Choirboy inhales a big gulp of helium in Allegri’s Miserere – and hits the high C

1 April 2021, 21:11

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge uses a balloon to sing Allegri’s Miserere
Choir of King’s College, Cambridge uses a balloon to sing Allegri’s Miserere. Picture: The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

How do you get over the problem of your boy sopranos’ voices breaking? A massive helium balloon, it would appear...

For hundreds of years, choirboys have had a pretty tough time of it. 

In younger years, they’re praised and admired for their beautifully angelic high Cs – but it is all too short-lived as voices break and change when the singers enter their teens.

In very early April 2014, to future-proof those top notes, the legendary Choir of King’s College Cambridge found a possible solution. And on that particular today, the angelic assistance took the form of a big balloon of helium.

In this groundbreaking performance of Allegri’s ‘Miserere’ in the historic chapel, a male choral scholar is able to hit a C6 (a soprano C, to you and me) simply aided by a gulp of helium from his balloon. Watch in detail below.

Allegri’s ‘Miserere’ was famously transcribed and brought into the public domain by Mozart in 1770. 

The young composer, then aged just 14, supposedly once heard the piece at a concert, returned home and wrote down the whole thing note for note. Now, those high Cs are immortalised for all singers.

In all seriousness, this video was actually filmed ahead of 1 April 2014. So one can deduce the connections to the time of year, with all necessary liturgical and comic implications.

The prank has since racked up nearly five million views on YouTube. Well played, guys.