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Singing in a different key

King’s Chorus prepares for fifth anniversary

The King’s Chorus promises it’s next concert will be off the Handel. Celebrating their 5th anniversary the chorus will perform G.F. Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum on November 22nd at Saint Mary’s Basilica.

The chorus started with Nick Halley. In 2009, Halley wanted to create an all-inclusive classical choir. King’s College already had a chapel choir that trained extensively and was quite demanding. Halley, whose father runs the chapel choir, wanted to go in another direction.

“A lot of people auditioned [for the chapel choir],” said Halley. “For many the schedule was too much. But they had talent and needed an arena in which they could make music.”

Halley now directs the chorus once a week at the King’s Chapel. The choir is made up of mostly students but some members of faculty sing as well.

“And there’s a few people in town who just wanted to find a choir,” Halley said. “They find the chorus because we tend to do interesting music.”

G.F. Handel’s composition was a deliberate choice by Halley for the chorus’s anniversary. Halley describes Dettingen Te Deum as “big and heroic” and one of Handel’s “massive works”.

Halley paired Handel’s piece with modern composer Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. Halley says the Chorus is all about experimentation. He tries to incorporate unique pieces into each concert.

“If we didn’t have exciting concerts no one would care about us,” joked Halley.

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(photo by Kathleen Harper)

By nature, the King’s Chorus is a student-run society. Everyone who sits on the Chorus executive is a student.

Elizabeth Orenstein, a fourth-year King’s student, acts as the external coordinator. She says her time with the chorus has been valuable in more ways than one.

“My musical literacy has definitely increased over the past four years,” she said. “But as the external coordinator, I’ve also found a part-time job in graphic design.”

Orenstein says on the surface the chorus’ concerts appeal to the university, but she says they’re for anyone who enjoys good choral music.

“We just produce really good interesting music,” she said. “We’re trying to break the stereotype that young people don’t like classical music.”

Orenstein says unlike the chapel choir the chorus is able to produce pieces that don’t follow the “buttoned-up” tone of most classical concerts.

“We still maintain musical excellence,” she said, “but there’s no fear of doing these bizarre world music pieces that are just gorgeous and extraordinary.”

Halley says it doesn’t just take good directing to produce these grandiose pieces. He says it’s the chorus itself. He says when you have an attrition of four years it’s difficult to stay consistent.

“I just keep discovering over and over again that the chorus just keeps getting better,” he said. “Usually choirs will settle at a plateau after a while, but the chorus isn’t like that.”

The King’s Chorus 5th Anniversary concert will take place Saturday November 22nd, at the Saint Mary’s Cathedral Basilica at 7:30 p.m.

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