Cranleigh welcomed the sublime vocal artistry of the Swingle Singers in a combined vocal workshop and concert with the Junior and SeniorThe Swingles and Cranleigh Choirs_23898 Choirs. Their performance thrilled the audience with the most intricate, warm and scintillating blend of harmonies all crafted with intriguing and imaginative stage positions that seamlessly linked each piece. It was a joy for both the younger and veteran members of the audience who may either be newcomers to their sound or remember the group in a different incarnation.

The Swingles were formed in 1962 in Paris by American singer/arranger Ward Swingle, and recorded with everyone from the Modern Jazz Quartet to Luciano Berio (Sinfonia, 1968) during their first decade. Their current line-up provided all things from spellbinding recreations of madrigal singing from the Medieval period and resplendent Bach (or ‘Jonny B’ as they affectionately referred to the great composer) to contemporary grooves replete with drum and bass vocalisations from the lower voiced members of the ensemble.

The Swingles welcomed the Cranleigh Senior Choir to the stage who performed a captivating version of Duerme Negrito with a beautifully sungThe Swingles and Cranleigh Choirs_23907 solo part from Victoria Parker, followed by a powerful collaboration with the Swingles in the anthemic Narnia. The Junior Choir equally encapsulated the a cappella vibes with a well-blended rendition of Goodnight Sweetheart and then combined with both the Senior Choir and the Swingles to bring the evening to a close with a tour de force version of the 1970s classic – Les Fleurs.

The programme also included entrancing winter-inspired material, a drum and bass duo improvisation complete with timely audience interaction, awesome vocal acrobatics in the Diva Aria from the Fifth Element and a nostalgic rendition of Wayfaring Stranger. Technically the group are second to none, with a masterful display of live looping technology and the highest quality radioThe Swingles and Cranleigh Choirs_23899 mic/in-ear monitoring setup that allow the tightest and most precise harmonies to be heard within the acoustics of an expansive cathedral or the most luscious jazz cavern.

The evening proved to be a riveting, comical and inspiring musical experience – particularly for Cranleigh students who were left buzzing and aspiring to the professional levels of The Swingles vocal talents.

Thanks must go to Mark Jenkins and his student team for such excellent lighting and technical support.

George Royall
Head of Contemporary Music