Friday, April 12, 2013

The King's Men

On Tuesday evening of this week St. Andrew's, Lambertville, was host to a concert by a subset of the renowned King's College Choir. Once known as the Collegium Regale, the group now call themselves the King's Men. Having them come to our modest little church, which seats fewer than 200, was as surprising and delicious as a visitation of angels.

Choral scholars at the college, undergraduates, they sing a capella. They rehearse for three hours every day. Their ensemble is exquisite, crisp, precise. St. Andrews was built in the late nineteenth century, before electronic amplification, and designed on purpose to have excellent acoustics. It's a wonderful place to sing, even for those of us who don't sing all that well.

"From Byrd to the Beatles," their program was called, and it ranged from fifteenth century sacred music to charming arrangements of pop hits. Between numbers they clowned a little, being fun-loving young fellows. An organist came with them but did not accompany them. He played a couple of numbers by himself, brilliantly. They were all brilliant. I wish I could tell you their names. I wish I had counted them. There must have been about fifteen. There were no printed programs, and I was too stupefied by the beauty of the experience to take any notes.

Still I wanted to tell you about it in my incoherent way. They were so beautiful! They were so young! And the group was so ephemeral. Although the choir was founded during the reign of Henry VI, the young men who sing in it will graduate and be off doing other things in a very short time. Others will take their places. All the while I was listening to them I was thinking, this will never happen again in quite this way. There's no way to capture it, no way to hang onto it.

Nevertheless I offer you this YouTube recording, made in another church a couple of years ago, of some of them singing Tutti Venite Armati, which they also sang in the program at Saint Andrews. A pale shadow.

Kate Gallison


  1. Thanks for including the clip. My husband and I got to hear the choral scholars from The Church of St Martin in the Field while we were in London. They did a sung evensong. (I hadn't known there was any other kind before I started researching it).
    And then you can always go to "The Cafe in the Crypt" for a light repast.

  2. Kate, this sounds just lovely. Music is a world that gives us the holy of the universe. Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  3. We're doing a sung evensong at St. Andrews on Sunday, though I hesitate even to open my mouth after those boys performed there. Some Charles Villiers Stanford stuff, not my favorite composer but what the heck. Thelma, I never told you this, but I was so impressed with your story of the workshop you did at the Y with David Cieri that I looked him up and bought one of his albums on iTunes. A fine composer of moody stuff.

  4. I may have neglected to mention to you guys that I published MONKEYSTORM today on Kindle. After my agent and I parted ways I decided to design a cover and just put it out there. I love the cover. Actually I love the book. Take a look at my other blog for details-

  5. Thanks for your comment, Kate. FYI, the 92 Y has the most wonderful program of any senior center in the world! There are over 700 members, the program has access to all the world-wide Y programs - and I am constantly floored by the high quality of the faculty! If anyone who lives in or near NYC wants a university-level program - contact the 92 Y. Every topic from Art to Zoology - and the talents are beyond amazing!!!!! TJS in Manhattan