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9 TREBLES Featured Boy Sopranos | All Trebles | Boy Altos | Soloist Recordings | Chorister of the Year | 78 RPM | Pop Singles

  Harold Langston    (b. 1916) Boy Soprano Soloist 
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Harold Langston Harold Langston was born in 1916 in Newcastle. After winning a major music festival in Northumberland at the age of eleven, he was discovered by the then Mr. George Thalben-Ball who was searching for experienced boys to join the Temple Church Choir, following the departure of the four senior boys, which included Ernest Lough. Mr. Ball persuaded Mrs. Langston to send Harold to Temple in 1929. He remained in the choir until 1932. The photo shows him in his cricket cap.

Described by fellow chorister (1931-33) David Lewer as having "a voice of almost perfect quality." He emigrated to Canada in 1951 and died there in 2002.

Note: The recording of "Oh! for a closer walk with God" (by M.B. Foster, not Spohr) misattributed to him on Amphion CD "The Glory of the Temple Church Choir" vol. 1 was actually made by Thomas Meddings.
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The Better Land

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Featured Recordings Compact | Full
Harold Langston - O Valiant Hearts
O Valiant Hearts (HMV Bb18528, 78 RPM) February 1930
Featuring Harold Langston  
Harris/Arkwright O Valiant Hearts: Matrix Bb18528. This unique record just discovered appears to have been made in Feb. 1930. Langston recorded ONE verse only which was played, from a record, over the loudspeakers at the Aldershot tattoo in 1930. The plan was to issue this record as it caused great excitement. However, this never happened and this test pressing is the only surviving copy and of the greatest importance.
  Side A -   O Valliant Hearts   "O Valiant Hearts" is a hymn remembering the fallen of the First World War. Words were taken from a poem by Sir John Stanhope Arkwright (1872–1954), published in 'The Supreme Sacrifice, and other Poems in Time of War (1919). It was set to music by Dr. Charles Harris and has been beloved ever since.
Harold Langston - Sterndale Bennett: Remember now thy Creator
Sterndale Bennett: Remember now thy Creator (HMV unissued on 78rpm, 78 RPM) 1930
Featuring Denis Barthel   Harold Langston  
Remember now thy Creator (anthem, 1859: wds Bible: Eccl. 12:1,13 - music William Sterndale Bennett (1816-75)) Test pressing BR2821-2, rec. 3 July 1930, with Harold Langston (alto), Denis Barthel (soprano), Temple Church Choir & G.T. Thalben-Ball, organ.
Issued on CDs Amphion "The Better Land" vol. 2 & "The Glory of the Temple Church Choir" vol. 1.

Careful listening with the score shows that Langston's is the first voice heard, taking the solo alto line, but his voice and Barthel's are so closely matched in tone on this recording that it is difficult to tell them apart.

The illustration shows the Temple Church organ & choir stalls (destroyed in 1941).
  Side A -   Remember now thy Creator (Sterndale Bennett)  
Harold Langston - Handel: Angels, ever bright and fair
Handel: Angels, ever bright and fair (HMV unissued on 78rpm, 78 RPM) 1929
Featuring Harold Langston  
Angels, ever bright and fair (from oratorio "Theodora", 1750 by G.F. Handel (1685-1759)) Test pressing BR2712-2, rec. 31 Dec. 1929, with G.T. Thalben-Ball, organ.
Issued on Amphion CD "The Glory of the Temple Church Choir" vol. 1.

Theodora, a Christian of noble birth, sings the recitative & air: "Deluded mortal! Call it not rebellion to worship God: it is His dread command. His whom we cannot, dare not disobey, though death be our reward. Angels, ever bright and fair, take, oh take me to your care. Speed to your own courts my flight, clad in robes of virgin white."

The illustration shows Dr George Thalben-Ball.
  Side A -   Angels, ever bright and fair (Handel)  
Harold Langston - Mendelssohn: I will sing of Thy great mercies, O Lord
Langston, front row centre with other members of the choir in 1931
Mendelssohn: I will sing of Thy great mercies, O Lord (HMV unissued on 78rpm, 78 RPM) 1929
Featuring Harold Langston  
I will sing of Thy great mercies, O Lord (from oratorio "St Paul", 1836 by Mendelssohn (1809-47)) Test pressing BR2713-2, rec. 31 Dec. 1929 with G.T. Thalben-Ball, organ.
Available on Amphion CD "The Better Land" vol. 4.

It is instructive to compare this recording with the one made by Ernest Lough two years earlier (also unpublished on 78 rpm, now issued on Pearl GEM0145). Although Langston gives an exemplary rendering of the score, Lough gives the better performance. Langston's rich, steady voice - the tone now velvety, now shining - and impeccable legato with varied intensity and expression, still falls short of Lough's exquisite musical sensibilty, achieved through a more intuitive timing and expression and a free use of rubato, culminating in a wonderfully floated final "evermore" (spanning 20 sec. against Langston's 14 sec.). His voice, though, is thinner, weaker and less steady than Langston's, with tiny traces of gruffness (but always fully under control), and with more of that tentative quality which is often such an attractive feature of the boy-voice. Vocally Lough is burnished silver to Langston's gold, musically he is unsurpassed.
  Side A -   I will sing of Thy great mercies, O Lord (Mendelssohn)   (From "St Paul")
Other Recordings Compact | Full
Harold Langston - The Glory of the Temple Church Choir
The Glory of the Temple Church Choir (Amphion PHI CD 172, CD) January 2002
Featuring Temple Church Choir   Denis Barthel   Harold Langston   Ernest Lough   Ronald Mallett   Thomas Meddings  
"Doctor" George Thalben-Ball's famous choir, recorded 1922 - 1935.
The success of "The Better Land" series, featuring boy sopranos of the 20th century has awakened interest in that great choir to which several of the boys belonged, and in the man who trained them. Several of the "boys" have been closely involved with the preparation of this CD.
  1.   King of Glory  
  2.   I Waited for the Lord   Soloists: Ernest Lough and Ronald Mallett
  3.   O come everyone that thirsteth   Soloists: Lough and Mallett
  4.   How Lovely are the Messengers  
  5.   Lullay my Liking & There is no rose   Soloist: Dennis Barthel
  6.   See amid the winter's snow   Soloist: Barthel with tenor
  7.   O Little Town of Bethlehem   Soloist: Barthel
  8.   As pants the hart   Soloist: Thomas Meddings
  9.   Lord it belongs not to my care  
10.   Jesu joy of man's desiring  
11.   Blest are the departed   Soloist: Meddings
12.   He was despised   Soloist: Barthel
13.   Remember now thy creator   Soloists: Harold Langston and Barthel
14.   Oh for a closer walk with God   Soloist: Thomas Meddings (misattributed on CD as Langston)
15.   If ye love me, keep my commandments  
16.   O filii et filiae   Soloists: Lough and Horton
17.   Lord God of Heaven & Earth   Soloists: Meddings (soprano) and Dennys Lake (alto)
18.   Angels ever bright and fair   Soloist: Langston
19.   Psalm 150  
20.   Hear my Prayer   Soloist: Lough
21.   The Heavens are telling  
Email   Purchase from the Producer, Stephen Beet You can order the Better Land and Temple Church CDs directly from the producer Stephen Beet for £11.00 plus postage and packing. Please apply for postal rates and discounts on the set of both series. StephenRBeet@gmail.com Paypal address beetstphn@aol.com
Harold Langston - The Better Land Volume 4 - Great Boy Sopranos Recorded 1927-1954
The Better Land Volume 4 - Great Boy Sopranos Recorded 1927-1954 (Amphion PHI CD 168, CD) July 2001
Featuring The Better Land Series   Derek Barsham   John Bonner   Master John Brookman   Master Leslie Day   Robert Harris   Beverley Jones   Raymond Kinsey   Harold Langston   Ernest Lough   Brian Moody   Billy Neely   Graham Payn   Robert Regent   Trevor Schofield  
* denotes recordings published for the first time. This volume will shortly deleted and replaced by the double CD volume The Better Land Volumes 3 & 4. Hurry to order now while stocks last.
  1.   Come Back (Toselli's Serenade. Words R.H. Elkin) (L)   Master Leslie Day 1933
  2.   Abide with me (Lyte-Liddle) (L)   Master John Bonner 1929
  3.   Five Eyes* (Gibbs-Cecil Armstrong) (L)   Master Billy Neely 1949
  4.   The Fairy Tree* (Vincent O'Brien)   Master Billy Neely 1949
  5.   I will sing of Thy Great Mercies O Lord* (Mendelssohn)   Master Harold Langston 1929
  6.   Pierrot at the dance (Lockton-Drummond)   Master Trevor Schofield 1929
  7.   One night of love (Kahn-Schertzinger) (L)   Master Robert Harris 1933
  8.   Hark! Hark! the Lark* (Schubert)   Master Brian Moody 1944
  9.   Slumber dear maid (Handel)   Master John Bonner 1929
10.   My heart ever faithful (Bach) (L)   Master Raymond Kinsey 1933
11.   The Old Church Bells* (H.M.Farrar)   Master Robert Harris 1934
12.   Love's old sweet song (Bingham-Molloy) (L)   Master Robert Harris 1933
13.   The Trout* (Schubert)   Master Brian Moody 1944
14.   Nursery Scene, Boris Godounov (Moussorgsky)   Master Derek Barsham
Recorded 30 Apl. 1947 (AR11093 & 11094), with Gladys Palmer, contralto, Norman Lumsden, bass & London Symphony Orchestra cond. Stanford Robinson. Issued June 1947 on Decca K.1601. ["Better Land" the two parts separately in vols. 3 & 4]
15.   Hear my prayer* (Mendelssohn) (L)   Master Billy Neely 1950
16.   Star of Bethlehem (Adams)   Master John Brookman 1934
17.   A Brown Bird Singing (Barrie-Haydn Wood) (L)   Master Robert Regent
18.   I know that my Redeemer Liveth (Handel) (L)   Master Ernest Lough 1927
19.   Hear ye, Israel (part1)* (Mendenssohn) (L)   Master Ernest Lough 1927
20.   Kitty my love will ya marry me?* (Trad. - arr. Hughes)   Master Billy Neely live 1950
21.   Birdsongs at Eventide* (Barrie-Coates) (L)   Master Graham Payn 'Live' 1932
22.   Let the bright Seraphim (Handel) (L)   Master Raymond Kinsey
23.   Angels guard thee (Reilly-Godard) (L)   Master John Bonner 1929
24.   A song of wisdom* (Charles V. Stanford) (L)   Master Beverly Jones 1954
Email   Available from the producer at £10 plus postage, or £55 plus postage for the set of 6 CD's (which includes as a special offer Stephen R. Beet's book "The Better Land - in search of the lost boy sopranos" Contact StephenRBeet@gmail.com Paypal: beetstphn@aol.com
Harold Langston - The Better Land Volume 2: Great Boy Sopranos 1930 - 1950
The Better Land Volume 2: Great Boy Sopranos 1930 - 1950 (Amphion PHI CD 159, CD) 2000
Featuring Derek Barsham   The Better Land Series   Billy Neely   Denis Barthel   Harold Langston   Thomas Meddings   Graham Payn   Temple Church Choir   Denis Wright  
This volume is now deleted but replaced by the double CD volume The Better Land Volumes 1 & 2. See above.
  1.   Jerusalem (Parry-Blake) (L)   Master Denis Barthel
  2.   Silent Worship (Handel-Somervell) (L)   Master Derek Barsham
  3.   Passing By (E. Purcell-Herrick) (L)   Master Derek Barsham
  4.   Ninepenny Fiddle (Trad- arr. Moore) (L)   Master Billy Neely (1950)
  5.   Lark in the Clear Air (Trad) (L)   Master Billy Neely (1950)
  6.   Cradle Song (Schubert-Claudius)   Master Denis Wright
  7.   I'll Walk Beside You (Murray-Lockton) (L)   Master Derek Barsham
  8.   Beyond the Dawn (Sanderson-Weatherly)   Master Derek Barsham
  9.   The Birds (Britten-Belloc) (L)   Master Billy Neely
10.   Child & the Twilight (arr Moore)   Master Billy Neely (1950)
11.   Remember now thy Creator (Sterndale-Bennett)   Masters Harold Langston & Denis Barthel, with the choir of the Temple Church, London.
Recorded July 1930. Acc. Dr. George Thalben Ball. Unpublished recording 3rd. July 1930.
12.   Lullay Myn Lyking (Trad 15th Cent-Terry) (L)   Master Denis Barthel
13.   Uncle Mac's Favourite Hymns: All Things Bright & Beautiful, There's a Friend for Little Chil   Master Denis Wright with the Greenbank Children's Choir
14.   Hymn that I Sang as a Boy (Miller-Burnaby)   Master Graham Payn
15.   Meadowsweet (April)   Master Graham Payn (1933)
16.   Anchor Song (Smith)   Master Derek Barsham
17.   A Fairy Story by the Fire (Merikanto)   Master Billy Neely
18.   Vergin Tutt 'Amor (Francesco Durante) (L)   Master Billy Neely
19.   Star of Bethlehem (Adams-Weatherly)   Master Derek Barsham
20.   As Pants the Hart (Spohr) (L)   Master Thomas Meddings with the choir of the Temple Church
21.   Il Mio Bel Foco (Benedetto Marcello-Baker)   Master Billy Neely
22.   "The Libertine: Nymphs & Shepherds"   Master Derek Barsham.
Transcription disc of B.B.C. Children's Hour broadcast, with Nancy Phillips, violin. First issue on "Better Land" vol. 2.
23.   Cherry Ripe (Hurn-Herrick) (L)   Master Billy Neely (1949)
24.   Halleluja (Easter Hymn dating from 1623)   Master Denis Barthel
25.   Star of God (Coates-Murray) (L)   Master Derek Barsham.
Recorded 3 or 4 May 1946 with piano accomp. Live direct-disc recording at the Royal Albert Hall during the Boys' Brigade Annual Display, Physical Phantasmagoria. First issue on "Better Land" vol. 2.
Review at   The Better Land
Email   Purchase from Stephen Beet
Books Compact | Full
Harold Langston - Better Land, The: In Search of the Lost Boy Sopranos
Better Land, The: In Search of the Lost Boy Sopranos (Rectory Press , Book) April 2005
Featuring The Better Land Series   Temple Church Choir   Clifford Adams   Derek Barsham   Denis Barthel   John Bonner   Richard Bonsall   Alan Bradbrook   Master John Brookman   Richard Brown   Master Gordon Carter   Master (Arthur) Iwan Davies   Master Leslie Day   Robin Fairhurst   Frederick (John) Firth   Michael Ginn   John Gwilym Griffith(s)   Robert Harris   Michael Hartnett   Aled Jones   Beverley Jones   Raymond Kinsey   Harold Langston   Ernest Lough   Robin Lough   Thomas Meddings   Brian Moody   Billy Neely   Graham Payn   Robert Duncan Peel   Kenneth Purves   The Choir of the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy   Steffani and his Silver Songsters   Thomas Tweedy   Denis Wright  
By Stephen Beet. Features much newly-discovered material, telling the often very human stories of the boys behind the voices, at the height of their singing careers and in their later lives. Copiously illustrated with many previously-unpublished photographs and manuscript samples, with a Foreword by Peter Purves.

As well as chapters on Iwan Davies, Derek Barsham, and Denis Wright, amongst others there are also chapters under the following headings: The Temple Boys, The Manchester Boys, The Music Hall Boys, The Fleeting Boys, and The Broadcast Boys.

This book is available directly from the author: Contact StephenRBeet@gmail.com Price £10 plus postage

This book is available for the cost of postage and packing only if the set of six The Better Land CD albums is ordered.
Email   Stephen Beet The book costs £10 plus postage. Cheque or PayPal.
This page last modified on Saturday, June 04, 2011
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