Tab Meets: The Gentlemen of St John’s
The highlight of the Bridgemas social calendar, Gents at the Maypole, is happening tonight. We caught up with Xavier Hetherington and Quintin Beer, two of the Gents, to talk carols, choirs and Gangnam Style.
The halls are decked in tinsel. Fairy lights line the streets. Bridgemas is upon us. Yet what kind of Bridgemas would it be without the mellifluous carolling of the Gentlemen of John’s? “A close harmony group formed of choral scholars at St. John’s”, they perform at various corporate and social engagements. “If you’re good enough to get into the John’s choir, you’re good enough for the Gents” we’re told. Their music is ingrained into Cambridge tradition, with Xavier’s father having starred in the original Gents line up in the Seventies, although back then, they performed at the The Baron of Beef rather than the Maypole.
Location, though, is not the only thing which has changed. In the Seventies “the most outrageous departure from what was classically expected was to sing conservative parlour songs”. Today, however, nothing is musically off limits. “We’ve done Gangnam Style” reminisces Xavier, with Quintin adding “in the past there have been medley’s of S Club with Britney’s Toxic. We’ve tended not to do that this year, but in the future, who knows.”
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Despite their immense talent, a key part of life as a Gent is not just the music, but also the socialising. “Singing is a unifying thing” and with daily rehearsals in chapel one feels it’s probably best that all seventeen members of the group are good friends, despite there being “no typical Gent”. In fact, the pair feel that “if they hadn’t had the gents, a lot of us may never have bumped into each other.” The friendships forged are clearly ones for life though; ‘Once a Gent, always a Gent’ the saying goes.
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With formalities over, the time for hard hitting questions begins. “Is music the food of love? Discuss.” Xavier hesitates. “Is that like do we get sex because we sing? Or is it less crass?” Quintin opts for the ‘less crass’ option. “People tend to fall in love with our voices” he muses, “especially if you have a solo. You can definitely fall for someone that way.” “We sing at a lot of weddings, so we probably just get loved by proxy” adds Xavier. “There have also been some curious incidents where we’ve come out of concerts to gaggles of girls who really like Tudor plainsong. It’s a bit like having Beliebers, but rather more niche and slightly bizarre.”
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So what to expect tonight? The Tab can exclusively reveal that you’re likely to hear some ‘Wham!’ as well as Mariah Carey’s seminal festive anthem ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’. Additionally, keep your ears peeled for “a mixture of classical carols, jazzy numbers, and folky type stuff.” The boys are going to be dressed in “hats and lots of gents stash”, including, one hopes, the very fetching red scarves they both don for our interview. Merry Bridgemas!
Get your fine selves down to the Maypole TONIGHT for a glorious evening of musical gems, mince pies, and mulled wine
You can purchase their albums, including ‘A Gentle Christmas’ here