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.
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.
"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.
Denis BarthelHarold 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).
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."
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.
Temple Church ChoirDenis BarthelHarold LangstonErnest LoughRonald MallettThomas 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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]
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"
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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.
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.