In the same way that the Kronos Quartet redefined the chamber quartet as a classical crossover concept, Robert Prizeman's Libera attempts to chart a new course for the traditional boys choir sound. Gathering boys seven to 14 from South London schools, Prizeman has molded them and employed them to perform his own adaptations of classical themes and pop music as well, while reaching the charts in several countries. On New Dawn, the group's fifth studio album, the material ranges from Bach to Enya's "Orinoco Flow," and Prizeman's arrangements are played by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra sometimes, and at others by his electronic keyboards. The boys sound like a good boys choir, but it is the contexts Prizeman creates for them that makes them distinctive and non-traditional. Their appearance at the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors as part of a salute to Brian Wilson is recreated here in their performance of Wilson's "Love and Mercy," which makes overt the connection between the high-pitched harmonies Wilson achieved with the Beach Boys and the traditional boys choir sound. But the boys of Libera also take on "Jerusalem," the most conventional of choices for a British choir. They aren't really that unconventional, but they are unconventional enough to earn their crossover status.
New Dawn Review
by William Ruhlmann
|Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068|