Former Crowborough choirboy turned chart topper performs in front of family and friends at All Saints Church next month.
Chris Wardle is now part of vocal group VOCES8 whose album “Eventide” spent 3 weeks at number 1 in the UK Classical Chart earlier this year.
Chris was born in Crowborough and went to Whitehill and Herne schools and then to Beacon Academy. Chris Wardle said:
I have travelled around the world with VOCES8 in the last seven years, but coming home to Crowborough will be a really special concert for me. I think that it will probably be quite an emotional experience – it’s a place that I have known all my life and I have so many family friends associated with it, many of whom will be at the concert. It’s going to be wonderful to go back.
Singing has always been a huge part of my life and I couldn’t imagine not doing it, but I never expected it to be my sole career. That’s why I feel so lucky to be a part of VOCES8 and to share in the success we have had.
As his Dad was choirmaster at All Saints’ Church until the early ’90s, and then his Mum took over when he left, he said he didn’t really have any choice but to sing in the choir there.
In 1990 Chris made it to the national finals of the Choirboy of the Year competition, and the year after was chosen by Glyndebourne Opera to sing in their production of The Magic Flute by Mozart.
VOCES8 perform over 100 concerts each year in the UK and beyond, and is regularly heard on Classic FM and Radio 3. The 8-part group are in the middle of a busy touring season with shows in Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and across the UK of course.
CrowboroughLife asked Chris whether he was concerned being billed as “classical choral music” might put some local people off from attending the concert at All Saints in July:
Our show will include music from lots of different genres and eras – we’ll begin with a piece or two of “classical” but we’ll then move into jazz and pop, swing tunes, old favourites such as Beatles numbers – even some Mumford and Sons! We really hope that everyone will find something in there that they will love.
The group also runs a busy education programme which reaches over 25,000 singers of all ages each year.
The eight of us were lucky enough to have the finest music education this country can offer, and we’re passionate about passing that on to the next generation – although in a fun and accessible way of course! A couple of years ago we published our ‘VOCES8 Method’ which can be used by teachers no matter what their level of music training. We estimate that it’s now used by about 120,000 children daily. We have also recently opened a training centre right in the centre of London, very near St Paul’s, called the Gresham Centre , where we welcome singers from across the world to come and sing with us.
VOCES8 are looking forward to our annual Summer School down in Dorset which runs from 28 July-3 August. It’s open to singers of all ages and abilities and there are still some places available, so get in touch if you’re interested.
The group have just finished recording their second album for Decca and Chris hopes it is going to be as well received as Eventide has been.
VOCES8 are at the All Saints Church Centre on Friday 4th July at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12, and can be bought at J&K Gallery, Croft Road, Crowborough TN6 2TR. Cheques and cash are accepted. Or they can be purchased online from Ents24.com.
Irene Watkins, who lives off Whitehill, was the winner of the Eventide CD. She currently said Chris Wardle attended Whitehill Infant School in Crowborough, and was lucky in having her name drawn-out of the virtual hat.