x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The Swingle Singers to perform in Dubai

The Score Classical concert series brings the Grammy Award-winning group to Madinat Theatre as part of the group's 50th anniversary world tour.

The Swingle Singers are a rotating ensemble of seven vocalists from around the world. Oliver Griffiths / The Swingle Singers
The Swingle Singers are a rotating ensemble of seven vocalists from around the world. Oliver Griffiths / The Swingle Singers

Although there have been a variety of incarnations over the years, The Swingle Singers' latest ensemble is London-based and features seven vocalists from around the world. Founded by the American musician Ward Swingle, the original a cappella group released its debut album in 1963, going on to incorporate pop, rock, jazz, Latin, classical and drumming sounds into their repertoire over the decades.

Nothing but the voice

Oliver Griffiths, who has been the group's tenor for the past two-and-a-half years, says audience members are often left surprised that no backing tracks are used during their performances.

"We love performing at festivals and concert series such as this because we like to take classical music and give it an edge, so we mix various fusions," he says. "We're performing an eclectic set that will surprise the audience. This year is looking very busy as it's the 50th anniversary. We have two albums planned for the summer and winter."

The tunes

The Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla's Libertango and the French composer Claude Debussy's Clair De Lune will be featured in the set.

"Debussy's Clair De Lune is a complex but beautiful piece," Griffiths says. "We've taken it straight from the transcript of the piano but we do everything vocally. We often get lost in this piece of music. With the seven of us singing, it's quite magical. The Libertango has all the flavour and passion of the tango. It's epic and has a big ending. We will even dance."

Outreach

The Swingle Singers will also hold workshops and serve as judges for the Choir of the Year competition, part of The Score's Classical Outreach Education Programme. Claiming to be the region's first festival and competition in search of the UAE's best amateur choir, the competition is open to primary, secondary and adult choirs and runs from Wednesday to Friday at Dubai College.

"During the workshops, we'll talk about the art of the ensemble, stage presence and performance," says Griffiths. "We're heavily influenced by the countries we visit and quite often pick up songs. Arabic music is stunning so we look forward to listening to some sounds while in Dubai."

On the move

The Swingle Singers, who stop in Dubai en route from Moscow to North America, have been featured in soundtracks including the television hits Sex and the City and Glee. They also present the annual London A Cappella Festival at Kings Place each January, which is dedicated to gathering local artists and celebrating the many forms of a cappella.

"We are so grateful of the history of the group and keen to create music that is our expression," says Griffiths. "We write lots of original music, so much of our songs are new. It's amazing what the human voice can achieve. We're seeing a real interest in a cappella, which is a wonderful art form."

The Swingle Singers perform on Saturday at Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Tickets cost Dh150 to Dh250 and are available from www.madinat-theatre.com, www.timeouttickets.com and www.groupon.ae. For more information visit www.thescore.ae

melshoush@thenational.ae