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December 15, 2008

A King's Singers Says Goodbye

The Ottawa Citizen (Canada):

Looking back on his eight years in one of the world's elite singing groups, Robin Tyson remembers the overwhelming, nerve-racking workload he faced when he got the job and suddenly had to learn dozens of pieces of music, from the Renaissance and baroque to the Beatles and Billy Joel.

He remembers trying to keep his voice in shape during concert tours that involved a dizzying blur of cities and concert halls, long hours in airport waiting lounges, nights in stuffy hotel rooms, and rushed mornings of packing up to move on to the next city.
But as the counter-tenor prepares to say goodbye after eight years with the British male vocal sextet the King's Singers, he says the rewards have outweighed the drawbacks, and it wasn't an easy decision to step down.

Tyson's stint with the group has meant high-profile television appearances, adoring fans and concerts in the world's great halls, including Vienna's Musikverein, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and New York's Carnegie Hall. Following Christmas concerts in Ottawa Monday and Tuesday with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the group returns to Carnegie, for a concert that will include renowned American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.

"I've had a wonderful time and I'm really enjoying this last tour, getting everything out of it I possibly can," Tyson, 37, said the other day from a tour stop in South Carolina. His final performance with the group will be in Siena, Italy, in January.
Tyson says he's quitting to spend more time at home in London with his wife and their three-year-old twin boys, and to start a new career in artist management, though he says he will continue to do some solo singing.

"It was the combination of an opportunity coming up, and wanting more of a family life. I decided to go out on top, whilst I still could sing and was still really enjoying the King's Singers," said Tyson. "Many of the things I've always wanted to do as a singer, I've now done. It's been an incredible privilege. Musically, it's been even better than I thought it would be. In terms of the scope, depth and breadth of music-making, particularly for a countertenor, it's unparalleled."

Founded 40 years ago at King's College, Cambridge, the group has changed membership over the years, with singers staying an average of 10 years.
Counter-tenor David Hurley and bass Stephen Connolly are the current mainstays, and have each been with the group for two decades. The sextet, which usually sings a cappella, is lavishly praised for its beauty of tone, sensitive phrasing, and the kind of warm, impeccable harmonies that give listeners goosebumps. They're also known for a sense of fun in their comments to audiences between songs.

The members are also part of a rare breed: classically trained singers who can sing lighter pop tunes and make them feel natural rather than awkward and forced. "Simple Gifts", the group's new album of folk, spiritual and pop songs on the Signum label, has just been nominated for a Grammy Award in the classical crossover category. Tyson, whose responsibilities with the group included organizing recording projects, is proud of the nomination.

Posted by acapnews at December 15, 2008 11:10 PM

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