Trying to hold an intelligent conversation on pop culture with two teenagers, I was able to deliver the coup de grace by casually murmuring that only the previous week, I had enjoyed a personal chat with one of the world's great rock stars.

On such subjects, I am usually left swimming in porridge, but this time my announcement left my young friends stunned.

"Who?" they excitedly demanded, adding "it wasn't Rihanna by chance?"

"Rihanna?" I replied with a puzzled frown.


"She's one of the biggest artists in the world today, unquestionably the Queen of R&B! She was here recently, with a sold-out concert!" my friends eagerly continued. "She is sooo awesome!"

"Is that the entertainer who sometimes turns up late and has been known to come on the stage intoxicated?" I asked, having read some drivel in the Australian press about her behaviour.

"She's a rock star, the greatest, all that stuff is normal when you're the best! You should hear her belt out Birthday Cake or Rude Boy. So, was it Rihanna you met up with?" my friends eagerly asked again.

"Tell me?" I asked slowly, "Does this Rihanna have rather plain brown hair and wear glasses and dress in a sort of shapeless black outfit?"

My teenage friends' eyes started to glaze over, as they tried to catch the drift of the conversation. After another moment's silence, they finally asked, "who on earth are you referring to?"

"Well ..." I confessed, "I'm not sure of her name, because she is part of a group of five woman singers plus five men, but collectively, they would be right up there as rock stars."

"So, they're a rock group?" my friends asked, busily scanning their mobile devices as they checked which stars had been in town lately.

Finally, one exclaimed with a laugh, "you don't mean the Tallis Scholars?"


"I do indeed," I responded. "The best Renaissance choir in the world, singers who perform with no background electronic guitars or strobe lighting - just pure singing and, as one London critic proclaimed, 'As near extraterrestrial as you can experience sitting in a concert hall'."

"They look frumpy," replied one of my young friends, clearly puzzled at my proclamation that I'd been in the presence of true international rock stars.

"Ordinary looking, maybe, by today's sleazy standards. But when you have the voices of angels, personal apparel becomes irrelevant," I suggested gently.