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Friday, November 17, 2006

Music Spotlight: King's Singers

The King's SingersI recently posted on this blog describing a CD I had put together for Mrs. Euphrony to play for our daughter in the womb, and of the follow-up CD that I was assembling for our son. One of the groups that I included on both CDs is the King's Singers - a vocal group from England who sings just about every style of music made (from 16th century madrigals to more modern "madrigals" from the likes of Randy Newman, The Beatles, and The Beach Boys). I've loved listening to their music for nearly two full decades, and the songs "The Oak and the Ash" (on Little Euphrony's CD) and "You are the New Day" (on Baby Euphrony's CD) are among my favorites.

Well, it would seem that they are watching. One of the current line-up, Christopher Gabbitas (a baritone), found my blog and commented on the post. He also informed me that the King's Singers would be in my area this week - in Houston on Tuesday, November 14th and in College Station on the 16th. I couldn't make it to the Houston show, but last night I drove by myself to College Station after work to go see their performance on the Texas A&M campus. (A BIG thank you goes to Mrs. Euphrony for her understanding and encouraging me to go up and see this concert. I love you so much!) The crowd was very receptive; in fact, there was a group of girls in front of me (college-age) who could only be described as positively giddy with excitement at being there last night. Being a man, and having never been giddy in my life, I was only reminded of how much older than these young ladies I actually am.

The evening's performance was divided into two distinct parts. In the first half, before intermission, they sang the majority of the songs from their Fall 2006 album Landscape & Time. It is a beautiful collection of pieces from mostly modern composers and featuring the works of Cyrillus Kreek, an Estonian composer of the early 20th century. The audience sat rapt as we listened to their voices paint pictures and guide us through this selection evocative of landscapes from around the world.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe second half, after the intermission, was begun with the performance of "Timepiece". This is an allegorical tale of the fall of man in the garden, caused not by Eve and Adam partaking in the forbidden fruit but rather by the wristwatch Adam wore and the discord it caused. It culminates in God, frustrated, crying out "Stop!" and the universe obeying His word, thus restoring peace to the garden. That seems to be the only set song for after intermission, with the songs following being chosen specific for each night. They sang songs from The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Harry Connick, Jr., and others. In general, this section of the performance was much lighter in tone, and the audience was drawn into the music with laughter and joy at the obvious fun they were having on stage. As an encore, they offered up "You are the New Day" (thank you, Chris, for remembering me!); while all the songs before this had been well received and enjoyed, there was an audible gasp and smattering of applause on the opening chords of this song, obviously a favorite of many. Following this, they remained on stage for a question and answer session and then stood to sign the CD's they knew we were all purchasing. A very enjoyable evening, indeed.

Here is a video, from around 1996, of the King's Singers performing "The Gift" (a traditional Shaker song that most people will recognize).

Having a very busy schedule, they are now off to a couple more performances in the U.S.A. before leaving in a week's time for an Asian tour and then back to the U.K. for Christmas. If you get a chance in the future, make time to go see this wonderful group. You will not be disappointed.

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Anne said...

Isn't the human voice just spectacular?

Anonymous said...

I love the King's Singers! "New Day" is a personal favorite as well. I've listened to their madrigal work since high school. I saw them in Waco some years back... geez... maybe 8 years or so. You are so stinkin' lucky, man. Glad you enjoyed it.

Seth Ward said...

They were at Rice right when I was going to NY I think. At least thats what my class told me.

euphrony said...

They were at Rice last Tuesday, the 14th. I couldn't make it to that show (sold out) but College Station is almost as close for me - plus I get the nostalgia of returning "home".

It was a great show. They also sang "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from Guys and Dolls and "Music of the Night" from Phantom. Both great. I did buy one of their recent CDs, 1605: Treason and Discord, a collection of pieces from Catholic and Protestant composers around the time of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up the king and parliament.

Their voices are great. They can do things with their voices most non-musical people have never imagined to be possible.

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