ECLECTIC CAROLS THAT TRANSCEND THE COMMONPLACE
Listening to these carols extracted from the various Festival and Nine Lesson services held in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve is incredibly inspiring and brings out the real meaning of Christmas and the joy of Jesus' birth. Why pick it apart??? They are recorded between the years 1969 and 1985. The conductors are firstly Sir Thomas Willcocks who directed the Choir from 1957-73 and Sir Philip Ledger from 1974-82. Both are excellent and I cannot tell the difference between the various choirs who would have had a different group of performers through the years.
The selection of carols is listed above, but I would like to mention a few that are most unusual because of their specific arrangements, and although they may be commonplace, sung by THIS choir, makes them very special. For example, the lovely descants(a higher part usually sung by treble voices in contrary motion to the other parts) added by each conductor,(usually brought in after the melody has been sung a few times) are present in several of the songs herein such as: 'Once in Royal David's City'- 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'- 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks'- 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'- and several more. Some very unusual (and possibly new to you) carols that I found tremendously attractive are: 'Adam lay ybouden' by Boris Ord (a former conductor of the Choir) - 'Personet Hodie' sung by the men of the choir- 'Quem pastores laudavere' 14th century German to name just a few. And then there were those that are somewhat familiar that I welcomed such as : 'A Spotless Rose' 14th century English- 'Tomorrow shall be my dancing day ' traditional English- and an American Carol that is not often heard in America 'Jesus Christ the apple tree'. The fact is these carols cover the gamut of countries, languages and genres. There are fifty in all and sung as only the King's College Choir can sing them with their clear-voiced boy sopranos, their velvet toned male altos, their tuneful tenors and resonant basses. Wonderful collection indeed!
The King's College Choir is an outstanding choral group that includes 16 male Choral Scholars who sing the alto, tenor and bass parts. (The Alumni of the Choral Scholars read like a list of 'Who's Who in the Vocal Music World- Michael Chance, Mark Padmore, Michael George, Stephen Varcoe, etc.)The Choristers, usually numbering about 20, are boy sopranos. To hear these beautiful, sometimes old familiar carols sung so skillfully and with much feeling is a thrill beyond compare. GO FOR IT!