Libera, as we know it today, is the publicly performing boys section of St. Philip's Church choir from South London. Their concept is to make boychoir music more accessible to a wider audience, many of whom might be put off by the words 'church choir', by integrating classical and traditional music with a more contemporary, mainstream sound. The repertoire they sing as Libera is in addition to, not a replacement of, their church singing. It does not detract from the fact that the core activity of the choir is their duty as part of the Anglican parish church. When heard during Sunday services, they are more like other church choirs than the Libera we see on TV and hear on CDs.
To help distinguish between the two there have been different names given to their separate roles as a choral group - first, the St. Philip's Boys' Choir, then in 1990 they changed to Angel Voices, then to Libera in 1998 ("Libera" being the Latin word for "Free", the title of their 2004 album).
St. Philip's Church is over 100 years old and has a long choral history. Its choir was established many decades ago and became a firm foundation on which the future was built. As a result of this, the current key to Libera's public success and popularity lies with two former St. Philip's choirboys - Robert Prizeman, choirmaster, and Ian Tilley who is the sound and technical genius.
Prizeman often composes and arranges pieces with individual soloists in mind, to emphasise the variety of characteristics and qualities in the boys' voices. The end result illustrates the complexity of his art and the magnitude of his musical excellence. The addition of electronic synthesisers and a judicious use of lower voices, especially from former trebles who stay on with the main church choir, help make the Libera sound so unique. The aim of these is simply to enhance the listening experience by complementing the use of synthesisers with the full tonal range of the boys' voices. As can be heard on many of their album tracks, the electronics are not always necessary - the voices sound equally sublime with or without these extra musical tools. Since it is difficult to label Libera's style as one specific genre, it has come to be widely known by fans across the globe as the "Libera style".
Libera's popularity is also helped by a number of excellent videos produced each year, with the boys in their distinctive white robes, which are broadcast primarily on the BBC's religious programme Songs of Praise, where Prizeman is Musical Adviser.
By taking a modern approach to classical and church music and succeeding in attracting listeners who would not usually listen to sacred choral music, as well as introducing many people to the world of boychoirs, Libera are already well on the way to achieving what they set out to do.
Angel Voices CD EMI site for the 2006 Libera CD Angel Voices which includes audio clips and video.
There is also a Japanese version of the CD (TOCP 70100) which has an extra track: 16 - Sempiterna Remix [via iTunes] and a bonus video of Far Away.
A new CD/DVD was released in March 2007 to coincide with their April tour there (TOCP 70191). It is the same as the original (TOCP 70100) but with Do Not Stand At My Grave from Free as track 16. It also has a DVD of 6 videos: I am the day, Voca Me, Locus Iste, Do not stand at my grave, and 2 versions of Far Away.
Libera / Angel VoicesBen CrawleyMichael HorncastleLiam O'KaneJoseph PlattJoseph Sanders-Wilde NB:- This CD , released in Japan only, contains only 1 new song: Far Away which is used in the Japanese TV drama series 'Ice Wall'. All the other tracks are picked out of the previous Libera CDs [ Libera, Luminosa, Free and Visions ]. This CD should be regarded as a selection of the favourite tracks by Libera, rather than a completely new album.
This CD also contains photos of 20 profile cards and 3 videos - Far Away being recorded in studio, the promo video for Visions and the promo video for Free.
Daren Geraghty Libera / Angel VoicesOliver PutlandGareth LowmanAnthony Maher Also (Music Club MC TCX 001, Cassette)
This CD is identical to the original 1992 Angel Voices CD (QTV CD 018) and was re-released on a different record label to coincide with their appearances on the TV series Thora on the Straight and Narrow. This CD does not list the soloists for each track, though most were done by Oliver Putland and Daren Geraghty.
Treble soloists: Oliver Putland with Daren Geraghty, Anthony Maher, Matthew Ottley and Gareth Lowman.
Daren Geraghty Libera / Angel VoicesOliver PutlandGareth LowmanAnthony Maher Reissued in 1993 as Angel Voices (MCCDX 001) with the same 20 tracks. This recording was released shortly after their 'Titchmarsh on Song' TV appearances. This CD does not list the soloists for each track, though most were done by Oliver Putland and Daren Geraghty. Treble soloists: Oliver Putland with Daren Geraghty, Anthony Maher, Matthew Ottley, Gareth Lowman.
The LP cover reads "In the course of one week recently, the boys of St. Philip's Choir appeared on "Top of the Pops", sang a Mozart at Chichester Cathedral and recorded backing vocals for a film soundtrack. It wasn't a typical week, but the span of a musical style and presentation was quite familiar. With the serenity of songs like "Sing For Ever" and "Deep Peace" the calm of hymns like "The Lord's My Shepherd", and the catchy rhythms and sheer joy of "San Damiano" and "Light the Candles", the choir has won a name for itself on a variety of TV programmes from "Wogan" to "Val Doonican Show", from "Blue Peter" to the "Rock Gospel Show". The Boys - who come from schools in Croydon - sing the regular services at St. Philip's church, Norbury. They range in age from 8 to 13 though many stay on when their voices change to sing with the men's section of the choir. With the choir's mix of traditional and popular, new boys in the choir have to show that they can cope with basic dance steps, as well as sit perfectly still for a 15 minute sermon!"
Libera / Angel Voices This 6CD collection features works from Byrd to Barber via Brahms and provides a fascinating insight into the evolution of sacred music. Libera appears on Disc 6 - Modern Sacred Favourites, track 5, "Voca Me."
Libera / Angel VoicesAled Jones (non-treble) This 2 CD set makes a small feature of Songs of Praise presenter Aled Jones. He sings 5 songs spanning both CDs and Libera join him on 3 of them - CD1 tracks 4 & 21 and CD2 track 4. Libera have their own song, "Sanctus II", on CD2. "The Songs of Praise Theme Tune" is the version from the year 2000 rather than the 2001 version which stars Steven Geraghty.
Steven Geraghty Libera / Angel Voices Libera, and Steven in particular, feature on Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to the film of the same name. They are on tracks 1, 4, 8, 9, 10, 12 and they are buried in the mix on some other tracks too.
Libera / Angel VoicesQuindon Tarver Angel Voices recorded the music for one track on this Volume 2 release of the soundtrack from the 1996 film Romeo and Juliet. Track 11 - "When Doves Cry" features soloist Quindon Tarver with Angel Voices. The choir that is shown in the movie is not Angel Voices.
Daren Geraghty Libera / Angel Voices This 1995 CD has 7 tracks, all of which are remixes of the song "Libera", composed by Robert Prizeman. The first 4 tracks feature Libera with Daren Geraghty as the main soloist; the last 3 tracks are performed by other artists. The first track was also released as a CD single for the classical charts.
It is dfficult to find but can be found by searching www.Gemm.com or www.netsoundsmusic.com
Libera / Angel VoicesGareth Lowman In 1990 Angel Voices released this Christmas single with Blackadder star and Time Team presenter Tony Robinson. This was co-written by the choirmaster Robert Prizeman and Mik Parker.
Steven Geraghty Libera / Angel Voices The 2001 Warner Classics promo video of Vespera with Libera - soloist Steven Geraghty - is on this DVD.
Aled Jones's video of San Damiano is also on this DVD.
The DVD is Region 2.