In under three decades…
…Crouch End Festival Chorus has established itself as one of Britain’s major symphonic choirs, and has gained both national and international recognition. Based in north London, the choir was founded in 1984 by David Temple and John Gregson, and David has remained as musical director ever since, shaping the choir’s progress and building its reputation.
With some 150 singers on its books, Crouch End Festival Chorus is known for its versatility and eclectic repertoire, ranging from the traditional classical works to modern and specially-commissioned pieces. The choir promotes its own concerts at major venues such as the Barbican Hall in London, while also recognising its local roots with regular performances in Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Highgate (see concert calendar for upcoming performances and the recent concerts page for listings from the last few years). In addition, Crouch End Festival Chorus is in constant demand for recording work and external live promotions.
This year has been so full of concerts and recording sessions that the singers’ feet have hardly touched the ground, with notable engagements including Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder at the BBC Proms and a stadium tour with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
But the undoubted highlight of 2012 has been the world premiere of the Crouch End Festival Chorus commission 17 Days, a beautiful new choral work by young British composer James McCarthy.
2010 and 2011 – two years to remember
There have been many memorable moments in Crouch End Festival Chorus’s short history, but 2010 and 2011 saw the culmination of years of work to establish professional performance standards in all genres of music.
In summer 2010, the chorus appeared at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall for the third year in a row – this time to sing Mahler’s 8th symphony in the prestigious First Night concert (pictured right in rehearsal with the BBC Symphony Chorus and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs). Not long after, CEFC singers were onstage in front of 50,000 people at the Glastonbury Festival with our patron and regular collaborator Ray Davies.
These two events were the climax of a year which had already seen a sell-out performance at the Royal Albert Hall with legendary Hollywood composer Ennio Morricone (another of our patrons), known for his scores for such classic films as A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.
2011 turned out to be just as exciting, kicking off in January with a critically-acclaimed performance of Roberto Gerhard’s The Plague at the Barbican, starring Paul McGann as Dr Rieux (pictured right). Staying at this venue, the month of April saw two more concerts: first a moving interpretation of Bach’s St John Passion (pictured top of page), and then a rare performance of Britten’s Ballad of Heroes with the BBC Symphony Orchestra – broadcast on Radio 3.
Having proved its mettle in such a wide variety of classical works, the choir then turned to rock and pop music, joining Ray Davies at the Royal Festival Hall for the closing night of the Meltdown Festival (pictured below), backing dance act Basement Jaxx at the Barbican and collaborating with former Oasis songsmith Noel Gallagher on a new solo album.
Crouch End Festival Chorus often takes part in recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios, and in the latter part of 2011, the choir was invited to help the studios celebrate their 80th anniversary. After a delightful open-air anniversary concert at Chiswick House, it was back to Abbey Road with conductor and composer Eric Whitacre to record the winning entries from the Abbey Road anniversary anthem competition, alongside the London Symphony Orchestra and the Eric Whitacre Singers. Listen to one of the tracks now – Thank You Eternally by Cyrus Almonde:
A history of high achievement
Crouch End Festival Chorus was of course making its mark long before the stellar years of 2010 and 2011. As early as 1994, the choir was cementing its international reputation with the first ever performance in Poland of Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time – sung at the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Wrocław.
Another landmark concert was the 2001 premiere of David Bedford‘s The City and the Stars. Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, the performance featured the 83-year-old Clarke, on film, reading a narration between the movements.
More recently, highlights have included performances of the Verdi Requiem and Berlioz Te Deum at the BBC Proms and two packed-out performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with Emma Kirkby and period instruments on home turf in Muswell Hill.
To see the full range of works performed in Crouch End Festival Chorus’s own promotions since 1984, read the CEFC concert history.
The choir has also maintained a hectic schedule of recordings over the past three decades – notably landing a regular gig as soundtrack choir for Doctor Who on the BBC. In June 2009 Crouch End Festival Chorus reached no. 5 in the Amazon charts with the Kinks Choral Collection, recorded with Ray Davies, and subsequent albums recorded with Noel Gallagher and Lesley Garrett have hit the no. 1 spot in the charts. All of our commercial recordings can be viewed and purchased in the CEFC Music Shop on this site.
Crouch End Festival Chorus is proud to have these distinguished musical figures as patrons:
Ray Davies CBE
Sir Colin Davis CH CBE
Sir Mark Elder CBE
Bryn Terfel CBE
The choir has commissioned works from Simon Bainbridge, Howard Haigh, Orlando Gough, Sally Beamish, John Woolrich, David Bedford, Joby Talbot, Paul Patterson, Matthew Ferraro and James McCarthy. Read more about our New Music Patrons scheme here.
CEFC management and operation
For more information on any aspect of the choir and its work, please contact our press officer Duncan McAlpine on 0844 736 5220 ext. 40 or email email@example.com. To find out how to join the choir, please read our Sing with us pages.
Prom photo: Marie-Noëlle Lamy | Barbican photos: Paul Robinson | David Temple and Eric Whitacre photo: John Mindlin | Ray Davies at Meltdown photo: Phil Chappell