CD – “Christmas Songbook” – The King’s Singers


by Sean Martinfield | See: By Sean, The Pink Section

In the tradition of other King’s Singers Christmas releases, and a follow-up to their popular 2013 Great American Songbook album, Christmas Songbook pays homage to the group’s roots while acknowledging their current passion for swing.

According to The King’s Singers, “More than any other season of the year, Christmas is associated with music, and in particular, with singing.” The King’s Singers’ latest addition to their output of beloved Christmas albums is certain to become an instant classic. On Christmas Songbook, traditional favorites jockey for position among modern-day classics made famous by American singers from the Golden Age of jazz and pop. Christmas Songbook is especially poignant because it is the final King’s Singers album recorded with countertenor David Hurley, a beloved member of the ensemble for 26 years before retiring in August of 2016.

cd-coverAdored the world over for their superlative musicianship, wide-ranging repertoire and contagious charisma, The King’s Singers plunge heart-and-soul into a vast collection of Christmas songs, popularized by all-time great artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. The album is a natural follow-up to the group’s 2013 album Great American Songbook, which features fresh arrangements of songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, and more. Popular standards on Christmas Songbook include “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman,” and “White Christmas.”

In addition to classic American Christmas songs, The King’s Singers give a nod to their own heritage with the inclusion of carols like “In the bleak midwinter” and “Still, still, still.” These and other carols comprise the Nine Lessons & Carols service at King’s College in Cambridge, where The King’s Singers were formed. The resulting album, with its balance of traditional and modern, is “more of a King’s Singers Songbook, rather than a specifically Great American Christmas Songbook,” according to baritone Christopher Gabbitas.

While the original Great American Songbook album used the talents of arranger Alexander L’Estrange for all the tracks, for this Christmas Songbook, the group decided to reach out to three different arrangers: Berty Rice, Keith Roberts, and L’Estrange. All three have worked extensively with the King’s Singers and, according to album producer Adrian Peacock, “know how to bring the best out of the group.” In conjunction with the album release, The King’s Singers will be putting out a physical songbook through music publisher Hal Leonard – a Christmas gift from The King’s Singers to all the choral singers of the world.

Acclaimed worldwide for their virtuosity, life-affirming energy and charm, The King’s Singers are in global demand. Their work, synonymous with the very best in vocal ensemble performance, appeals to a vast international audience. Performing to hundreds of thousands of people each season, the group tours regularly to Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. Instantly recognizable for their immaculate intonation, vocal blend, diction and incisive timing, The King’s Singers are consummate entertainers.

The group’s repertoire has evolved to become one of the most diverse and compelling imaginable. The King’s Singers have commissioned over 200 works, including landmark pieces from leading contemporary composers including Luciano Berio, György Ligeti, Sir James MacMillan, Krzysztof Penderecki, Toru Takemitsu, Sir John Tavener, Gabriela Lena Frank and Eric Whitacre. They have also commissioned arrangements of everything from jazz standards to pop chart hits, explored medieval motets and Renaissance madrigals, and encouraged young composers to write new scores.

Click on the photo to watch recording session of “Christmas Songbook”:

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In addition to performing to capacity audiences and creating highly regarded and much-loved recordings, The King’s Singers share their artistry through numerous workshops and masterclasses around the world. In June 2017, the group will host their inaugural U.S. Summer School at DePauw University, Indiana and in July 2017 will return for their 3rd U.K. Summer School at Royal Holloway (part of the University of London) where they are also Ensemble in Residence. Among the work supported by The King’s Singers Foundation, “A Carol for Christmas” is a composition competition that seeks to encourage young and up-coming composers, giving the winners the chance for their piece to be performed in King’s College Chapel (Cambridge, UK).

Double Grammy Award-winning artists, the group was honored in 2009 for their Signum Classics release, Simple Gifts, and again in 2012 for their contribution to Eric Whitacre’s Light and Gold album on Universal/Decca. Recently voted into Gramophone Hall of Fame, rave reviews and repeated sell-out concerts confirm that The King’s Singers remain one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles.

The complete Christmas Songbook is available on Amazon and iTunes. Click here for single titles in MP3 format.

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