Talented local treble Archie White is hoping to record a CD before his voice breaks – and he needs your help!

The 14-year-old former Magdalen College chorister is crowdfunding to cover the £10,000 recording project, which is likely to be Archie’s swansong as a treble and hopefully pave the way for a professional career.

And although he has already crowdfunded over half the necessary funds, the race is on to raise the remaining money in time before the appeal finishes on Monday.

Already a seasoned performer, Archie’s love for singing began while he was still in nappies.

“He was always singing, practically before he could speak!” laughs mum Lizzy from the family home in Great Milton. “His brother Angus was a chorister at Magdalen, and he always wanted to follow in his footsteps. When in due course he became a chorister, the whole world seemed to stretch before him.

Archie White

After ‘retiring’ from Magdalen College Choir at the age of 12, Archie began singing lessons with Maria Thompson, passed his Grade 8 and Diploma, and reached the semi-finals of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition in November 2020.

Now the Magdalen College School pupil is hoping to be able to make a solo recording to celebrate European baroque music, taking listeners on a journey from Italy to Germany, France and England. The planned repertoire includes some of Archie’s favourite pieces by composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and Pergolesi, amongst others.

“There were a lot of people pushing him to record his voice before it went, and it was something that he really wanted to do,” says Lizzy.

“He has a particular passion for baroque music, which is not what you usually find on treble CDs. He sang Pie Jesu for Young Chorister, which you do hear a lot on treble CDs. But you don’t tend to hear Handel and Purcell.

Archie White

“Then we realized record companies don’t fund it any more. They will take you on once you’ve got the tracks. So that came as a bit of a shock! But people were saying we’d got to do this, and it would be such a shame not to. 

Recording will take place at the SJE, Iffley Road, and Archie will be accompanied by authentic period instruments. 

So far, about half of the £10,000 needed has been raised through crowdfunding, with contributions coming from America, Germany, France and Japan, and what Lizzy calls “a smattering from around the UK”.

Lizzy is however very grateful for the support and encouragement of a number of professional musicians, including pianist Maki Sekiya, currently musician-in-residence at Green Templeton College, Oxford, Anna Lapwood, who was the first female organ scholar at Magdalen College, now director of music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and a presenter for BBC Young Musician of the Year, as well as acclaimed soprano Emma Kirkby.

Maki Sekiya. photo by Volinsky

Archie has his sights set on becoming a professional countertenor, but meanwhile he is hoping that people will feel generous enough to dig in their pockets and help his CD dream come true.

“It’s very hard for a boy. Archie very much identifies himself with his voice and his singing, and that’s all shifting. So that’s going to be some strange readjusting, not only the usual adolescent things but adjusting to his whole identity being altered,” Lizzie says.

If the crowdfunding raises more than needed for the recording, Archie will donate the surplus to one of his five favourite charities, which will be decided by donors voting for their choice. 

All those contributing will receive a signed copy of the CD.

For full details and to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/archie-s-baroque-progress#/

Follow Archie in Instagram at @archie_sings and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=Archie

NICOLA LISLE