Swingle Singers

Biography

Active: 1962 - 1973 ; France
The Swingle Singers is one of the most unique modern vocal groups, known for innovative, jazz-inflected performances of everything from Bach keyboard works to songs of the Beatles. The group formed from members of the Blue Stars, a jazz ensemble under the direction of Blossom Dearie. In 1962, Jeanette Baucomont (soprano), Anne Germain (contralto), Claudine Meunier (contralto), Claude Germain (tenor), Jean-Claude Briodin (bass-baritone), and Jean Read more Cussac (bass-baritone) gathered in Paris under the direction of Ward Lemar Swingle (tenor) and Christiane Legrand (soprano); their goal was to improve their overall musicianship and sight-reading skills by performing intricate instrumental works vocally. While making their way through Bach's Well Tempered Clavier the idea came to "swing" the piece; the resulting fusion gave birth to the Swingle Singers. They began performing Classical and Baroque works with a jazz rhythm section, employing a distinctive scat style in the vocal parts.

Their debut album, Bach's Greatest Hits, avoided the potential pitfalls of kitsch and instead proved a testament to the durability and flexibility of Bach's music, as well as to the group's vocal prowess. It also became a commercial success, appealing to a broad audience that might not otherwise have shown interest in classical music. Numerous television and radio appearances followed, as did back-to-back world tours; their music was on U.S. and U.K. Top 20 lists, and they won several Grammy awards, including Best Choral Performance and Best New Artist in 1963.

After their debut album, the Swingle Singers applied the same formula to the music of Mozart, Handel, and Vivaldi well into the 1970s. Then, in 1973, Ward Swingle traveled to England to form a smaller group called Swingle II, to perform a broader base of repertory. Swingle worked with the group until he left for the United States in 1985, where he then spent a decade lecturing and guest conducting. During that time he continued to direct the Swingle Singers as they explored the music of Dvorák, Lennon, Mancini, Bizet, Rodgers/Hart, Debussy, George Butterworth, and Gerald Finzi on albums such as Pretty Ringtime, Notability, Ticket to Ride, and Screen Tested. As of 1999, Ward Swingle lives in semi-retirement near Paris. Read less
Browse 1-17 of 17 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Berio: Sinfonia, Concerto For Two Pianos / Swingle Singers, New York Philharmonic
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 49992 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luciano Berio
    Performer:  Bruno Canino,  Antonio Ballista
    Conductor:  Luciano Berio
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers,  New York Philharmonic,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Jazz Sebastian Bach
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 542552 Release Date: 04/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Swingle Singers,  Pierre Michelot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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  • 3.
    Anniversary Series - A Cappella Collection
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 299 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Imogen Heap,  Robert Chilcott,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers,  King's Singers,  BBC Singers  ... 
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  • 4.
    Anthology Of The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Vol 6 - Live Radio Recordings 1990-2000
    Label: Rco Live   Catalog: 11004 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Luciano Berio,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Ildiko Komlósi,  Kolos Kovacs,  Martha Argerich,  Ann Murray  ... 
    Conductor:  Iván Fischer,  Claus Peter Flor,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Swingle Singers,  Netherlands Radio Women's Chorus
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  • 5.
    Classical Beatles
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 16784 Release Date: 11/03/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Rutter,  Paul McCartney,  John Lennon,  Arthur Wilkinson  ... 
    Performer:  Manuel Barrueco,  Lesley Garrett,  Xuefei Yang,  David Tanenbaum
    Conductor:  Ron Goodwin,  Richard Edlinger,  George Martin,  Miriam Nemcova
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  King's Singers,  Baroque Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 6.
    The Swingle Singers Anthology
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 66956 Release Date: 09/22/2009   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Various
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
    CD: $27.49
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  • 7.
    Great Secular Choral Works
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 22112 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Orff,  Claudio Monteverdi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Conductor:  David Hill,  Anthony Rooley,  André Cluytens,  Wolfgang Sawallisch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Symphony Chorus,  Consort of Musicke  ... 
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  • 8.
    Christmastime / Swingle Singers
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 548303 Release Date: 03/20/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Praetorius,  James Pierpont,  Traditional,  Irving Berlin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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  • 9.
    ...unwrapped - Christmas Carols / Swingle Singers
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 107 Release Date: 10/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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  • 10.
    Beauty And The Beatbox / Swingle Singers, Shlomo, Et Al
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 104 Release Date: 10/30/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Walter Murphy
    Performer:  Shlomo,  Joanna Goldsmith
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vocal Orchestra,  Swingle Singers
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  • 11.
    Berio: A-ronne, Cries Of London / Berio, Swingle Singers
    Label: London/Decca Enterprise   Catalog: 425620 Release Date: 02/14/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luciano Berio
    Conductor:  Luciano Berio
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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  • 12.
    A Mozart Celebration / The Swingle Singers
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 64798 Release Date: 09/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Heather Cairnscross,  Jonathan Rathbone,  Andrew Busher,  Ben Parry  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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  • 13.
    The Most Relaxing Bach Album In The World...ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 53359 Release Date: 03/21/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Stanislav Bunin,  Andrei Gavrilov,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Christian Ferras  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Leopold Stokowski,  Richard Stamp  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Bath Festival Orchestra,  Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 14.
    Best Of The Swingle Singers
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 82132 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henry Mancini,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Traditional,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
    CD: $7.99
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  • 15.
    Nocturne Voices
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 62146 Release Date: 02/10/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claudio Monteverdi,  John Tavener,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Jorge Arriagada  ... 
    Performer:  Arleen Augér,  Della Jones,  Patricia Petibon,  Natalie Dessay  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox,  David Hill,  Patrick Cohën-Akenine,  Jean-Louis Negro  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of London Baroque Sinfonia,  Winchester Cathedral Choir,  Les Folies Françoises  ... 
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  • 16.
    Bach Hits Back, A Cappella Amadeus / Swingle Singers
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 61472 Release Date: 05/05/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
    CD: $11.99
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  • 17.
    1812 / The Swingle Singers
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 45134 Release Date: 09/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  King VIII Henry,  Paul McCartney,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Swingle Singers
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