On May 1, 1968, six newly graduated choral scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, were hired by Neville Marriner to sing at the recently opened Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. They received a superlative review in The Times, and high-profile gigs and tours followed thick and fast. The King’s Singers had well and truly arrived.
Nearly 50 years later, the line-up may have changed (there have been 24 members since 1968) but their distinctive sound has not. This is partly down to the distribution of voices – two countertenors, a tenor, two baritones and a bass – which has remained intact over the past half-century. It can also be explained by the group’s attention to blend, balance and diction, first encouraged back in the ’60s by David Willcocks, the then Director of Music at King’s, and still prevailing to this day. But perhaps The King’s Singers’ most defining factor is the diverse repertoire that they embrace. From sacred ‘chapel’ music to close-harmony pop arrangements, this eclecticism has led to commissioned works from Nico Muhly, John Tavener, Eric Whitacre and many other leading choral composers.
In any given year, The King’s Singers will be busy touring, performing and recording, but the 2017-18 season will test their endurance to the limit as it fills up with anniversary activities to celebrate the group’s Golden Jubilee. There’s a year-long world tour, which starts at St John’s, Smith Square, in January, as well as the release of ‘Gold’ – a new, 60-track recording on Signum Records across three themed albums: ‘Close Harmony’, ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Secular’. (There’s also an official book celebrating five decades of music-making, available either separately or alongside the new recording as part of a Special Edition box-set.) The commitment of these vocalists to share and celebrate the joy and diversity of music-making is clearly as strong as ever.
For your chance to win one of 10 copies of ‘Gold’ on Signum Records, simply follow the link below and answer the question.
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Signum Records are delighted to offer Gramophone's readers a 30 per cent discount on purchases of the ‘Gold’ three-CD album; visit signumrecords.com/GOLD and enter GRAMOPHONE30 in the discount voucher code box at checkout. This will be active until January 1, 2018.
To read Gramophone’s interview with The King’s Singers, buy our December issue, on sale now.