The King’s Singers
Triumphs: Renaissance Conquests in Love and War
Saturday, February 16, 2013
8 pm (preconcert lecture at 7 pm)
Town Hall Seattle
David Hurley, countertenor
Timothy Wayne-Wright, countertenor
Paul Phoenix, tenor
Christopher Bruerton, baritone
Christopher Gabbitas, baritone
Jonathan Howard, bass
One of the world’s most celebrated vocal groups, with a discography of over 150 recordings to their credit, The King’s Singers make their long-awaited International Series debut with a program of madrigals and other vocal works from Italy, England, and France. Formed in 1968, The King’s Singers have a packed schedule of concerts, recordings, media and education work that spans the globe. Championing the work of young and established composers, they remain consummate entertainers; a class-act with a delightfully British wit. From Gesualdo to György, The King’s Singers are instantly recognizable for their spot-on intonation, impeccable vocal blend, the flawless articulation of the text and incisive timing.
“No coffee or whisky blend matches the suavity of the unaccompanied King’s Singers.”
-The Times (London)
During the 2012 concert season, The King’s Singers will perform across the globe in some of the world’s most beautiful concert halls including the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and the Berlin Philharmonie. The King’s Singers will travel to Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, the US and Canada, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Poland, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and Spain.
With a discography of well over 150 recordings The King’s Singers have garnered both awards and significant critical acclaim. Their studio album Simple Gifts on Signum was awarded a Grammy® in 2009. Swimming over London, a disc that aligns KS ‘favourites’ with new songs and arrangements was released in 2010, alongside a world premiere recording of Music for Vespers by Pachelbel with Charivari Agréable. While touring the USA in February 2010, The King’s Singers recorded High Flight with the renowned Concordia College Choir which included KS commissions by Eric Whitacre and Bob Chilcott and was released in autumn 2011. A DVD of Christmas repertoire was released for Christmas 2011.
The King’s Singers maintain a deep commitment to new choral music and have commissioned over 200 works from a host of prominent contemporary composers including Richard Rodney Bennett, Luciano Berio, Peter Maxwell Davies, György Ligeti, Gian Carlo Menotti, Paweł Łukaszewski Krzysztof Penderecki, Ned Rorem, John Rutter, Toru Takemitsu, and John Tavener.
The King’s Singers have an extraordinary history on television. A favorite of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with whom they performed as part of the Winter Olympics, they appeared on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Christmas Concert to a combined live audience of 80,000 which was broadcast on PBS across the US and is available on DVD. Following their televised BBC Proms performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London (also available on DVD – awarded a Midem International Classical Award in January 2010) they have appeared on BBC Breakfast television and performed frequently on Songs of Praise.
In addition to their sold-out concerts worldwide, The King’s Singers share their artistry through numerous workshops and master classes. They have clocked up phenomenal sales of sheet music with over two million pieces of print in circulation with current publisher Hal Leonard. The King’s Singers’ arrangements are sung by schools, college choirs and amateur and professional ensembles the world over.
Love and War: two favorite Renaissance themes feature in this program of music from England, Italy and France. The inspiration for the first half is the 1592 collection of madrigals Il Trionfo di Dori, compiled for the Venetian nobleman Leonardo Sanudo in honor of his bride, Elisabetta. The collection contains 29 madrigals by 29 composers, including many of the most significant Italian musicians, such as Giovanni Gabrielli, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Alessandro Striggio. The madrigals extol the virtues of Sanudo’s wife, through the alter ego of the goddess, Dori, with all the works ending with the refrain Viva la bella Dori (Long live fair Dori). The Trionfo inspired the English composer Thomas Morley to produce a similar collection, which he entitled The Triumphs of Oriana (1601). He enlisted the cream of the English musical establishment, such as Thomas Weelkes and John Bennet amongst many others, to produce a volume of songs dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, and here the alter ego is the goddess Oriana. Mirroring the Italian model, all the madrigals end with the refrain Long live fair Oriana. This copycat behavior was not unheard of in Renaissance music: Thomas Tallis’ Spem in alium is thought to have been written in response to one of Striggio’s 40-part works (either Ecce beatam lucem or his 40-part Mass). It has to be said that a certain amount of nationalistic pride seems to be one of the over-riding motivations, with the maxim “Anything you can do, I can do better” to the fore.
The second half starts and finishes with two of the great program chansons by Clément Janequin. His depiction of street life in Paris (Les Cris de Paris) and his musical rendition of the 1515 Battle of Marignano (La Guerre) are two of his greatest works. Whereas English and Italian secular works dwelled in a mythological world of love and courtesy, the French were more down to earth. Josquin des Pres, who wrote much sublime sacred music, revolutionized musical composition in his day, delighting in the realities of human life. Lassus’ Dessus le marché d’Arras tells of less than innocent encounter between a local girl and a passing soldier, an earthy subject matter far from the lofty niceties of The Triumphs of Oriana and Il Trionfo di Dori.
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