The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

The Choir of King’s College, CambridgeLeft – Daniel Hyde

Inspirational, superb, magnificent – and simply sublime are words that come to mind on hearing this remarkable choir, live in the Adelaide Town Hall – or possibly anywhere.

It is a remarkable thing that some choirs have a distinctive sound that is immediately recognisable as theirs. This choir is certainly one of them, and it is amazing that it is able to maintain this unique sound, style and quality over decades, while inevitably undergoing constant change of personnel. This must be a testament to the current and past Directors who have made this sound internationally known via recordings and live performances from Boris Ord in the 1950’s through David Willcocks, Philip Ledger, and Stephen Cleobury and their various assistants through the ages.

The next in line is Daniel Hyde, whose understated but clearly effective direction in this concert gave a confident assurance that the tradition will continue. We were all deliciously rewarded, not only with the choir’s perfect intonation, but also their tightly disciplined attention to detail, nuance and subtlety in a range of sacred works from well-known and less quintessential Henry Purcell pieces, to works by Samuel Wesley, Charles Stanford, Lennox Berkeley and Gerald Finzi.

A highlight of this tour is the premiere performance of “Singing The Love” by our own Ross Edwards, whose idiosyncratic playfulness was finely illustrated in this specially commissioned piece. He certainly composed a “joyful noise” with the words from Psalm 100 and some testing vocal leaps around some challenging intervals, around which the choir leapt easily, but which could pose a problem for a lesser choir.

Another highlight was the excellent playing by two of the young Organ Scholars who proudly put the fabulous J.W.Walker and Sons organ through its paces. Henry Websdale showed what he could do with a Bach chorale prelude, and later, Donal McCann displayed brilliant footwork and skill in an organ sonata by Mendelssohn; both these young men revelling in the opportunity to display the dynamic range and splendour of this fine instrument.

The Adelaide Town Hall is an excellent acoustic for choirs, but it is not King’s College Chapel, yet the choir seems just as much at home in either, and can adapt to the lack of a rolling reverberation time. They seemed equally effortless in the suppliant and soulful passages as they did in the dramatic and declamatory ones cementing their reputation as one of the foremost choirs of the world, and delighting the enthusiastic Adelaide audience.

The delight peaked with the choir and organ in full flight in the bone shattering “I was Glad” by Hubert Parry as a fitting finale. Then the cherry on top was a complete change of pace and style with the 16 men of the choir in an a-capella arrangement for them of “I Get Around” a la the Beach Boys: still disciplined, still perfect balance and ensemble. There’s not much this choir can’t do! Hear them while you can!

Musica Viva presents
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Venue: Adelaide Town Hall, SA
Dates: 22 – 23 July 2019

Dates: 20 Jul – 6 Aug 2019


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