An Evening with William Price King – Christmas Music – The Little Drummer Boy.


William Price King put this series together for Christmas 2015 and I thought that I would share again to the new readers who have joined the blog since then. For those of you who enjoyed the music the first time around.. I hope you will enjoy again..

Today we are featuring probably one of the most recorded songs for the festive season.

The Little Drummer Boy began life in the early 40s as Carol of the Drum and was written by American classical composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis. She had based the version on a traditional Czech carol with unknown origins and originally Katherine composed the piece specifically for girl’s choirs.

Carol of the Drum caught the attention of The Trapp Family Singers (Sound of Music) and they recorded for Decca Records in 1955. That began decades of recordings by some of the top artists of the time. By 1958 it had become The Little Drummer Boy when released by Harry Simeone on 20th Century Fox Records.

Here are just a few of the artists who have kept this beautiful Christmas Song fresh in the minds of us all over the decades and brought it to new generations of music lovers.

Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, The Supremes, Nana Mouskouri, Joan Baez, Stevie Wonder, Henri Mancini, The Jackson Five, Jimi Hendrix, Anne Murray, Kiri te Kanawa, Glen Campbell, Alicia Keys and Ringo Starr.

Here is the amazing group Pentatonix that brings us right up to date in a very beautiful version.

Pentatonix is an American a cappella group made up of five vocalists. They cover existing songs as well as produce their own material and it has a very definitive style. Exquisite vocal harmonies with extremely effective vocal percussion and beat boxing. You will be able to hear how wonderfully they bring this together in their version of The Little Drummer Boy.

Buy all their albums

http://www.amazon.com/Pentatonix/e/B00I4HOPXO

About William Price King.

Price King Eric Sempe

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You can find all of William’s posts on Jazz, Classical and Contemporary artists in this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king-a-man-and-his-music-jazz-classical-and-contemporary-legends/

My thanks to William for putting this series together, running until the end of December on Friday evenings at 9.00pm. UK Time.. I hope you will tune in.

 

Classical Music with William Price King – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – The Early Years


classical music

Welcome to the new series of Classical Music with William Price King. We are delighted to feature Kiri Te Kanawa, the renowned soprano from New Zealand who took the world by storm in the 1960s, and continues to inspire and delight audiences with rare but outstanding performances.

classic-kiri

Kiri Te Kanawa has a stunning voice and has received critical acclaim from her work in Opera and also in popular music. I asked William Price King if we could include Kiri in this series, not just because she is an opera singer, but because when I was a teenager and first heard her voice, it was the first time that I really started to appreciate classical music. Probably because she was only a few year’s older than I was and made the world of opera more accessible to our generation.

I will hand over to William to share her early life and career and also to hear some of her first public performances.

Kiri Te Kanawa had a challenging start in life in 1944 when she was born into a family who were unable to financially support another child. Her birth name is Claire Mary Rawstron and she originates from the town of Gisborne on the coast of New Zealand. Her father was a native Maori and her mother from European extraction and she was adopted at only a month old by Tom and Nell Te Kanawa who were of similar backgrounds. Her new parents named her Kiri which is the Maori word for ‘bell’.

As an only child, Kiri enjoyed the attention of both her parents. She accompanied her father on his fishing trips, and on one occasion nearly drowned, when the boat overturned and she was trapped underneath. Thankfully her father was able to dive down and rescue her. Her mother, who played piano, provided the entertainment in the household as there was no television. Kiri recalls that she was singing from a very early age with performances on the purpose built mini stage, complete with curtains. Her mother heard something very special in Kiri’s voice and told her that she had a vision of her performing at the London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

It became Nell Te Kanawa’s mission to turn that vision into a reality, and over the next few years there were to be many changes in the family’s circumstances. It was a monumental challenge to take this young girl with raw talent to the stages of the most famous opera houses in the world.. Kiri Te Kanawa is quoted as saying, “the reasons that I’m here today is because of the sacrifice of my parents.”

As we have discovered in the previous posts on classical artists, music in the home has played a vital role in developing an initial talent and love of music.. But, the second most important element of a successful career, is in the commitment of teachers in the early days at school, to take that talent further.

After a course in business school where Kiri learned shorthand and typing she took a job as a receptionist. This left her evenings free to perform and to study singing with Dame Sister Mary Leo who had tutored her at St Mary’s College in Auckland. She began to sing in the popular musicals of the day such as The Sound of Music that were being staged in Auckland as well as performing in local cabarets. It is clear that this following song in particular held a place in her heart.

Kiri te Kanawa gives a fantastic rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” (Rogers and Hammerstein) in this 1994 performance with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Stephen Barlow. She embodies the grace and style for which she became famous.

At age sixteen and with several recordings released, it appeared that Kiri Te Kanawa was destined to a career as a popular singer. This however was not what her mother had envisaged for her talented daughter, who persuaded The Maori Trust Foundation to support Kiri while she studied further.

With her living expenses covered it offered Kiri the freedom to continue to study classical music with Sister Mary Leo with more focus and to enter the singing competitions locally. At sixteen she won the Auckland Competition and in 1962 she was runner up in the more prestigious Mobile Song quest winning the competition in 1965 aged twenty-one.

It was time to expand her audience and in 1965 Kiri Te Kanawa entered aria competitions of both the Sydney and Melbourne Suns, two of the most important events in Australia at the time. She came second in the Sydney competition but won the Melbourne event singing “Leise, leise” (sung in English as “Softly Singing”) from Weber’s Der Freischützwon.

This was to be a pivotal time in Kiri’s career and at age only 21, with her prize money and a scholarship from the New Zealand government, she set off to England where she would sing in her first opera.

In 1966 Kiri enrolled at the London Opera Centre and would study under renowned vocal coach Vera Rozsa.

Vera Rozsa was a Hungarian opera singer and vocal coach who had enjoyed a successful career in her Budapest until the tragic years of the holocaust. Tragically her first husband was interned and died as di many of her family and friends. She herself was in hiding until the end of the war, narrowly escaping capture by the Nazis. Following the war she was soloist for the Budepest Opera and later the Vienna State Opera. Unfortunately, due to her years in hiding during the war, part of one lung had to be removed which was to severely impact her ability to perform in operas. She visited a specialist in Brussels, who told her that she would never be able to sing more than nine or ten minutes at a time: as a result, she developed expertise in a breathing technique, that not only enabled her to continue singing, although not in demanding opera roles, but to make singing easier for many future students.

Vera married a former British army intelligence officer in 1954 and came to the UK to live. She continued to perform for a period of time before achieving acclaim as an outstanding vocal coach, teaching first at the Royal Manchester School of Music for ten years before moving to London. She held master classes around the world and also was a judge at many of the most important competitions globally.

It was after a master class at the centre by Australian conductor, Richard Bonynge that he identified that Kiri Te Kanawa, who was considered to be a mezzo soprano was a soprano. The basic division of female voices is Contralto (low) Mezzo-soprano (middle) and Soprano (high) and this can influence the roles within an opera. The tendency is for the mezzo sopranos to play a secondary role to a soprano and this was therefore quite an impactful development.

The time that Kiri Te Kanawa spent being taught by Vera Rozsa led to an improvement in not just her intonation, diction, interpretation and acting, but also allowed for her naturally lighter voice to be developed.

Kiri first appeared on stage as the Second Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as well as in performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in December 1968 at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. She also sang the title role in Donizett’s Anna Bolena.

The period from 1969 to 1970 was a pivotal one in several respects. She left the London Opera Centre and began her new career, at first singing small travesti roles, as in Handel’s Alcina at Royal Festival Hall, before her major triumph of 1969 as Ellen in Rossini’s La donna del lago at the Camden Festival.

After her success at the Camden Festival as Ellen, she was offered the role of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro after an audition of which the conductor, Colin Davis, said, “I couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve taken thousands of auditions, but it was such a fantastically beautiful voice.”

Praise for her Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo led to an offer of a three-year contract as junior principal at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden where she made her debut as Xenia in Boris Godunov and a Flower Maiden in Parsifal in 1970, fulfilling her mother’s dream.

The performance that began her stratospheric rise was as Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in December of 1971.

One of the best scenes from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” comes in act three when the Countess, Kiri te Kanawa sits Susanna, Ileana Cotrubas down at her desk with pen in hand as they plot out a conspiracy against her husband in order to trick him. Kiri Te Kanawa is ravishing and her phrasing, perfect, in this duet, “Sull’aria,” (A little song on the breeze).

Buy the music of Kiri Te Kanawa: https://www.amazon.com/Dame-Kiri-Te-Kanawa/e/B000AQ0GZI

Additional Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Rozsa

About William Price King.

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

We hope you have enjoyed the first in the new series and would be grateful if you could share on social media. thanks Sally