Where do I begin…
Just over 27 years ago I had the first of two auditions to be Jeremy’s replacement in the King’s Singers. 27 years later (on my 54th birthday) I sang my last concert. That’s more than half of my life focused on the KS, first as a hopeful candidate, then as a King’s Singer in waiting working through piles of repertoire, then as one of the youngsters in the group. Moments later, it seems, I was the old boy with a decade and half between me and the next oldest King’s Singer, and a colleague who’s younger than my KS career (only just). It’s been fantastic. I will also be the last King’s Singers that is older than the group itself.
It has been a privilege to work with so many great people, including musical heroes such as George Shearing, Richard Rodney Bennett, George Martin and Emanuel Ax, amongst other notables, not to forget two of my original colleagues, Al and Simon, who were part of the line-up that founded the KS in the first place.
I have no idea how many pieces I’ve performed with the group. Some have been evergreen favourites throughout my time, whilst others have had shorter times in the limelight. The thrill of singing through new scores by an incredible array of talented composers and arrangers has never paled for me, and while I got my voice around most of it, I’m still requiring regular updates on works such as Nonsense Madrigals by the extraordinary Gyorgy Ligeti. I will never forget the dinner we shared with him in Hamburg early in my time, as he talked about his life. This came after a rehearsal in which I first hear his oft-repeated “Keep working on the intonation”. We think this was his way of encouraging us to get more of the notes right.
As I leave, I would like to thank a few people. With my ageing brain, there will be glaring omissions for which I apologise, but here goes…
To Jeremy, for being such a wonderful predecessor – the card he sent marking my 25th was so touching.
To Al, Simon, Bob, Bruce and Stephen, the line-up I joined, for appointing me.
To Phil, Nigel, Gabs, Paulo, and Robin, who I saw in and out of the group (it was always emotional seeing colleagues leave).
To our Managers past and present – Gilly, my first KS General Manager, Nicola, Christian, Emma and all at IMG London, Erika and her office at Konzertagentur Esslinger, Steve and Steph and all at IMG NY, along with Amanda and co. at Bucklesweet, Eddie and Sabine and everyone at KD Schmid, Philippe and all at Concerts Parisiens, Denise in Italy, Karin in the Nordic countries, Katalin in Hungary, Kacper in Poland (and before him, his wonderful Dad, Jerzy), Jeannine, Stephan, Leontien and co. at Interartists NL, Jo Hart in Canada, Mr Niu in Taipei, the touring team at Harrison Parrott, Musiespaña, Mast Media, Cristian, and many, many more…
To the hundreds of concert presenters who have booked the King’s Singers, some of whom have given me the chance to return again and again to so many amazing places.
To Manfred and Sigrid, Doug and Janet.
To Steve Long, and everyone at Signum Records, and to the Producers who have guided us through the many recordings I’ve made with the group – notably Adrian P.
To Claire, Nicola, Carolyn, Rebecca, and Meg at Music Productions – such a great team!
To Chris, Tim, Johnny, Chris and Julian, my last KS line-up, for being such great colleagues, who kept treating me to lovely dinners to mark various significant dates. With Pat on board, I can’t wait to come along to hear you celebrate 50 years of the KS in 2018.
And last but by no means least, to all the people I’ve met over the last 26 and a half years. The KS only exists if people come along to listen to us. I’d also like to thank all those who have given me kind words, gifts and cards over the last months. I have so appreciated it.