by Folarin Akinmade
To celebrate their 3rd Birthday, All The King’s Men are holding a concert at the Greenwood Theatre in London Bridge, this Friday (October 26th). It will see a few alumni returning, but, more importantly will be the grand unveiling of a whole new generation. We sat down with Jonathan Stewart for a quick word.
UACUK: ATKM are celebrating their 3rd Birthday. How does that feel?!
JS: When you consider what the group has accomplished since its inception – touring the East and West Coasts of the U.S.A., becoming the first UK collegiate group to visit Singapore and Hong Kong, a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe, and of course winning the Voice Festival University competition this year – it’s barely believable that All the King’s Men is only three years old! A very mature child for its age. On a serious note, it’s going to be a wonderful occasion celebrating the group’s existence with almost everyone who’s ever sung with AtKM. Our regular Greenwood Theatre concert on Friday 26th will mark the last ever official performance from the first generation of the group, who have been highly inspirational to us newer Men, and we’re very much looking forward to the ‘birthday dinner’ the next day!
UACUK: As you say ATKM is a very young group, so how has it felt for you, having only joined the group last year, and having accomplished so much? I’d imagine it’s been a bit of a whirlwind.
JS: It certainly has been a lot to take in. I was keen to audition for AtKM when I arrived at King’s because of the strong reputation that it already had, both at King’s and in the wider a cappella community. The seven new Men last year learnt an awful lot just by watching the previous generation of AtKM perform at the Greenwood gig last year! We were blessed with some truly outstanding singers – I can’t think of any other group in the country possessing choral singers of the calibre of James Way and Angus McPhee – and were able to add some of the showmanship and style of the old group to our stage shows. Having accomplished all our goals for last year, the aim now for AtKM is to sustain the level of achievement for years to come.
UACUK: Which leads nicely on to the next question: Next year will see the last of the original group leaving, so how do you feel about continuing the ATKM legacy and what can we expect from you all in the near future?
JS: Whilst I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking the group forward, we owe so much to those leaving the group. Henry Southern, the departing MD and founding father, has been nothing short of inspirational to all of us. He was responsible not only for the arrangements, but also for the administration of the group and for establishing the now-characteristic AtKM performance style with his award-winning choreography. The group would quite literally not exist without Henry’s drive and desire to set up an all-male a cappella group at King’s. Now that the group has had a complete turnover of members, we are looking to establish a formal alumni network; more on that in the near future! In terms of the group’s development, the new group sounds very different to the old, if only because finding like-for-like replacements was nigh on impossible! Based on the ground we have already covered, however, I think we can be equally strong this year. Our recent residential weekend at general manager Cameron Carr’s house was highly successful, aided and abetted both by sumptuous cooking from Cameron’s mother Laura and the on-site hot tub, and the boys have already formed a strong bond. This year we are looking to return to the East Coast and Asia, and another run at the Fringe; there have been proposals mooted over a tour to Germany, courtesy of composer Graham Lack, but nothing concrete has been formed yet.
UACUK: That all sounds very exciting! Thanks so much for talking to us.