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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Artist of the week: Anthony Way

Anthony Way (born 14 December 1982) is an English chorister and classical singer who shot to fame after appearing as a chorister in a BBC TV series. He has since had success as a recording artist, with gold and platinum discs to his credit.
Way was born in London on 14 December 1982, and was a chorister by the age of eight. His father worked as an officer at Wormwood Scrubs Prison. In 1990, the prison chaplain, the Rev. Ray Guymer, suggested to Way's father that young Anthony should go for a voice trial at St. Paul's Cathedral. Anthony passed the audition and was given a place at the Cathedral Choir School at the age of nine.

At the age of twelve, he received attention for his portrayal of Henry Ashworth in the lavish 1995 BBC mini-series based on the Joanna Trollope novel 'The Choir' as a gifted young chorister whose voice saved a cathedral and its choir. The series comprised five one-hour episodes, and has since aired on America's PBS Network. Anthony was the prominent voice on 'The Choir' soundtrack, and was backed by the Gloucester Cathedral Choir and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. Released by Polygram label "Decca", the recording went platinum, selling 350,000 copies worldwide and spent 15 weeks at the top of the UK classical chart. It was notably the fastest selling classical release since the Three Tenors five years previously. Meanwhile in the UK Singles Chart the album secured a No 3 spot, squeezing out Michael Jackson. (The DVD of the series was eventually released in March 2006, shortly after "The Choirboys" debut album became the fastest selling classical debut album ever).

In 1995, his record label released "The Choirboy," an amalgamation of classic and contemporary songs which was excluded from the UK classical charts. A court battle then ensued between Anthony's record label and the Classic Chart compilers that resulted in huge media controversy and saw Anthony splashed across the national press, propelling the album to gold status and taking total album sales to half a million. The chart compilers soon thereafter started a new classical crossover chart (in January 1996). From this album also came the hit singles "Panis Angelicus" and "The Lord's Prayer" which both went gold or platinum within a short time of their release.

In the summer of 1995, Way and the choir played an important part in the "VE Day 50" celebrations: Firstly, St. Paul's Cathedral hosted the National Service of Thanksgiving that was broadcast live on British television; the day after in London's Hyde Park, the youngster confidently performed "Panis Angelicus" in front of an estimated crowd of 150,000 people including HM the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. The event was broadcast live to millions of people on television worldwide and introduced the boy to a whole new audience.

By the summer of 1996, Anthony had risen to Deputy Head Chorister at St. Paul's. The choir was given the honour of serenading Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on her 96th Birthday.

Way recorded "The Choirboy's Christmas" with the English Chamber Orchestra, released in November 1997. This album was recorded in London's famous Temple Church, where chorister Ernest Lough had recorded his version of "O For the Wings of a Dove" more than sixty years earlier, in 1929. It was reported that Decca spent an initial advertising budget of £300,000 in the run up to Christmas to promote his new album. By the following Easter, the album had sold over 60,000 copies.

The choir also recorded two other albums at this time, "How Can I Keep From Singing?" and "Passiontide at St. Paul's" both of which featured a number of soloists, including Anthony on one track.

In May of that year, maturity took its toll on his signature treble voice forever. His final few concerts saw him perform in King's College Chapel, Cambridge and at the home of the English Sinfonia in Stevenage, where he performed tracks live from the album for the very last time alongside his old friend and "Choirgirl of the Year 1995", Tabitha Watling. To mark his retirement as a treble soloist, Decca Records released "The Best of Anthony Way" in 1998.

He starred as Tom Long in 1999's film version of Tom's Midnight Garden, alongside Greta Scacchi, James Wilby, Joan Plowright and Nigel Le Vaillant, filmed in the summer of 1997 on the Isle of Man. The film won considerable critical acclaim on its release at the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy.

Way currently lives in Chichester, West Sussex and is a member of Brighton-based band Last Days of Lorca. They regularly play gigs and recently completed a tour of Northern England. Their latest single was featured in the recent Danny Dyer film 'Jack Said'.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Way

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