Press Reviews

Spring Concert 2016

Not a spare seat in Muswell Hill’s St James for this monumental oratorio. First performed in 1846 (in Birmingham) this was three hours of magic from North London Chorus, an augmented Meridian Sinfonia and five soloists including the ridiculously talented, 10 year old Jamie Somerville.

Unusually, the work doesn’t start with the Overture but is presaged with a dire prognostication by Elijah (sung with suitable bombast by David Kempster) that God is about to visit a drought on the land.

The story is fairly simple. The rain stops; the people despair and lose faith; Elijah buggers off, comes back and raises the dead. Spiritually refreshed, he organises a face-off in the form of who can light the barbeque wins between the God of Israel and the gods of the idolater prophets of Baal. Guess who wins. The rains come: Elijah voted top man ... until Jezebel starts creating doubts about his motives and authenticity.

And so the story continues, delivered in beautiful and dramatic music.

Conductor Murray Hipkin had clearly equipped the Chorus (bouncing with energy) with an emotionally comprehensive understanding of the contextual demands of the work: they respond beautifully – angry, anarchic and anguished where needed; pleading, pompous and petulant elsewhere. Their interpretation of Baal we cry to thee was sensational.

The piece is threaded with echoes of other composers throughout – especially Bach and Handel. The delicate a capella of the trio of angels (Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountain) was straight out of Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

In Part two after the interval, there is an extended (OK, a bit boring) passage of Elijah indulging in some industrial grade soul searching. Later, describing his ultimate triumph and ascent into heaven, there is a single passage reference to fiery chariots, fiery horses, whirlwinds and the like. Why Mendelssohn chose to compress this element of the story rather puzzles me.

A fine concert brilliantly delivered.

OpinioN8 - March 2016
by David Winskill

North London Chorus with Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Baritone David Kempster
Soprano Eleanor Denis
Mezzo-Soprano Rosie Aldridge
Tenor Christopher Turner
Treble Jamie Somerville

Mendelssohn Elijah

Winter Concert 2015

Ham and High December 2015
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Eleanor Dennis
Mezzo-soprano Catherine Hopper
Tenor Nicholas Scott
Baritone Samuel Evans

Bach Magnificat

Bach Christmas Oratorio (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

Summer Concert 2015

Ham and High July 2015
by David Winskill

North London Chorus with Guests and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Laurence Cummings
Galatea Mary Nelson
Acis Nicholas Scott
Polyphemus Edward Grint
Damon Laurence Cummings

Handel Acis and Galatea

Spring Concert 2015

We abandoned the flesh pots of Crouch End last night and made the trip to Muswell Hill for an evening of sacred choral music. It was the start to North London Chorus’ 2015 Season and the programme included Faure’s Requiem as well as a couple of other sung works and an excellent organ piece composed by one of their members.

The music was terrific and will be remembered for at least two reasons: there was no orchestra (instead music was ably provided by Nicholas Chalmers on the recently renovated St James’ Church organ) and, secondly, most of the solo parts in the concert were sung by members of the Choir.

When I think of being in a choir one of the words that come to mind is anonymity! The very idea of standing up by myself in front of a paying audience and delivering Fauré’s Pie Jesu would fill me with dread. But this exactly what soprano Shantini Cooray did and she did it with verve and presence and confidence. Then an hour or so later, when we had got on to Kodály’s Missa Brevis, another half dozen of her colleagues did the same. Nerves of steel all round.

Kodály’s work is what it says on the tin – a Mass that’s not very long. Responding to a challenge from a critic he said he wrote short pieces out of “pure loyalty to the listeners instead of boring them for hours.” But it is a very special Mass. Written in a cellar in Nazi Occupied Budapest in 1944 while the Soviet air force was trying to reduce the city to rubble, it is an extraordinarily holy and passionate work that speaks of redemption and the hope of peace. Conductor Murray Hipkin should be proud of his choir and promoted soloists for getting this across so beautifully.

We have a wealth of choirs in north London and NLC is anxious to get more people involved. Members clearly enjoy themselves both socially and when they are creating some wonderful noises. On Saturday 4th July there is an opportunity for a try out to see if the life of a chorister is for you! They will be having a workshop in advance of a performance of Handel’s Acis and Galatea.

OpinioN8 - March 2015
by David Winskill

North London Chorus
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Shantini Cooray
Baritone Mark Oldfield
Organ Nicholas Chalmers

Fauré Requiem Mass in D minor, Op. 48

Kodály Missa Brevis

Liszt Die Seligkeiten (The Beatitudes) S25

Loxley-Blount Chorale Prelude and Postlude

Winter Concert 2014

Ham and High November 2014
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Mary Nelson
Alto Kitty Whately
Tenor Anthony Gregory
Bass David Soar
Pianist Catherine Borner

Haydn Te Deum No 2 in C

Mozart Piano Concerto No 23 in A major

Beethoven Mass in C

Summer Concert 2014

Ham and High July 2014
by David Winskill

North London Chorus with Cantus Domus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductors Murray Hipkin and Ralf Sochaczewsky
Soprano Rhian Lois
Baritone George Humphreys

Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem

Brahms Nänie

Mendelssohn Verleih uns Frieden

Pärt Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten

Spring Concert 2014

Ham and High March 2014
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Janis Kelly
Treble Oliver Brown
Treble Adrien Rolet

Schubert Mirjams Siegesgesang

Mendelssohn Hear My Prayer

Korngold Passover Psalms

Bernstein Chichester Psalms

Winter Concert 2013

The review for this concert can be found here.

Bachtrack November 2013
by Christie Franke

North London Chorus with Cantus Domus, Berliner Mädchenchor and Konzerthausorchester Berlin
Conductors Ralf Sochaczewsky and Murray Hipkin
Soprano Nicole Chevalier
Tenor Nicky Spence
Baritone Sebastian Noack

Britten War Requiem

Spring Concert 2013

Ham and High 25 April 2013
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Robyn Allegra Parton
Counter-tenor James Laing
Tenor Nick Pritchard
Baritone Adrian Powter

J S Bach Mass in B minor

Winter Concert 2012

Despite the Christmas busyness and a cold damp evening, North London Chorus's Saturday concert still attracted a full house their final performance of 2012.

First up was Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (1782). A glorious piece of music that is high on most people’s Desert Island list. And, like so many works by composers of that time, it is a cunning splicing together of pieces recycled from earlier works. There is even a word to describe the setting of new words to music composed for earlier work - contrafactum. When I was at school something similar was called something entirely different!

The work opens with the "solemn grandeur" of the Kyrie but it is not long before the Chorus is joined for the Christe by the startlingly wonderful soprano Laura Mitchell, substituting at very short notice. By the Gloria, NLC were well into their stride working with the brass and drums of the fine Meridian Sinfonia.

The third movement gave Sally Silver, 2nd soprano, the opportunity to dazzle in a the beautiful Laudamus te. Sally's pure love of singing came through in her animation and gusto: she seemed to forget to return to her seat at the end of the fragment.

The sopranos came together for the first time in the Domines Deus and were sensational in of one of the most demanding yet beautiful duets in Church Music.

As ever the Chorus and conductor Murray Hipkin (looking very clerical in a rather smart full length frock coat) worked fabulously together to deliver the appropriate pomp and solemnity where needed then switching effortlessly to a lightness of touch and reserve where appropriate.

The second piece, Out of the Depths, was a brand new work by Matthew King, commissioned by the Chorus in memory of Bill Brown who sang with them until his death in 2009. He was committed to prison reform and so it was appropriate that the text for this deeply complex piece came from Oscar Wilde's de Profundis.

In the interval I overheard one of the singers describe the work as "challenging". Indeed it was, but North London Chorus accepted the challenge and turned in a heartfelt and especially touching performance.

We have to wait until April next year for the next NLC concert:

Ham and High December 2012
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon
Soprano Sally Silver
Tenor Christopher Turner
Bass Mark Beesley

Mozart Mass in C

King Out of the Depths

Summer Concert 2012

Ham and High 5 July 2012
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Claire Pendleton
Mezzo-Soprano Rebecca Stockland
Tenor Nick Pritchard
Baritone Wyn Pencarreg
Organ Nicholas Chalmers

Dvorak Mass in D

Howells An English Mass

Rheinberger Organ Concerto No. 1

Spring Concert 2012

Ham and High 29 March 2012
by David Winskill

North London Chorus and Meridian Sinfonia
Conductor Murray Hipkin
Soprano Lucy Roberts
Soprano Kristi Bryson
Counter-Tenor Iestyn Morris
Tenor Peter Kirk
Tenor Nick Pritchard

Handel Israel in Egypt

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