Choir of King’s College launches own record label
1 November 2012
Changing landscape: King's College Choir launches own record labelBenjamin Ealovega
In a further sign of the changing landscape of classical music recording, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge has joined the swelling ranks of orchestras, chamber groups and individual artists in launching its own record label. ‘This is absolutely the right moment for the choir to take control of their recording programme,’ said the Choir’s agent, Stephen Lumsden. ‘Choosing the repertoire that is important to both their heritage as well as the here and now, will bring both artistic freedom and control over all aspects of their extensive media life.’
Over several decades under successive directors Boris Ord, David Willcocks, Philip Ledger and (since 1982) Stephen Cleobury, the Choir has amassed a catalogue of over 100 recordings, mainly with Decca and EMI, selling millions of copies worldwide; its albums of the Psalms of David – initially recorded only as a stop-gap due to a scheduling error – have never been out of the catalogue since the 1960s. In view of the Choir’s continuing popularity, it’s not clear why EMI in particular would want to see King’s fly the nest, and official statements gloss over the choir’s future with the troubled major label. A spokeswoman for the Choir told C&O, ‘The Choir may record with EMI again in future, but for now this is the way they expect to make the majority of their recordings.’ Stephen Cleobury added, ‘This development will allow the Choir to spread its wings. We will be able to record more adventurous repertoire as well as bringing a fresh look at some of the most important pieces from the choral literature.’
The Choir’s international standing has been fostered by the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols, which every year but one since 1928 has been broadcast by the BBC. And the new label’s first release, Nine Lessons & Carols [KGS0001], capitalises on this; based on the Services of 2010 and 2011, the 2-CD recording replicates the familiar format of scripture readings and carols; the running order is supplemented by tracks featuring commissioned carols from the last few years, by an impressive roster of contemporary composers including Mark-Anthony Turnage, Tansy Davies, Dominic Muldowney, Judith Weir, Gabriel Jackson, Brett Dean and Einojuhani Rautavaara. In a shrewd marketing coup, the CD unveils the 2012 commission – a new carol by John Rutter. Overall the package is a clear winner, but the real test for the fledgling label will be the next release, an ‘in-depth exploration’ of Mozart’s Requiem, due out next Spring.