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For 26 years, David Hurley's high, pure countertenor voice has given The King's Singers their distinctive sound. Now Hurley is retiring from the British a cappella sextet, and 360 of his dearest friends are helping him say goodbye.
Hurley and his mates countertenor Timothy Wayne-Wright, tenor Julian Gregory, baritones Christopher Gabbitas and Christopher Bruerton, and bass Jonathan Howard are guests on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's annual Pioneer Day concerts. The free shows in downtown Salt Lake City's LDS Conference Center will be Hurley's last U.S. appearances as a King's Singer.
"We'll miss him," Tabernacle Choir President Ron Jarrett who shared the stage with the King's Singers during his years as a member of the choir said of Hurley. "To those of us who have been here a while, he's a pillar of that organization."
Hurley's tenure is one of the longest in the history of the group, which was founded in 1968 by a group of friends at Cambridge University's King's College. "I've actually been in the group longer than one of our current members [Julian Gregory] has been alive, by a number of weeks," he noted in a phone interview.
His first three seasons overlapped with the final three seasons of the last two remaining charter members. "So I suppose in a sense the continuity is there," he said. "In a sense, their legacy continues. We're all bearers of the legacy of the King's Singers."
The original lineup reached a turning point when tenor Alastair Thompson decided to move on after 10 years in the group. "They were anxious about the change would it work with another voice?" Hurley said. "But they found a marvelous tenor. Far from being a worry, the changes of personnel have kept the group young, literally."
When Patrick Dunachie takes his spot in the lineup, he'll be the 26th man to do so. Dunachie was born in 1993, three years after his predecessor joined.
"The lovely thing is that a new set of ideas come in, just in terms of singing," Hurley said. "Patrick will bring new ideas and impetus."
Hurley grew up listening to the King's Singers on records and occasionally in concert. "I don't think I ever considered it was a job I'd do," let alone become one of the longest-serving King's Singers. "I'm sure I'll miss the travel enormously," he said, "but I'll also enjoy being at home and making breakfast for myself most mornings of the year."
He recalls many "fantastic performances" with the Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony, including a concert with the choir during the 2002 Cultural Olympiad. As the only member of the group to have visited Utah in the summer (to his knowledge), he's looking forward to showing his colleagues how lovely the state can be when it isn't cold and gray. "I really can't think of somewhere else I'd prefer to be" for his farewell to America.
The performances on Pioneer Day weekend will be "a wonderful combination of songs from back home and many from the United States as well," he said, noting that many choir members have British ancestry. "It's a British vocal institution performing alongside the great American vocal institution."
An Atlantic bridge
British vocal sextet The King's Singers will be the guests of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in the annual Pioneer Day concerts. Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy conduct.
Where • LDS Conference Center, 90 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
When • Friday and Saturday, July 22-23, 8 p.m.; the King's Singers also will join the choir on its weekly broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" Sunday, July 24, at 9:30 p.m. in the Conference Center
Tickets • The free tickets all have been distributed, but there will be a standby line at the north gate of Temple Square; no tickets are required for the Sunday broadcast, but audience members must be seated by 9:15
Watch it live • Saturday's performance will be streamed live at motab.org/pioneerday, broadcast live on BYUtv and carried over the LDS Church's satellite system