"The music is a response to the sounds of these boys, with their personal characteristics. Libera came about as a sound and a style, which seemed to flow naturally from the voices." - Robert Prizeman
The Music of Libera
Libera is true to the meaning of its Latin title, 'Free', and crosses many musical boundaries. With original repertoire, innovative textures and inventive arrangements the group brings an imaginative new perspective to the landscape of vocal music.
The core of the sound is built around the voices of the young singers with their clarity, enthusiasm and excitement - the haunting yet vibrant sound of the treble voice that has long been a feature of choral music, particularly in the church.
Indeed, the defining inspiration for Libera sprang from the ancient music of the cathedrals and monasteries of that history and quite closely copy what the boy monks wore when they sang and were schooled in medieval monasteries. Libera mixes the traditional chants with contemporary instrumentation and arrangement. Hence songs like 'Salva Me' and 'Libera' reflect the shapes and mood of the old plainchant whilst combining it with new lyrics and harmonies. In fact, the song 'Libera' was the first to be written for the group. It uses a single line of plainsong with many overlapping tunes and harmony, which encompass the full range of the boys' voices.
Some songs are arrangements of well-known classical works. Although the originals could not be bettered, some lend themselves to the uplifting sound and harmonies of the boys' treble voices. The famous 'Canon' by Pachelbel, for instance, provides the basis for 'Sanctus' and an opportunity for some of the highest treble notes. 'Gloria', borrowed from Camille Saint-Saens, is well suited to the uplifting lines of his electrifying organ symphony. 'The Fountain', one of Libera's newest arrangements, is based on a famous and poignant melody from Chopin's Prelude in C minor.
The lyrics of Libera, many of which are sung in Latin, are most frequently drawn from a variety of contemplative and inspirational sources, both ancient and modern, including the Mass, Requiem Mass and the Psalms of the biblical Old Testament. We sing in Latin out of respect for the integrity of these ancient devotional texts, believing that there is redemptive value in seeking out the deeper meaning. The lyrics are sometimes allegorical, as in 'When a Knight Won His Spurs' which, like Chaucer in his tales, takes the form of a proverb and describes the spiritual growth to maturity of a young man, ultimately called to do battle with "despair" with "anger" that afflict every generation. One of Libera's more recent and most popular releases - 'Love and Mercy' an authorized arrangement of a song by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys - is a modern version of the classical benedictive blessing.
We encourage our audience to both melody and lyric with both heart and mind. Thank you for sharing this evening with us.
With Love and Mercy from Libera to you and yours tonight.
Familiar to audiences across the world, Libera is both ancient and modern. The distinctive white robes symbolizes the traditional origins of the style - yet the music reaches across the generations to a contemporary audience. Libera's success in album charts around the world bears witness to the extraordinary appeal of this unique 'boy band.'
The sight and sound of the youngsters of Libera are familiar to audiences in the UK from TV programs like 'Last Choir Standing' (on which they were guest artist), Graham Norton's 'When Will I Be Famous', GMTV and 'Songs of Praise' (which broadcast a special Libera documentary and where the group is scheduled to appear later this year). Recent staged concerts have taken place at venues as diverse as the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Grassington Festival, Abbey Road Studios and Arundel Cathedral. The boys have appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, at the National Concert Hall in Dublin and at St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast. They have also been heard across the country singing the music for the distinctive Waitrose TV campaign. Libera regularly sing at events and services in cathedrals and churches like Buckfast Abbey and Westminster Cathedral. Their albums are frequently featured in the classical and main UK music charts and their music is often to be heard on Classic FM and radio 2. The group has been nominated for three classical Brit awards.
Across the world the vocal group is famed in many countries, especially the US, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, where Libera music rides high in the main album charts. Their tours pack out major concert venues and the boys are feted by thousands of enthusiastic fans who queue to meet them and collect autographs.
In the US Libera is known through concert tours and TV appearances including a nationwide PBS special, which was filmed in Holland. This was followed by Libera's participation in the Papal Mass at the climax of Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the USA. Performing to a capacity congregation of 65,000 at New York's Yankee Stadium, Libera were the only British artist to take part in this historic event.
The boys had their US debut at the Kennedy Center Honors, where they performed in front of the President and a hall full of celebrities - including Robert de Niro, Cameron Diaz, Diana Ross and Steve Martin. They boys were privileged to close the Kennedy Center Honors with a moving tribute to honoree Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.
The boys who make up Libera are between the ages of seven and sixteen, come from a variety of backgrounds and attend local schools in London. They are 'normal' boys, who through their invelvement in Libera have traveled the world, recorded movie soundtracks, performed to millions and recorded CDs. But, as one of the boys said, "The traveling and filming are fun but even if we didn't go anywhere I'd still want to do it because I just love singing."
Text source: Canada concert program book