From the moment we picked them up at the airport on Thursday afternoon until we had to say good-bye yesterday, The King's Singers were the epitome of professionalism and courtesy. Incredibly talented and knowledgeable about their craft, these six gentlemen are worth their weight in gold (but don't tell them that, we want to be able to bring them back!).
Beginning with a workshop for high school and community youth choirs on Friday, The King's Singers provided the 12 choral groups in attendance with suggestions on how to enhance their performance and really connect with audiences. Congratulations to the students, singers and directors from Central Collegiate and A.E. Peacock Collegiate in Moose Jaw, all four Catholic high schools - Archbishop M.C. O'Neil, Dr. Martin LeBoldus, Michael A. Riffel and Miller Comprehensive, public high schools Campbell Collegiate and Winston Knoll Collegiate, and Luther College High School all from Regina and United Voices from the Balgonie-Edenwold area and the Estevan A Cappella Singers on their willingness to try new things and excellent overall performances at the workshop!
The afternoon started off with a short rehearsal and then a very thrilling rendition of two English madrigals, Sumer is Icumen In and Paletrina's Sicut cervus. The King's Singers came out into the audience to sing these two selections under the direction of Dr. Jean-Marie Kent, Director of Choral Studies at the University of Regina. The afternoon closed with a mini-concert by the King's Singers who performed selections from their current repertoire which included a very popular Il est bel et bon by Pierre Passereau and my personal favourite, I'm Yours, arranged by Philp Lawson
On Friday evening, more than fifty members, special guests and sponsors attended a reception with The King's Singers and had opportunity to meet countertenors David Hurley and Timothy Wayne-Wright, tenor Paul Phoenix, baritones Philip Lawson and Christopher Gabbitas and Jonathan Howard who sings bass. As part of the evening's activities, The King's Singers were presented with Saskatchewan Roughrider socks, Sharpies and beads, just to round out their Saskatchewan cultural experience! Our MC for the evening, SCF Director Kathy Stokes, suggested they may want to add 'Green is the Colour . . .' to their repertoire, we'll just have to stay tuned to see if that pans out.
The University workshop on Saturday involved the University of Regina Concert Choir and Chamber Singers and the Greystone Singers from the University of Saskatchewan. All three groups very capably presented their selections and then worked with The King's Singers on reaching beyond their directors to listen to each other and make their own individual contribution to each and every choral performance. Several techniques were employed to connect with the audience and it was amazing to sit in the audience and see, hear and feel the difference those suggestions made.
Saturday night, of course, was the performance all had been waiting for and it did not disappoint. The first half of the program included selections that had been commissioned by The King's Singers in 1997 from English composer Steve Martland. Using traditional street rhymes that have been sung by children throughout the ages in the British Isles as his inspiration, Martland's arrangements provided a glimpse into a social, historical and psychological world that would be foreign to most of us today. Also included were Renaissance madrigals, Pastime with good company, composed by King Henry VIII and A courtier's good-morrow to his mistress by Thomas Ravenscroft and several others by Thomas Weelkes, William Cornyshe and John Dowland, the central themes being hunting, hawking, dancing, drinking and 'enamouring'.
The second half of the program included selections from The King's Singers newest album, Swimming over London and these were enthusiastically received by the audience. A complete listing of the program and notes can be found here.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and so did our weekend with the King's Singers. Before they left, they made of point of saying how impressed they were with the number and calibre of choirs they were able to work with over the weekend. Although they found the weather cold, the welcome was warm and the choirs were enthusiastic so I'm sure we'll be seeing more of The King's Singers in the future. Read David Hurley's blog about their stay in Regina here.
A huge thank you to the sponsors, supporters and event organizers especially Dr. Jean-Marie Kent for so capably planning and directing activities at the high school and university workshops and members of the UR choirs for their assistance at the high school workshop. You're all great and we really appreciate your support and assistance!
To read more about The King's Singers visit to Regina, visit the Leader Post for the pre-concert article and the concert review.
We'd love to hear about your experience with The King's Singers this weekend. Send us your comments and pictures and we'll post them for everyone to enjoy. A picture is worth a thousand words!
Denise Gress, Executive Director
March 7, 2011