Not entirely convinced that we haven't just watched a BBC promo very skilfully managed in a particular direction. Excellent production values, beautifully shaped and edited etc etc, A really pro job, BUT I have to confess to being increasingly mystified as I watched.
The girls were indeed engaging, enthusiastic, musically sound, and the adults managing the situation credible and keen, but for quite long stretches of that film you might be forgiven for forgetting that there were even boys singing in that cathedral.
I noticed the boys most! But yes, perhaps it was slanted rather towards the girls.
I thought the balance between girls, boys and adults was very well judged. The material relating to the Stanford alone accounted for a fair slice of the 90 minutes.
Good point, Mary. Westminster Cathedral Choir combine the alto boys with two Countertenors, so there's no reason why that wouldn't work. This begs the question on behalf of alto boys in general too. I wonder what prompted WCC to do that in the first place? As far as I am aware it is unique to Westminster Cathedral. I thought both choirs were great and brought different and complimentary qualities to their work, which is excellent and a lesson in life right there. The farewell sequence accompanied by Blest Pair of Sirens was very moving!
Originally Posted by Mary Chambers
Absolutely delightful. The kids were totally charming and Salisbury is obviously a very happy place. I thought the balance between the contributions of the boys and girls was pretty much about right.
I did wonder whether there would be very much more to say about cathedral choir schools and whether this documentary would be much like all the others in the past but the girl chorister angle obviously made for differences as did the very interesting contributions by John Harper and other historical pieces and I thought it eminently watchable. The scenery was an added bonus.
Although the tradition of boys singing in our cathedrals is very precious and must be preserved at all costs and not in any way put in danger ( eg by mixing the boys and girls except very occasionally as at Salisbury ) I think Richard Seal was right in 1991 to realise that it was no longer possible to deny girls the chance of singing in cathedrals.
Both Chester and Coventry cathedrals used to have boy altos, though neither does now.
Originally Posted by Simon Biazeck
What a charming documentary; and, indeed, what a charmed life for these young people, to have the privilege of spending their formative years doing such wonderful work in such a beautiful place as Salisbury. If I have any criticism at all, it's that this programme renewed my regret, shared with Mary Chambers' above, that all children cannot be so lucky.
I thought the programme struck a lovely balance between the ancient and the modern, the work and the play, and I can't complain at all of a bias toward either the boys or the girls. I'm also very grateful for the long stretches of music—a few of which have been available on Youtube for quite some time now—and only, as always, wish that we could hear even more.
Even never having been a chorister, I found it a bit hard to watch the scenes shot during and after the leavers' service; seeing the Year 8s during their last evensong would have been enough, but to put Blest Pair of Sirens and The Day Thou Gavest over it? Incredibly moving— moving, but never maudlin. Very in keeping with the spirit of joy that ran through the whole film, which I thought could be summed up in this exchange:
A Chorister: What was your favourite part of being a chorister?
Rev. Michael Shiner: Just being. Just being, literally.
Excellent, excellent programme.
May I just say that you've elegantly expressed my own feelings about the programme. I detected little if any bias in any aspect of the programme.
Originally Posted by terratogen
I couldn't agree more. In fact, It seems to me they went to great trouble to achieve a balance, as well they might - a difficult thing to perfect in the editing suite. I can see this documentary becoming a classic, especially if it gets onto YouTube. Well done the Beeb and all at Salisbury!
Originally Posted by Norfolk Born
Whatever prompted them, it was a long time ago - the tenor John Elwes was a boy alto there in the 1960s, under his original name John Hahessy.
Originally Posted by Simon Biazeck
I remember a discussion here in the course of which reference was made to an article by one of the rising young counter-tenors (I can't remember which) bitterly regretting the appointment of a female alto to one English cathedral (I can't remember which) on the grounds that there were so few career opportunities for male altos. Does anyone have a better memory than me?
(Haven't watched the documentary yet.)