Winter Concert Review
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
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.
A very special celebration
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.
Summer concert collaboration: a view from the inside
Following our successful collaboration in Berlin last November, Cantus Domus Choir joined North London Chorus in a ‘return match’ at Milton Court at the Barbican in July. In Berlin, we performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem as part of the city’s celebration of his centenary. In London, 100 years after the outbreak of World War I, we gave a concert of German music chosen in a spirit of reconciliation and remembrance.
Coming together again for a series of intensive rehearsals (and a few fun events) has strengthened our personal and artistic friendship, and this feeling gave an added impetus to our performance. For us, it was a most moving and exciting experience and, judging by their reaction, also for our audience. We very much hope this collaboration will continue.
From the sublime to the interesting:
After one of the day long rehearsals, North London Chorus gave a pre concert party for the two choirs, and thereby took part in another London anniversary: Transport For London’s Year of the Bus, in particular the 60th Anniversary of the Routemaster.
The bus company, Arriva, as one of our regular sponsors, generously provided two of their (now Heritage) Routemasters for a tour of London: we were whisked through Camden Town to Park Lane, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and on to a view of the City building, including the Gherkin and the Shard, and then to our dinner venue. Thus an Anglo/German choir celebrated music and friendship in the spirit of this year’s centenary in an iconic London bus.
Summer Concert Review
Please do check out our Reviews section here to read the Ham and High's review of our latest concert.
The combined forces of NLC and Cantus Domus at Milton Court. Photo: Nick See
North London Chorus gives Cantus Domus a warm welcome with a little help from its friend Arriva
In July NLC was delighted to be able to reciprocate the wonderful welcome it received from Cantus Domus in Berlin last year as London was the venue for the second of their joint concerts, this time featuring Brahms' German Requiem. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend of rehearsals to ensure our combined forces were note perfect for our sell out performance at Milton Court.
Arriva has been a consistent and generous supporter providing sponsorship for many years but it went a step further for this event and kindly provided two Routemaster buses to take the choirs into central London after their Saturday rehearsal, providing a comprehensive tour of North London. As if this wasn't enough, it also made a short video which explains the context of our choral collaboration. You can find further details on Arriva's website by following this link. Also to the right is a link to the video it produced.
Many thanks again Arriva, you've been an amazing supporter of us!
North London Chorus at the East Finchley Festival (June 22nd, 2014)
The East Finchley Festival is held annually in June, at Cherry Tree Woods, a large meadow, surrounded by trees. It is an amazing event which brings the entire community together to enjoy themselves.
The NLC stall 2014
Stalls are taken by the local church, school, charities, the local community newspaper, even the local fire brigade and police force have a presence. Village shops show and sell their goods – from books, toys, clothes, health and beauty to magnetised water. Local cafes and restaurants provide delicious snacks, hot and cold drinks, and of course there is a large ice cream van.
No Festival is complete without fun for the children: a large bouncy castle and slide, and a Punch and Judy show. The event opens with a parade by Martin School, and there are two stages for local bands. It is crowded all day long: familes, often three generation strong, and many well behaved dogs of all shapes and sizes, with never a cross growl between them.
North London Chorus takes a stall: we rehearse weekly at Martin School, and perform regularly at St. James Church ( just at the border with Muswell Hill) so we are very much a local choir. We display pictures of life with NLC, play excerpts, and hand out flyers, of our forthcoming concert, and offer a bowl of chocolates to anyone in need of a little something.
Wonderful Britten War Requiem in Berlin
Our joint performance with Cantus Domus of Britten's War Requiem in Berlin was a sell-out. More than 1200 people were at the Berlin Konzerthaus to hear this magnificent and moving work. See here for further information.
Picture: Marta Jansa
Well Done David!
Photo by Dan Newman
Following the premiere of his stunning choral piece "Holmfirth" at our recent concert and the Allegri Quartet's premiere of his "The Morning River Glideth" a few weeks before, NLC bass and full-time music-student David Loxley-Blount followed this up with receiving the 2013 Choir & Organ Composition Competition prize at the very prestigious St. Albans International Organ Festival.
David's piece "Sonus Repercussus" was then performed on the wonderful St Albans Harrison & Harrison organ by James McVinnie who played for us in November as well as at the Royal Wedding. It was greeted with great acclaim by the audience in the cathedral and demonstrates again the creativity and mastery that is bringing David so much well-deserved success in such a short time.
NLC to sing War Requiem in Berlin for Britten Centenary
The Konzerthaus, Berlin
Following many months of intense discussion between the NLC Committee and former NLC accompanist Helen Collyer, the Chorus is preparing for its first performance on foreign soil since June 1997, when it performed in Diepenbeek, Belgium with Cantores Servadie from Hasselt. It has accepted an invitation to perform Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in the wonderfully ornate Konzerthaus in Berlin. The date chosen is November 21st - the eve of Britten's birthday. This performance will form part of a Britten Festival in Berlin, and it is the first time that the work has been performed in Germany as a partnership between an English and a German choir.
And what a performance it promises to be! To find out more, please take a look at our Berlin Concert page.
A Prize-winning Composer in our Midst
Picture by Helen Loxley-Blount
We're very proud of one of our basses, David Loxley-Blount, not only because the talented young composer has written a piece for us (the world première of his setting of the traditional Yorkshire folksong Holmfirth Anthem closed the first half of our Summer 2013 concert) but also because he is the winner of the 2013 Choir & Organ Composition Competition.
A direct link with details of David's achievement can be found here. Congratulations David!
STOP PRESS: Paul Filmer had the pleasure of interviewing David for the People section of our website. Follow this link to see the result.
North London Chorus and Cantus Domus at the new Barbican Concert Hall
Simulation by RHWL Architects.
The ultra-modern Milton Court 600-seat concert hall will be the venue for a joint concert in July 2014 by North London Chorus with the Berlin choir Cantus Domus.
The hall is part of a development due to open later this year and the picture is a simulation by the architects. It will form a new part of the Barbican Centre arts complex and programme details will be announced shortly.
More information about the venue can be found here on the website of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
As you can probably tell, we're still quite excited about featuring in Endeavour recently! This article is courtesy of the Broadway section of the Ham & High from 18th April.
North London Chorus on the small screen!
If you were watching the first episode on Sunday of the new four-part series Endeavour (a prequel of the highly popular series Morse), broadcast by ITV (Endeavour Series 2 Episode 1, you would have seen the fruits of all the hard work put in by members of North London Chorus (looking quite unlike their normal selves) during filming for the series.
Viewers were treated to excerpts of Mozart as part of the opening credits as the camera panned around the choir, focusing mainly on our Musical Director Murray Hipkin, and on Shaun Evans as Endeavour Morse. While NLC's appearance was all to brief (in our opinion!), the stills shown here more accurately reflect the results of the day of filming (see Marian Bunzl's report below).
NLC looks forward to further appearances following this, our small screen début!
North London Chorus perform new song written in tribute to former member
A piece of music commissioned to remember a solicitor who died two years ago was performed by his old choir at concert in a Muswell Hill last Saturday. The work, called Out Of The Depths, was written in tribute to Bill Brown, who sang with the North London Chorus for several years until his sudden death in 2009. Mr Brown's widow, Helen, commissioned the piece and met with composer Matthew King to talk about her husband. One of the causes Mr Brown was most passionate about was prison reform, so it was decided that Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (Out of The Depths), which he wrote while in Reading Gaol, would be a fitting text for the new composition. Mr Brown worked as a solicitor and law professor and served for 13 years on the Independent Monitoring Board of Wormwood Scrubs - a group of volunteers who make unannounced visits to the prison to monitor conditions. He also served as chairman of the group in 2006.
Helen said of her husband: "He cared deeply about the big issues, the numbers of mentally ill people inappropriately placed in prison, the plight of foreign nationals detained beyond the end of their sentence." "He was compassionate rather than sentimental about prisoners." Mr King, who composed the work, was conscious of Mr Brown's interest in the questions surrounding incarceration and how our society treats its prisoners. He said: "Out Of The Depths is attempting to pose some of those questions through Wilde's text."
De Profundis speaks of the bleakness of being imprisoned and the humiliation Wilde experienced from a society that turned against him. Mr King said when setting the words "a lot of what Wilde says has a contemporary ring to it, so I wanted to use genres which were quite contemporary". It is the second time that the North London Chorus, which rehearses at Martin Primary School in East Finchley, has sung a composition by Mr King after the choir premiered his The Season Of Singing in 2006. The composer said that he enjoys working with amateurs because of their enthusiasm. "Because they take longer to learn a piece when they perform it there's more intensity, they bring something to it," he said.
Please note the original article from the Ham & High website can be found here.
Inspector Morse Lives!!
North London Chorus take part in the first two episodes of ITV's' Endeavour', to be to be screened in the New Year
In this 'prequel' series , set in 1964, of his life as a young DC, 'Endeavour Morse' (among other exploits) joins a small amateur choir, played by twenty assorted members of North London Chorus.
On Filming Day, we started off in the costume and makeup dept, ie several trailers in the Homebase car park on the North Circular Road (the glamour of TV!). We gathered for hot drinks in our ' hospitality suite,' as one by one we were called to be transformed into the 1960s. Tenors and basses had their hair cut and/or slicked down, and were provided with smart or tweedy suits. Sopranos and altos had theirs Carmen-rollered and backcombed and were dressed in short skirts, or dresses and cardigans, in subdued colours. Except for bright lipstick, makeup was discreet. (We were to be provincial, not Carnaby Street!)
We lined up in the car park for inspection, and, passed as suitably period, were invited to the lavish catering of film units: a large colourful cold buffet, two or three hot dishes, and a generous choice of dessert.
The actual filming, in the courtroom of a decommissioned town hall, looked like organised chaos: an army of technicians, a spaghetti of wires , microphones, screens, and a neat little railway track for the TV cameras, presided over by 'The Director' in a bright green T-shirt.
We were placed in front of a large back-lit stained-glass window, with a podium for our musical director Murray Hipkin and a piano for our accompanist Catherine Borner. Endeavour Morse (played by Shaun Evans) sang among us as we performed a short section of the Mozart C Minor Mass, over and over again for endless 'takes'. Every time 'The Director' said "Cut!" a flock of young women descended on us with powder puffs and lipstick brushes.
Thanks to our MD and accompanist we were able to sing with the same intensity each time, thus ensuring good continuity of 'take's.
It was fascinating, but exhausting, and we have a new respect for TV actors.
Down but Not Out!
NLC and Martin School Choir have been collaborating to perform "Ballads for a Living Planet" on Sunday 24th June at the East Finchley Festival. Unfortunately, the Living Planet has given us some rather terrible weather of late has left the venue, Cherry Tree Wood, in a waterlogged state, leading to the reluctant cancellation of the event.
However, all their hard work did not go to waste as the group performed to delighted parents and friends in Martin School last Thursday 21st June. "Ballads" was commissioned to contribute to the repertoire of modern "green" choral music commenting directly on our fragile human relationship with Planet Earth. It was designed to be a piece with sufficient musical challenges to be interesting, at the same time being readily accessible to most choirs of all ages and abilities, so the perfect vehicle for this collaboration.
Natalie Grant, Music Teacher at Martin School said, "It really was a great experience for the children and the parents were absolutely thrilled - I don't think I've seen them so happy after a performance! I hope we can do something similar in the future."
NLC's Vice-Chair, Shantini Cooray, who led and conducted the NLC contingent added, "We really enjoyed the experience of singing with them - not one we do very often - and we look forward to other similar chances in the future."
A new patron for NLC
Photo by Sheila Rock
NLC is very excited to announce the appointment of Handel expert Laurence Cummings as its new patron alongside our existing patron Janis Kelly. Avid followers of North London Chorus might wonder if this is indeed news as we highlighted this happy event in our last concert programme, but for the benefit of our on-line community we're reproducing an interview with Laurence which appeared in our programme.
Conductor, harpsichordist, Head of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of music, Laurence is so accomplished there simply isn't room to list everything in this short news item, so please do check out our interview with him, courtesy of choir member Nicki Lloyd, here.
For older articles of interest, please take a look at our Archives page.