the King's Singers, in an informal pose. (credit: Marshall Light Studio)

King’s Singers launch North American tour in Macon, Georgia

Mark Gresham | 8 FEB 2023

Kicking off their latest North American tour tonight with a sold-out concert at Mercer University’s Fickling Hall in Macon, Georgia, The King’s Singers celebrate 55 years this year as an ongoing vocal ensemble with a legacy that spans multiple generations of singers. The six current members, countertenors Patrick Dunachie and Edward Button, tenor Julian Gregory, baritones Christopher Bruerton and Nick Ashby, and bass Jonathan Howard, have all been on the roster together for five years, despite the intervening COVID pandemic.

Despite the groups hectic schedule, we were able to communicate with Dunachie for a little insight into the current status of the vocal sextet. we share her some of what he has to say about the group, the tour, and the show they are presenting:

• • •
Patrick Dunachie, countertenor (credit: Marshall Light Studio)

Patrick Dunachie (credit: Marshall Light Studio)

This concert in Macon is the very start of a two-week tour which covers both the USA and Canada. It’s always super exciting to start one of these fairly long tours: they have a rhythm and an energy to them and starting this off in Georgia is going to be great, as we know how much fun the audiences often are.

Something we’re particularly excited about in this Macon concert is that in the second half (when we get to choose songs specifically for this occasion, this theatre, this audience), we’re going to be sharing some brand new arrangements of songs from Disney films! Later this year we’re releasing an album which marks 100 years since the birth of the Disney corporation, so we have a whole bunch of new arrangements of songs from Disney movies across the 100 years, and as we prepare for the release of the album we want to start sharing these with our audiences. And where better to start than Macon?

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One of the challenges we’ve had to grapple with is how to pack our suitcases! Within the space of one week, we’ll be singing in Florida, in temperatures of 70F, and also in Montreal, in temperatures as low as -5F! It’s part of the job of being a touring musician, but it can be tricky nonetheless, so we’ve got big coats and flip-flops in the same suitcases.
We’re also happy to be starting in Georgia because all of us — to a man — are real food lovers. You can be sure we’ll be taking opportunities to tuck into some great seafood, some fried chicken and some cornbread (maybe some grits, too… we’ll see). But later in the trip we have a free day in New Orleans too, where we can’t wait to dig into some of the amazing food and food culture they have over there.

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This concert programme, ‘Songbirds’ is one we’ve really enjoyed performing all over the world. We think it’s been popular with concert promoters and audiences for a few reasons: on a basic level, I think people like the idea of our group as ‘songbirds’ — we try to make a sound that’s sweet and pure, and that sounds natural and free.
On another level, taking birdsong as our theme enables us to explore so much music, from across several centuries, totally authentically. This is a programme where we can comfortably start with music by Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles, then before you know it find ourselves in complex contemporary music, and then suddenly be singing renaissance madrigals. And it all somehow fits and makes sense: because the sounds of birds and their singing has inspired musicians of every type, no matter when or where they lived. The sound of birdsong is part of the human experience.
One of the things we particularly love is that some of the biggest laughs we get in the whole show are during some of what seem like the most ‘serious’ pieces. Our performances of 16th century French madrigals by Clement Janequin and Pierre Passereau tend to illicit more laughter than any of the pop arrangements we sing – and that’s something that we lean into and celebrate.
The King's Singers (credit: Marshall Light Studio)

The King’s Singers: “…some of the biggest laughs we get in the whole show are during some of what seem like the most ‘serious’ pieces.” (credit: Marshall Light Studio)

Despite being a relatively young lineup (our average age now is about 34 – just a little older than the original six were when they went professional), we are also one of the longest-lasting consistent groups of King’s Singers there has been in our history. This is our fifth year together as a set of six, and we’ve performed over 250 concerts together and made 10 recordings. Had it not been for COVID, those numbers would be much higher.
But actually, COVID — though a challenge in many ways — was a chance for us to grow. We spent the newfound time at home working on improving our teamwork skills even further, by honing our communication and dynamics with a top coach. We streamlined the business aspects of the group so that when we restarted touring, everything from our file management to our finances, meeting agendas and programming process had been overhauled and improved. Going through that together, and coming out stronger than ever, has put us in such a great place and we’re really proud of what we’re doing both to honour the heritage of this ensemble but also to invent, renew, refresh and innovate. And we’re excited for the future: we have more years together yet!

THE KING’S SINGERS NORTH AMERICAN TOUR SCHEDULE:

  • February 8, 2023 @ 7:30 p.m.: Macon, Georgia. McCorkle Music Building, Neva Langley Fickling Hall
  • February 9, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.: Fort Meyers, Florida. Tribby Arts Center
  • February 10, 2023 @ 7:30 p.m.: Winter Park, Florida. US Knowles Memorial Chapel
  • February 11, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.: Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola Christian College
  • February 14, 2023 @ 7:30 p.m.: Montreal, Canada. Bourgie Hall
  • February 16, 2023 @ 8:00 p.m.: Toronto, Canada. Koerner Hall
  • February 17, 2023 @ 8:00 p.m.: London, Ontario. The Aeolian Hall
  • February 18, 2023 @ 7:00 p.m.: Ottawa, Canada. Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre

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About the author:
Mark Gresham is publisher and principal writer of EarRelevant. He began writing as a music journalist over 30 years ago, but has been a composer of music much longer than that. He was the winner of an ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for music journalism in 2003.

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