NLC's News Archive

Summer concert collaboration: a view from the inside

July 2014

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.

Marian Bunzl

Summer Concert Review

July 2014

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

July 2014

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)

June 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

November 2013

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.

There is a review of the concert in English here and in a German daily here.

Picture: Marta Jansa

Well Done David!

July 2013

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

July 2013

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

June 2013

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

May 2013

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.

More Morse!

April 2013

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!

April 2013

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!

Jo Hulme

North London Chorus perform new song written in tribute to former member

December 2012

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.

Nicola Bartlett

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

November 2012

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.

Marian Bunzl

Down but Not Out!

June 2012

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

May 2012

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.

March 2012 - NLC's second performance of our sell-out concert Handel's Israel in Egypt

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Our March Saturday concert was repeated in a slightly cut version with reduced orchestra the following evening, Sunday 25 March at New North London Synagogue in aid of the NNLS Destitute Asylum Seekers Drop-In Centre and the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead. The concert was well-received by the audience, many being surprised and pleased by this lesser known work of Handel. The piece had a particular resonance for this time of Passover.

March 2012 - Hot off the press

Another exhilarating weekend of music making was topped off by another great review in today's (Mar 29th) Ham & High newspaper. For that and other past reviews, see our Press section.

To add to our joy, we've also heard that the Sunday second performance in New North London Synagogue (in aid of the NNLS Destitute Asylum Seekers Drop-In Centre and the Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead) raised a significant sum of money.

Director of Programming at NNLS, Riva Gottlieb, said "I’m so glad the choir enjoyed performing at NNLS. It looks like we raised altogether a bit more than £1700. We will send each charity £875. It sounded so beautiful and the audience were very appreciative, as are the charities."

December 2011 - Carols raise £260 for Marie Curie

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A hard core of NLC carollers braved the Winter's cold outside King's Cross station in early December to raise money for Marie Curie. 

Marie Curie is one of many very deserving charities, but it has an extra connection to the NLC as former Musical Director Alan Hazeldine spent his last days in the Hampstead hospice.

The group made an impression on commuters' generosity as we managed to raise £260, and (we hope) travellers' Christmas spirits at the same time. 

December 2011 - Winter Concert Review in Ham & High

We got a great write-up of our latest concert in the Ham & High newspaper. Reviewer Dave Winskill said it produced "one of the most intense experiences I have had in a church". You can't ask for much more than that! For the full review, see our Reviews section. ---

November 2011- Sold Out!

North London Chorus was delighted to perform to a capacity audience in St James' Church, Muswell Hill, on Saturday 19th November. Although every single audience member makes a difference, as a performer it is very exciting when you see a full house. Musical Director Murray Hipkin commented, "It was a huge success...and it was amazing to see the church packed out."

As much as we were thrilled to sell every ticket, we do hate to turn people away.

November 2011- Hold the Front Page!

On Thursday 17th November we had our final regular rehearsal before the big day on Saturday. This was the first time we'd had the opportunity to sing with the newly-restored organ in St James' Church so there was excitement in the air! In addition to that, our Press Officer Marian Bunzl managed to get us on the front page of that week's Hornsey Journal which is fantastic exposure for us.

For a good part of the rehearsal we had to get used to camera flashes dazzling us as we attempted to stay focused on Murray - no not the paparazzi taking the story national, but a very patient professional photographer capturing some images which we will use in our future publicity.

June 2011 - Summer Concert Sizzler!

Summer Concert 2011

The main work was Rossini’s ever popular Petite Messe Solennelle. Composed in 1863, the elderly composer described it as “the last of my péchés de vieillesse" (sins of old age). Neither little nor solemn, this refined and elegant piece owes much to Rossini’s immense output for the operatic stage, even though his last opera was composed 33 years previously.

The first performance took place in Paris and was given by an ensemble of just twelve singers accompanied by two pianos and harmonium. Although later orchestrated, it is the earlier version that we performed (albeit with a larger choir) and we were pleased to have hired a Mustel harmonium which was played by Jonathan Scott, a specialist on this strange but expressive instrument. The pianists were Jeremy Silver and our regular Accompanist Catherine Borner.

The soloists in the Rossini were NLC’s patron, soprano Janis Kelly, Rosie Aldridge (who is one of Janis’ postgraduate students at the Royal College of Music, and definitely a young artist to look out for), Adrian Dwyer, the Australian tenor who specialises in Rossini’s exceptionally high-lying operatic roles and John Molloy, the Irish bass who has appeared with us at two previous concerts.

We opened with a short group of wonderful pieces which sat in contrast to the exuberant and operatic nature of the Rossini. The choir performed Morten Lauridsen’s exquisite motet O Magnum Mysterium and Samuel Barber's own arrangement of his atmospheric Adagio for Strings to the text of the Agnus Dei.

Sandwiched between the choral pieces Janis Kelly performed an aria This is Prophetic from Nixon in China by John Adams. She has just returned from her Metropolitan Opera debut in this opera. (You can watch this aria sung by Carolann Page here, starting 6’35 into the video, and concluded here.) The programme was completed by a performance by Jonathan Scott of Karg-Elert’s virtuoso Totentanz for harmonium solo.

Read review

February 2011 - Janis Kelly debut at The Met

Janis Kelly

Following her success in the role for ENO, Janis Kelly plays Pat Nixon at the Met in John Adams's Nixon in China. The performance of 12 February 2011 was broadcast live to cinemas around the world and simultaneously broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

Members of NLC watched her fine performance at the historical Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. The New York Times said: "The soprano Janis Kelly, in her Met debut, was wonderful as Pat Nixon. "

December 2010 - UK's first-ever Opera Mob at at Brent Cross Shopping Centre

During some of the worst winter weather for decades, Members of NLC ventured forth to Brent Cross on the last shopping Saturday before Christmas. They had been invited by Highgate Choral Society to join with choral singers from North London in singing the Hallelujah Chorus to the delight and bemusement of members of the shopping public!

Singers congregated near the central atrium and burst into song at the given signal to the accompaniment of a small piano. Shortly after the event, the shopping centre was closed early for the day

July 2009 - Janis Kelly is 'Prima Donna'

NLC's patron, Janis Kelly, stars in Rufus Wainwright's new opera Prima Donna which was premiered at the palace Theatre, Manchester as part of the Manchester International Festival 2009. The run continues until 19th July.

From the Manchester International Festival:

"As early-morning light floods into a Paris apartment, a woman struggles to rouse herself from a fitful night's sleep. Once a soprano with a powerhouse voice and a reputation to match, she's now a forlorn figure, disdained by critics and forgotten by audiences. But the diva is determined to prove her doubters wrong: all she asks is a chance to reprise the role that made her reputation all those years ago..."

Read an article on the composer here

May 2009 - Scream! NLC group perform at Tate Modern

A small group of NLC singers accepted an invitation to take part in an art installation by Paola Pivi at Tate Modern. This was the closing event of The Long Weekend at the gallery - a four day festival which celebrated the rehang of the Tate Collection, with live music, performance and new installations throughout the gallery.

For her finale, installation/performance artist Paola Pivi is staged 1000 voices, invited from London based choirs to scream as loud and for as long as possible.