A Skype Conversation with David Hurley of The King's Singers
February 16, 2010
The fabulous British all-male a cappella vocal ensembleThe King's Singers is in town for one concert tomorrow night, Wednesday 17 February, at The Herbst Theatre under the auspices of SF Performances. I caught up with one of the members, countertenor David Hurley, via skype, for a quick chat...
Chloe Veltman: Hello David.
David Hurley: Hello Chloe.
Chloe Veltman: How are you doing?
David Hurley: Fine thanks.
Chloe Veltman: Did you know that someone's just hacked into the King's Singers website?
David Hurley: Again!
Chloe Veltman: You mean it's happened before?! "Hacked By D3xeR" is the message I'm getting.
David Hurley: It happened last Sunday as well.
Chloe Veltman: There can't be many choral ensembles that get targeted by hackers.
David Hurley: Not the greatest accolade, I think.
Chloe Veltman: I guess it's sort of flattering isn't it?
David Hurley: Maybe!!
Chloe Veltman: Is last sunday the only time this happened before?
David Hurley: Yes - twice in 10 days.
Chloe Veltman: Blimey.
David Hurley: Last time it was sorted quickly, but the hackers obviously weren't satisfied that it was mended so soon.
Chloe Veltman: Now they want revenge. You'll have to up the ante. Hopefully it won't happen again and you'll beat them at their game.
Chloe Veltman: So - on to the music...
David Hurley: Yes!
Chloe Veltman: The last time you came this way was, what, two to three years ago, right? What's happened to the group since then in terms of repertoire, membership and anything else music-related I should know about?
David Hurley: We have a new member - Timothy Wayne Wright - my fellow countertenor. We have many new discs. A grammy!!!!
Chloe Veltman: Congratulations. What do you like best about performing on the west coast?Or is it no different to performing elsewhere?
David Hurley: The weather, the food, the audience. SF Performances is a great presenter as well.
Chloe Veltman: What is it about the audience that you find so engaging?
David Hurley: In SF they understand a cappella - of course Chanticleer is the local star group.
Chloe Veltman: Speaking of Chanticleer, I hear that most if not all of the ensemble is going to be at the Herbst Theatre tomorrow evening to see you in action.
David Hurley: That's great, if rather daunting. They are good friends, and great colleagues.
Chloe Veltman: Do you see the King's Singers ever collaborating with Chanticleer?
David Hurley: We would be outnumbered! But it would be a great sound, I think.
Chloe Veltman: Your sound and approach is completely different to that of Chanticleer - you could do some cool polyphonic stuff as a combined force.
David Hurley: That would be good for us - we are limited to 6 voices live, but in the studio.....
Chloe Veltman: Why are you limited to 6 voices live? Is it a contractual / branding thing that wouldn't permit such a collaboration on stage?
David Hurley: The King's Singers is just the six singers - we are happy to do collaborations. Generally they have been with instruments rather than singers, but we are open to anything.
Chloe Veltman: So maybe we will get to hear both groups performing together at some point in the future then...?
David Hurley: Maybe.
Chloe Veltman: The two groups - King's Singers and Chanticleer - have quite a bit in common despite the difference in size and sound, I think. One thing that springs to mind is your combined interest in commissioning new work. Please can you tell me about the piece you're doing by Gabriela Lena Frank, who has also written for Chanticleer?
David Hurley: This is a wonderful new piece - Tres Mitos de mi Tierra - inspired by the culture of Andean Peru. It is a portrait of three men: a traveller, a painter and a serenader.
Chloe Veltman: Frank's piece sounds intriguing - what kind of challenges does it present to the group?
David Hurley: Rhythm is the main difficulty, but the effect is amazing.
Chloe Veltman: What kinds of rhythmic challenges are there?
David Hurley: Fast passages with rather spiky parts that fit together (hopefully!)
Chloe Veltman: Is the piece sung in Spanish?
David Hurley: It is in English, but with Spanish and Quecha words. We asked for that - Gabi's idea was to give the piece the feel of Spanish language poetry that non-spanish speakers would understand. She wrote the lyrics herself.
Chloe Veltman: What did the composer think of it when she heard the piece in Nashville over the weekend?
David Hurley: She seemed very pleased - she really got us into the feel of it.
Chloe Veltman: What do you look for when you're searching for composers with whom to collaborate?
David Hurley: Someone with an understanding of singers, and especially ensemble singers.
Chloe Veltman: What else is on tonight's program?
David Hurley: Some great English and Italian madrigals - Monteverdi, Gesulado, Weelkes. Plus a wonderful piece by Saint Saens - Saltarelle - and close harmony, of course!
Chloe Veltman: Are your programs always this diverse?
David Hurley: Normally, yes, unless there is a specific theme.
Chloe Veltman: Will you have time to do anything else while in the Bay Area, or are you just in and out for this concert?
David Hurley: I think we are in town for 20 hours - way too short.
Chloe Veltman: Way too short indeed. Time is of the essence so i'll let you loose. Thanks so much for skyping with me, David. I'm looking forward to the concert.
David Hurley: It's been a pleasure.