The first experience of singing with Guy Johnston was in the final ‘dress rehearsal’ before the filming of Carols from King’s, when he joined the choir to perform the cello part of Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity. As soon as he arrived, with a notable lack of music, it was clear that, having committed the part to memory in a matter of days, this was to be a rather professional venture. As soon as we started the first run, Guy’s playing was immaculate, and it was no surprise when this carol went on to be one of the stand out and most popular of the entire Christmas service .
The second time we performed it was in June (almost exactly half a year away from Christmas…!) when Guy returned to King’s to record the piece with us for his upcoming CD. Despite the piece being really rather tricky to sing due to the extremely long and sustained nature of the writing, it was once again wonderful to be able to hear the cello part played quite so beautifully, and listening back afterwards the result was quite something. Not only was Guy wonderful to chat to throughout the session (perhaps he knows the potential dullness of recording sessions from his time as a treble in the very same choir), but he also joined us choral scholars for a drink after the session – being able to chat to the soloist(s) like this isn’t something we often get to do! Guy was even polite enough to humour my conversation when I accidentally ruined a camera shot of him strolling alongside the chapel by asking him about his cello…
All in all, the experience of singing with, and working with, Guy has been great fun, and when watching this year’s carol service again it really is easy to see why this piece, and Guy’s rendition of it, was such a popular one around the world.
– Seb Johns
Choral scholar, King’s College, Cambridge