King’s Singers delight crowd with humor
Observer Scene | Monday, November 8, 2004
This year’s concert series at the Debartolo Performing Arts Center continues to be exceptional, as the King’s Singers performed last night to an enthusiastic ovation at the Leighton Concert Hall.Countertenors David Hurley and Robin Tyson, tenor Paul Phoenix, baritones Philip Lawson and Christopher Gabbitas and bass Stephen Connolly performed a variety of mostly English works. They opened the program with English madrigals from the Shakespearian era. As soon as they finished their first number, Thomas Morley’s “Hark, all ye Saint’s Love,” the audience was already excited with the dazzling sound they produced. After finishing the madrigals, the King’s Singers performed “A Lover’s Journey,” a set of four songs written by contemporary composer Libby Larsen. Each song pertained to the ideals of love, particularly on St. Valentine’s Day. The Singers closed out the first act with a set of enjoyable English folk songs, providing a great deal of onstage humor and vocal dexterity as they sang.The second act opened with the contemporary work “Timepiece” by Paul Patterson, describing a suggestion that it was the invention of the watch, and not the apple or snake, that contributed to the downfall of man in the Garden of Eden. The Singers warned in advance about how distorted the piece would feel rhythmically and vocally, and yet they synchronized these concepts perfectly into the music. They also provided a great contrast in the feel of the music when the watch incorporated itself into the story. Finally, the Singers closed the evening with arrangements of popular music from both the Beatles and Hoagy Carmichael, as well as Rossini’s overture to “The Barber of Seville” for the finale.The audience was hardly a sellout, but still cheered vigorously for the King’s Singers after the completion of each song. After the Rossini number, they greeted the Singers with a huge ovation, giving the performers no choice but to perform another hilarious number for their encore: “Old McDonald” in Greek.The Leighton Concert Performance was one of several performances the King’s Singers are giving in a U.S. tour through the middle of November. “[The touring] is actually a lot harder on the feet than it is on the voice,” said Hurley.”We mostly drive ourselves where possible or fly a plane, but you survive by looking after yourself. One thing to look out for is air conditioning and plane conditions, and you need to drink a lot of water.”The type of singer required for the King’s Singers is just as crucial as the maintenance of one’s vocal health. Said Tyson: “You do have to have a certain kind of voice – the sound is what makes the group so special. Pavarotti, for example, wouldn’t be included in this kind of music.”The King’s Singers perform approximately 100 concerts around the world, and they do have an ample amount of time for vacationing, or “holiday,” as an Englishman might put it. “It’s much more fun to be around the world than it is to be stuck in an office all day,” jokes Tyson.The King’s Singers continue to make their presence felt on campus. They will give a master class to the Collegium and Glee Club from 9:30 to 11:00 this morning.