This Saturday I ushered a concert by the King’s Singers, a six-male vocal group from Britain. Notice that the name of the group isn’t the Queen’s Singers, or the King Singers, or the King’s Sisters. I think the name came from the King’s College in Cambridge where the group was formed exactly 30 years ago. (BTW, I got all the information of the artists from the program that we hand out to patrons for free. I didn’t know anything before reading it!)
The King’s Singers is probably the most prestigious small-scale vocal group in the world. Why? Simply because I’ve never ushered a show that’s so sold-out! My section is the far left end of the main floor from row V to Z, numbered from some 20s to 40s, and there’s NO empty seat!!!
The concert is obviously geared toward American audience, with NO medieval sacred chorus but some secular songs instead (but it made no difference to my falling-asleep at all. BTW, I couldn’t help falling asleep during ANY show, with only one exception when Jennifer and I went to a concert together, but I wasn’t ushering then).
And they sang some Beatles’ songs at the end of the concert. And they kept making a lot sexual innuendos during their introduction to the songs. And they made some funny performance during some songs. And they imitated Ray Charles’ style of grunt-like singing in some songs. And … There’re so many things that are unpleasant to think about, but very pleasant to listen to! (See I’ve quite become a stupid American in some sense.)
I can imagine their concert in any European country would be: A lot of sacred chants, no tickling performance, no politically incorrect statements, no Beatles, … It’ll much more likely to be hailed by critics, but I would probably snore through all of it!
Anyway, it’s a fun concert and their voice is just heavenly perfect. It’s probably because they’ve been together for 30 years, so that their voices just BECOME perfect in harmony. There’re one bass, two baritones, one tenor and two countertenors. The countertenors only sing with “faked voice”, whose range is that of mezzo-soprano, and is really heavenly pure (probably with only few harmonics). I used to hate “faked voice” in songs like Bee Gees’, even some of Queen’s, just because it sounds fake. But those countertenors’ voice simply fascinated me.
Here’s a list of their songs:
1. Some Renaissance Madrigals
2. Some English folk songs, like the Green Sleeves:
2 | 4 – 5 | 6. 76 | 5 – 3 | 1. 23 | 4 – 2 | 2. #12 | 3 – #1 | 6 …
– – – – .
They said the song was written by King Henry V(?), the father of Queen Elizabeth I.
3. Some Romanticism songs
4. A modern piece specially commissioned for them called “Time Piece”. It mocks the story of Genesis, and Adam and Eve expelled out of the Garden of Eden. At the beginning they made a great variety of strange noise just like some meaningless electronic music!!! Then there’s a funny God, and he created everything. Then Adam had a watch which is shock-proof, water-proof, … and they started making all kinds of ticking sounds, even including the coo-coo of a singing clock! So the God got mad for the noise and just throw them out of heaven.
5. Some pop songs of the 60’s and 70’s. Three are the Beatles’: Penny Lane, Honeypie, Obladi-oblada (encore). They’re not very interesting ‘cos they’re simply implementing the same arrangements by their voices.
The second and last encore was the famous Irish tune:
7 1 2 | 3 – – 2 | 3 6 5 3 | 2 1 6 – | – 1 3 4 | 5 – – 6 | 5 3 1 3 | 2…
They called it “Danny Boy”, but I remember playing a four-hand piano version of the song with the name “Londonery Air” with my cousin (for Candy: That’s Li Jin who’s in DC!).
Another conclusion: If the King’s Singers comes to your town, check them out!