The all-boy English choir will perform at the Meralco Theater on Feb. 19 and at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Feb. 23
The amazing Libera returns
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2019 - 12:00am

Here is a tale I want to tell everybody. I learned last week that Libera, the all-boy English choir, will be back in town for its regular Philippine Friendship Tour. The London-based group will be performing at the Meralco Theater on Feb. 19 and at the Pacific Grand Ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu on Feb. 23. 

I also learned that there is a new album by Libera out in the market titled Beyond. So I decided to listen to it last Friday evening. Now, it is not proper to swear so the most I can do is to truthfully say that this is what really happened after. I tell you that I felt all the cares and exhaustion of the week melting away just a few notes into the first cut, an incredible Ave Maria. The singing is so beautiful but with so much power that the listener literally feels transported into a better place.

Of course, the cynic in me later wondered if the effect would be the same if there were girls singing in the group. Why are boy groups preferred over girls? This is despite the fact that boys’ voices change with the onset of puberty and they therefore must be replaced with younger boys unless they become castrati. But no more of that. I say out, out bad thoughts and just let me stay lost in the heavenly sound of Libera. 

Libera was formed and is still directed by composer Robert Prizeman initially as the St. Philip’s Choir of the Anglican Parish of Norbury. The early performances and recordings were made under either this name or as Angel Voices. It was in 1999 when the name Libera became official with the release of the album of the same title containing compositions by Prizeman. 

Libera, which means to free, was taken from the Libera Me part of the traditional Requiem Mass. In a way, becoming Libera introduced the boys to some sort of freedom. Released by Warner Classics, this was the album that introduced Libera to the world and new things to do. Since then, the boys remain the St. Philip’s Choir while home in London but are otherwise recording, touring or performing on television.

Libera has recorded quite a number of noteworthy albums. I say that the Christmas collections are particularly impressive and are among my Holiday staples. Make sure you check out the live-recorded Christmas In Ireland this coming Christmas Season. But for some strange reason, their latest Beyond has turned out to be most stunning, steps up from the other Libera recordings. 

Maybe it is the present composition of the choir. Remember, the boys when they get older are replaced. Maybe it is the new recording technology, the mixing, mixing, etc. etc. done at the studio. Whatever the reason is, I say that everybody should give themselves a treat and listen to Beyond. I tell you that it prepared me for a most relaxing weekend. 

Included in the latest album are some familiar Libera oldies like Ave Maria arranged by Caccini, the Sanctus based on Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major and the Lacrymosa inspired by the Aquarium portion of the Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens but all thoughtfully rearranged to showcase the latest choir members. I am sure fans will also welcome the inclusion of a bit of pop, The Prayer, the big-selling duet by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. 

There are also a Salve Regina from Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3, Voca Me, Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep, Benedictus Deus from The Greatest Miracle and Mother Of God. The sole new original, again by Prizeman is In Paradisum, a gorgeous number that will surely be a big favorite among Libera’s loyal followers all over the world.

So if you can do with a relaxing, uplifting evening of songs by angel voices, go to www.tickerworld.com.ph or call 891-9999 for the Manila show and get in touch with the artscouncilcebu@gmail.com or number 0915-4453049 for the Waterfront Cebu performance. And I hope that the boys will once more sing their moving version of one of the greatest Filipino songs ever written, Bayan Ko by Constancio de Guzman.

ENGLISH CHOIR LIBERA
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