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After their 50th anniversary year in 2018, marked by the lavish representative album Gold, The King’s Singers (TKS) began 2019 with a new counter-tenor and baritone – Edward Button and Nick Ashby. Inaugural releases from the new line-up include the first in a proposed series of EPs celebrating the lighter side of their repertoire. There are just seven tracks on The Library: vol.1 – three existing arrangements and four new songs, including The Ballad of Nornagest, a folksong from the Faroe Islands, arranged by Kevin Brunt after the group’s first visit to the Faroes.

Finding Harmony is a larger and more eclectic collection of songs that have ‘either brought communities together under a common cause or helped to give identity to people whose culture or language has been threatened.’ The inspiring theme allows TKS to include Luther’s Ein feste Burg as a symbol of the Protestant reformation, and Byrd’s Ne iscaris, Domine to represent the recusant Catholic community of Elizabethan England. The Scottish Highland clearances, the polyphonic tradition of Georgia, the Holocaust, Estonia’s anti-communist ‘Singing Revolution’ of the 1980s, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and, coming up to date, the terrorist attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester are among many other references. The stand-out track for me is the haunting Strange fruit, inspired by a racist lynching in America and made famous by Billie Holiday, in an arrangement by Stacey V. Gibbs. Effective arrangements of a very wide range of repertoire are delivered in TKS’s usual polished style.

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