Northampton Press

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MARCO BORGGREVEJonathan Howard, bass, The King’s Singers, 8 p.m. Jan. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MARCO BORGGREVEJonathan Howard, bass, The King’s Singers, 8 p.m. Jan. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

Straight outta Cambridge: King’s Singers’ 50th tour

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 by MAKENNA MASENHEIMER Special to The Press in Focus

Grammy and Emmy awards-winning British a cappella group, The King’s Singers, celebrates its 50th anniversary with the “Gold” concert tour, stopping at 8 p.m. Jan. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The group, which originated at King’s College, Cambridge, is made up of countertenors Patrick Dunachie and Timothy Wayne-Wright, tenor Julian Gregory, baritones Christopher Bruerton and Christopher Gabbitas, and bass Jonathan Howard.

“Like everyone who comes to the King’s Singers, you don’t really know it’s happening. I had just graduated from university in 2009. I didn’t study music. I had studied classics, which is like Latin, Ancient Greece, ancient history, philosophy. But, I’d been a choral scholar, as well.

“I got a call one day that I’d been recommended by my former choirmaster, a guy who was in the group who also happened to be in my university years ago,” says Howard in a phone interview.

“It’s always like this, where you get a call out of the blue because someone recommended you, and you didn’t know it happened. I was pretty shocked. I thought, ‘Why not? This’ll be fun.’

“I never thought I’d get it. Then somehow within three months, I’d been appointed. I’ve survived into my 30s with the King’s Singers, which is amazing.”

Now in his eighth year, Howard enjoys the freedom and camaraderie within the group.

“Because we’re in our 50th year, we are able to plan our own schedule a bit better than maybe some other groups can. So, we have good amounts of time at home and then good blocks touring away. It’s never too crazy. You get quite good at learning your own rhythms and routines in order to be able to do the job as well as possible,” Howard says.

“We’re so used to touring with each other. I’ve never had any brothers, but I think it’s exactly like having brothers. The other guys know everything about me and I know everything about them.”

The King’s Singers performs entirely unaccompanied and covers a variety of music styles.

“The King’s Singers have always tried to sing music from a wide range of music traditions and backgrounds. I think what defines it is that it can’t be pigeonholed.

“We aren’t a group that just does religious music and we’re not a group that just does contemporary pop a cappella. We’re a group that tries to do all of them with integrity. The King’s Singers have always been known for being fun and entertaining and I hope that we all embody that,” says Howard.

The group has crafted a set list that highlights their range and generates a reaction from their audience. The concert will feature pieces from the three CD, 60-track 2017 album “Gold,” which includes “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, “Die Nacht” by Franz Schubert, “All of Me” by John Legend, “Scarborough Fair” arranged by Christopher Gabbitas, and “This Marriage” by Eric Whitacre.

“The really important question when you’re putting a program together is ‘How do I want people to feel?’

“One thing which I really like is to encourage people to feel quite unexpected things next to each other. Music and singing have incredible power to make people feel lots of emotions,” Howard says.

“One of the ways that you can do that well is by putting really contrasting pieces next to each other. You put them side by side where there’s some kind of link so it doesn’t seem completely random, but also encourages people to go from gasping in awe to crying to belly-laughing because of the emotional depth.”

Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715