As their name eloquently suggests, The King’s Singers, also known as the kings of a cappella, will be holding a special concert in Japan to commemorate the start of the new Imperial Era — Reiwa — on July 11, 2019, at Tokyo’s St. Mary’s Cathedral. In a teaser video the group performed “Kimigayo,” to show appreciation for the historic moment in Japan on the ascension of the new Emperor.
Started in 1968 at King’s College (Cambridge University), the King’s Singers decided to arrange their schedules for this flash concert due to their personal connection with Japan. In an exclusive video shared with JAPAN Forward, the group’s leader Julian Gregory explained, “Our personal connection with Japan is particularly strong since my mother is Japanese and the six of us King’s Singers love to visit Japan as much as we can.”
Fellow King’s Singer Jonathan Howard elaborated on the aim of the concert. “It’s our great pleasure to give a performance of music from England and Japan for all of our Japanese friends in celebration of the new Reiwa era, and to share with you our huge affection for your beautiful country.”
Nick Ashby, one of the group baritones, expressed the group’s warm wishes in light of the imperial succession: “We pray that the new emperor reigns for a long time, during which U.K.-Japan relations continue to prosper and thrive.”
The concert will be for one night only, in the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward, a location which Gregory describes as “a beautiful and architecturally-striking building with acoustics we are very much looking forward to experiencing.”
To meet the anticipation of the fans, the group has specially recorded four songs which will also be sung at the concert in July. The choice itself reflects the wish to strengthen Japan and U.K. relations, as the first song the group performed is “Kimigayo,” the Japanese national anthem, in an arrangement by group member Christopher Bruerton.
The second song was composed by the world-renowned English composer William Byrd and it praises the then-ruler Queen Elizabeth I. The third song chosen was “Furusato” (Hometown), a song which celebrates the attachment to one’s country of origin, with an arrangement of Philip Lawson, a former baritone of the King’s Singers. Finally, the fourth song is the Founder’s Prayer, with lyrics written by King Henry VI, founder of King’s College at Cambridge University in 1411.
Will you be joining the King’s Singers in this unique celebration on July 11?
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THE KING’S SINGERS
The group is comprised of six members: a tenor, two countertenors, two baritones, and a bass — a structure which hasn’t wavered ever since the group was formed on May 1, 1968, by recent graduates of King’s College, Cambridge, U.K. Although the members have changed over the years, the group has showcased unwavering high quality performances by being featured on national television and performing all around the world. Among the many accolades received by the group are two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and a place on the Gramophone Magazine’s inaugural hall of fame.