The Singers

Patrick Dunachie

Countertenor, Joined September 2016

 

I was born in 1993 into a family of musicians and at the age of five started learning piano and singing in my local church choir, later becoming a chorister at Hereford Cathedral under Geraint Bowen. It was here that my love of singing and choral music really took hold – I developed a passion for early music in particular. In one Cathedral Choir concert, I remember hearing Robin Tyson (King’s Singer 2001-2009) as a soloist, and being fascinated by the countertenor voice. When my voice changed a few years later, I decided to give singing countertenor a go and, sure enough, my falsetto voice worked and I stuck with it! After singing in Hereford Cathedral Choir again (this time as an alto) in my last years at school, I won a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, to study Music and sing in King’s College Choir under Stephen Cleobury. During three unforgettable years, I toured Asia, Australia, Europe and the USA, recorded numerous CDs, and sang in national radio and television broadcasts every year. I also enjoyed managing and directing The King’s Men – the close harmony group formed of the choral scholars at King’s. My main joy during that time, though, was to sing the daily services in one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, with its wonderful acoustic and unique ambience. All of this encouraged me to pursue singing beyond university, and after graduating in 2015, I moved to Oxford, where I sang for a year as a Lay Clerk at Christ Church Cathedral. During this time, as well as singing in the choir, I taught at a local school, performed as a freelance soloist, and also sang in a number of groups, including Ex Cathedra, The King’s Consort, Gesualdo Six and Westminster Cathedral Choir. I found time for my other interests too, with plenty of walking in the countryside, a lot of cooking, and a good deal of graphic design work to keep me out of trouble! I was appointed to The King’s Singers in January 2016 after two tough rounds of auditions. From that point, I spent months learning the hundreds of pieces that I had to know to begin my time in the group that same September. Since then, my short time in the group has already taken me all over the world, singing for tens of thousands of people, and enabling me to make so many friends as I go. I am now in my second year as a King’s Singer, and am lucky enough to be in this position as the group celebrates its fiftieth birthday. This ‘GOLD’ year, as we’re calling it, is proving to be something very special, and we’re taking amazing music to many amazing places. I can’t wait to see you along the way!

Edward Button

Countertenor, Joined January 2019

 

My love of singing began at the age of just seven when I was asked to audition for a choristership in the Chapel Choir at Warwick School.  Thankfully I was invited to join! At first the early Sunday mornings were a struggle but, after a few months, I was raring to leave the house to get to practice.  Over the years I have realised that there are few better things in life than making music; the creativity is limitless, helping people to feel their emotions is exhilarating, and the teamwork has resulted in lasting friendships. After finishing school, I read geography at Girton College, Cambridge where I won a choral scholarship and the Tom Mansfield Memorial Prize in recognition of my contribution to College music. During my university years I was keen to have somewhere to sing outside the (famously short) Cambridge terms; I became an honorary member of the choir of the Collegiate Church of Saint Mary Warwick, a place that I consider to have become my musical home.  It was at St Mary’s that I was first introduced to The King’s Singers when the group was in Warwick to give a concert. After graduating I was appointed as the Alto Lay Clerk at King’s College, Cambridge. I sang seven services each week as well as undertaking a busy schedule of recording, touring and broadcasting which included the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast to millions of people across the planet.  I also sang in Collegium Regale (now the King’s Men), the close harmony group made up of the King’s Choral Scholars; I sang a vast variety of music from Byrd to the Beatles, and even singing the solo for the hit pop song Call me Maybe. I then spent two inspiring years as a volunteer in Gonville and Caius College Choir.  I was fortunate enough to take part in two groundbreaking recording projects; a programme featuring ancient Celtic chant accompanied by instruments that I had never seen, heard, or heard of before, and a disc of contemporary South American music which included a virtuosic piece by a modern Brazilian composer inspired by the renaissance sound world and accompanied by a recording of the natural sounds of the rainforest. On Christmas Morning 2018, I completed my service to HM The Queen, as the Alan Kendall Countertenor, one of the six Gentleman, in her choir at the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. As well as singing the weekly choral services in the Chapel, the choir undertakes a busy schedule of other engagements.  Highlights of my time include a service marking the centenary of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the presence of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, filming Elizabeth I’s Battle for God’s Music, a BBC television programme presented by Lucy Worsley, and recording a disc of Thomas Tallis’s music. Over the years I have performed as a soloist for many groups and had the opportunity to travel the world with my music. Singing aside, I am an experienced fundraiser, have been trained in the law and have worked in private practice in the City of London.  Much of my free time is spent running a small charity in Warwickshire, Rufus’ Friends’ Fund, with my grandparents; the charity supports people with learning disabilities and was set up in memory of my late uncle. I get such a buzz developing the Charity to help the local community.  Otherwise, although I do not have much opportunity to do so, I love meditating, collecting antiques and walking; much of my childhood was spent in the countryside, making camp fires, damming streams and generally getting muddy! I am indebted to my family for nurturing my love of singing, especially my mum and dad, Delia and Nick, who waited in the car for me during countless singing lessons and choir practices, and my sister, Bertie, for sitting through service after service and concert after concert! I wish I had the space to thank all my singing teachers, directors of music, musical colleagues and friends who have supported me, and from whom, I have learned so much. I am honoured more than I can put into words to have been invited to join The King’s Singers as Second Countertenor, succeeding Timothy Wayne-Wright, and I look forward to the musicmaking and learning I have ahead of me.  I also am excited to meet the group’s many supporters as I travel the world with the chaps. See you soon!

Julian Gregory

Tenor, Joined September 2014

 

I started my musical life at the age of six in Leicester Cathedral Choir (where my dad was Choirmaster and Organist), before moving to St John’s College Choir, Cambridge, as a boy chorister. Aside from the daily three-hour commitment to Choir, I soon developed a passion for the violin and piano, which drove me to apply for a music scholarship to Eton College, where I happily spent my teenage years. Six years later, I returned to St John’s to read Music, and experienced three of the busiest years of my life! Through daily choir commitments, singing lessons and directing The Gentlemen of St John’s (the choral scholars’ a cappella group), I realised that singing could become a potential career path for me — scary though that seemed at the time. So instead of following the seemingly normal convention around me of trying to get a job or internship immediately after graduating, I went on a funded exchange year to Heidelberg University in Germany. Intensively learning German and planting myself in a completely different field (socially, geographically, linguistically and environmentally) was a great way of taking some time out and deciding what to do with myself. That year, I ended up applying successfully for a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music for a Masters in Vocal Performance, and making some friends for life from all over the world — something which struck a chord with my own international background, being half English, half Japanese. What followed was a highly inspirational year at the Academy, opening up my mind to many of the various art forms and states of mind that a professional solo singer might encounter. Then in the summer of 2014, while I was singing in the Opera Chorus at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, I got a phone-call from Johnny, inviting me to audition for The King’s Singers — a rather different proposition to my solo career at the time. I was offered the tenor position immediately after the audition and my stomach dropped. I knew at that point that nothing would ever be the same again! I’m so glad everything has worked out this way; my nearly five years in the group so far have been a wonderful whirlwind and I eagerly await the challenges and adventures that lie ahead!

Christopher Bruerton

Baritone, Joined January 2012

 

It all started in December 1994. I was taken to the Anglican service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christchurch Cathedral and as the choir processed down the aisle, I whispered to Mum and Dad, ‘I want to be in that choir.’Then in 2010, after fifteen years in that very cathedral choir, I moved to England to pursue my lifetime ambition of becoming a professional singer, as well as being closer to my British girlfriend. I had been teaching and conducting choirs at Burnside High School, where I had also been as a student, but I got to the point where I felt that if I didn’t give singing a go then I’d always regret it. A dream of combining my love of singing and travelling soon became a reality, little more than year after taking the long flight over from New Zealand. I have loved every moment since making my debut with The King’s Singers. I am so fortunate to have been able to sing in world renowned concert halls from New York to Sydney to Beijing and everywhere in between. But I get the biggest buzz from being able to pass on my experiences to the next generation of musicians through the workshops we give across the world. There is no greater joy for me than seeing others making their first steps in a cappella and ensemble singing. Joining The King’s Singers has given me the opportunity to travel all over the world and sing in places I once only dreamed of. And for a humble Kiwi, having been an audience member for the 40th Anniversary, being in the group as it celebrates 50 years is more than I could ever have imagined. Add to that  being a newly married man… I really am living the dream!

Nick Ashby

Baritone, Joined January 2019

 

I’ve been singing pretty much constantly from as early as I can remember, and generally with increasing levels of success. With four older sisters and a Von Trappe-esque musical environment throughout my childhood, a career in music became somewhat inevitable (inspired no doubt by the King’s Singers tapes my family listened to as we drove to Germany to visit my grandparents!). I grew up in Oxford, and enjoyed being a chorister, as well as playing French horn and violin in many youth orchestras. Just before my voice broke I made my professional operatic debut as one of the three boys in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Garsington Opera. Though I enjoyed being part of a great production and large cast, it was small choirs and chamber music making that grabbed my attention the most. So when I began my music degree at the University of York, I swiftly joined as many choirs as possible, and even helped set up a small a capella group. This gave me the opportunity to start penning some compositions and arrangements, including Seal’s iconic power ballad Kiss from a Rose, and a slightly less successful Nessun Dorma… After graduating in 2009 I moved straight to London to try and make my name as a singer. Over the course of nearly a decade I was lucky enough to travel the world, performing with some of the finest choirs around. I toured frequently with the Tallis Scholars, Stile Antico, the BBC Singers, Ex Cathedra, and many more. For the last four years I’ve also been part of the classical crossover vocal group G4, who rose to fame in the UK after coming second in the first series of the X-Factor. As a soloist I performed oratorios and recitals as far afield as Japan. One nerve wracking moment closer to home was stepping in on the day of a BBC Prom concert live on radio and to a packed Royal Albert Hall, to perform a solo off by heart in a Stockhausen opera alongside a (then pre-university) fresh-faced Pat Dunachie! I also relished the opportunity to sing a role in a broadcast performance of Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” with the Philharmonia orchestra, under Esa-Pekka Salonen. After three rigorous rounds I was appointed to the King’s Singers in 2018. Joining a group which I listened to with such fascination as a child is exciting and surreal in equal measure. Being part of a group who have accrued half a century of worldwide fame for their top level of music making presents me with the most thrilling of challenges. Bringing that high level of performance to you all, wherever you are around the globe will be the most rewarding of rewards!

Jonathan Howard

Bass, Joined September 2010

 

I’ve always been more of a dreamer than a pragmatist. My time at school (initially at the German School in London, and then at Christ’s Hospital, an extraordinary charitable foundation in West Sussex where my parents taught and we therefore lived) was defined by its business: more subjects than were necessary, more instruments than were sustainable; and more activities than could be squeezed into any normal timetable. University was no better. As a Classics undergraduate at New College in Oxford University, I was famous for my inability to say no to anything, no matter how many late nights or early starts that meant. There were hundreds of non-compulsory hours in plays, in musicals, playing sports, in societies, in clubs and in pubs (what else would you expect from an English university). So how have things changed, now that I’m 30 and well into my eighth season as a King’s Singer? (Let’s not forget my intervening year in advertising, by the way.) I’m still disastrously bad at saying no. Nights at home or on the road are rarely free. Lie-ins are even rarer. I’m always busy, conjuring up new ideas about what we can do to spread the joy of music, and to celebrate how diverse and exciting our cultural landscape is today. What’s new? I’m more relentless than ever in my search for new luggage, new sunglasses, and new shoes. I’m evangelical about cryptic crosswords, spin classes and poké (it’s Hawaiian – Google it). I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of flight timetables, and I’ve recently developed a love for backgammon. I now live just off Brick Lane in Shoreditch in East London, and I couldn’t be happier (although I wouldn’t say no to a loft in New York or a house overlooking the Pacific in Malibu). And even though I spend most of my life on the road, I’m still obsessed with travel and seeing as much of the world as possible. It’s such a blessing to have a job that takes me everywhere. I am certain that there’s never been a more exciting time to be one of The King’s Singers, as the group celebrates its 50th anniversary and tours the globe – and I feel so privileged to be part of shaping our future.

 
 
History

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