It is some time in the early 70s. My uncle returns from a working tour to England. We visit him. On his turntable is a ‘record’. What we call today “vinyl”. The sound is glorious. I ask him about it. He tells me about a cappella singing in a fairly boring history of music moment (he was a pompous bore). I tell him I already know (I was a teenager, I knew everything). I sing in the school choir. Every so often we do an a cappella piece (not too many, our choir mistress was actually musical).
The record featured The King’s Singers. I pointed out that their name was wrong. There was a queen. He explained King’s College and Cambridge. I was surprised that there were no women. I hadn’t picked that up in my first listening. He points out that I’m not listening properly. I must concentrate on what I am hearing. And, importantly, what I am not hearing.
The King’s Singers feature from time to time on the radio. It always reminds me of my first exposure to actually listening to a cappella music.
Now The King’s Singers are coming to South Africa. They have been before, but I have never managed to catch one of their concerts live. There are several concerts running from 9 February to 16 February 2017, in Pretoria, Potchefstroom, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Stellenbosch. I will be attending the one at the Linder Auditorium on 12 February 2017.
The group has, since early days, been made up of six voices. The owners of the voices change. Currently the sextet comprises Patrick Dunachie (countertenor), Timothy Wayne-Wright (countertenor), Julian Gregory (tenor), Christopher Bruerton (baritone), Christopher Gabbitas (baritone) and Jonathan Howard (bass).
South Africa is a country with a strong choral tradition of its own, with particular strengths in a cappella choral work. I didn’t think about that much back in the 1970s when there was not enough cross cultural contact for it to have even come to my attention. The concert tour is sponsored by the North West University and the King’s Singers will be conducting workshops for choirs in the North-West, in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Soweto, and Stellenbosch. Simply being exposed to exceptional artists is already an education for young choristers.
The programme will be varied in terms of musical styles -classical, folk, pop, jazz and traditional choral standards will all feature.
I am looking forward to this concert at the Linder Auditorium on 12 February 2017.