Review: The King’s Singers, Ipswich School Festival, October 1st

The King's Singers

The King's Singers - Credit: Archant

For its sixth annual Festival of Music Ipswich School again compiled an attractive and varied programme including some well-known names.

Now within sight of their half-century, the King’s Singers have an almost unrivalled reputation for polished entertainment as well as musical excellence. No vocal composition is beyond their powers of interpretation and delivery and on Thursday they performed an eclectic mix to a full and enthusiastic hall.

The English Madrigal was represented by Thomas Morley, John Bennett and Thomas Weelkes, whose ‘Thule, the period of cosmography’ was particularly arresting with rustic harmonies and darker moods.

The name of Stanley Wilson as a composer will have been new to many but his inclusion was highly appropriate as he was Director of Music at Ipswich School during the 1930s. ‘To a fat lady seen from a train’ is an effective setting of a sardonic poem by Frances Cornford and ‘Gibberish’ is aptly named; both were perfectly despatched. Sullivan’s striking harmonies in ‘The Long Day Closes’ had real piquancy and Goffredo Petrassi’s musical invention added engaging colour to Edward Lear’s nonsense verse. This was followed by a spirited and cohesive rendering of ‘When the Saints’ by Ipswich Prep Chamber Choir and the first half concluded with the school Chapel Choir joining the Singers for ‘A Thanksgiving’ by former member Bob Chilcott.

‘Masterpiece’ by Paul Drayton is a tribute to some of the great composers of the last 400 years with original music written in the composers’ differing styles. Lovely idea but easier said than done – wholly convincing for Handel, Mozart and some of the 20th century but rather less so for Beethoven. Nevertheless, the Kings Singers moved easily and smoothly through the centuries.

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The evening concluded with a delightful, foot-tapping medley of pieces in close harmony ranging from folk song to Cole Porter, Cy Coleman and, of course, the Beatles. All were superbly compered and sung and it was an evening of entertainment in the highest class.

Gareth Jones

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