Hello everyone! Hope all’s well wherever you’re reading this. Today was the first day back for us after our Christmas break. We called an extra rehearsal to make sure everyone was feeling comfortable with the upcoming repertoire and it was a hugely positive day. Nick and Eddie are beginning to make some beautiful sounds although it felt like only yesterday that we were singing some of the music in the divine surroundings of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
Looking back on last year, my goodness, we covered some territory didn’t we?!! Crazy to think we went to so many places in one season…There will always be highlights but I think the fact that we got to the end of the year intact and still performing great shows was a mark of how well the group was working together on-stage. The travel was admittedly quite full-on and being away from our loved ones was tough, too. That said, we are privileged to call this our job and we know we couldn’t do it without our loved ones behind us. I can assure you we’ve thanked them profusely!
Today marks seven years since I sang my first concert (as a tenor whilst Paul was unwell) in Phil’s last month in the job. I remember getting the phonecall from Claire Long asking if I ‘could be in Prague tomorrow as Paul had lost his voice’. I was due to start with the group in February so it was certainly not a call I was expecting. I remember just saying yes and we’d figure out logistics later. I had 24 hours to learn Paul’s part so I began doing that with earnest and started wearing tighter underpants to help with the chorus in Obladi Oblada (life goes on…BRAAAAA). My memory is vague of how well the show went and I just tried to be positive and do the best I could. The guys were encouraging and yet the journey wasn’t over. The next gig was in Dubai, two days later, and the contract stipulated that six people needed to be singing so a five-man show wasn’t possible. It’s at this point that it’s helpful to have friends in high places, namely the head of Dubai Airport. I was booked onto an Emirates business class seat from Prague to Dubai and, I must admit, I thought to myself that this was pretty awesome and if this was how things would be on a week-to-week basis then I could just about do that! It was my first experience of business class and I was dead chuffed!
The fun was over the minute I picked up the music for the concert. It was a new programme and it included Petrassi’s Nonsense. Fast forward to the performance and I can honestly say that this was the first and only time in my life that I have felt physically ill from nerves before going on-stage. It’s the sort of piece (hindsight speaking now) that once you get into your body you’ll never forget it but having had to basically sightread the tenor part (tight undies didn’t seem to make a jot of difference) in front of a large audience in terrible acoustics was not my idea of fun. Somehow I got through it and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I ended up singing eleven shows that January in Paul’s place until his voice recovered and I was very grateful to have him beside me on the tour Down Under, standing in what has now become my familiar 1st Baritone position. It’s not often that one sings with their predecessor and so it was a real joy to learn from Phil, albeit briefly, and have chats to him about all sorts of things related to the job.
So yeah, seven years on and somehow I’m the oldest member of The King’s Singers. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!! Fortunately Nick and Eddie fit nicely into our age bracket – the age gap in the group is only nine years now – so I don’t feel old at all. I do feel very fortunate to have learned from some truly excellent musicians over the past seven years and feel that as long as we keep passing on that knowledge then The King’s Singers flame keeps burning strongly. Yes, it’s a new-look line-up if you haven’t been to one of our shows in the past decade but, to be honest, we remain as committed to our values and ethos as ever before. Every positive influence that we’ve had in our development as musicians and members of this ensemble continues to bear fruit and I’m really excited for the beginning of the next fifty years.
Looking forward to attending the GRAMMYS and especially as Liz has been given some time off school to attend so that will be so special sharing the occasion with her, given all she does for me. I am lucky to call her my wife.
Bye for now!
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