It is such a pleasure and such a gift to spend time learning music with people whose only goal is to do it justice and love it to pieces.”
The King’s Chorus has been a constant source of surprise.
Five years ago, when two students (Tim Blackwood and Ted Williams) came to me to see whether
we could start a choral society at King’s, the idea seemed a wise one. My father Paul and I had just
finished auditioning students for the Chapel Choir, and regrettably we could only accept a small number of them. In any case, we knew that the huge time commitment the Chapel Choir demanded put it out of reach of many students.
But if they weren’t in the Chapel Choir, where would these people go to satisfy their hankering for a bit of musical training? Paul and I had discussed this much. So I told those two students that I was up for it. I thought it would be a lark.
It was more like an albatross. We put up posters on Friday and by Sunday 80 people (mostly students, community members, and a few brave faculty) had signed up to audition for this nascent “King’s Chorus.” We wanted to put on a concert at the end of term and we settled on the Vivaldi Gloria in D, along with Handel’s Zadok the Priest and other gems.
I must confess that I let everyone in. I do not always, but that was our first round of auditions and I was feeling exuberant. We have some highly-trained singers in the Chorus. Yet to this day, we also have many choristers who will claim they “can’t sing,” or that they haven’t sung in many years, or that a children’s choir director had told them to “feel free to mouth the words but for God’s sake don’t sing.” Most have little to no experience reading music. The two and a half months of rehearsing for our first concert should really have been unnerving, disconcerting, not very pleasant; they were in fact just the opposite. The Chorus was a total blast from the get-go.
But nothing could prepare me entirely for that first concert. We opened with Zadok the Priest, which
begins with a classic Handelian introduction from the orchestra. It’s a slow, gradual build up to the first
entrance from the choir and when my hand came down for the Chorus to come in, the sound was so
stunning, so awesomely big and bold and beautiful, that I’ve never forgotten it.
It was the sound of a group of people who have fallen in love with a piece of music that only two
months before was just black dots on a page. That is the spirit they’ve brought to Carmina Burana,
the Haydn Mass in Time of War, the Missa Gaia, Britten’s St Nicolas and all the rest. It is such a
pleasure and such a gift to spend time learning music with people whose only goal is to do it justice
and love it to pieces.
Thank you for supporting this wonderful, 5-year-old King’s Chorus.