Shrewsbury School

The King's Singers at Shrewsbury School - a review

Tuesday 10 May 2011

As part of their worldwide tour, we were delighted to welcome The King's Singers, who came to perform in Shrewsbury's Chapel on Sunday 8th May. We are extremely grateful to Tanners Wine Merchants for stepping in as sponsors of this prestigious concert, when our original sponsorship with Wrexham and Shropshire Railways fell through.


“Will you, won’t you join the dance” is the title of the gourmet feast of tasty, terpsichorean titbits served up by The King’s Singers’ glorious concert in the chapel at Shrewsbury School. It was a superbly planned programme ranging from many traditional pieces via the 15th century right up to a Michael Buble song for their final encore. The six members of the group have a history of performing across the world and a repertoire of staggering width, all delivered with an infectious enthusiasm which delighted their audience.

The first half of the evening included compositions by early musicians such as Byrd, Morley and Hilton; more recent works were provided by Schubert, Poulenc, Saint-Saens, Ligetti and Benjamin Britten. “Zum Rundtanz” by Shubert showed the unfailing subtlety of the King’s Singers. This simple work has, like many of Schubert’s compositions, an underlying darkness which they voiced beautifully. Benjamin Britten’s Choral Dances from “Gloriana”, written for the coronation of our present Queen, were similarly treated to a fine performance.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable characteristics of this group is their ability to use their voices to create instrumental and orchestral sounds. Jacques Brel’s  “La valse a mille temps” was an example of this skill;  Brel’s beautiful song really seemed to have an orchestral backing as did Poulenc’s “Clic, clic dansez  sabots” with its martial feeling.

The second half included several loved folk songs including “Dance to your Daddy”,  “She moved through the fair” and “Phil the fluter’s ball”. All were delivered at speed, with breath-taking accuracy and finely controlled dynamics. Perhaps the finest example of this was “The lobster quadrille”, from “Alice in wonderland” set to music by Gyorgy Ligetti. It is described as the most challenging work in the King’s Singers’ repertoire.  It was an exquisite example of the relentlessly high standard of their work.

Andrew Petch May 2011

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