The Swingles at Orchestra Hall

The Swingles at Orchestra Hall

On March 24, we welcome The Swingles to Orchestra Hall for one afternoon of incredible vocal music. Preview some of our favorite Swingles tunes, hear from two of the group's vocalists and then get your tickets!

Look Back (ForWard) - March 24 at Orchestra Hall

The Swingles present a musical retrospective in celebration of their late, great founder Ward Swingle.  The five-time Grammy® winning vocal group take a look back at Ward’s formative influences – in particular, Bach – and at the musical landscape as it has changed over the Swingles’ extraordinary five-decade history. Moving through the singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 70s right up to the current British favorites, the group brings the retro sound of the classic Swingle Singers alive as well as bringing a fresh approach on original songs from their newer releases. 

The program includes music from Bach, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles and more.  
What is ‘contemporary a cappella’ to you? How would you define it? 
Jo Goldsmith-Eteson (Soprano): I think what is so interesting about this genre is that it can mean so many different things to different people. For us, it has gone far beyond just 'singing a song with no instruments' but it has become a way to use the human voice as a vehicle to communicate the ideas and emotions that are important to us. We've always loved to push the boundaries of what the voice can do - not just in terms of the versatility and power of a singular voice, but what you can do with several voices all together, creating soundscapes and musical textures beyond the expected.  

What is your favorite Swingle arrangement?

Edward Randell (Bass): For me, it has to be Ward Swingle’s classic arrangement of Clair de Lune by Debussy. Every time we sing that, it’s a thrill. I never get tired of it.
Jo Goldsmith-Eteson: I love our version of Piazzolla’s Libertango arranged by former Swingle alto, Kineret Erez. We’ve performed it in almost every single show for over a decade and it’s just so exhilarating every time.

How do you cope with mistakes onstage (forgetting lyrics and such)? Can you share one of these moments?
Edward Randell: When mistakes happen, they can be pure gold for a performance. Especially on a long tour, suddenly everyone comes out of their routine and goes onto high alert. One of my favourites was when our former high soprano, Sara suddenly forgot the lyrics to The Diva Aria (which she had probably performed 200 times by that point) and improvised a lot of nonsense Italian. We were dying trying to control our laughter, but no-one in the audience noticed. Another time we were doing an open air concert and a loud siren went off, and kept going for about 5 minutes. We improvised a piece around the pitches of the siren, and the audience loved it. If you can ride out those moments of crisis, an audience will love you for it – you’ve given them a completely unique experience.

What can the audience expect from your show? 
Jo Goldsmith-Eteson: We love to take our audience on a journey and our show will always be a real mixture of styles and genres. We love the idea that we can perform familiar songs in a way that is really unexpected alongside music that an audience probably won’t have heard before but may feel like they’ve known it forever. It’s the fun juxtaposition of deconstructed 16th century renaissance early music with alternative/indie songs or singer/songwriter ballads and big anthems paired with unusual ancient folk tunes that I think keeps the audience on their toes and keeps them coming back.


Minnesota Orchestra thanks The Swingles for sharing their comments and videos.

For tickets and information about the March 24 concert at Orchestra Hall >>


Minnesota Orchestra Staff