lucas Wood (I think it was him); final phrase by Isaac London.

9. Ave Maria (Schubert) (solo by Thomas Delgado-Little)

10. How Shall I Sing That Majesty? (soloists Lucas Wood, Alessandro McKinnon-Botti)

Part 2

1. Conditor Alme Siderum (intro solo by Sam Wiggin)

2. Angels We Have Heard (no break between 'Conditor...' and 'Angels…') (when the song ended, Andy Winter ushered Lucas Wood [who was coughing] from the stage)
3. Away in a Manger (soloist Alex Gula).

(Lucas Wood back on the stage)

4. Wayfaring Stranger (soloist Sam Wiggin)

5. Gaudete (soloist Lucas Wood) (Lucas made a tiny mistake - he sang Christus ex natus instead of Christus est natus… )

6. Song of Life (soloist Isaac London).

7. How Great Thou Art (soloist Sam Wiggin)

8. Silent Night (soloist Thomas Delgado-Little)

Alex Gula's speech in Russian (announcing that the next song will the the last one and adding 'Happy New Year' in the end)

9. In Dulci Jubilo

(standing ovation, a lot of shouting 'bravo', but no whistling; Robert had to calm the audience down) 

10. What a Wonderful World (soloist Isaac London)

Impressions, Analysis Soloists, highlights

The main surprise for me was, doubtless, Thomas Delgado-Little's coming back as a soloist. My impressions are mixed though. While his Silent Night in Part 2 was impressive, I can't really forget his struggling in Ave Maria (excellent high notes, but not exactly impressive mid-notes). It could very well be that he didn't have time to warm up properly, however I can't shake the thought that what we heard was his swan song. I really hope I'm mistaken.

Isaac was again main soloist, He was phenomenal in The Prayer, What Child is This and What a Wonderful World (sublime pectoral voice with just a slight vibrato - a true bliss), but was less impressive in Song of Life, a difficult song even for experienced singers - with lots of leaps from low to high notes and back: he really struggled negotiating these leaps properly and some of the sounds produced by him were even slightly out of pitch.

Isaac London solos in "The Prayer." 

Sam Wiggin - He really grew on me as a soloist, but I wish his voice were a little bit 'crispy'.

Alex Gula - can't say anything definitive about his voice yet (even if I liked his solo in Away in a Manger), but I was particularly impressed by his articulation, which reminded me Ben Crawley.

Lucas Wood - impressive high notes.

Highlights of the concert were, IMHO, The Prayer (they should really keep it and I really hope I will hear it on their upcoming Blu-Ray!), What Child is This and It's A Wonderful World. I wish I could say the same about Wexford Carol, but alas - compared to Norwood, it wasn't really impressive - not because of the soloist, but because of the poor acoustics of the venue.

Sound, special effects

Dull and flat, but obviously the blame must be laid on the designers, builders & owners of the venue, rather than on Libera (the latter did all they could to make it sound properly in the short period of time they had between their arrival and the concert, but how on earth can you achieve a proper sound in that concrete monstrosity of a venue? You'd need a 'live' acoustic environment of a church.)

Lighting effects - much less impressive than in London, the reasons, obviously, are the same as described above.


From what I could see, they were really impressed, considering the fact the Russian audience are somewhat restrained in expressing their emotions - just clapping and 'bravo' shouts, no whistling. Since RP had to resort to gesticulation to calm them down, I'd say it was a success (the Choir of the Westminster Abbey were greeted with less enthusiasm). I wish Libera themselves smiled a little bit more, but you could say their lack of reaction was due to their extreme tiredness.


Success? Oh yes, there's no doubt about it. What's good, Libera didn't include any Russian song, like Kalinka, Podmoskovnye Vechera or similar rubbish, however I wouldn't mind hearing Mother of God (with lyrics written by Lermontov!), but it's better nothing than Kalinka!
I have one complaint though - no speeches from Libera boys (except for Alex, who did a great job speaking in Russian), however just intro and farewell speeches are really not enough: why not say all that in English (you can invite an interpreter or you can even leave it just in English - I am sure at least one third of the audience would have been able to understand something of what they were saying, and this way you wouldn't have deprived us English speaking audience of your hilarious intros!)
Last, but not least - consider changing the venue next time, if you ever come to Moscow again. There are places with far better acoustics than that of the "Svetlanov Hall" - for ex. Chaykovsky Hall (for ex. William Christie's Les Arts Florissants normally perform there). And of course, give the choristers some rest, don't make them travel for 12 hours for just one concert without any fun. Of course, Moscow's not exactly the place of fun right now

On January 21st, the Official Libera page posted some delightful photos of the boys' brief Moscow stay.


JOHN REXROAD INVITES FAN PARTICIPATION  (John Rexroad invites Libera fans to share their experiences on his blog/1/9/19) 


Announcements from various PBS-station magazines

On January 27th, the Mini-Angels site posted the following:

Great news! There are several areas of the US that will get to see Libera's Angels Sing - Libera In America DVD soon! So far, 3 areas will see it before the DVD is released for sale. To buy the DVD or CD, click here. 
(The complete list of PBS stations featuring the DVD can be found on the Mini-Angels site.)

One interesting note, according to the TV listing for Chicago WTTW, "Libera's 2013 program, Angels Sing, Christmas in Ireland, was one of the most watched Christmas shows on PBS during its December run." 
That's great news!


On January 28th, Libera enthusiasts got their first preview of the Angels Sing: Libera in America DVD with a PBS-oriented YouTube showing of "Joyful, Joyful." (Joyful, Joyful/Angels Sing: Libera in America DVD/August 7th/2014/ PBS-broadcast Version/2015) 

Also on January 28th, the following message from John Rexroad:

Make sure to see the full release of the music video for "What a Wonderful World,"February 6th on Libera’s YouTube channel, or at I am asking everyone to share it with 10 friends and ask them to do the same and share with 10 of their friends. All the boys will be watching the view count. Let’s show the boys some of that Libera Love.—John Rexroad

Posted: 31 Jan 2015 10:02 PM PST on the Mini-Angels site

Libera's new DVD and CD "Angels Sing - Libera In America" are due to be released in just 30 days! While we wait, iTunes has the song "How Can I Keep From Singing" available for sale! 
iTunes also posted a 1:30 preview of the song! You can hear Isaac London's beautiful solo at the beginning on the live recording from the Washington DC concert. 

Go to this link - iTunes - and for song #2, go to the right side and click on "View in iTunes." You have to have the iTunes application to buy it and hear it. 


Also on 1/31, Libera posted on Twitter that they will be using the hashtag #wearelibera with postings of "mayhem and mischief from the boys themselves." These postings will also show up on Libera's Facebook page. This is an interesting step for the Libera organization, where the boys have generally not been allowed to participate in social media on an individual basis for fear of Cyberstalking. 

Here are the first pictures of three very small mini-boys (no names available yet). The captions are by ‪#wearelibera‪. 

because we're happeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.... 

miniboy in a washing machine 


On February 2nd, the always-excellent Mini-Angels site posted the following: 

Three Libera boys, Isaac London, Cassius O'Connell-White, and 
Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, uncharacteristically solemn, were interviewed 
on the Russian TV show "Canon." Thank you to Anton and the Russian fan page 
for uploading the video which you (hopefully) can view here. (Interview on Russian Television, with Isaac London, Cassius O’ Connell-White and Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey/posted 1/31/2015/23:05)
The following link is to the Mini-Angels site for a transcript of the 
interview, which is difficult to understand because a translator is 
speaking over the boys' responses. A version with English subtitles later became available: (Interview on Russian Television, with Isaac London, Cassius O’ Connell-White and Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey/posted 1/31/2015/ 9:46/English Subtitles) (Interview transcript)


For a complete set of Spring Tour Concert Posters, go to:


Tom Cooper
On February 3rd, using the hashtag ‪#liberawonderful,
the Libera boys tweeted the above  "flatcap" photo of mini-boy Tom 
Cooper, followed by pics of three more mini-boys/newbies, Sam 
Collins (little brother of Libera singers Luke, Jude and Gabriel), 
Ben Bywater, and James Menezes (little brother of Michael Menezes).

A german fan named Anna collected the four Collinses in a 
photomontage. From left: Luke (2009-2012), Jude (2010-2013,
Gabriel (2013- ) and Sam (2015 miniboy)

Ben Bywater

James Menezes

These and other delightful photos of Libera boys in flat caps, and on the scene of creating the "Wonderful World" video were posted on Twitter at ‪#flatcapsnap‪. Libera's twitter address is 

"Moose" Joins in the fun


Soloist Isaac London

On February 6th, as promised, the video of "Wonderful World" appeared on YouTube. (Wonderful World/solo by Isaac London/2/6/2015/4:20)

Marc Alvares as a young factory worker .

Boys in the mill

Reception of the video was overwhelmingly positive, though there were some quibbles expressed on fan forums:

1. Factory boys would not have been able to sit down on the job, or to move so slowly.
2. They would not have been allowed to have a book on the job (assuming any of them could read), much less sit and look at the pictures, and any book they had would most likely have been tattered and soiled.

3. Some fans complained of too much of a disconnect between the song and the subject matter, though artistic license was taken into consideration.

It was also noted that this was the first appearance of newbie Merlin Brouwer, quite a bit in advance of his first concert appearance as a "regular." Frequent soloist Tom Delgado-Little did not take part in the video, presumably because of conflicts with his appearances with the Glyndebourne Opera Company (see Part 7).

Merlin Brouwer

On February 11th, the back of the Libera in America CD was revealed, and the following notice appeared on the Mini-Angels  site  
Libera's new CD and DVD, Angel Voices - Libera In America, are due out in just a few weeks. We have already seen videos of "Wonderful World" and "Joyful, Joyful." You can now hear a 90-second preview of each song on iTunes here. Click on "View in iTunes" and then click on the number of each song to play it or click on "Preview All" at the bottom. You need iTunes installed on your computer to play them. 

The 90-second samples sufficed to demonstrate the superb quality of the recording, the acoustics, and the singing.

On February 12th, Isaac London, soloist on the "Wonderful World" music video, tweeted and posted on the following on the Libera Official blogsite:

Boys Blog
A Message from Isaac
February 12th, 2015 by Isaac
“I feel really grateful that so many people from all around the world have watched our 
new video for What A Wonderful World. As well as it being an important experience for us, 
we had lots of fun filming it too! Especially the bits that involved getting dirty. Thank you 
for supporting us and our music.” 

On February 13th, fans got a look at the back of the Libera in America DVD cover.

And on February 16th, a look at the poster for all five US concerts

On February 19th, the Libera boys tweeted some charming photos taken during the boys' quick trip to Moscow in January, including these fine portraits of Tom Delgado-Little (top) and Matthew Madine. 

On February 20th, Warner Classics released a brief clip of "Be Still My Soul from the Libera in America DVD. (Be Still my Soul/PBS preview Video from Angels Sing: Libera in America DVD/1:13)

On February 22nd, the ever-reliable Mini-Angels site published the following: (link to the site in blue)

First, congratulations to Libera of the US for receiving 501c3 public charity status from the IRS. That means that donations to Libera of the US may be tax deductible on your US tax return retroactive to January 1, 2013. Please check with your tax preparer for guidance.

Libera is gearing up for a big year of touring in America. You can help support the boys on tour in several ways, big and small, by donating to Libera of the US. Just go to to donate through PayPal or credit card or by mailing a check. 

       $8.00    Donate one boy's lunch
       $18.00    Donate one boy's dinner
      $240.00   Donate lunch for the boys
      $540.00   Donate dinner for the boys
     $35.00    Donate water for the boys
     $150.00    Donate one hotel room
     $2,250.00   Donate lodging for the boys
     $500.00   Donate a night at the movies
     $200.00   Donate a domestic flight
     $800.00   Donate an international flight
    $12,500.00   Sponsor a concert 

 You can also donate frequent flier miles. Just write into in the Contact Us section.

After the tour you will receive a thank-you letter signed by one of the boys or signed by all of the boys if you donate a larger amount. Thank you to the many fans who have already donated to support Libera! 


On February 23rd, the Official Libera Site released the behind-the-scenes video of the making of the Libera in America DVD. (Behind the Scenes video from Angels Sing: Libera in America DVD/2/23/15/4:03)
Timothy Lee, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Shay Balsekar and Camden Stewart

(L to R): Michael Menezes, Lucas Wood, Alex Gula, Alex Montoro, Cassius O'Connell-White, Kuba Niedermaier-Reed, Matthew Jansen, Anthony Blake, Kavana Crossley, Daniel Fontannaz, Tiarnán Branson
Robert Prizeman gives some last-minute notes.
On February 25th, the Official Libera site posted a 1:03 video clip of Isaac London's lovely solo intro to"The Prayer." (Preview of “The Prayer”/Isaac London solo only/1:03)
On February 27th, and even briefer preview of "America the Beautiful" appeared; (America the Beautiful/ preview/:40


 A contributor to the Libera Dreams fan forum posted the following observation: 
Sam Coates
by john45 

Who else has noticed that the arrangements for "Wayfaring Stranger", "Wonderful World". and "The Prayer" were all by Sam Coates? I only realized this today while listening to a PBS recording of the Washington Concert and revisiting the program. Of course, we all want RP to continue for ever, but I would surmise that the future of Libera is in good hands regardless.

Sam Coates (1996 - present) is a Libera stalwart, having begun as a small choirboy in the "Angel Voices" of  the late 1990s. He became the group's sound engineer, and was recently listed in programs as "Assistant Musical Director," along with his good friend Steven Geraghty.

Sam Coates (in red) demonstrates the sound system to a gaggle of Liberans

Keyboard player Josh Madine (2005-present), appeared as a singer  in a university musical production. (Lily's Eyes from The Secret Garden performed by Chris Allen and Josh Madine, accompanied by Ryan Durkan at Vocal Point, the University of York's Music Department Musical Theatre department/3:32)

St Philip's Church, where Libera members present and former have always sung as part of the choir, announced a benefit service to raise money for repair of the church organ.

Many Libera enthusiasts were frustrated when the Russian TV interview with Isaac London, Cassius O' Connell-White and Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey was rendered nearly unintelligible by a translator speaking over the boys' replies. To remedy this, Russian Fan Anton supplied a link to the interview that features English subtitles. (Interview on Russian Television [Kanon], with Isaac London, Cassius O’ Connell-White and Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey/English subtitles/posted 1/31/2015/9:46)

Photo tweeted by the boys in anticipation of the DVD release. Clockwise from lower left: Matthew Madine, unidentified mini-boy, Sam Wiggin, Alex Montoro, small person hiding behind Alex, Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti, Timothy Lee, Kavana Crossley. 

On March 3rd, the much-awaited Angels Sing: Libera in America CD and DVD were was released, and the CD shot to the top of the Amazon Classical sales chart.

Page from DVD booklet, with Alessandro Mackinnon Botti, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Ben Fairman (below), Kavana Crossley (above), Cassius O'Connell-White and Isaac London.


Matthew Jansen photobombs a serious Sam Wiggin during photo session for the US tour program.

On February 10th, the Official Libera site released this lovely DVD video of "Wayfaring Stranger," with Sam Wiggin soloing beautifully, and the music enhanced by Jeroen Jans' spectacular lighting. (Wayfaring Stranger/solo by Sam Wiggin/ Libera in America DVD/2015/3:56) 
A rare glimpse of the older singers: Sammy Moriarty, Sam Leggett, Henry Barrington, Eoghan McCarthy, and Matthew Rangel-Alvares

On March 11th, the following short  promotional video for the US tour appeared, though without specific advertising. 

Tom Delgado-Little nails the high descant notes on "Voca Me."

On March 8th, British fan Jimmy Riddle tweeted the following: 
Re: Washington Concert DVD

by JimmyRiddle » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:43 am
‪It's amazing what a bit of prime-time TV exposure can do for you - not only is the new CD top of the amazon vocal charts and No2 overall classical, 4 other past albums are inside the top 21... Eternal (#8), Angel Voices (#13) and even the Christmas in Ireland CD is at #21. Libera in America is also positioned inside the top20 on the US ITunes download charts. Sadly no such promotion this side of the pond so it will be touch and go if it makes the official top 40, and Classic FM's top 30 this week.

‪@officiallibera‪ America CD New Entry No.8 US Billboard Classical Album charts  

On March 14th, a new "This is Libera 2015" pastiche video (with footage from 2008 to 2014) appeared, replacing the "Introducing Libera" videos of past years, for a group that now apparently needs no introduction.

Isaac London and Alex Gula in Moscow, 2015 (This is Libera 2015/2/27)

On March 16th, Libera posted a YouTube video of "The Prayer," with a beautifully controlled (and difficult) solo by Isaac London, and the boys singing in their lowest ranges.

In a moment of endearingly awkward choreography, the boys scramble to their feet in mid-"Prayer." (The Prayer/solo by Isaac London/Libera in America/2015/4:30)

TWEET! (From Lauren of Mini-Angels)


These reviews were taken from fan forums, and reflect personal experiences with and commentary on the new DVD.

There's a few bits of oddities with the editing of the video... for example rolling the end credits over 'Song of Life' and having the standing ovation at the end of 'Sanctus'. Maybe those who haven't read the reviews from last year will be none the wiser, but I would have preferred for them to capture the reaction at the right moment. I think they cut some of the applause down too so we only catch it when it's winding down, and some of the audience are shown to be not as engaged as they obviously were. —Jimmy Riddle

‪More than a few oddities, Jimmy. In fact, for those of us who were there the production is somewhat of a travesty. Why mess with the song order? Why relegate three of the best tracks to the bonus section and leave out “I vow to thee…” altogether? Why falsify the audience reaction? The standing ovation was not after Sanctus. Nor was Sanctus the final song. The applause for “Ave Maria” was the longest and loudest of the night. Why do they show only polite applause? On the practice night even the orchestra joined in. The camera work for “Morning has Broken” and “Wayfaring Stranger” totally fails to truly capture the dramatic staging and lighting effects. Credits shown over “Song of Life” is just plain rude. The sound is good, there were some nice close-ups and the boys’ performance could not be faulted. However, the production and editing could have been much better.—John45

John, I agree with your concerns. It would appear that the PBS edit is what ultimately became the main concert file of the DVD/Blu-ray. It seems that this was originally edited so that, with pledge drive breaks, it worked out to be an hour and a half (55 min without breaks) which is why the credits rolled over one the songs - the alternative would be one less song, which we wouldn't want. So I think that they had to remove 3 songs on the PBS edit to make it fit into the appropriate TV slot, which is why three songs are a bonus on the disc.

‪Why those particular songs were removed from the PBS broadcast version or the song order changed, I have no idea; especially "Ave Maria". But it is fair to note that most live performance recordings of this nature do not leave the song order intact. This is an artistic decision by those editing this stuff so as to improve the "flow" of the concert; what works in a live performance may not work on DVD or TV broadcast when people are watching on their sofa in their slippers. When you or I watch this DVD we are reliving the live concert we so greatly enjoyed, but not everyone is. I'm not saying I know why they did it or even agree with the decision, but it's a common practice to do so.

‪As for the standing ovation, I think they wanted to show the standing ovation during the concert itself, not during rolling credits. I agree with you about that being a bad choice, but I guess I'm trying to understand the thinking of those who did this work.

‪While the above can be attributed to artistic decisions (good or bad), there was definitely some obvious sloppiness in details like spelling the boys names correctly in the rolling credits. Did you know that Lucas' last name is actually "Woo"? Or that Bertie's name is actually "Mertramo" (poor Mertie ) And apparently Alessandro's name has 2 l's and only one s. Sam Leggett's name was misspelled also. There may be other errors I didn't catch quite so readily. While mistakes like that are trivial in the grand scheme of things they do show some inattention to detail in the editing of the video. Though, everything seems correct in the physical paper insert in the sleeve.
‪At the same time, the recording of the video and audio itself are excellent, as well as the camera work and lighting.

‪Considering that this isn't exactly a Hollywood blockbuster with a large team of editors and dedicated staff, I don't think they had the resources or time to do a separate edit for the DVD that differed from the PBS broadcast. Which is a shame for sure, but an understandable one.—Surpinto
‪The bonus tracks should have been edited into the [DVD] concert, as it would not have taken much time and they have had months to get the main edit right and it's a pain you have to go to main menu and select them individually. ‪I had not realised they had spelled some of the boys names wrong, which is quite disrespectful when you consider all the work the boys put into the concert .

‪Tom Delgado-Little is such a wonderful treble , I am not a fan of that version of “Ave Maria” but he is flawless in it and not many could pull of that kind of control he has for that song.—dani

 The Blu-Ray was better than the PBS transmission; however, I was still disappointed with the photographic quality. Either there were some faulty cameras, or the camera operators were not paying attention. Several scenes were woefully out of focus. I would blame my equipment, but there were other scenes that were so sharp that you could count the hairs on the boys' heads. Admittedly, I was watching on an 8 X 4.5 ft. screen, so such things are very apparent; but with the thousands of dollars put into this production, it seems a shame that focus was inconsistent. 
‪Audio was generally good. As someone else pointed out, one of the boys sounded strange during his spoken part. I suspect that there was a problem with his speech that had to be corrected in post-production and over-dubbed. It can be tricky to make things sound consistent during such a rework.

‪So much for my technical gripes. The actual program was as Cassius says, "Libera-like." It was very enjoyable. I was particularly impressed with some of Isaac's solos. His timing, pitch, and inflection are so spot on. When you consider that he was only eleven and a half years old at the time of the concert, it is really impressive. I was also very impressed with Cassius's speaking voice. It seems to be settling into a slightly lower register than I've heard from him before, and his vocal delivery is excellent. I particularly liked some of the new songs like "America the Beautiful," "Amazing Grace," and "How Great Thou Art." As usual, Robert Prizeman's arrangements are terrific.—BruceH

‪I received the DVD yesterday, and have been enjoying it immensely all day today. I have noticed a lot of problems, which I will list after watching it a few dozen more times. One must be thorough in one's research...

‪Everything is, of course, no reflection on the boys, or Libera as a whole. Productions are hard, and sometimes decisions are made by people completely divorced from the group, so they don't make sense. The overall thing is, in my opinion, that the boys did amazingly, that they and we have something permanent to enjoy forever. I hope they are proud of themselves, and know what joy they bring to all of us! Well done boys, and all the Libera staff, and especially Mr. Prizeman, the man behind it all!

‪I look forward to giving a full review, but in the meantime, I am enjoying all of yours! —katyafan

‪I just watched my Blu-ray, I really don't see much to complain about though it would have been nice if they hadn't rolled the credits over the last song. Is the 'dubbed' part everyone is complaining about where several of the boys were giving short speeches in their family's native tongues?—TullyBascombe

‪I don't think they did anything. I think they kept the original. I also think, now that I have watched it a few times, that the microphone feedback isn't why he started laughing, I think he is being silly and trying to say his line in Spanish in a dramatic sports announcer voice or whatever. You can see that he starts laughing and Sam is holding back laughing too. When they pan the camera back over to them Tom is still laughing and looking over at Sam.

‪The issue with the microphone sounds like feedback. In fact if I remember right, one of the boys was taken backstage for a moment at some point during the show and then brought back a minute late. I don't know if it it was Tom or not because I was too far back to see, but I'm guessing it was a microphone issue.—Surpinto

‪I just finished watching the DVD (well, Blu-Ray actually) and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I noticed a few out-of-focus shots, but they were mostly all shots from far away - the close-ups looked good. I admit that the credits during “Song of Life” were quite annoying, and I noticed a few of the misspelled names. But at least there weren't any audience shots during any of the solos, like last time. In fact, I'm not sure if there were any audience shots during the songs at all... Overall I really liked it. I've been listening to the CD repeatedly, and music-wise, I like it a bit better than the last album. Partly because it wasn't Christmas music, which I do get a little tired of, and partly because all the arrangements were really nice. (There were a few last time, like “Joy to the World,” that sounded good but were a little ordinary, compared to Libera's other songs…Although I did notice some of the issues, I was very happy with it overall. It's wonderful to have them record two live concerts in a row. I wish I could go to Libera's concerts regularly, but these live DVDs are the next best thing.—Chris17
‪I just noticed something that made me a little, at the main concert filming during "America the Beautiful," Gabriel Collins was so concentrated that he forgot to move into the formation when it changed. You can see him standing at the end of the arc in front of Tom Delgado-Little, but then you don't see him next to Tom on the close-up in the next frame. No big deal, as they filmed for two days because little things happen. At the end Steven came on stage and moved him to his spot and the audience applauded a second time. I know the applause was well-meaning, but i think he may have gotten embarrassed. What makes me sad is that when you see Gabriel's face in "Wayfaring stranger" he looks as if he's been upset or crying a bit. ‪Sorry—as a music teacher that's the kind of thing I pick up on! I hope he wasn't upset. Any eight-year-old capable of doing a concert that long, while being filmed in front of a large audience is outstanding!—mbrose

I also noticed he was missing in the one shot on the DVD; although it's not terribly obvious to a casual viewer. But I had not noticed the tear rolling down his cheek in the next song until you posted that and I went back and had a look. Poor kid, they do take things so much to heart at that age.—Surpinto

L to R: Bertie Smart with visible headband, tiny Rocco Tesei, Tom Delgado-Little, a tearful Gabriel Collins, also with headband showing.

I also noticed Gabriel's distress, and that in the V-formation at the end of the song, he hid himself quite thoroughly behind Sam. He's to be commended for soldiering on while upset. Meanwhile, shame on whoever let Bertie Smart go through two-thirds of the concert looking as if someone had tied a shoelace around his head. I'm glad they managed to fix it somewhat before his solo in "Sanctus." I noticed at least half-a-dozen boys with headbands and/or hair-microphones showing.
I'm impressed anew by Tom Delgado-Little; it hardly seems fair that most of his impressive solo work was relegated to the "extras." He is showing a real maturity and composure. I also noticed that, for many of the songs, little guys Gabriel Collins and Rocco Tesei were cuddled up as close to Tom as they could get, no doubt depending on him for high-note cues. Isaac London and Sam Wiggin were remarkable for their phrasing and concentration during solos, and it was nice to see brief solo work from up-and-comers like Lucas Wood and Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti. Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey is always so outstanding in second parts, it was good to see him get a solo. 

I also felt that a simpler approach might have been more effective. Not that the boys were overwhelmed by the complex sound system, the splashy lighting, the largish orchestra, all the cameras, etc., but the mechanics of the whole thing were sometimes a little too distracting.—K-luv

‪I was thinking about writing a few paragraphs about all the problems and glitches I noticed on the DVD. Then, I was reminded how much Libera has done for me, how they do more than they can afford, and how I wouldn't want any words of mine to get back to the boys, who had nothing to do with the production. ‪So, I thought it would be fun to list some aspects of it that blew me away…

‪1. There has been talk about why Gabriel Collins may have been crying during "Wayfaring stranger." What matters to me is that he took his nine-year-old self, held his head up, and sang the best he could, right up in the front, no less! He didn't run away, he didn't look down. This is so rare for someone so young, and I'm not sure you can even teach that kind of maturity. Kudos to him, proving himself a tough young man!

‪2. Also in "Wayfaring Stranger," around the second verse, the light catches in Sam Wiggin's eyes, at the corners as well as the middle, and he appears to be tearing up. You can see the emotion on his face. What a touching moment, in such a powerful song!

‪3. The older boys definitely don't get much credit for what they do. Of course, for a choir of mainly sopranos, the younger ones should get center stage, but looking at the, they always had huge smiles on their faces. You can tell they considered themselves lucky to be there, and were still as into the music as ever!! I'm glad the camera caught them more than in the Christmas DVD, they deserve to be noticed, and they sang on stage most of the time with the younger ones!—Katyafan


On March 19th, Libera co-manager John Rexroad announced that the concert scheduled for April 2nd at the Warner Theater in Washington DC had been canceled: 

"The technical issues with the Washington DC concert being the day following the first concert in Boston just kept multiplying. The timing and difficulty of transportation with two concerts in two days was an issue, the need for the boys to be rested and prepared was another.
As the U.S. tour manager, this rests fully on my shoulders. We had an option in the contract in Washington DC to cancel should issues arise, just for those reasons. I really knew Washington DC wanted to see Libera again after the full house at The Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, and I really wanted to make it happen. The Washington date concerned me from the start, and although it looked like it could work, the technical and logistical issues just kept adding up".

The full text of Rexroad's remarks, and responses by Libera fans, appeared at .   

On March 20th, fan Jimmy Riddle tweeted the following:

Libera: Angels Sing - Libera in America @classicfm  Classic FM Album of the Week w/days from 10am!

On March 22nd, Libera posted the following charming group photo

Clockwise from lower left: Alex Gula, Isaac London, Gabriel Collins, Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey, Taichi Shinokubo (newbie), Timothy Lee. Center: Camden Stewart.


On March 25th and 26th, Libera Official tweeted a number of intriguing photos, some of which showed more new and unidentified mini-boys. It was indicated that some  of these boys would be touring in the US with the performing group.

Mini-boy rehearsal (names unknown as yet)

Cuddling up: Mark Ustynovych-Repa (?), as-yet unidentified mini-boy, Alex Montoro

Getting ready to pack

Two more unidentified mini-boys.

Bonus: how they release a Libera DVD in Taiwan

End of Part Eight: Please go to:

For Part One (introduction to Libera, extensive overview &

1981-2007), please go to:  

For Part Two (2008-2009):

For Part Three (2010):

For Part Four (2011):

For Part Five (2012):
For Part Six (January-May 2013):