Saturday, 19th November, 2011 at 7:30pm, Muswell Hill, London N10

Introduction from Murray Hipkin, Musical Director (Note this concert has now taken place - to a sell out audience!)

Concert flyer

Following a £242,000 restoration, we are thrilled to be able to feature the Harrison & Harrison organ of St James’. Designed by H A Bate in 1955, the instrument was admired by several notable composers, including Olivier Messiaen so it is highly appropriate that we should include some of his finest organ music in the concert.

The main choral work, which will take up the whole of the second half, is a centrepiece of the French choral repertoire that NLC has never performed before. The 1947 Requiem by Duruflé draws on Gregorian plainchant to weave a spectacularly atmospheric setting of the Requiem and is the perfect showcase for organist and choir. If you have enjoyed Fauré’s setting of the same text, then you will definitely enjoy this one.

The concert will open with Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb. Previously performed by NLC in 1983 and 2000, and a great personal favourite of mine, this extraordinary setting of an idiosyncratic text by 18th century mystic Christopher Smart is most famous for its hymn extolling the poet’s cat, Jeoffrey.

John Tavener is not a composer who has featured much in the choir’s history, so I am delighted that we will be performing a short piece for 12 part unaccompanied choir and solo cello, Svyati. The text is in Church Slavonic and features in almost every Russian Orthodox service. It is most often sung at funerals and in this setting the ‘cello represents the priest.

To end the first half, our special guest organist, James McVinnie, will play Parts II and III, Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel and Transports de joie d'une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienna from Messiaen’s monumental work for organ L’ascension. James is currently Assistant Organist at Westminster Abbey, and was one of the musicians to feature at the recent Royal Wedding.

The soloists in the Duruflé are mezzo soprano Catherine Hopper, appearing with NLC for the first time, baritone Derek Welton who was heard in the brief but telling role of Peter in Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives, and ‘cellist Jonathan Few, who played in the string quartet when we performed Schubert’s Mass in G. Smaller solos will be taken by Robyn Allegra Parton and Peter Kirk.

Audio/video samples of some of the pieces can be heard by clicking on the following links:

For directions to the church, please click here.

Our audiences have always been very generous in contributing to the good causes and charities for which we occasionally collect at our concerts, not least the St James's Organ Fund - this November there will be a retiring collection for Sands, the stillbirth and neo-natal death charity.

I very much hope to see you at what I am sure will be a very special evening of music-making.

With best wishes and thanks for your support.

Murray Hipkin
Musical Director - North London Chorus