News

Remembering Ward Swingle (1927-2015)

Ward in 2010 at a Swingle Singers reunion. Photo credit: Roswitha Chesher

Ward in 2010 at a Swingle Singers reunion. Photo credit: Roswitha Chesher

Yesterday was a very sad day for all of us in The Swingles, and everyone who has been part of the group's story over the last 52 years, as we lost our founder, friend and mentor Ward Swingle at the age of 87. Ward was a huge musical inspiration to us as well as a wise and kind grandfather to the group that carries his name. We look forward to celebrating the great man's life and work with fans, former Swingles and friends throughout the year, and we'll be announcing some special events and material soon. In the meantime, we have been incredibly touched by the many warm tributes and memories that have been flooding in and wanted to bring some of them together on this page. 

Ward was such a life-changing influence in so many of our lives and in my case a close friend since 1973. My thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Rebecca, Kathryn and Elizabeth and of course Ward’s wonderful Françoise, the love of his life. Thank you Ward for enriching all our lives - you will be so missed.
— Olive Simpson
Ward Swingle was my childhood musical idol. My mum had a Jazz Sebastian Bach LP and many of the other original records; singing along to Largo was a highlight for me, whenever I used to go and visit her as a child. I couldn’t get enough of the purity, energy, immediacy, rawness and incredible musicianship of those early records. I never dreamed that I’d get to meet the man behind it all, let alone that he should become my musical mentor and close friend. When I became the Swingles MD in 1999, I invited Ward to come over to London and work with the group for a few days. He stayed in our rented 70s flat, complete with orange doors and swirly brown carpets - I had to pinch myself that he was really there! We were all new to the art of Swingle singing then and he instructed us with gentleness, humour and encouragement. That was the beginning of a very special friendship.

Ward and I spent many happy days in his music room in France, listening to records together and chatting about music, art, politics, philosophy, being an American in Paris... And then Françoise would come upstairs with his favourite whisky and soda in tall glasses on a tray and his face would light up! When Ward and Françoise went to Michigan in the summer, we and our family would house-sit their house in France; our sons did their first piano playing on Ward’s piano and we have videos of them dancing around the room while my husband Arnd played jazz on that piano, the Grammy awards sitting proudly on the shelves in the background! When we were putting together our 40th anniversary show, we dedicated the first half to the look and sound of the original group, performing the very repertoire that had launched the name; it felt like such an incredible privilege to bring that era to life again.

The last time we saw Ward was last summer in France; we had lunch together and then our 6-year-old Harry gave him a little violin recital, playing Bach, of course. To see Ward’s face light up as he heard the familiar melody of the double violin concerto was incredibly moving; when he started quietly and gently scatting along, a twinkle in his eyes, I remembered why he was my musical hero.
— Joanna Forbes L'Estrange
Being a Swingle Singer (1987-1992) largely defined the musician I am today - a love of ensemble singing, the intense discipline that naturally comes with singing in a group like that, the camaraderie of working with a small group of talented musicians and a broad vocabulary and appreciation of many styles of music - from classical (Bach obviously) through jazz and song repertoire to contemporary and avant garde.

Performances of Berio’s great Sinfonia around the world were always a highlight. I remember the first time I rehearsed this great piece - aged 22 and nervously pondering our trip to the USA to perform it with the New York Philharmonic under the watchful (and rather scary) eye of Pierre Boulez. Ward was in the UK and came along to our London rehearsals. He carefully guided us through the complex score, pointing out many intricate details that often get overlooked in less fastidious performances. He took me aside during one break and said, with reference to the mammoth speech I was deputed to do in the 3rd movement - “just be cool, enjoy it and you’ll be fine”. I always think of Ward whenever I’ve performed the Berio since that time.

A great musician and mentor, Ward Swingle changed the way we listen and think about music, and redefined choral and a cappella singing forever. The large family of ex-Swingles (as we are known!) have a unique bond, and will forever be in Ward’s debt.
— Ben Parry
I used to liken being in The Swingle Singers to having boarded a glamorous but slightly creaking tour bus: one person gets on after another has stepped off - but the bus will always keep going - after a bit you cease being merely a passenger and may get to navigate or even drive the bus, or fix the odd tyre. Nobody ever wanted to do the tour accounts for some reason!

The bus though was always Ward’s bus. He had built it and its character was always his no matter who was on it, what journey you were planning, what promo sign you had plastered on the side or who had the wheel at the time. Everyone who joined left their mark in some way and were responsible for it still being on the road when they jumped off - an unbroken line since Ward reformed the group in England in the 70s.

This is the feeling of extended swingle and ex-swingle family that exists today, each having had the opportunity to use that vehicle to showcase their own vocal talents and artistic creativity. Nobody really will understand what it means to have been part of the group’s history unless you’ve been lucky enough to be on that bus and there are today over 70 amazing singers who have, all missing the man who made it possible.

Thank you for the ride Ward, and for changing my life.

Keep going, going on......
— Richard Eteson
I have nothing but happy memories of working with Ward. I only worked with him for two years. I joined the British version of the Swingles – it’s going to be 40 years ago this spring, and I’m so sad that he’s not lived for me to be able to go and thank him for such a great start to my career – I was just about to leave college and I got the chance to audition for the group.

He wasn’t taking the mickey out of Bach’s music. He was a fine, fine concert pianist himself, and he loved the music of Bach and wanted to bring it to a wider audience, and this was a great way to do it, to have it sung with such personality and verve.

He was a very, very genuine musician and he crossed the boundaries. One of the things that I’m most grateful to him for is that when we were on tour he and I used to take ourselves off into a corner and just improvise. He taught me how to sing on the backbeat, and it sounds a bit crazy, but when I started singing baroque music for the main part of my singing career, the way I sang it was really informed by what he had taught me about being responsive to the bassline and the intrinsic beat and the dance rhythms of baroque music. So I owe him a tremendous amount.
— Catherine Bott
Ward was and will always be loved by so many of us. I can’t tell you how sad I was to hear the news. He was such a guiding light for me and I learnt so much from him. I will always be grateful that I had his immense influence in my life and will always remember him with great great affection. He was one of the greats of music and the world has lost a genius.

One of the many legacies he leaves is that he was the figurehead to what must be the largest family of singers in the world. We all have the most amazing bond as singers and musicians but also as friends and colleagues. We all know how that bond feels and it’s so wonderful to be part of a most special club.

Thank you Ward for all you gave us all. We will always miss you and be grateful for giving us the chance to be part of the most amazing vocal group.
— Mike Dore
Quel bonheur de lire tous ces témoignages d’admiration pour Ward!

Il les mérite tellement....la 1ère fois que je l’ai rencontré, en 1967, c’était pour passer une audition en vue du remplacement de Alice Herald qui avait décidé de quitter le groupe. Peu de monde me connaissait et lui encore moins! j’étais morte de peur et sa gentillesse ainsi que sa bienveillance m’ont alors impressionnée . Sa connaissance de la musique était fabuleuse . Les arrangements qu’il écrivait pour le groupe étaient si bien écrits que nous pouvions quelquefois donner l’impression que nous étions un orchestre symphonique à nous tous seuls !
C’était un personnage hors normes tant sa culture musicale était impressionnante.J’ai énormément appris à son contact, fait d’énormes progrès en tous genres, déchiffrage (j’étais une novice!) mise en place, swing,etc, etc... Sa rigueur dans le travail m’a toujours plu, et c’est sans doute grâce à çà que nous étions appréciés!!!

Et puis, je dois l’avouer,je ne le remercierai jamais assez de m’avoir acceptée dans le groupe puisque c’est comme çà que j’ai connu mon mari Guy Pedersen , qui était alors le contrebassiste du groupe!!!!

Quand il est revenu en France , à Fère en Tardenois, on est toujours restés en contact et à la fin de sa vie, je suis allée le voir plusieurs fois puisqu’il ne pouvait plus bouger.

Je ne l’oublierai jamais.


(What a pleasure to read all these testimonies of admiration for Ward! He thoroughly deserves them… The first time I met him, in 1967, it was for an audition to replace Alice Herald who had decided to leave the group. Hardly anyone knew me, still less him! I was petrified, so his kindness as well as his benevolence impressed me. His knowledge of music was legendary. The arrangements he wrote for the group were so well-written that we could sometimes give the impression that we were a symphony orchestra all of our own! He was an extraordinary character with such an impressive musical culture. I learned an enormous amount in his company, made enormous progress in all genres, sight-reading (I was a beginner!), rhythmic placement, swing, etc, etc… I always loved how rigorous he was in his work, and it was undoubtedly thanks to that rigour that we were admired. And then, I must admit, I will never be able to thank him enough for accepting me into the group, since that’s how I met my husband Guy Pedersen, who was the group’s double-bassist! When he came back to France, to Fère en Tardenois, we always stayed in contact and at the end of his live, I went to see him several times since he could no longer travel. I will never forget him.)
— Hélène Pedersen-Devos
Je viens d’apprendre cette triste nouvelle et je m’associe au chagrin de toute sa famille et ses amis.

J’ai fait partie des Swingle Singers français dans les années 71/72, et ma rencontre avec Ward a changé ma vie. Sa musique, ses arrangements ont ouvert une nouvelle voie à mon oreille.

J’avais fait mes études musicales à la Maîtrise de Radio France et chanté différents styles de musique, mais lorsque j’ai intégré le groupe je me suis sentie immédiatement transformée et j’ai suivi depuis le chemin que Ward avait ouvert. Je fais actuellement partie d’un groupe latin-jazz “ Zazou’ira “ qui lui rend hommage régulièrement.

Avec Hélène Pedersen et Claudine Meunier, il y a quelques mois nous avons rendu visite à Ward et Françoise à Fère-en-Tardenois et cela a été une joie de le revoir.

Fiat Lux Ward !

(I have just learned this sad news and I share in the grief of all his family and friends. I was part of the French Swingle Singers in 71/72, and my meeting with Ward changed my life. His music, his arrangements opened up a new way to my ear. I did my musical studies at the Maîtrise de Radio France [youth chorus] and sang different styles of music, but when I joined the group I immediately felt transformed and I have since followed the path that Ward opened. I am currently part of a latin-jazz group, ‘Zazou’ira’, that regularly pays tribute to him. With Helène Pedersen and Claudine Meunier, a few months ago we paid a visit to Ward and Françoise in Fère-en-Tardenois and it was a joy to see him again. Fiat Lux Ward!)
— Claude Chauvet
Although forty-two years have passed since my first meeting with Ward took place leading to my two years as Manager and Sound Controller of the newly formed Swingle Two not a year has passed when I have not benefited from the very valuable experience I gained at that time. From the several hundred auditions needed to find the first seven singers (Ward being the eighth), through the months of rehearsals before the first public appearance and the hours of studio time needed to satisfy Ward’s wish for perfection before the release of the first album ‘Madrigals,’ the singers and I were given a unique education into what made the Swingle world.

Ward was a brilliant arranger and a truly wonderful musician with the best tuned ‘ear’ it has been my fortune to make music with during my long career.
— Terry Edwards
Just to add to all of our thoughts on this sad day.... my condolences to Francoise, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Kathryn. Ward was certainly the most important musical influence in my life and I’m sure his legacy will continue to influence musical styles for many years to come, but his other legacy is of course our extended and growing ‘Swingle family’ of which we all have an affinity with, which I think is rather rare and unique. Eccentric is a good word to describe all of us.
— Simon Grant
We are all very sad to hear of the loss of lovely Ward. As an early member of the English Swingles, 1974-1979, I remember his patience, as he helped us to negotiate the vocal versions of the Baroque pieces that he had so beautifully arranged for eight voices. He taught us not to sing like “wet noodles “ (his phrase) and to bring out the tight rhythms of jazz into the classical repertoire. Many of us went on to sing a great deal of Baroque music, and his influence has been invaluable. Thank you Ward for being such an inspiration. Our love and wishes go to Francoise, Rebecca, Kathryn and Elizabeth.
— Carol Hall/Savage
I’m sure that all of us acknowledge that this is momentous news for all in the family of Swingle Singers and Ward’s own real family. Every one of us who has been privileged to sing with the group over the decades feels an incredible sense of belonging. Ward created a family beyond his own family and I’m sure everyone feels the same way. When I do sessions I am always enormously proud of the rapport between Swingles of different generations.

Ward taught us all so much musically and being old enough to be someone who toured with him I can honestly say he was highly unusual company. He loved to offer a little swig of whisky before the second half of shows in the boys dressing room. So I can without hesitation say that tonight I will raise a glass in his memory. I very much hope to be at his funeral.
— Philip Sheffield
I had the honour of being trained by Ward firsthand as he was still touring with the group when I first joined the Swingles in 1984, or the New Swingle Singers as we were known then. I immediately realised just how lucky I was to be working with him. Singing his wonderful arrangements was a huge privilege and it was the best start to a professional singing life that I could have possibly imagined. The wonderful singers I worked with during my three years in the group have become lifelong friends (I married one of them) and I can honestly say that Ward has been a huge influence in my life in more ways than he could have ever known. For that I will be forever grateful.
— Jacqueline Barron
So sad to hear this news. Had the privilege and pleasure of touring Australia with Swingle 2 back in the 80s. What a beautiful man. Great group, great drummer, Tony McVey, great sound engineer / tour manager Hugh McDonald. Loved every minute. But Ward was who held it all together, kind, considerate, funny, generous, calm, but it was all about the music. Happy days, thanks Ward x
— Dave Ellis (bassist)
For me, the most amazing thing that Ward Swingle left behind is the musical legacy that lives on in the extended community of Swingle Singers, past and present. I was lucky enough to join the group not long after leaving music college and I toured the world with them for ten wonderful years. It taught me the vocal discipline, stylistic flexibility and attention to detail that I still try to use every day in my singing. Being part of the group also gives its alumni (so many fine singers) an unspoken bond - rather like going to an elite university - with Ward Swingle as its esteemed emeritus professor. So very sad for Ward’s family and especially his beloved Françoise.
— Heather Cairncross
A very sad day. Ward was without doubt a genius and we’re all very lucky to have been given such a wonderful musical experience. The world of jazz and a cappella music would have been much poorer without him.
— Jonathan Rathbone
I feel sad today that a legend has passed. Ward Swingle, the man whose ideas and groundbreaking vocal arrangements enabled me to travel the world, push myself to the limit musically to learn his notes (!) and to enjoy a lifestyle anyone would dream of in your 20’s. I feel so grateful and proud to have been part of his great legacy. RIP Ward.
— Sarah Eyden
I learnt a huge amount from Ward and I am sure my love of jazz harmonies is due to singing his wonderful arrangements. It is the end of an era.
— Carol Canning
Ward has left such an important legacy to the musical world - I feel privileged to have been part of the Swingle history (so far!). This legacy and the ongoing work of the groups present and future will continue to resonate as a fitting tribute.
— Mark Williams
What a massive influence Ward has had on so many lives. My first memory is seeing Swingle II on ‘The Two Ronnies’ in the very early seventies and thinking, ‘I’d love to sing in a group like that!’ (I’d have been about 13!!!) The more you think about it, the more you realise just how far reaching his influence has been. Indeed all of us, who have been a ‘Swingle’, apart from being so privileged to have experienced that, also have something that is totally unique with regards ‘training’, in a musical genre that was so innovative and amazing. He was truly a genius. Heartfelt condolences to his family, too. He will leave a huge hole in many peoples’ lives.
— Deryn Edwards
Very sad. Ward was responsible for my earliest tangible musical memory (Swingle 2 on the TV - very early 70’s), a wonderful time in the group in the 90s, and much that came after. It’s still the first thing that people pick up on when they see a biog. What an amazing thing we have all been part of thanks to Ward.
— Rob Kearley
Very sad news indeed. We are all so lucky to have learned from the ‘master’ of vocal arranging and writing. If there is an afterlife how cool to imagine Mr Bach meeting Mr Swingle for the first time!
— David Porter-Thomas
Ward really did start something special. And what an impact his music and his group have had for over half a century.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know the name ‘Swingle’. Having collected Swingle II records as a child living in New Zealand, I loved the group’s distinctive sound and was fascinated by Ward’s arrangements. So it was a thrill years later to join the group and become immersed in the Swingle style.

Travelling around the world with the Swingle Singers and sharing the music was fantastic. My latter years in the group were a time of huge and swift transition, but I feel grateful for all the musical experiences gained and proud to have helped pass the baton on to the next generation of Swingles.

Thank you for what you created, Ward, and for your superb arrangements - music which professional singers, amateur singers, and listeners around the world surely will continue to enjoy for many, many years to come.
— Rachel Weston
Having read all the wonderful tributes to Ward Swingle, the musician, the man, the mentor, the friend there’s little left to say about this incredibly kind, generous and talented person.

I’m certainly a better musician thanks to my time with this unique group and working with Ward himself and, despite being far away now, connections to him and his legacy continue to happen all the time. Just last week I met a lady who spoke animatedly about her experience of a workshop he gave in Montreal in the 1970s!

But Ward’s legacy runs much deeper than the purely musical. Thanks to what he started us ‘Swingles’ have travelled many times across world, experienced many other cultures, met exceptional people, and performed to countless audiences far beyond what would have been possible otherwise. For these experiences we are all better people, wiser, more understanding, more cultured and perhaps braver, more confident and more adventurous too. Ward was not just all the things mentioned in my opening remark, he was also an unwitting humanitarian. Thanks for it all WS!
— Andrew Gray
Brilliant inspirational man with Jazz oozing out of his body! My memories of him mumbling the “1, 2, uh 1,2,3 ...” so full of rhythm before you’ve even sounded your first note. So wonderful that I met him and worked with him.
— Wendy Nieper
It was a tremendous privilege and great joy to have met Ward and to have had the chance to work with him. He was unique and his love for music and the sound of his voice will stay with me for ever. Thank you, Ward! My condolences to the whole family.
— Ann De Renais
Such sad news. I think one of the greatest testimonies to this great man and musical icon (in the truest sense of the word) is the abundance of wonderful thoughts being shared amongst all of us tonight. The inspiration and influence in all of our lives from Ward is truly irreplaceable. In a similar (if much less able!) path to Ward, I was a young pianist and ‘sometimes singer’ trying to find his way in the music profession when I joined, and my few years in the ‘family’ taught me how important - and vital - versatility of skill and expression were. I’d never have been the musician and singer I am (or still trying to be!) if the influence of Ward and his wonderful Swingles hadn’t taught me to be a great deal less musically boring OR versatile.
— Michael Robinson
He changed so many of our lives for the better and was unstintingly generous with his skill, experience and encouragement.
— Patrick Ardagh-Walter
Being a part of Ward Swingle’s world as a member of The Swingle Singers changed the lives and careers of many singers. I will be forever grateful for the experiences I had touring the world with the group, and the skills I acquired during five of the best years of my life. I’ll never forget his kind words of encouragement and that deep, soothing Alabama accent. His legacy and influence will continue to touch the lives of singers and the a cappella community around the world.
— Meinir Thomas
I was so sad to hear the news of Ward’s passing. He was such a lovely man who made a huge impact on everyone that ever met him.

In the 5 years that I sang with the group I was lucky enough to spend time with Ward rehearsing and socialising along with His wife Françoise and also his lovely daughters. I have especially fond memories of playing croquet in their garden in France and seeing the Grammys for the first time in his music room. I was so excited to see the awards nonchalantly placed on the shelves and it was moments like that that made you feel like you were in the presence of a musical legend.

I remember the first time Ward came to see me in concert and the nerves as I waited to see if I had got the seal of approval from him, which I did and he always had such kind words to say to me. He was full of life especially when rehearsing his music and there was a twinkle in his eye when he would tell the sopranos that they were rushing or were too loud.

We were very lucky to visit Ward’s home town of Mobile, Alabama to be part of a celebration of his contribution to music and I will always remember the southern hospitality we received and how special Ward was to everyone there, as he was to us. It is very special to belong to such an extended family of Swingle Singers and we all have our memories of our time in the group which we will cherish and enjoy sharing with each other. Ward made this possible and he will be sorely missed by all.
— Julie Kench
…I have no words… Thanks Ward, for everything x
— Jes Sadler
I was incredibly honoured to work with and get to know Ward over the years and share many happy memories in London, his Paris home and in NY. He was a truly inspiring man and has left an incredible legacy behind. If you’ve never heard the music of the Swingle Singers I urge you to have a listen today in honour of this amazing man. With a 51 year history there is plenty to choose from! RIP Ward. We’ll miss you.
— Jo Riley
Ward was such an amazing humble man, musician and such an inspiration to me since I was little listening to the Swingles records! I feel very honoured I had the chance to know him, to sing to him and to be part of this wonderful Swingles family that he created.
— Kineret Erez
Devastated by the news of the passing of Ward Swingle at the age 87. My thoughts and sympathy are with Françoise Swingle, the love of his life - and with his daughters Kathryn, Rebecca and Elizabeth and their family.

I am grateful for everything Ward has given to vocal music, he has opened a new world for so many people. Generations have grown up to and fallen in love with the sound of the Swingle Singers. To me, he has been an incredible source of inspiration with his wonderful musicianship, his calm and positive support and friendship, but most of all with his his deep, deep touching and sincere love for and understanding of music. Thank you Ward and RIP.

Or in the words of your good friend Luciano Berio: ‘The truth we cannot speak about, we must sing, we must say it in music. And with this I bid you farewell.’
— Tobias Hug
Like so many young singers, I was introduced to Ward’s music in high school: “Bourée”, “All The Things You Are”, “Fugue from the Estro Harmonico”... and my all time favourite, “Country Dances”. I never would have imagined that years later I’d be a member of this legendary group. And to eventually meet the man himself, learn from him in our occasional tune-up sessions at his house in France, talk shop with him over coffee... What an incredible privilege. I’m so honoured and humbled to be a part of the Swingle family.

I take with me three memories in particular.

First, the man had huge ears (musically speaking!) — nothing got past him. When Ward was in the house, you brought your A-game. But he also knew how to temper his advice. After my first Berio, he took me aside and gave me a few encouraging words, then suggested in a rather concerned way that I needed to work on my French. After my second Berio, which I’m quite sure was as sketchy as the first, he took me aside and said “Your French was perfect.” I think he knew that my Canadian-tinged accent was unlikely to improve, and decided to let it go. Wise as well as keen of ear.

Second, he had that reassuring twinkle in his eye, a quiet but keen sense of humour. He always greeted me the same way: “Hello, young man.” Which I appreciated, being the eldest of the current Swingle lineup by a good number of years!

Third, he was always genuinely interested in what we were doing, not just as a group, but as individuals too. He wanted to know where I came from, what my musical background was, wanted to hear recordings from my previous groups. Here’s a man with 5 Grammies and the respect of countless people worldwide, giving respect to someone really just starting out in the business by comparison. What a great lesson in humility.

It’s been said a few times in Facebook responses that the heavenly host has a new chorister, but I like to think Ward is out front, helping them sound even better.

Thank you for everything, young man.
— Kevin Fox
Ward was not only the stuff of legends, but an incredible and caring man. I am so honoured to have met and known him, and to play a small part in continuing his legacy that began over 50 years ago. Rest in peace Ward, you have more than earned it.
— Clare Wheeler
As the newest member of the Swingles’ extended musical family I only met Ward once in person, when a group of us went to visit him and Françoise in France. Although he was quite frail by then it was extraordinary to see how focused he was whenever the subject turned to music and his amazing career. I’ll never forget the look of intense concentration as he listened to one of our new recordings on headphones, following and humming along with the score. No detail got past him! At the same time, though, he was so warm and kind to us – deeply interested both in what the group was doing and in us as people. He wanted us to take risks, to make our own music and not simply preserve his legacy but carry it forward. As I read all the beautiful tributes coming in today, I keep hearing the mantra from Ward’s beloved Sinfonia: ‘Keep going!’
— Edward Randell
I first met Ward and his family when they came to live in the UK. My mum was the church organist in our village and she straight away insisted all three daughters sang in the church choir. That began a long and happy family friendship. Ward was always incredibly supportive of me as I edged my way into conducting and then was an immense help when the Vasari Singers began to flourish. I owe him a huge amount, not just through the encouragement and support he gave me but also through the endless and undying joy of his arrangements and recorded legacy - that legacy and the unrivalled group of singers that bears his name will live forever. You will be sorely missed Ward.
— Jeremy Backhouse, Vasari Singers
Ward’s achievement with the Swingle Singers was an inspiration to us all. I eagerly bought their first CD, towards the end of my student years, and it was much enjoyed in the company of student friends. What a delightful development, years later, when my eldest daughter Joanna joined the group and indeed led it for some years. In 2003, my wife and I attended her final performance, in Rome, and the celebration afterwards found Ward and me drinking lots of beer together! We also recall, with huge pleasure, our family holidays at Ward’s house in Fere-en-Tardenois.
— Professor Sebastian Forbes
All of us in The King’s Singers were saddened to hear of the passing of Ward Swingle yesterday. A true gentleman as well as a musical legend, he founded the group that still bears his name over 50 years later. We send our thoughts and prayers to all who knew Ward, but most especially The Swingle Singers both past and present. He will be missed.
— The King's Singers
New York Voices fondly remembers Ward Swingle - an understated, sweet man who many years ago had a distinct musical vision and formed The Swingle Singers, which to this day is a sound that is often imitated but rarely equaled. New York Voices, collectively and individually, has hung out or adjudicated next to Ward on many an occasion and admired his demand for serious musicianship as well as his joy of group singing. Darmon Meader wrote a choral piece ‘Swingle Song’ obviously in tribute to the great master. And Ward must have been so proud of what the newest version of his group has become - they are better than ever, and need to be seen to be believed. We are such ardent fans of the current Swingles, both as musicians and people. Thank you Ward for your contribution to the genre. Such a legacy!
— New York Voices
The great Ward Swingle has sadly passed away. Ward was a dear friend and has been a great source of inspiration ever since our first years at The Royal Academy of music when met Ward the for the first time and when we were fortunate to be coached by him. We cherish the many wonderful, fun and musical moments we have had together. Thank you Ward, for everything, we love you always.
— The Real Group
One of my most important influences and friends. Thanks Ward.
— Phil Mattson
The Swingles