Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Angelic Voices of Libera

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(From Gospel Now Magazine, Dec 2010 – Jan 2011 issue)

FOR THIS CHRISTMAS ISSUE, we wanted to do an article on a choral group that does (either purely or occasionally) praise, worship and fellowship songs.  Three groups came to mind – the Loboc Children’s Choir, the UP Madrigal Singers, and Libera.  We decided to go with Libera.  (We promise, though, that we’ll feature the Loboc kids and the UP Madz in future issues.)

Libera is a British boys’ choir famed for its distinctive sound of shimmering chords and ecstatic harmonies.  The singers who make up the choir are aged 7 to 16.  They come from different schools in South London and a variety of backgrounds.

The choir had its roots in the parish of St. Philip, Norbury, which has a long choral tradition.  In fact, it was originally known as St. Philip’s Choir.  In 1995, composer/director Robert Prizeman featured the boys in an album called “Libera” (Free).  Thereafter, the choir got to be named after the signature song of that landmark album.

Most of Libera’s singers have soprano voices, with the boys in their early teens singing the lowest parts.  Their songs often combine elements of Gregorian chant, classical compositions, as well as contemporary pop music.

Their most popular albums, aside from “Libera,” include “Angel Voices,” “Luminosa,” “New Dawn” and “Free.”

In 2008, during the Papal Mass that climaxed Pope Benedict XVI’s first visit to the USA, Libera performed to a capacity congregation of 60,000 at New York’s Yankee Stadium.

A visit to the amazon.com Website brought out these reviews by some of Libera’s listening public:

“You almost think that you have died and are hearing an angelic choir serenading you as you make your ascent to heaven.”

“When I first heard [Libera’s music] I was blown away because the voices…are so beautiful, pure, and innocent…Your mind transports you to another realm of peace and holiness.”

“[It is] very hard to consider these voices belonging to earthly boys….Listening to them while meditating (or just trying to find peace and serenity) brings an uplift to your inner being! One can only imagine a kingdom of cherubs (so happy and sweet) singing these songs.”

“[Libera’s music is] a testament to the beauty that exists in this world.”

Let Libera get you into the Christmas mood with their rendition of Silent NightClick here.

In October 2009, the boys of Libera visited the Philippines and performed in the Philippine International Convention Center.  In that concert and in a guest appearance in the TV program “Showtime,” they wowed their Filipino audience when they sang Bayan Ko.  To watch the video clip, click here.

ONE OF Libera’s most-requested songs is Sanctus, taken from their album “Angel Voices.”  The music was arranged by Robert Prizeman, based on Johann Pachelbel’s classic Canon.  The lyrics, striking for their bare yet meaningful simplicity, were taken from the Latin Mass rites:

Sanctus, Sanctus
Benedictus qui venit in Domine
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth,
Pleni sunt coeli et terra Gloria
Benedictus in nomine
Qui venit in nomine.

Translated to English, the words mean:

Holy, holy
Blessed is he who comes in the (name of the) Lord
Holy Lord God of Hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Blessed is the name
Who comes in the name (of the Lord).

To enjoy a video clip of the Libera boys singing this song, click here.

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CFA Bags Six Catholic Mass Media Awards

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CFA staffers display their harvest of 2010 CMMA trophies

ON THE NIGHT of the Catholic Mass Media Awards rites in UST on October 13, guests were puzzled when the same people from one small group repeatedly went upstage to claim their awards.  The recipients belonged to a non-mainstream media organization called the Communication Foundation for Asia.

CFA’s haul that evening: six trophies.  It went home with two trophies for Hall-of-Fame induction: Gospel Komiks, three-time winner for Best Children’s Magazine, and www.cfamedia.org, the Best Website winner for three consecutive years from 2007-2009.  CFA also bagged this year’s trophies for Best Children’s Magazine (Baby Jesus), Best Youth Magazine (Gospel K Magazine) and Best Comics Story (Noel de Leon’s “My Favorite Christmas,” published in Pambata).  The last trophy, for Best Secular Music Album, went to “Mga Awit ng Mga Bagong Bida,” which is a unique collection of the ten best songs composed by students for the National Youth Songwriting Contest for Good Governance, a major CFA project in late 2009.

Like the Little-Engine-That-Could, CFA dares to use the media for a big cause: what the Church calls “integral human development.”

It has neither printing press nor radio/TV broadcast facilities that the industry giants do.  And yet for over the past 40 years, CFA has published various educational magazines and books, produced two full-length developmental movies (“Batingaw” and “Sugat sa Ugat”), several radio drama and TV series for values education and documentary videos.  Founded in 1968 by a Dutch MSC priest, CFA’s origins go way back to 1960 when its parent organization launched the publication of the Philippine edition of the Catholic Digest.

Nowadays, in lieu of commercial broadcasting, CFA makes use of social networking outlets like YouTube, Livestream and Facebook.  And year after year, with grants from various donors, this devcom pioneer, which is based in a brick building in Sta. Mesa, trains hundreds of Church and civil society members in the use of media for their missions and advocacies.

“We try to gain maximum mileage out of our limited staff and resources,” explains CFA executive director Terry Z. Hermano.  “We focus on what we consider three key development issues – poverty alleviation, environmental protection and citizenship education.  Our mantra is similar to that of the Little Engine, ‘We think we can.’”

It’s hard to argue with six CMMA trophies on a single outing.