The King’s Singers
November 10 2021
Nottingham Trent University Hall
Review: William Ruff
Still at the top of their game
My life flashed before my eyes on Wednesday night as I realised I hadn’t seen The King’s Singers in the flesh since the 1970s. The six individual members of the world-famous group come and go, of course, but the brand remains one of the most powerful and distinctive in a capella singing. The NTU Hall was packed to hear today’s youthful heirs to a great musical tradition give an impressive demonstration of their talent and range.
Most of their concert was devoted to numbers taken from their recent Finding Harmony album: songs from around the world and from different times but all united by their power to bring communities together behind a common cause. The opening sequence of nine songs united the American civil rights movement with anti-apartheid protesters in South Africa; and victims of the Highland Clearances were linked musically and through time with those who yearned for freedom in the Baltic States during the Soviet era. And in thoughtful pursuit of religious balance, music from the Protestant Reformation was given equal billing with music which protested at Catholic persecution.
Amongst the many ear-opening songs in this first part of their programme was the South African Ayihlome, a song particularly associated with the guerrilla fighters of the ANC, moving in its intensity and showing a seemingly effortless command of language and gesture. There was also a heart-meltingly tender performance of Loch Lomond as well as a song which expresses the essence of peaceful protest against the overwhelming odds of a superstate: the Estonian Mu isamaa on minu arm, banned by the Soviet censors in 1960 who feared it would encourage Estonians to assert their independence.
The King’s Singers that they identified completely with each song, both musically and emotionally, moving seamlessly from one language to another and from one musical idiom to the next. Diction was crisp and expressive, tuning faultless and every performance crackling with energy. And what’s more, they sang with their eyes as well as their voices.
The King’s Singers
Patrick Dunachie – Countertenor
Edward Button – Countertenor
Julian Gregory – Tenor
Christopher Bruerton – Baritone
Nick Ashby – Baritone
Jonathan Howard – Bass