The Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s annual Christmas concert features the orchestra and the King’s Singers.
The group is named after King’s College, in Cambridge, England, which was founded by King Henry VI.
Countertenor David Hurley joined the King’s Singers in 1990. He began singing 40 years ago as a chorister at Winchester Cathedral when he was 8 years old, and thanks to his musical ability, he went on to attend New College, Oxford, from 1981-84. Some would say he decided to tempt fate when instead of a vocal degree, Hurley got a degree in geography.
When this interview was scheduled, Hurley and the group were in Europe on tour, so Hurley answered questions via e-mail.
The King’s Singers began its American tour on Tuesday in Richmond, Va.
The group has six singers -- two countertenors (who sing the very high notes), one tenor, two baritones and a bass.
The singers have to be able to sing all types of music.
“We sing a huge variety of different styles of music, from Renaissance, both sacred and secular, romantic music, modern classical music, including many pieces written for the King’s Singers, and then the light repertoire -- pop, jazz, folk songs,” Hurley said. But his favorite is the Renaissance sacred music.
His iPod listening list reflects the King’s Singers repertoire. Hurley says he listens to classical music and jazz. Unexpectedly, he listens to a lot of instrumental music. His favorite to listen to in his car is jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.
Because he started singing so young, he tells young singers who want his advice to not push their voices too much.
“Allow your voice to govern how much you sing, and how loud,” he advises. “The voice needs training, and volume will come with time.”
Awful lot of togetherness
Even though Hurley is very busy with the King’s Singers’ touring schedule (about 120 concerts a year), he says they get “good breaks” and it’s not all work and no play.
Of course, his touring companions become like family.
“We travel by car, plane, train (in Europe), bus -- whatever is most convenient,” Hurley said. “In the U.S. we mostly fly. It is nice to travel in a group -- there is always company, if you want it. We have our moments of disagreement, but are pretty good at sorting them out when they do arise.”
He says they support each other and enjoy each others’ company.
The singers rehearse a couple of hours on each concert day, Hurley said. And they each practice privately. After a vacation, they’ll meet up to make sure they are all on the same page.
After singing the same repertoire, they don’t want to get bored, so they are always finding new songs, he said.
“Some perennials stay in the repertoire,” he said. “There are a few I have sung quite a lot of times, but the audience reaction makes it live.”
As the singer with the longest tenure, he says he is “near the top” of the age range. The youngest is 23 and the oldest is 52.
Hurley has a lot of favorite places to perform, and he loves singing in New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.
While he loves performing in New York, he really prefers warm places in the winter months. And he says as far as American cuisine goes, “there is really nothing like a really great burger.”
When he’s home, he likes to read, cook and sail.
Though it’s a long shot, Hurley said he’d love for the King’s Singers to perform at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The couple plan to marry in April.
“They will be married in Westminster Abbey, and the Abbey’s own choir will sing -- they are very good.”