British vocal group that performs for the queen to sing in New Kensington
The British are coming — to New Kensington.
The Queen’s Six, a male vocal sextet of St. George’s Chapel Choir based at Windsor Castle, perform at private and state affairs for the royal family and during chapel services. They are lay members of the church. They will perform a one-hour concert at Valley High School at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23.
The English Speaking Union has partnered with the New Kensington-Arnold School District and Kubrick Enterprises to present the public performance.
Their repertoire includes austere chants, Renaissance polyphony, lewd madrigals, upbeat jazz and pop, and medieval, contemporary and folk songs.
“We really are the best of friends, and audiences often comment on how much fun we seem to have on stage,” member Simon Whiteley said.
The current group, together for six years, said they are looking forward to “getting to know Pennsylvania” during their fourth tour stateside.
The Queen’s Six formed in 2008, coinciding with the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, from whom they take their name.
The men auditioned for members of clergy at St. George’s Chapel. They reside with their families behind the palace walls in an area dubbed the Horseshoe Cluster, which is a major job perk, according to Whiteley.
“As part of our jobs as lay clerks of the St. George’s Choir, we get to live within the castle walls. You may remember the steps by which Prince Harry and Meghan entered (for their wedding); well, we live right by those steps. It’s an amazing place to live,” Whiteley said.
They performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which was viewed by more than 2 billion people worldwide. Another notable performance was for Princess Eugenie’s nuptials.
“We sing for the Queen two or three times per year, and it was an incredible honor and privilege to sing at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding,” Whiteley said. “It’s not something we will ever forget. And despite all of the television coverage, it still just felt like a rather beautiful family event.
“Singing for the royal family is not something one ever quite gets used to. We are in a unique and privileged situation and love every minute of it.”
Before the performance at Valley High School, Queen’s Six will host a free choral workshop for district students.
Only registered invited guests may attend. Interested students, educators and choral groups are asked to email New Kensington-Arnold School District Superintendent John Pallone at [email protected] with requests.
“This is a great opportunity for the Alle-Kiski Valley to serve as host to this highly respected vocal group,” Pallone said in a district email.
A meet-and-greet and encore performance, hosted by Kubrick Enterprises, will take place from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at AK Valley Park. Tickets are $100 each.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.