NLC News

Marian's Summer Report

September 2015

The combined forces of NLC and Bury Bach Choir rehearsing before the concert

This summer NLC has been playing away: In May we joined the Bury Bach Choir for a performance of Britten's War Requiem at the beautiful St. Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St. Edmunds. Fortunately, Bury is a comfortable (and scenic) coach ride away, so we were able to visit each other for day workshops and Philip Reed, Bury’s Musical Director, could commute to take several rehearsals with us. By the performance day, both choirs were in tune with each other and ready for our dress rehearsal with all the forces involved in this epic work: two orchestras, the Prometheus Orchestra and the London Graduate Orchestra, (the latter co-founded by Kemal Yusuf, one of our tenors), three choirs, including the enchanting the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Boys' Choir, three soloists,including our patron, Janis Kelly – and three conductors, Philip Reed, Murray Hipkin and James Thomas for the Boys. The resulting performance received thunderous applause (magnified by the Cathedral’s splendid acoustic) from a near capacity audience. In addition to the uplifting musical experience, we also had the pleasures of a lovely sunny day in Bury – some members had a picnic lunch in the Cathedral grounds, others enjoyed the café life of Bury’s main street, and others were able to stay over the weekend, and explore this beautiful and interesting town. A day to remember.

July 2015 - Acis and Galatea (click here for larger version)

In July, we only went as far as Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, We invited choral singers within reach of central London to join us there in a workshop day and evening performance of Handel’s rarely performed Acis and Galatea, to be led by Laurence Cummings, well known Handel specialist (and NLC patron). During the day, he gave us an erudite – and most engaging – masterclass on baroque singing and for the evening concert we were joined by a period orchestra, and wonderful soloists. Singers had a fascinating and enlightening study day, and were thus able to delight the audience with a most stylish performance. We hope to repeat this successful format.

In November, we will return ‘home’ to St James Church for a concert of Christmas Bach.

Marian Bunzl

Making Music review our Acis and Galatea Workshop

July 2015

By Judie Davies, Making Music

The North London Chorus chose one of the hottest days of the summer to come together for a ‘Sing, Work and Listen’ day on this less familiar Handel masterpiece. As a guest representing Making Music, it was a delight to join this very friendly chorus for the day and to be guided through the work by NLC patron and Handel super-specialist Laurence Cummings. This was much more than a ‘Come and sing’ event. The main body of the choir (+ guest participants) had already been musically and linguistically prepared for the 6 remarkable choruses at weekly rehearsals by Murray Hipkin, the engaging Director of the NLC. With this choral ‘ballast’, Laurence Cummings treated everybody to an enthusiastic and entertaining masterclass on Handel’s Acis and Galatea - the simple musical forms underlying all those devilish semiquaver runs, the lovely dancing rhythms and the emotional rhetoric in Handel’s music.

As a guest, I noted some of the organisational features of the day that helped it to run smoothly, to attract a good number of singers and to make it such an enjoyable musical and social experience:

  • A committed, welcoming and musically ‘ready’ singing membership
  • A motivating and approachable chorus leader
  • A well-tended web-site
  • Plenty of social media ‘mentions’, tweets, adverts, invitations,
  • Prompt and friendly communication in response to guest enquiries about the day
  • Plenty of information about the timings and venue for the day
  • Easily printable sheet music and e-access to rehearsal tracks
  • An inspirational musical leader for the day
  • Exciting and accomplished soloists and instrumentalists
  • An easily accessible, pleasant venue

This occasion was mounted by the North London Chorus as a ‘good thing to do’ – not especially to boost membership nor to raise funds. A refreshing, brave and very successful undertaking!

[Making Music is the UK's number one organisation for voluntary music. The original article, reproduced above, can be found here.]

Summer Concert Review

July 2015

Our summer performance of Acis and Galatea has been reviewed in the Ham & High and can be found here.

Murray Hipkin and soloists at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church. Photo: David Liney

Spring Concert Review

March 2015

Our Spring Concert has already received its first review on line which can be found in our Reviews section here.

NLC at St James' Church, Muswell Hill. Photo: David Liney

NLC Christmas carols raising money for good causes

December 2014

We were delighted to be able to help other charities over the Christmas period by doing what we do best - and that's raising a song or two. First a bunch of us took part in the Christmas Collection at Waterloo Station in aid of The Stroke Association. We were just one of many that got stuck into the music that day but thanks to the generosity of embattled commuters, the whole event managed to raise over £4,400 which was over triple the previous year's total!

Hot on the heels of that success another intrepid band of NLC die-hards braved the cold outside East Finchley Station and in just a single hour raised £452 for Noah's Ark Children's Hospice. We were so amazed with the generosity of the travellers at East Finchley, that we couldn't resist rounding the total up to £500 by putting in a bit extra from the choir. Many thanks to those choir members that gave up their time to get involved.

Winter Concert Review

November 2014

Our sell-out November concert got a great review in the Ham and High. We thought it went fabulously too! You can find the write up in our Reviews section here.

Murray Hipkin and the Meridian Sinfonia. Photo: David Liney

Commissioning and performing a new work: our story

November 2014

When the choral website Gerontius put out a plea to its 6,500 readers to share their experience of commissioning and performing new music, we couldn't resist answering the call. It was a fond trip down memory lane remembering the ups and downs that led to the premiere of Matthew King's Out of the Depths back in December 2012. As they had four choirs' stories to recant, space was tight and so an abridged version of our tale can be found here. We were pleased to get top billing! Our longer version can be found here.

Alan Chandler

A very special celebration

November 2014

For our November concert, we will be back home at St. James' and it will be a very special occasion. Our Accompanist, Catherine Borner, has been with us now for ten years. We are very lucky to have Catherine; she is a superb pianist, and from an ordinary school hall upright, she can evoke a whole orchestra in whatever composer, or style, from Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten to Stephen Sondheim, from Requiem Mass to Oratorio to American Musical and she does it, seemingly, with the greatest of ease. And she somehow always manages to include the vocal lines for us to follow - and keep track of us when we don’t! But however brilliant, choral accompanists live mainly in the background: their art is on display at rehearsals, the public rarely gets to hear them, and on the odd occasion when they are needed at the concert, they tend to get somewhat taken for granted.

So for her tenth anniversary, we would like to bring Catherine into the foreground. As the highlight of the evening, under the baton of Murray Hipkin, with the Meridian Sinfonia, she will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 in A. Of course the choir will also sing: a short lively Te Deum by Haydn, and Beethoven’s beautiful Mass in C.

Please come and enjoy the wonderful playing that we get to hear every week.

For more details check out our concert page here.

Marian Bunzl

For older articles of interest, please take a look at our Archives page.