Born: September 21, 1927 - Mobile, Alabama, USA
Died: January 19, 2015 - Eastbourne, Sussex, England
Ward Swingle was the product of an unusually liberal musical education. In his hometown, Mobile, Alabama, he grew up with the sound of jazz and played in one of the great Big Bands before finishing High School. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory and studied piano with the celebrated Walter Gieseking in postwar France. In Paris in the 1960's he was a founding member of the fabled Double Six of Paris, then took the scat singing idea and applied it to the works of J.S. Bach, hence The Swingle Singers, whose early recordings won five Grammies.
When the Paris group disbanded in l973, Ward Swingle moved to London and formed an English group, expanding the repertoire to include classical and avant-garde works along with the scat and jazz vocal arrangements. The year 2000 touring schedule of the Swingle Singers included trips to many European countries, the USA and Japan.
In l984 Ward Swingle returned to live in America. Though he remained as Musical Advisor for his London-based group, he devoted most of his time to workshops, guest conducting and the dissemination of his printed arrangements through his publishing company, Swingle Music.
His pioneering ideas in new choral techniques produced invitations to conduct the Stokholm Chamber Choir, Nederlands Kamerkoor, Dale Warland Singers, Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir, BBC Northern Singers and MENC National Honors Choir at Kennedy Center. Over ten years he gave a long series of workshops and seminars at outstanding universities in both Europe and North America.
In March of l994 he and Mrs. Swingle moved back to France, where he continued his work in arranging, composing and guest conducting. He wote a book called Swingle Singing in which he told the story of the French and English groups, his own story, and defines 'Swingle Singing' techniques with illustrations from his arrangements and compositions.