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  Steffani and his Silver Songsters    (est. 1935) Pop Choir 
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Steffani and his Silver Songsters Upon beginning his professional career as pianist and singer, Frederick William Wisker adopted the stage name Freddie Northcoat and by 1934 had formed two choirs - "The Sixteen Singing Scholars" and "The Abbey Singers", and had assumed the stage name of Arturo Steffani. Around 1935 he picked the best boys from the two groups and formed Steffani and his Silver Songsters.

The group originally comprised twenty-one boys aged between twelve and fourteen years and it is thought that most originated from the Tiger Bay area of Cardiff. The boys sang with many of the well-known stars of the day in theatres throughout the country and made a number of recordings in the mid to late 1930s. In 1936 they even appeared in a film, "Dodging the Dole". There were also broadcasts for the BBC and a five-week tour of Denmark, Norway and Sweden early in 1939. The schedule was always tough, performing at least twice daily six days a week before moving on to the next town. Steffani's other choir, "The Harlem Pages", comprised a group of twelve black boys from the Cardiff area who sometimes appeared on the same bill.

The curtain came down on the Silver Songsters in 1947. Although most of the boys left show business when their voices broke, some remained and a few became quite famous, including Norman Vaughan, The Cox Twins and the whistler Ronnie Ronalde. Several recorded soloists also emerged from this remarkable singing troupe. Those featured on "The Better Land", Dai Thomas, Morris Stevens and Cyril Lewis, were trained by Steffani, although Lewis was not a member of the group when he made his record.

Arturo Steffani formed his Singing Scholars in 1934 and enlarged the group and changed their name to Silver Songsters in 1935. He did not form The Abbey Singers until 1937 when they toured with Florrie Forde in her revue "Swing is King" until it finished at the end of the year.

Norman Vaughan was not a Silver Songster - he was a member of another boys' choir called "The Twenty Eton Boys" who were under the direction of producer Tom Moss. (ref. Who's Who in Variety,1950). They were around in the early 1930's and gave Steffani the idea of forming his own choir.

For further information on the Silver Songsters see www.freewebs.com/silversongsters
Related Sites
Official Site: Steffani's Silver Songsters
Information on Steffani's Silver Songsters and other associated boys's choirs who toured the U.K. Variety theatres between 1934 & 1948
BCSD: Aldwyn Humphries
BCSD: Cyril Lewis
BCSD: Leyshon Watkins
BCSD: Morris Stevens
BCSD: Roy Kemp
Ronnie Ronalde's Site
Silver Songsters Profile

Artist Details
Add a Tour or Event
Search Google for 'Steffani and his Silver Songsters': Web - Images
Featured Recordings Compact | Full
Steffani and his Silver Songsters - Steffani's Silver Songsters
Steffani's Silver Songsters (Evergreen C.100, CD) Dezember 2005
Featuring Steffani and his Silver Songsters   Aldwyn Humphries  
Recording dates: 4 July 1935 (tracks 17, 20); 29 Sept. 1935 (3, 6, 21); 19 Nov. 1935 (11, 12, 22); 1 July 1936 (7, 13); 3 July 1936 (4, 5, 23, 24); 7 Jan. 1939 (8, 14); 9 Feb. 1940 (1, 2, 15, 16); 18 May 1940 (9, 10, 18, 19); all in Decca studios. This CD has now been re-released due to heavy demand.
  1.   Wizard of Oz Selection (a)  
  2.   Wizard of Oz Selection (b)  
  3.   Wheel of the Wagon is Broken  
  4.   Songs with the Songsters(a)  
  5.   Songs with the Songsters (b)  
  6.   Roll along Prairie Moon  
  7.   Parade of the Tin Soldiers  
  8.   Oh for the wings of a Dove   Soloist Aldwyn Humphreys
  9.   A Day with the Royal Navy (a)  
10.   A Day with the Royal Navy (b)  
11.   Songs with the Songsters 2 (a)  
12.   Songs with the Songsters 2 (b)  
13.   Humoresque  
14.   Hear my Prayer   Soloist: Aldwyn Humphreys
15.   Guilliver's Travel Selection (a)  
16.   Gulliver's Travel Selection (b)  
17.   Evening Bells  
18.   A Day with the Army (a)  
19.   A Day with the Army (b)  
20.   A Little Blue House  
21.   A Boy's Best Friend is his Mother  
22.   By the Lazy Lagoon  
23.   Songs of Yesterday (a) - Roses of Picardy, Charmaine  
24.   Songs of Yesterday (b) - My Blue Heaven, Love sends a little gift of Roses, Marcheta  
Email   Stephen Beet Orders should be made to Stephen Beet. The CD has just been re-released. Price is £11 plus postage.
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Mendelssohn: Hear My Prayer . . . O For the Wings of a Dove (Regal Zonophone MR.2970 (10-inch), 78 RPM) März 1939
Featuring Aldwyn Humphries   Steffani and his Silver Songsters  
The soloist Aldwyn Humphries is named in R-Z catalogues, with organ accomp. & Steffani and His 21 Silver Songsters. Recorded 7 Jan. 1939.
Advertised in The Gramophone in March 1939 and listed in R-Z catalogues up to July 1943.

This disc, retailing at 1/6, was reviewed anonymously in The Sound Wave (London, March 1939, p. 72) as follows: "Every boy soloist has sung these beautiful numbers by Mendelssohn (yes, I plead guilty!) and every boy has put his heart and soul into them. The unnamed boy who has put them on record here seems to be just lacking in something, but has everything else - words, voice and diction. The choir have evidently been drilled, and drilled, and drilled. They respond to their cues just like the Guards, one can almost hear their eyes go back with a click!"

This recording has been transferred to CD in two parts as tracks 14 & 8 (sic) with other recordings 1935-40 by Steffani's Silver Songsters (24 tracks in all) catalogue no. C100 published by the subscription magazine This England of Cheltenham: see their website www.thisengland.co.uk . The CD is of the kind which one either loves or loathes. (BJP)
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Sullivan: God shall wipe away all tears /Gounod: O Divine Redeemer (Decca K.843 (12-inch), 78 RPM) November 1936
Featuring Steffani and his Silver Songsters   Morris Stevens   Master Dai Thomas  
Morris Stevens sings "God shall wipe away all tears" (from Sullivan's Light of the World) (matrix TA2280), and Master Dai Thomas sings "O Divine Redeemer" (TA2279), both rec. 1 July 1936. With Steffani and his Forty Silver Songsters & orch. accomp.
  Side A -   God shall wipe away all tears (Sullivan)   Boy soprano: Morris Stevens
  Side B -   O Divine Redeemer (Gounod)   Boy soprano: Master Dai Thomas
no cover
Falkenstein: Lay my head beneath a rose / Keuleman: By the Lazy Lagoon (Decca F.5853 (10-inch), 78 RPM) Dezember 1935
Featuring Steffani and his Silver Songsters   Morris Stevens  
A: Lay my head beneath a rose (song, 1926 by G. Falkenstein) (matrix TB2077)
B: By the Lazy Lagoon (song, 1935 by A. Keuleman (or Kenleman), B. Bernard & P. Roberts) (TB2076)
Both rec. 19 Nov. 1935 by Steffani and His Silver Songsters with piano accomp.
no cover
Schubert: Serenade / J.P. Skelly: A Boy's Best Friend is His Mother (Decca F.5763 (10-inch), 78 RPM) November 1935
Featuring Steffani and his Silver Songsters   Leyshon Watkins  
Recorded 29 Sept. 1935 by Steffani and His 40 Silver Songsters, with piano accompaniment. The soloist in the second piece is said to be Leyshon Watkins (see note in heading), but his name is not on the Decca recording sheet. (Matrix numbers TB 1928/29)

The second item has been reissued on CD by This England magazine as C100 (see Steffani's page for details).
Books Compact | Full
Steffani and his Silver Songsters - 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 Seven Pounds Sterling 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 Sonntag, 5. Juni 2011
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