Here are two different versions of the beautifully haunting song from the animated movie, The Snowman.  English author, Raymond Briggs did the illustrations for the wordless children’s picture book, The Snowman (published 1978). The tale is told in the book through the lovely pictures of a little boy making friends with a snowman, and the wintry adventures that follow and the ultimate melting of the boy’s new friend. The Snowman was the recipient of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

In 1982 the book was adapted for BBC Channel 4 into a 26-minute animated movie by Dianne Jackson.  It aired  for the first time on Christmas Eve, 1982 becoming an immediate hit.  Since then it’s become a staple part of British and International Christmas tradition and is shown on television around the world each year at Christmas time.  In 1983 the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

The film itself is wordless, except for a song which was composed specially for it entitled  "Walking in the Air".  Howard Blake wote both the music and lyrics of the song  and composed and conducted the complete orchestral score for the film with his own orchestra, the Sinfonia of London.  The song, "Walking in the Air," was performed in the film by a St. Paul’s Cathedral choirboy, Peter Auty. It has since been performed and recorded by numerous artists including: Chloe Agnew of Celtic Woman, George Winston, Emma Johnson, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Enrich Kunzel and sung by Stephen Van Dyck, to name just a few. 

As I was researching for this posting I discovered something very interesting.

Most people think a Welsh singer named Aled Jones was the original singer of the song in The Snowman.   This is because he released a single of the song in 1985 which reached Number 5 on the UK charts.   Peter Auty’s version, which was recorded for The Snowman,  had been released as a single in 1983. However, due to a rush to finish the film on time, Peter Auty was not credited on the film until it was remastered in 2002. And so when the single was released by Aled Jones in 1985 people mistakenly thought his was the voice that was singing in the movie.

THIS FIRST VIDEO IS PETER AUTY SINGING FROM THE ORIGINAL FILM

Today Peter Auty continues to share his gift of singing with the world as an operatic tenor.

Here’s a little background on him. 

Peter Autry received his musical training in the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, which he joined when he was 8 years old and with which he stayed until he was 13, advancing to Senior Chorister. He made many recordings with the Cathedral Choir, including the gold-winning "Rejoice".  He was one of the lead singers on the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s recording entitled Arrested which featured the greatest hits by the  Police.  Peter’s contribution, "Walking on the Moon" was later released as a single.

In addition to becoming the  musical voice behind some memorable British television commercials, Peter was a songman at Bristol Cathedral and York Minster before studying with Peter Alexander Wilson. In 1987 he emerged as an operatic tenor with the National Opera Studio and made his debut with British Youth Opera appearing in several roles. He has also sung many roles for Opera North, Opera Zuid, the Glyndebourne Festival,  Glyndebourne Touring Opera,  the Mid Wales Opera, Opera de Massy . He has sung in such famous operas as Carmen, La Boheme, Macbeth.

For the Royal Opera House he has sung several roles including Fenton (Falstaff), Michelis (The Greek Passion), Nathaniel (Les Contes D’Hoffman), Matteo Borsa (Rigoletto), Malcolm (Macbeth) and he sang the tenor solos in Stravinsky’s Les Noches for the Royal Ballet. Peter is also in demand as a concert artist  recent engagements have included appearances with the London Symphony Orchestra (Sir Colin Davis), the Orchestra of the Age of Englightenment (Mark Elder), the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Lothar Zagrosek) and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy). Peter Auty has featured as the tenor in BBCTV’s Flashmob 2.

THIS SECOND VIDEO IS ALED JONES PERFORMING AS A BOY AND AS AN ADULT

 Here’s a more about Aled Jones.

Born in  Wales, Aled has been singing since he was two years old.  Aled joined the Bangor Cathedral choir when he was nine, quickly advancing to Lead Soloist.. A member of the congregation, Hefina Orwig Evans, was so impressed by Aled’s voice that she wrote a letter to the recording company Sain who signed him. Aled’s success continued.  In 1982, at the Urdd Eisteddfod, (a competition of singing, recitation, dancing, acting and music), he won the Cerrd Dant solo competitions for competitors under 12. In 1986 he sang the oratorio Athalia with Emma Kirkby.

To date,  Aled has recorded 24 albums, many of which gone gold or platinum in the UK and Australia. He’s performed for such people as: Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family, he sang at the wedding of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates.  He’s also worked with Mike Oldfield in Pictures in the Dark, Leonard Bernstien on Chichester Psalms and has performed worldwide with such  notable orchestras as the the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at such famous places as the Hollywood Bowl. 

After his voice broke when he was 16, Aled  took a little break before studying at the Royal Academy of Music and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. In 1995 he took the leading role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. at Blackpool Pier, in England.  Today while performing as a lyric baritone he’s also expressed a desire to also move into the tenor range.

Aled’s been a presenter on Classic FM , BBC Radio Wales,  Radio Cymru, Television S4C.  Over the past few years he’s become one of the most popular presenters of BBC TV’s ‘Songs of Praise’.  In January 2006 he also joined BBC Radio to present ‘Good Morning Sunday’ on Radio 2 and ‘The Choir’ on Radio 3. 

In 2005 he launched his autobiography, written in collaboration with Darren Henley.

Dare2create salutes Raymond Briggs for having the idea of the snowman, all those involved in the making of the film version and Peter Auty and Aled Jones and Howard Blake for their magnificent contributions for making this film such a success and for continuing to follow each of their musical passions.  Truly each of you are "daring to create a life you love and a world you desire to live in."  

 Best Holiday Toys 2009