Saturday, 10 March
To be good at one thing is impressive; to be so versatile across a range of genres is truly exceptional. That was my
conclusion from an evening listening to the world-renowned King's Singers, performing at the New Zealand Festival with
the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir.
The latest incarnation of this six-strong male singing group includes New Zealander Christopher Bruerton, as I
understand it the first non-Briton to bear the gilded name. And it was a delight to hear him sing the solo on the
achingly beautiful ‘My Love Is like a Red, Red Rose’.
That was just one highlight in a programme whose range seemingly had no limits, encompassing Renaissance music (the
slyly bawdy 'Dessus le marche d'Arras'), the Romantic era (a sumptuous rendition of Schubert's Die Nacht), folk songs
('Lamorna' and 'I Bought Me a Cat') and the premiere of New Zealander Leonie Holmes's ‘This Watershed Time’.
Throughout, the King's Singers displayed their famed quality of singing, musical sensitivity and purity of sound. They
also managed to adapt seamlessly to the demands of different genres, so that an inventive and sweet-sounding acapella
rendition of ‘Ob La Di Ob La Da’ – not inherently an impressive song – sounded just as convincing as Eric Whitacre's
demanding classical work, 'The Stolen Child'.
'The Stolen Child' and some of the other big numbers were sung jointly with Voices New Zealand, whose control and
musicianship were particularly obvious in the opening to Bob Chilcott's ‘High Flight’. But there was no doubting who
were the stars of the show, and an unadvertised cover of 'Slice of Heaven' nearly brought the house down, Bruerton again
taking the lead. Was he slightly choked up as he did so? It would have been only fitting, on so moving a night.