The King’s Singers are consistently welcomed on the world’s great stages today and have been throughout their history. They are ambassadors for musical excellence around the globe and have an ongoing commitment to new music that has resulted in an extraordinary wealth of original works as well as leading to some fantastic collaborations.
The King’s Singers were founded on 1 May 1968, when choral scholars who had recently graduated from King’s College, Cambridge, gave a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre in London. Formed in Cambridge, the group had been singing together for some years in a range of lineups under a different name, but this London debut was the catalyst for a five-decade-long career. Their vocal make-up was, by chance, two countertenors, a tenor, two baritones and a bass, and the group has never wavered from this formation since.
As former members of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, traditional choral repertoire pulsed through the veins of the founding King’s Singers, though what distinguished The King's Singers in the early years was their musical versatility. They were a weekly fixture on prime-time television, celebrating popular music never usually touched by choral ensembles, and their unique British charm, combined with their precise musical craft, captured audiences’ hearts the world over. The group has regularly performed at venues from London’s Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall to the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
The King's Singers have accumulated many glowing reviews from the world’s great musical publications, two Grammy® Awards, an Emmy® Award, and place in Gramophone magazine’s inaugural Hall of Fame, among numerous other awards.
In their early years, the group’s sound was informed by the work of arrangers like Gordon Langford, Daryl Runswick and Goff Richards, many of whom had worked extensively with brass bands. Writing for voices with this specific experience helped to develop the blended ‘close-harmony’ sound that has become a hallmark for so many King’s Singers performances and recordings since. In more recent times, individual King's Singers such as Philip Lawson and Bob Chilcott have written music prolifically from within the group. This music sits alongside a panoply of commissioned works by many superb composers of the 20th and 21st centuries – including Sir John Tavener, György Ligeti, Toru Takemitsu, John Rutter, Luciano Berio, Nico Muhly and Eric Whitacre. The group’s mission has always been to expand their repertoire with the aim of sharing their new music with ensembles and choirs of all kinds around the world. Much of their commissioned repertoire and arrangements are available in print through the publisher Hal Leonard. Over two million items from their King’s Singers collection have been shared with their customers worldwide.
This ongoing commitment to spreading great music incorporates a lot of teaching, both on tour and at home. In 2019, the group will lead workshops & masterclasses across the world as they travel. Weeklong residential courses now also take an important place in their annual calendar, when the six King's Singers work with groups and individuals on the techniques of ensemble singing that have governed how they make music to this day. Their next Summer School will take place in the beautiful Cambridge University, the home of The King’s Singers, in July 2019.
With 2018 marking the 50th birthday of the group, The King’s Singers have been celebrating their GOLD anniversary, which acknowledges their amazing musical heritage, as well as the bright future of vocal music in all its forms as they move into 2019. The world may have changed a lot in the fifty years since the original King’s Singers came together, but today’s group still aims to radiate the joy that singing brings them every day. The King’s Singers are as determined as ever to inspire audiences with virtuosity and their vision for an exciting musical future.
The art of The King’s Singers can be distilled into three concepts:
Active Listening, Active Breathing and Vertical Thinking
The King's Singers offer wonderful and sought-after opportunities for ensembles or choirs, who can work with the group and receive feedback and suggestions to achieve the best possible sound. Every member of the ensemble/choir will take something new away from a King's Singers workshop, both collectively and individually.
Working on pre-prepared pieces of music, The King’s Singers will take participants on a musical journey in a relaxed and friendly environment, exploring the key aspects of ensemble singing.
Most workshops will end with a short Q&A session. This is a great opportunity for participants to ask any questions and hear an insight into life on the road, and how the King's Singers refer to the skills they have shared in workshops, on a daily basis.
If space is available, The King's Singers can work in pairs with up to three different ensembles concurrently. After a brief introduction, the groups can break off into the separate rooms for up to 45 minutes, before joining all together for the final 15 minutes.