Classical

Alfie Boe will shortly be appearing at the premiere of Rachel Fuller’s Animal Requiem and the good news is that you can now pre-order the album! Due out on March 8 2019, Alfie features on some tracks; click here to pre-order:

There are still a few tickets available for the premiere at St. James’ Church, Piccadilly, click here.

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Tis the season for Christmas music (oh yes it is) so today I’ve teamed up with Angry Baby Music to bring you some old and new favourite Christmas songs. Christmas albums don’t usually lend themselves to new music, perhaps because tradition is everything at this time of year and nostalgia reigns. However, we took a look through our version of the Christmas present cupboard and chosen a few tracks from a few artists, some of which may be familiar.

If you like traditional carols, then Michael Boe and Sean Ashmore’s take on O Holy Night will be to your liking; the combination of French and English makes it stand out from other, more familiar versions and the simplicity of Sean’s arrangement enhances the pure vocals from Michael. Beth Ford’s Silent Night has the same traditional yuletide sound. Beth’s voice, which is always described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and ‘mesmerising’ brings a whole new expression to this traditional carol.  Angry Baby and Beth are giving away a free download of Silent Night so click here to subscribe and get yours. Meanwhile, Gareth Malone’s own composition, A Child Is Born, Malone’s very first composition, with its traditional arrangement makes an excellent addition to the already full band of Christmas carols.

If you want a traditional song updated, then take a look at what Rachael Sage does with her cover of the classic Joy To The World. Weaving together her proven sounds of folk, pop, and jazz, Rachael brings new life to such a joyful song. As this time of year is also the time to celebrate Hannukkah and Rachael’s song, Hanukkah in the Village, a favourite with Rachael’s many fans is also beautiful.

Classical-crossover artist Mary-Jess last year released an album of Christmas songs that encompasses all types of Christmas music. I Fell In Love With A Snowman provides a theme-song for falling in love whilst Mary-Jess’s duet with Rhydian on The Sound Of Christmas maintains a refreshingly natural range and pitch within the mix. Prayer To A Snowflake , the title track of the album, brings something fresh to the seasonal catalogue. Easily the stand-out piece of a stand-out album, Mary-Jess’s juxtaposition of Chinese musicality and classical European vocals creates an addictively melodic offering.

Earlier we touched on Gareth Malone’s 2016 Christmas album and we return to it with a look at a song written by Malone and Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson. Paradise Street isn’t actually very festive but fits in perfectly to a Christmas album as it instantly calls to mind the magnificent Fairy Tale of New York that has been a Christmas staple since Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues took it to number one. Wilson is of course an extremely talented wordsmith and his bittersweet lyrics combine effortlessly with the melody to take the listener on a musical journey.

Continuing the theme of not especially Christmassy festive offerings, Robb Murphy‘s North Star conjures an atmosphere of lives shared through the simple things. Contrasting a lilting beat with Robb’s laid-back vocal style, you’re invited to hum – or whistle – along. Glisteningly wintery, warm and fuzzy, the song holds an entire landscape in the simplest of arrangements.

We’ll end as we began with a Boe brother – Alfie. Alfie hasn’t recorded many Christmas songs (although he’s sung a fair few in live performances) but one that isn’t much heard these days is Home for Christmas, from his appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2012. Beautiful.

If you’re still contemplating Christmas shopping and are unsure what to get the music fan in your life, then Angry Baby have the solution! They have teamed up with Robb Murphy and Beth Ford to produce a couple of bundles of music that they love and know you will too. Click here for Robb and here for Beth.

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O Holy Night came out on top, wiping the floor with the other songs, taking 49% of the vote.  The songs in second and third place were I Saw Three Ships and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, with 10% and 9% respectively. Alfie has recorded O Holy Night, with the Boston Pops, on an album called Sleigh Ride (thanks to Claire Smith for the video):

The lyrics of the O Holy Night were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847, having been asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn.  Needing music, he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams who then composed the melody. The carol was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight.

Don’t forget that Alfie will present Christmas Carols on ITV, Christmas Eve at 11.45pm again this year – hopefully we’ll have another song to choose from in 2019!

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I’m One at Nottingham Arena:

From the fabulous Classic Quadrophenia, this is one of the first concerts we got to hear Alfie singing this music – I for one fell in love with it there and then, despite never being a Who fan before.

Since 2014, Alfie has done even more and been even more successful, with a run on Broadway and two number one albums to boot.  His first solo album for four years, As Time Goes By, has just been released and hit the top ten in the UK album chart in it’s first week.  If you haven’t got yours yet, what are you waiting for????

It’s available here:

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As the weather grows ever more Autumnal, it’s another great excuse to stay indoors and watch Alfie on YouTube.  To aid you in this, here is another instalment of Six Sensational Songs and this time, they are from Marie Blair, who first got to know Alfie when he did the Les Mis 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2.

Some Enchanted Evening, chosen by Marie because “…it was the song he sang at STV when I met him for the first time on 28 January 2011. It is from the musical South Pacific. In a recent documentary to celebrate his 70th birthday, Andrew Lloyd Webber said that it is the greatest song ever written for a musical.”

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. Marie says “I met Alfie for the second time in September 2011 in Dundee at the Last Night of the Proms. He sang The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. It was and remains the best live performance he has done of that song in my opinion. I think it is mesmerising. It is such a beautiful love song.” Sorry I couldn’t find video of the right performance Marie!

Run, by now needing no introduction.  Marie’s reasons for choosing this are that “I think the performance at VE Day was just wonderful. I often watch it on YouTube and I love the way he acknowledges Murray on stage. I loved Leona Lewis’s version of this song but prefer Alfie’s. I really hope he records it.” And so say all of us, regarding the recording Marie!

The official video for If You Go Away, from Trust.  Marie loves this song and also the video, having watched it loads of times – I’m sure you’re not alone in that!

Billy Joel’s Always a Woman to Me was a bonus track on Storyteller – and is kindly shared here by Marcia, along with photos of Alfie and Sarah.*

Marie says “My sixth choice, Parlami D’Amore Mariu, was written in 1932 for the singer Vittorio de Sica and means Tell Me About Love Mariu. It is exquisitely sung by Alfie and remains one of my favourites. I do wish Alfie would sing more Italian songs and opera arias in particular.”  Knowing Alfie’s views on music and his wide ranging repertoire, I wouldn’t be surprised if this again happens in the future.

Thanks Marie for sharing your songs with us – two new ones added to the list!

If you would like to choose and share your six songs with us, please fill in the form:

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Almost time for the new album – who’s getting excited about As Time Goes By?  I imagine one or two of the songs will feature in the list of Alfie Boe’s Best Ever Song 2019 but before we get to that, here is another one in the occasional series of our Six Sensational Songs.  This time it’s the turn of Betty May to tell us her choices.

Dimming of the Day, from Trust – with a great Tom Jones anecdote at the beginning of this clip from Cardiff.

Bring Him Home, this time from Fleetwood, bringing the number of times this song has featured in this series to ten.

The ever popular live song, Run.

A throwback to La Passione with Parlami D’Amore Mariu at Leeds 2015 – note the short hair in preparation for Les Mis on Broadway!

Come What May with West End star Kerry Ellis.

Tell Me It’s Not True, from Blood Brothers – all the way back in 2012!

Thanks Betty for sharing your six songs with us.

If you would like to see your favourite Alfie songs featured here, please fill in the form:

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On the homeward stretch of the 2018 countdown of the fans favourite Alfie Boe recorded song and we find a song at number four that topped the chart in 2016, fell to number three last year and is now at number four:

I’ve used this video more times that I can remember (the song has featured heavily in the Six Sensational Songs series) but the first version of Love Reign O’er Me remains spine tinglingly wonderful.  The whole Classic Quadrophenia album is amazing but this is definitely the best, showcasing Alfie’s vocal talents like very few other songs in his recent repertoire, either recorded or live.  Anyone who experiences (you don’t see or hear Alfie sing this live, you experience it) Alfie singing this live can never get enough of it again.  It’s simply spellbinding.

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We’ve reached the half way stage of the poll to find the best Alfie Boe recorded song 2018!  The song at number five is a new entry to the chart, having only been released in 2017.  The third song to feature Alfie with Michael Ball and taken from Together Again, the song is The Prayer:

Happily, this song was voted in at number five in this year’s Alfie Boe Best Live Song poll!

The song was written by David Foster and Carole Bayer Sager, with Alberto Testa and Tony Renis for the 1998 film Quest for Camelot and was originally two solo tracks; English for Celine Dion and Italian for Andrea Bocelli. The song was then released as a duet by Dion and Bocelli and that is the version that is most well known.

Composer Foster had said that is is “a song that I just never get tired of playing, I never get tired of hearing it, and I never get tired of people telling me that they enjoy it. And it seems to mean a lot—it means a lot of different things to a lot of people. So it’s a powerful piece of music. I think it came through me, and I think Carole’s lyric is beautiful. And it’s very meaningful to me that when all is said and done, there is a piece of music like that, that will undoubtedly outlive me. It was a moment—that song was a moment for sure.”

The Prayer was was one of my standout songs of Together Again – it’s beautiful and is a treat for those who love to hear Alfie sing in Italian. Both Alfie and Michael excel here and it seems to be a fitting song for the troubled times we currently live in.

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Last week saw the news that Alfie Boe’s new album, As Time Goes By (click here to order), will be released on 23 November and I’m sure there will be plenty of fans very much looking forward to hearing all the tracks.  Before then, however, we have the question that all fans are desperate to have answered:

What is the fans favourite Alfie Boe song 2018???

I’m happy to say that the vote is now closed, the votes have been counted and the results will be revealed over the next ten weeks, which will take us almost up to the week of the new album.  Anyone would think it was planned!

Without further ado, the song in at number ten is a song that featured in the first three charts but dropped out of the top ten last year.  From Onward, it’s A Living Prayer:

A Living Prayer shows off Alfie’s soaring vocals to perfection and is probably the reason why a song from one of Alfie’s lesser known albums has been eternally popular with fans, also being chosen several times as part of the Six Sensational Songs series.

A Living Prayer was written by bluegrass / country singer Alison Krauss and released on the Union Station album Lonely Runs Both Ways in 2004. The bluegrass roots are evident in this video of Krauss:

As evidenced from Alfie’s autobiography, he wasn’t too thrilled with the choice of songs for Onward, with the exception of A Living Prayer – hope he sings it again one day.

Onward is available here:

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Fans of both ITV’s The Voice and Alfie Boe were thrilled when they found out that one of the finalists from this year’s series, Belle Voci, were confirmed to support Alfie at his Scarborough show in June.  With just a couple of days notice, Emily Burnett and Sophie Rohan, who form the operatic duo, were just as thrilled, if not more so, to be supporting one of their musical inspirations.  They were even more delighted when Alfie popped into their dressing room on the day of the show and asked if they would share the stage with him on a couple of songs.  Here they are on You’re The Voice, appropriately enough:

I spoke to Emily recently and asked how Belle Voci got the opportunity to sing with Alfie.  It turns out that it’s all down to Jennifer Hudson turning for them on The Voice.  Deciding to audition for the show as a way to get footage for their website, neither Emily or Sophie expected anyone’s chair to turn and were “absolutely amazed.  It’s opened so many doors for us, we would never have sung with Alfie without it.”

As a result of getting to the final three, Emily and Sophie were signed by an agent and thus found themselves performing with one of their musical idols.  They say never meet your idols, but Emily was relieved to find that Alfie was “such a nice guy, loved working with him.”

Emily and Sophie met and formed Belle Voci a few years ago when they were both working in a pub (chef and waitress).  Both trained as singers, at Durham University / Royal College of Music and London School of Musical Theatre respectively and were looking for a way to forge a career in music.  Opera evenings, weddings and corporate events followed before the chance to do The Voice came along.  Just prior to appearing on the show, the duo decided to record and release their eponymous first album, showcasing seven operatic arias and Over The Rainbow, using the arrangement by Roderick Williams.  As the album concentrates on opera, I wanted to know why Rainbow was included – it turns out that it’s just because Emily and Sophie love to sing it.  Emily then said that “we hope that someone might like Over the Rainbow and then discover some of the other, operatic tracks and like them as well…it’s almost like drip feeding opera, introducing people to it who might not have had much before.”  Sounds remarkably similar to something Alfie would say – “there’s only two types of music: good and bad.”

I earlier mentioned that Alfie is one of Belle Voci’s musical inspirations, one reason being that they are “inspired by the musical choices he makes…we want to be like him, he’s so bang on trend with everything.” Emily and Sophie were at the Classic BRITs this year and thought it was awesome that Alfie and Michael won two awards.   Il Divo also gain a mention for their harmonies, as well as Katherine Jenkins (“she’s built an insane career for herself”), Laura Wright and Beyonce -Emily “loves her sass!”

Belle Voci’s album is available here:

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