Today we return to a venue which I remember strongly as somewhere we sang during the handover period between Robin and Tim. It was the first change in group personnel since I’d joined, some five years earlier, and so it will be a time I always remember as exciting, if unsettled.
Robin’s last tour took in some of the most beautiful cities in Italy, including a final concert in Siena, and Tim came along with us to shadow the group and to start rehearsing with us. The concert venue in Varese is more of a Salon than a real hall; intimate, beautifully-painted and softly lit, it’s the perfect place to sing delicate Renaissance madrigals and gentle ballads. Last time we were highlighting the madrigals of the two great 16th century collections “Il Trionfo di Dori” and “The Triumphs of Oriana,” from Italy and England respectively. This time the programme was somewhat more varied, but we found time to add some Italian humour in the form of Lassus’ “Chi chilichi” (a bawdy Renaissance romp!) and the more modern “Volare” – which took third place in the Eurovision Song Contest back in the 1950s!
This tour sees us preparing for our first visit back to South Africa since the 1990s, and I had a radio interview on Monday with the composer of a newly reworked composition, Franco Prinsloo, called “Pula pula.” It’s on the all-important African theme of rain and the balance between earth and sky, and we’re looking forward very much to performing it on tour. In the interview we spoke of The King’s Singers’ approach to folk and local music from around the world, and I reiterated our desire to connect with the musical community wherever we go. It’s so important to take inspiration from the culture you’re visiting and, in our case, that means preparing musical gifts to take with us. We show audiences a little of our culture, and they give us some in return. It’s a recipe for cooperation and appreciation in these interesting political times.
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