Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
The King's Singers is a six-man vocal ensemble which tours the world singing a variety of repertory.
The group was formed in 1965 by Alastair Hume, Simon Carrington, and Brian Kay. all, at that time, Choral Scholars of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Together with other Choral Scholars.
Choral Scholars (there are fourteen at any one time) are the mature-voice singers of the Choir. They receive scholarships to attend King's College, a part of Cambridge University. In return, they undertake a full schedule of music-making, as the Choir sings daily services in the King's Chapel during term, and also a variety of concert appearances and tours. The Choral Scholars even have their own special table at the College dining hall.
This constant work and shared life results in a strong group identity, and in 1965 several members decided to make a private recording of some of the secular music they had been working on, calling themselves "Schola Cantorum Pro Musica Profana in Cantabridgiense." They commissioned one hundred pressings to keep and give to friends and families.
From this start, six of the members (Martin Lane, Al Hume, Neil Jenkins, Richard Salter, Simon Carrington, and Brian Kay) decided to undertake a tour, and booked themselves as "Six Choral Scholars from King's College." The tour was a success, despite what they chose as a uniform to promote an image of professionalism.
As described in The King's Singers, a Self Portrait, by the six members current in the late 1970s (Nigel Perrin, Hume, Carrington, Anthony Holt, Bill Ives, and Kay), this uniform began with "sensible black shoes" but also included "corduroy jackets of interestingly different colors and cut, bow-ties whose patterns were incompatible but daring, and trousers that were matched in the sense that all were dark and all were baggy."
Nevertheless, the group was a success. In 1968 they were invited to sing a concert with Simon Preston and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, their London debut. Searching for a proper name, they asked Mike Bremner of Argo Records. By then, the group already was known for its mix of classics and more popular repertory. Bremner suggested "The King's Singers" for the serious stuff and "King's Swingers" for pops. They chose to sing all their music under the first suggested name.
They have recorded their wide variety of music for several labels, and remained in existence continuously since 1965, although the personnel of the group has completely turned over. At the groups thirtieth anniversary approached, they were Tenor Paul Phoenix, baritones Phillip Lawson and Gabriel Crouch, Bass Stephan Connolly (the longest-serving current member), and countertenors Nigel Short and David Hurley. In 1968 and 1969 the Singers included one female singer (successively, Felicity Palmer and Eleanor Capp), and in 1969 they briefly added a third counter-tenor, James Bowman. The all-time longest serving member of the group was Alastair Hume, and original founder who remained with The King's Singers until the end of the 1992 season.