Angels love enthusiasm far more than perfection." --anonymous
The Langley Schools
is a 60-voice chorus of rural school children from western Canada,
untrained but captivated by melodic magic, singing tunes by the
The Bay City Rollers, and others. The students accompany themselves
with the shimmering gamelan chimes of Orff percussion, and elemental
rock trimmings arranged by their itinerant music teacher, Hans.Fenger.
recordings, captured on a 2-track tape deck in a school gymnasium,
weren't staged to achieve money or fame, to sell albums or land
a record contract. These kids played music because they loved
it. Innocent, flawed and bittersweet, guided by Fenger's unsuspecting
genius, these recordings deserve to be heard and preserved. They
brim with charm and youthful élan, sparked by flashes
of lo-fi Spectorian majesty and Pet Sounds subtlety. Call
it folk art, outsider, or campfire rock -- the labels don't matter.
These are gorgeous, heavenly artifacts. Period.
were originally contained on two 12" LPs, pressed exclusively
for the students, their classmates, teachers, and parents. They
were never intended for exposure outside the provincial Langley
region. But after they came to the attention of Irwin Chusid,
in the Key of Z author and record producer vowed to make these
recordings commercially available. He forged a licensing/trustee
agreement with the Langley School administrators, and with the
blessings of Hans Fenger and several former student soloists
who were located, these priceless recordings have now been introduced
to the rest of the planet.
were newly remastered and CEDAR-cleaned, and reverberate with
an astonishing range of.fidelity.
includes a 16-page full-color booklet chronicling the development
of the recordings; personal reminiscences from Hans Fenger; photos
from the original LP covers; and colorful.sidelights.
(& original recording artists):
and Mars/Rock Show
---- (Paul McCartney &.Wings)
03) God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
Oddity (David Bowie)
05) The Long and Winding Road
06) Band On The Run
(Paul McCartney & Wings)
07) I'm Into Something Good
My Room (The Beach
09) Saturday Night (Bay City Rollers)
10) I Get Around (The
11) Mandy (Barry
12) Help Me, Rhonda
(The Beach Boys)
14) You're So
Good To Me
---- (The Beach Boys)
15) Sweet Caroline (Neil
16) To Know Him Is To Love Him
17) Rhiannon (Fleetwood
18) You're Sixteen *
19) Little Deuce Coupe *
(The Beach Boys)
20) Wildfire (Michael
21) Calling Occupants of
(The Recognized Anthem
of World Contact.Day)
tracks on Basta release only
you wanna know if you've written a hit, play it for kids."
Sketch by Mike Owens
© Mike Owens, all rights reserved
"I don't care how grizzled and jaded a hipster you are--I don't care if you're a 400-pound biker who's killed a half dozen Aryan Brotherhood guys in prison--if you aren't a little moved by [the Langley recordings], you're a f***ing robot."
--Ron.Kretch, DangerousMinds.net, 2013
backing arrangement is astounding. Coupled with the earnest if
lugubrious vocal performance you have a piece of art that I couldn't
have conceived of, even with half of Colombia's finest export
products in.me." --David.Bowie
(on the Langley students'
rendition of "Space.Oddity")
effect of all those young voices singing 'Calling Occupants'
is charming." --Richard Carpenter, The.Carpenters
I heard about the Langley Project, it seemed very interesting,
but I did have the thought that it might sound like children
singing off-key in a gym. The reality blew me away -- a haunting,
evocative wall-of-sound experience that is affecting in an incredibly
visceral way. What an amazing CD!" --Fred Schneider, The.B-52s
is beauty. This is truth. This is music that touches the heart
in a way no other music ever has, or ever could." --John.Zorn
archivist [and Langley chronicler] Irwin Chusid [insists] that
these strange and charming renditions of songs like 'Space Oddity,'
'I'm Into Something Good,' and 'Desperado' have artistic merit.
Surprisingly, he's right. In its own surreally amateurish way,
this stuff is both accomplished and addictive." (Rating:
B+) --Rob Brunner, Entertainment.Weekly
you recover from the kitsch of their schoolyard rendition of
the Carpenters' ode to extraterrestrial life, 'Calling Occupants
of Interplanetary Craft,' you may well regard this CD as a testament
to the value of creative teaching, and of music education in
schools." --Sue Cummings, RollingStone.com
is very evident that the [Orff] instruments were not used as
they would be used in the Orff-Schulwerk approach. AOSA has no
desire to be connected with this recording ... Thank you for
your interest in the American Orff-Schulwerk Association."
"I find myself calling friends, turning The Langley Schools
Music Project up really loud, holding the phone out and going,
'Can you hear that?' I put it on at odd times during the day,
tuning it in and out, sometimes wincing as the singers hit a
strange note, then shaking my head in puzzled wonder when the
music suddenly, and against all odds, transcends the kitsch limitations
that seem designed to keep it earthbound and soars off into the
realm of true art. It flies -- crooked as a butterfly's flight,
but it still flies. I wish every school
taught music like this. I wish every piece of music recorded
in a school gymnasium were this haunting... and then I suspect
that, if I listened to them right, maybe they would be."
Author: American Gods;
Smoke and Mirrors; Stardust; Neverwhere; and creator of DC Comics
series Sandman - www.NeilGaiman.com
"Bowie's lyrics on the original 'Space Oddity' are a Beckett-like paean to the inescapable loss of connection and communication that terrifies us all. What makes the Langley children's version so fascinating is that they sing it joyfully instead of mournfully, and the song takes on a celebratory meaning. The lyrics are delivered as if the kids are in a playground rather than a marooned space capsule. ... The more you listen to the song, the more you hear that the children are treating the recording as a social event and that they love their music teacher. There's a playfulness going on--they're not performing for an audience or parents but just for the love of singing together."
-- Novelist Russell Banks
Author of The Sweet Hereafter quoted in the- Wall Street Journal, Nov. 4, 2014
|"I knew virtually nothing about
conventional music education, and didn't know how to teach singing.
Above all, I knew nothing of what children's music was supposed
to be. But the kids had a grasp of what they liked: emotion,
drama, and making music as a group. Whether the results were
good, bad, in tune or out was no big deal -- they had elàn.
This was not the way music was traditionally taught. But then
I never liked conventional 'children's music,' which is condescending
and ignores the reality of children's lives, which can be dark
and scary. These children hated 'cute.' They cherished songs
that evoked loneliness and sadness."
—Hans.Fenger, Langley music supervisor/arranger
Music supervisor Hans Fenger
expresses hope that the commercial release of this material will
prompt some of his former students to reestablish contact. He'd
like to know how they're doing. Email will be forwarded to Fenger
through Langley Music Info.
Or write to him c/o Irwin Chusid, PO Box 6258, Hoboken, NJ 07030.USA
program brochure for Transient Glory: The Voices of Children,
The Young Peoples' Chorus of New York City, directed by Francisco
J. Nunez (2002): "The
unique aspect for a children's chorus as a musical instrument
is that the performer who sings in it can use his/her instrument
for only a very short period of time before relinquishing the
art to others. This transient, eternally self-renewing quality
endows the instrument with a particular poignancy and innocence."