'A Musical Journey from Boyhood to Manhood'

Note: This is a press release issued after a concert at Wesley Hall, London on 7 April 2000. It is reprinted here with the permission of Stephen Beet and the participants.

DENIS WRIGHT MANSFIELD'S BOY SOPRANO (1938-1942) RELIVES HIS YOUTHFUL DAYS AND SINGS AGAIN AT LONDON CONCERT

A MANSFIELD man DENIS WRIGHT famed for his boy soprano singing more than 50 years ago was back in the limelight on Friday as a new CD featuring two of his records was launched in London. Denis Wright (74), of High Tor, Skegby, featured in the Observer inChad1-sm.jpg (9385 bytes) December last year, when a CD The Better Land Volume One covering the period from 1920 to 1942, including four of Denis's songs, was released after painstaking research had been carried out by archivist Stephen Beet.

The Better Land Volume One sold between 4,000 - 5,000 copies across the country, and has had a second pressing because of the high demand.

And now The Better Land Volume Two covering the period up to 1950, featuring two more of Denis's songs, has thrust him into the spotlight again, and on to the stage.

Chad2-sm.jpg (8862 bytes)He appeared at a concert held in the City of London, on Friday 7th April 2000 at The Wesley Hall, organised by Derek Barsham, (also a former boy soprano) which was in aid of the Boy's Brigade Millennium Fund Appeal, to raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Derek Barsham (picture left) was born in Enfield and was a member of the Boys Brigade. He became known as the B.B.Boy Soprano, and sang exclusively in the London area, much of his work being done for the B.B.C. For example, he sang Land of Hope and Glory, just prior to Winston Churchill's V.E. Day broadcast. He also had the distinction of singing at the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth, the present Queen. His photo is featured on the cover of the CD "The Better Land Volume Two". In adult life he became a baritone singer, and became the Cruise Director on The Royal Viking Line for twenty two years.

Denis was joined by fellow former boy sopranos who had travelled from places like Cape Cod in the USA, Vancouver, Northern Ireland, France and Switzerland for the event. Billy Neely, another of the boy sopranos on the CD, was present at the concert and had come over from France. The concert --- 'A Musical Journey from Boyhood to Manhood' --- featured Derek Barsham and Denis Wright, and accompanied by Derek's cousin, Eve Barsham who is a noted Oxford musician and teacher.

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From left to right: Derek Barsham, Denis Wright, Billy Neely and Stephen Beet

Derek joined Denis in a duet 'On Wings of Song' and the Mansfield man also took centre stage for a solo 'Sanctuary of the Heart', in front of distinguished guests from bodies such as the Royal School of Church Music and Worchester Cathedral. At the final curtain of the concert, Derek Barsham remarked that never had there been an occasion when two 'boy sopranos' of 50 years ago, have had the privilege of singing together as Baritones at a concert 50 years later on in their lives.

Denis who has recently featured in interviews on BBC Radio Nottingham, BBC Radio Kent, and BBC Radio Bristol said, "The release of The Better Land Volume One has been wonderful for me and of course for the other boy sopranos featured on it. To be publicised world-wide whilst I am still around to enjoy it is quite remarkable. Who wants accolades when you have passed on?" He added; "It was marvellous to perform as the guest artist and it went over exceptionally well. I am sure everybody enjoyed it."

The interview with BBC Radio Bristol has caused great interest, owing to Denis singing with a Girl's Choir in 1941 with Uncle Mac. (Derek McCulloch) of Children's Hour fame, and the 'girls' (now in their senior years) are arranging a re-union to celebrate the occasion.

...Stephen Beet

The Better Land


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