When he was seven, Cai Thomas started singing with the Choir of St Thomas-on-the-Bourne. In 2019, Cai was selected to participate in the BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers of the Year competition. This led to an offer for the 12-year-old treble singer to record a few pieces for a major record company.
According to Highresaudio.com, “The label didn’t think it was worth the risk to make a full album with a treble, Cai did, and so did many of his family and friends.” Cai started a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the recording of a full album. A highlight of the resulting 2020 LP is this splendid take on Mozart’s Laudate Dominum.
The Laudate Dominum, is the fifth movement of Vesperae solennes de Dominicaa, a sacred composition for Sunday services. It was written as an extended aria for a soprano soloist, but it works wonderfully when sung by a boy treble as talented as Cai Thomas. As one YouTube commentator puts it, “The most beautiful controlled singing. Exactly as it should be sung – sounds effortless but is the result of a lot of hard work.”
On Laudate Dominum, Thomas is accompanied by the London Mozart Players and Pegasus chamber choir, conducted by Robert Lewis. This indicates the care that was taken to ensure the quality of Thomas’s debut LP, Seren (star in Welsh). The care paid off. Seren was Scala Radio’s Album of the Week, Classic FM’s Album of the Week, and #1 on Apple Music’s Classical chill playlist. Here is Thomas’s debut single from Seren, his second most popular video on YouTube after Laudate Dominum (3.6m views).
The video above, Suo-Gân, is a traditional Welsh lullaby with support from the Choristers of St Thomas (Thomas has Welsh heritage through his father’s side). Suo-Gân suggests the diversity of Thomas’s repertoire and has 1.2m YouTube hits.
The Rubicon Classics release notes for Seren conclude as follows: “Thomas’s voice rests easily in all the pieces, and, unstressed, it’s gorgeous, with startling clarity and a tinge of melancholy that’s especially affecting. Perhaps to add more variety, Thomas uses several backing groups; this works well, with his voice foregrounded slightly differently each time. Savour the voice while you may”.
And there lies the rub. As Susan Bailey puts it in a comment under the Laudate Dominum Youtube video: “The saddest thing about a boy treble’s voice is that they are often at their most beautiful just before the voice ‘breaks’ in puberty. However, he will always have that musicianship, breath control, pitch and performance skills. I do hope that he makes singing part of his life as an adult”.
This begs the question, how has Cai Thomas’s voice faired since he recorded Seren? In a September 2022 article headed Transition, One Beautiful Thing reflects on the plight of the now 15year old Thomas, and it’s happy resolution: “Cai Thomas was worried. Everyone who knew him was worried. … His beautiful, incredibly-pure soprano voice was getting him lots of attention. But time marches on, and even gifted children can’t remain small forever. He had to know the end was near. Remarkably, when the inevitable happened and his voice changed, Cai emerged as a lovely baritone!”
So what does Cai Thomas the baritone sound like? Below is a recording of the noticeably taller emerging baritone singing Purcell’s Music for a While in July 2022. It speaks for itself.
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