GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK
WHEN: November 8 at 3pm
WHERE: Kean University's Enlow Hall, 215 North Ave., Hillside
ADMISSION: $40-$45; call 908-737-7469 or visit www.keanstage.com for more information
It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely… The King’s Singers perform the Great American Songbook at Kean University's Enlow Hall.
After a wildly successful tour in February 2015, The King’s Singers return to North America this November to treat audiences once again to their Great American Songbook program.
The program offers up sunny, sophisticated versions of their favorite tunes by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin, arranged by the fast rising British jazz composer and bassist Alexander L’Estrange. Derived from their 2014 record of the same name, the tunes evoke nostalgia for a golden age of American musical culture. After a performance of this program last spring, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, "Each arrangement was simply breathtaking, especially when performed by such an outstanding ensemble. They may be cheeky Brits, but they show real love and appreciation for these American classics."
For baritone Christopher Gabbitas, these songs, written during a golden era of American songwriting (mostly for stage and screen), belong in the same category as German lieder or French chansons. “These songs were written by classically-trained composers and they endure because of their exceptional integrity,” says Gabbitas. “The beautifully crafted nature of these songs make them classics already. They have the weight of history and form a journey through the emergence of a nation through its pop culture.”
Considering the depth and breadth of the source material, song selection for this program was no easy task. The final list features 17 well-known tunes, songs that the Singers “utterly loved.” They are heard in stunning new arrangements by the fast rising British jazz composer and bassist Alexander L’Estrange. L’Estrange’s harmonically colorful re-workings of these standards maintain the integrity of the source material while reflecting The King’s Singers hallmark blend and wit. The result is a recording where the ensemble is able to luxuriate in the emotional harmonies of When I Fall in Love as well as bring their distinctly British sense of humor to a daffy rendition of Let’s Misbehave.
The group recruited a pair of a cappella gurus, Bill Hare (The Voice, Street Corner Symphony) and Danny Ozment (NBC’s The Sing Off) to create one of the group’s most ambitious and innovative programs to date. After bringing the songs up to performance standard together, each piece was then deconstructed and recorded part-by-part, resulting in a sparkling, modern sound that offers a 21st-century counterpoint to The King’s Singers first mannered recordings of other American standards in the 1970s on top-selling albums such as Swing and Out of the Blue. A second bonus disc offers yet another twist on the material with orchestral versions of 8 tracks, recorded with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra and featuring orchestrations by Jonathan Rathbone. The result of these fruitful collaborations is an immensely satisfying and joyful program and recording that makes us feel as if we are rediscovering this truly great music again for the first time.
About The King’s Singers
- David Hurley Countertenor
- Timothy Wayne-Wright Countertenor
- Julian Gregory Tenor
- Christopher Bruerton Baritone
- Christopher Gabbitas Baritone
- Jonathan Howard Bass
Acclaimed worldwide for their virtuosity, life-affirming energy and charm, The King’s Singers are in global demand. Their work, synonymous with the very best in vocal ensemble performance, appeals to a vast international audience. Performing to hundreds of thousands of people each season, the group tours regularly to Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. Instantly recognisable for their immaculate intonation, vocal blend, diction and incisive timing, The King’s Singers are consummate entertainers.
The group’s repertoire has evolved to become one of the most diverse and compelling imaginable. The King’s Singers have commissioned over 200 works, including landmark pieces from leading contemporary composers including Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Sir James MacMillan, Krzysztof Penderecki, Toru Takemitsu, Sir John Tavener, Gabriela Lena Frank and Eric Whitacre. They have also commissioned arrangements of everything from jazz standards to pop chart hits, explored medieval motets and Renaissance madrigals, and encouraged young composers to write new scores.
In addition to performing to capacity audiences and creating highly regarded and much-loved recordings, The King’s Singers share their artistry through numerous workshops and masterclasses around the world. The group hosts a biennial residential Summer School at Royal Holloway (part of the University of London) where they are also Ensemble in Residence. Among the work supported by The King’s Singers Foundation, A Carol for Christmas is a composition competition that seeks to encourage young and up-coming composers, giving the winners the chance for their piece to be performed in King’s College Chapel (Cambridge, UK).
Double Grammy® award-winning artists, the group were honoured in 2009 for their Signum Classics release, Simple Gifts, and again in 2012 for their contribution to Eric Whitacre’s Light and Gold album on Universal/Decca. Recently voted into Gramophone Hall of Fame, rave reviews and repeated sell-out concerts confirm that The King’s Singers remain one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles.