The perfect programme

Enlarge Image Jessica Cale and Kitty Whately in Vivaldi's Gloria | Picture: Paul Robinson
Jessica Cale and Kitty Whately in Vivaldi's Gloria | Picture: Paul Robinson

February 2017: It's not often we can say that a concert offers something for everyone, but that was the aim on 12 February at the Barbican. On that evening, the chameleon singers of Crouch End Festival Chorus started as a chamber group from the Italian Baroque, then turned into an English cathedral choir and ended up as a Russian opera chorus. 

The works were united by the theme of glory – in faith and in battle – and first on the bill was Vivaldi's Gloria. The singing was lively, lithe and clear, with fine solos by sopranos Jessica Cale and Kitty Whately, and critic David Winskill said the choir had turned in a sensitive and thoughtful performance.

The second work was Holst's Hymn of Jesus, for which the chorus was joined by the ethereal voices of Finchley Children's Music Group and the City of London School for Girls Choir. Their song floated down from the gallery as the main choir took the work from its plainchant beginnings through mystical dances and stately processions. The offstage semi-chorus of monks taken from the CEFC tenors and basses also deserve a mention for the beauty and precision of their chant. Overall, David Winskill said the piece had been a monumental ecclesiastical triumph in ambition and execution. 

Between the first two works, the instrumentalists accompanying the choir had expanded from a small string group to a fair-sized orchestra (the London Orchestra da Camera). And by the time the audience returned from the interval, the stage was heaving with enough brass and percussion to indicate that something truly rousing was on its way. 

Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky suite contains some of the finest film music of the 20th century, with wild, bloodthirsty battle cries and rich folk-inspired choruses. Inspired by a powerful solo from Kitty Whately, the singers gave their all, imbuing their notes with a dark Slavonic timbre and rendering the Russian words with clarity and emotion. As Alexander Nevsky's massive climactic chord brought the concert to an end, audience members jumped to their feet cheering. The varied programme had been a wonderful success, and all present came away with their ears ringing and smiles on their faces.

>>Read David Winskill's full review on the OpinioN8 blog

Crouch End Festival Chorus patrons knighted in New Year's Honours

Enlarge Image Ray Davies and CEFC at the Royal Festival Hall, 2011 | Picture: Matt Biddulph
Ray Davies and CEFC at the Royal Festival Hall, 2011 | Picture: Matt Biddulph

January 2017: Our warmest congratulations to Sir Ray Davies and Sir Bryn Terfel, who have been recognised in the 2017 New Year's Honours for their services to the arts and music.

We enjoyed performing with Bryn Terfel when he was making his name as a young bass-baritone, and were delighted when he agreed to be a patron of the choir. His career has since risen to great heights, and his knighthood is richly deserved.

Muswell Hill-born Ray Davies has been a local friend to Crouch End Festival Chorus for many years. We have performed with him at the Glastonbury Festival and in the Royal Festival Hall, and we made the best-selling album Kinks Choral Collection together. His outstanding lifetime contribution to the cultural life of the nation is rightly honoured with his knighthood.

>>See the full list of Crouch End Festival Chorus patrons in the About us section

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Getting a Handel on Christmas

Enlarge Image Composer Bernard Hughes takes a bow at Sing Christmas! 2016 | Picture: Heypressto photography
Composer Bernard Hughes takes a bow at Sing Christmas! 2016 | Picture: Heypressto photography

December 2016: Crouch End Festival Chorus's annual Sing Christmas! concerts often feature a special seasonal work at the centre of a programme of classic carols and favourite Christmas songs. Last year it was Britten's exquisite A Ceremony of Carols, and this year we performed a selection from one of the most famous choral works ever written: Handel's Messiah. Starting with And the Glory of the Lord, the singers' voices rang out with festive joy through four wonderful choruses, culminating of course with Hallelujah.

Another treat for the audience was the performance of a relatively new carol in the presence of its composer, Bernard Hughes. Jesus, Springing is a gem: a beautiful meditation on the life of Christ using imagery taken from the life cycle of a cedar tree.

It wouldn't be a Christmas concert without the opportunity for the audience to join in, and there were some pretty fine singers in the pews of St Michael's Highgate on 17 December belting out the likes of Once in Royal David's City and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. During O Come, All Ye Faithful, a collection was made for this year's Christmas charity, Singing for Syria, which raised a substantial sum to help some of war-torn Syria's most vulnerable people.

The evening closed with a selection of "pop carols" such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and All I Want for Christmas is You, which went down so well with the crowd that they called for an encore: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Christmas was now officially underway!

A night of contrasts

Enlarge Image Two RAH concerts: Children in Need Rocks for Terry (top) and Berlioz Grande Messe Des Morts
Two RAH concerts: Children in Need Rocks for Terry (top) and Berlioz Grande Messe Des Morts

November 2016: On Monday 14 November, Crouch End Festival Chorus achieved the unusual feat of being broadcast on two BBC channels at the same time. Both performances had been recorded at the same venue - the Royal Albert Hall - but the styles of music could hardly have been more different.

On BBC TV the choir could be seen in Children in Need Rocks forTerry, a star-studded pop extravaganza paying tribute to the late broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan and raising money for the charity he loved. Dressed in brightly-coloured shirts and even rocking some coordinated dance moves, the CEFC singers provided a backing chorus for Take That's Never Forget and Gilbert & Sullivan's Modern Major General, performed by comedian Alexander Armstrong. And they were out in force for Sir Terry's favourite song, The Floral Dance, led by Michael Ball and Alfie Boe. 

Meanwhile, a more sober but exceptionally rich and rewarding musical experience was to be had on BBC Radio 3, which was broadcasting a performance of Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts recorded on Remembrance Sunday. In this epic performance under the baton of François-Xavier Roth, Crouch End Festival Chorus joined the London Philharmonic Choir and BBC Symphony Chorus to make a 300-strong megachoir accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. As well as impressing and moving the large audience, the Berlioz was very well-received by the critics: 

"Rex tremendae was thrillingly hurled out by the BBC Symphony Chorus, Crouch End Festival Chorus and London Philharmonic Choir ... Meticulously enunciated French Latin closed up the vowels of key words such as 'futurus', blending them pungently with a wind band which seemed to include every bassoonist in London. The effect was continually fresh and enlightening, opening our ears on to the music Berlioz would have had in mind when writing the Requiem in 1836-7."
- The Arts Desk

"[The choirs] projected the music with power and passion ... tuning and attack [of the sopranos] throughout the performance were impeccable"
- Bachtrack

"In ensemble this mighty vocal group made a fine sound, especially the men."
- Seen and Heard International

"So many voices, yet so perfectly together, such crispness of attack, such unity!  This precision liberated the inner rhythms in the lines, so the phrases moved with athletic energy. ... Excellent tension between moments of high excitement and more reflective minor key passages, like the Lacrymosa, where the voices hovered, the interplay between male and female voices sustaining contrast."
- Classical Iconoclast

Swan Song

Enlarge Image The choir was delighted to welcome back soprano Erica Eloff, whose beautiful solos added so much to the concert | Picture: Paul Robinson
The choir was delighted to welcome back soprano Erica Eloff, whose beautiful solos added so much to the concert | Picture: Paul Robinson

October 2016: Some concerts are about raising a smile, while others are about moving the heart and soul. And the audience was certainly moved by Crouch End Festival Chorus and our talented friends on Friday 21 October.

The "Swan Song" programme at the Barbican Hall promised a theme of reflection and mourning, and if that sounds rather sombre, it's worth remembering that this was an opportunity to hear some of the finest music ever written. 

After the thoughtful opening number - Orlando Gibbons's The Silver Swan - the choir welcomed soprano Erica Eloff onto the stage with the London Mozart Players to sing Vier Letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs) by Richard Strauss. Eloff's beautiful voice has many times been an asset to CEFC concerts, and on this night, her performance was described by critic David Winskill as an exhibition in controlled, extreme emotion. 'The final verse,' he continued, 'is perhaps the most beautiful evocation of the moment of death I have heard.'

The second half of the concert was devoted to Brahms's Ein deutches Requiem (A German Requiem) - considered by many to be the composer's masterpiece. The weeks the singers had spent honing their expressive performance - and German pronunciation - paid off with a rendition that had audience members vigorously clapping and cheering at the end. Once again, David Winskill's words capture the experience perfectly:

"It would be a tad over the top to say that CEFC have made the German Requiem their own, but I have not been to one of their performances of Brahms’ masterpiece that is anything other than superb – Friday’s was no exception.

"Conductor David Temple seemed to allow the work more time to develop than usual. The second movement Denn Alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras was amazing. It works slowly in a methodical crescendo of sadness that verges on pure menace. The play between the sopranos and altos and the male voices was brilliant.

"The sixth passage – Denn wir haben hie keine Bleibende Statt - was equally impressive. Baritone Benjamin Appl was authoritative and the full blooded pounding of the chorus when giving Death, where is thy Sting? was terrifying."

>>Read David Winskill's full review on the OpinioN8 blog

Out now: our 2016-2017 season brochure

September 2016: The fabulous new Crouch End Festival Chorus 2016-2017 season brochure is here! There's information about all the concerts through to July 2017, and a welcome message from our music director David Temple:

"Variety is the spice of life and this coming season has it in abundance. CEFC is essentially a symphonic choir and the works by Brahms, Prokofiev and Holst are perfectly suited to us.

"But we also like to venture out to the extremes of earlier Baroque music and contemporary commissions – with Vivaldi, Bach and Roland Perrin. Each concert has something for everyone." 

Just click on the image on the right to open and download the seven-page brochure as a PDF. It's a great way to keep all the information about our concerts in one place. And if you prefer, you can also browse through all the concert pages online in our Concert calendar, which includes live booking links for each performance. 

Prom premiere

Enlarge Image Composer Lera Auerbach takes a bow with CEFC music director David Temple and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, July 2016 | Picture: Paul Robinson
Composer Lera Auerbach takes a bow with CEFC music director David Temple and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, July 2016 | Picture: Paul Robinson

August 2016: The reviews are in from BBC Prom 22 on 31 July, and there are many positive words for our contribution to Lera Auerbach's highly theatrical new work The Infant Minstrel and His Peculiar Menagerie:

"Excellently performed ... [with] Crouch End Festival Chorus singing lustily, even amusingly."
- Boulezian

"[Soprano] Helen Neeves, tenor Tom Raskin and bass Andrew Rupp clearly enjoyed the parodistic elements they shared with the hardworking Crouch End Festival Chorus"
- The Guardian

"...a finely balanced performance from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Crouch End Festival Chorus and a quintet of solo singers."
- The Financial Times 

"...the braying, chattering, gleefully chanting Crouch End Festival Chorus"
- The Times 

"...the Crouch End Festival Chorus sang with flair and attack"
- Classical Source

It must be admitted that the above reviewers were less enthusiastic about the work itself, which was performed here for the first time in the UK. But perhaps they will warm to Infant Minstrel as it becomes better known. The CEFC singers certainly felt that the piece was a "grower", and said they had come to appreciate and enjoy its quirky style and sudden flashes of beauty. It has also been pointed out that Debussy's now-beloved La Mer - also on the Prom 22 programme - was warily received in its time. One contemporary critic even suggested that it should have been named Le Mal de Mer (sea-sickness).

And Auerbach did receive plaudits from the respected review site Bachtrack, which said Infant Minstrel had stood its ground against the evening's better-known works by Ravel and Debussy. It added: "Auerbach must be commended for creating such a bold and witty work".

  • The Infant Minstrel and His Peculiar Menagerie was jointly commissioned by the BBC Proms, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway and Switzerland's Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. It will next be performed on 9 and 11 November 2016 in Geneva. The work is dedicated to the memory of Jo Cox MP, with whom Lera Auerbach had been a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders.

Berlioz with the BBC

Enlarge Image Britten War Requiem, BBC Remembrance Sunday concert 2013 at the Royal Albert Hall | Picture: Paul Robinson
Britten War Requiem, BBC Remembrance Sunday concert 2013 at the Royal Albert Hall | Picture: Paul Robinson

July 2016: Following our appearance in this year's BBC Proms, we are pleased to announce that Crouch End Festival Chorus will be returning to the Royal Albert Hall in November to take part in the BBC's Remembrance Sunday concert.

The choir last contributed to this important occasion in 2013, when the performance of Britten's War Requiem  was acclaimed as one of the finest ever heardThis year, Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts promises to be no less accomplished and powerful. Programme information is below, with tickets available on the BBC events site.

Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts
Sunday 13 November 2016

Royal Albert Hall, London

BBC Symphony Orchestra
François-Xavier Roth  - conductor
Maximilian Schmitt - tenor
BBC Symphony Chorus | Crouch End Festival Chorus | London Philharmonic Choir

Of all the requiems, Berlioz’s epic Grande Messe des Morts is among the largest. It involves a gargantuan ensemble, including three choirs and colossal brass, and unleashes an incredible range of expression with masterful theatricality. This breathtaking, roof-raising masterwork was written to commemorate the fallen of the 1830 Revolution, and we perform it in the similarly epic Royal Albert Hall on Remembrance Sunday.

Reflections on a summer evening

Enlarge Image Reflections at St James's Piccadilly | Picture: Fabian Zimmer
Reflections at St James's Piccadilly | Picture: Fabian Zimmer

July 2016: Sometimes you don't need a mighty work as the centrepiece of your concert; a lighter programme is just the job to refresh your audience at the end of a warm day in the city. Hence the Crouch End Festival Chorus Reflections programme on 9 July, which blended a capella choral pieces with instrumental solos, all on a theme of reflections, mirrors, echoes and water.

It was the first time the choir had performed at St James's Piccadilly, in central London, and the singers were bowled over at the beauty of the Wren-designed church and its rich acoustic.This was immediately put into use with the first piece of the programme: Eric Whitacre's modern classic Water Night.

The setting served the soloists well, too, and there was warm applause for cellist Joely Koos and CEFC's own Peter Jaekel, stepping out from his usual accompanist role to take the spotlight this evening. Between them, the pair offered a wonderful selection of reflective instrumental works: Debussy's Reflets dans l'eau and Clair de lune, Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel, and The Swan, by Saint-Saëns.

For the choir, a highlight was performing Alan Charlton's 2014 Mirror Suite in the presence of the composer. The piece is a setting of four poems by Federico Garcia Lorca - Tierra, Réplica, Aire and El Gran Espejo -  which were each read aloud before the music started by soprano Susie Cousins. The chorus enjoyed the rare experience of singing in Spanish, and there were fine solos from soprano Rosemary Zolynski and bass Tim Ellerby.

Audience members were also enchanted by Rheinburger's Mass in E flat major (which employs two choirs to mirror and echo each other) and Stanford's elegaic The Blue Bird, notable for some exquisite singing on the night by a soprano semi-chorus.

To send the listeners home with a spring in their step, the concert concluded with Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett's Man in the Mirror, in an inspired choral arrangement by Annie Nepomuceno and Andre van der Merwe. Listen to this excellent recording of the work by the Stellenbosch University Choir to get a flavour of the CEFC finale.

Patron power

Enlarge Image A singer's eye view of Ennio Morricone rehearsing at Blenheim Palace | Picture: Tina Burnett
A singer's eye view of Ennio Morricone rehearsing at Blenheim Palace | Picture: Tina Burnett

June 2016: The singers of Crouch End Festival Chorus have just completed a marathon run of concerts for three of the choir's illustrious patrons: Noel Gallagher, Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone.

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Providing a backing chorus for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds involved travelling throughout the UK, with gigs in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Bournemouth - all in the month of April. These were sell-out events in massive arenas, generally well-received by the critics and greatly enjoyed by the large audiences. 

The CEFC singers found the concerts to be an exhilarating experience too, although for alto Tina Burnett there was also an element of terror... "During the afternoon before each gig," she explains, "the sound checks require each singer to sing alone into the vastness, with choir colleagues there listening to the nerves, silently supporting, judging, empathising. In terms of anxiety, this is on a par with our triennial choir re-auditions!"

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Given that the choir was also rehearsing every Friday evening throughout the spring for its own concerts, it was a challenge for CEFC to provide an additional chorus for Hans Zimmer's UK tour dates, but these gigs were not to be missed. A 24-strong group volunteered for the Hans Zimmer Live shows in Wembley, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Manchester during April and May - and the Oscar-winning film composer was delighted to be performing with the choir. Scroll down this page to Playing Wembley with Hans Zimmer to read what he had to say in the lead-up to the first gig.

Awarding Zimmer's 6 April show four stars, Guardian reviewer Mark Beaumont wrote that the "full orchestra and stage-wide choir [were] here to help Zimmer build empires, explore universes, bring woodland chases to sticky ends and total Batmobiles."  Our own roving reporter Tina Burnett was there too, and in her evocative account of the experience, she describes riding "the buzz and sizzle wave of performance". Truly a wonderful night, which was repeated to great acclaim at all the venues.

>>Read Tina Burnett's singer's eye view of Hans Zimmer Live in full

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Onward to June, when the CEFC singers were honoured to rejoin a third eminent patron, Ennio Morricone, for a special open-air performance at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Part of the stately home's Nocturne series of summer concerts, this was the Maestro's first ever UK concert outside London.

The programme featured many of Morricone's celebrated film scores, which include Once Upon a Time in the West, One Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, The Untouchables, The Mission, and of course The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. And this time there was a new addition to the programme, as the 87-year-old composer had recently picked up an Oscar for his soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of love for the 23 June concert on social media from the Maestro's legions of fans. One audience member, Jenny Coley, summed it up: "It was a wonderful night ~ what a beautiful setting for the Maestro to perform along with the sublime Susanna Rigacci and the incredible orchestra and choir. Thank you!"

New music at the Royal Academy

Enlarge Image CEFC singers rehearsing the RAM students' compositions | Picture: Philip Cashian
CEFC singers rehearsing the RAM students' compositions | Picture: Philip Cashian

May 2016: Crouch End Festival Chorus has a proud history of commissioning new choral works and supporting up-and-coming composers - and this month we were delighted to be involved in a project with some of the UK's newest recruits to the composing profession.

It's actually the second year that we have worked with the choral composition students at the Royal Academy of Music. "I first met [RAM head of composition] Phil Cashian in 1998 when we worked together with Ray Davies," explained CEFC music director David Temple. "When I bumped into him a couple of years ago, he suggested that CEFC and I could work with his composition students - which we have done in 2015 and 2016. The students meet with me at the beginning of the academic year and by May they have all written a four-minute a cappella piece which singers from CEFC perform with me as a showcase for the students' work.

"The style and complexity of the music itself differs with each composer, which presents a robust challenge to the singers and me. Often we end up giving a workshop on certain pieces rather than attempting a performance. The whole process is a mixture of scary and inspiring."

The CEFC singers who took part in the rehearsals and the 16 May performance in the Duke's Hall said they had found the project interesting, challenging and enjoyable. CEFC tenor Mike Dempsey commented that it was "one of the most rewarding and inspiring events I have ever been involved in with the choir". Here's hoping the RAM students come up with some equally fine compositions for next year.

Harmonious performance

Enlarge Image CEFC with the London Concert Orchestra at the Barbican on 18 April 2016 | Picture: Tammela Platt
CEFC with the London Concert Orchestra at the Barbican on 18 April 2016 | Picture: Tammela Platt

April 2016: For this year’s spring programme, Crouch End Festival Chorus took on three choral works from different decades of the last century. And if the applause was anything to go by, the Barbican Hall audience left with a spring in their step.

In Poulenc’s quirky Gloria, we put all our energies into capturing the shifting moods of the piece - one moment menacing and sombre, cheeky and playful the next. The London Orchestra da Camera played with their usual deftness of touch and soprano Erica Eloff - a CEFC regular - was superb as always. Critic Barry Creasy of musicOMH agreed that Erica Eloff was "the perfect choice for the work, demonstrating a controlled bell-like tone in both her Domine Deus passages". He also complimented the choral singing: "There was some excellent control…particularly in the unaccompanied qui sedes sections".

Vaughan Williams’s sonorous Serenade to Music completed the first half. With words taken from The Merchant of Venice, this was a fitting choice in a week which ended with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The particular challenge here was to produce the rich, rounded tone appropriate for this celebration of earthly and celestial music. Special mention should go to the soaring solo violin of orchestra leader Steve Morris, and to the choir members who sang the semi-chorus sections with great precision and beauty. Barry Creasy seemed to enjoy this choral version of the piece, which was originally composed for 16 solo singers, commenting: "The glorious climax 'such harmony is in immortal souls' was delivered by full-bodied chorus and full orchestra, and set spines tingling."

With its rhythmic complexity and wide range of dynamics and pitch, John Adams’ Harmonium is not for the faint-hearted choir. It has, however, become a firm favourite of CEFC - and having performed the piece on several occasions, the chorus now approaches it with respect, but with growing excitement as it takes shape in rehearsal.

In this performance, we showed total commitment and energy, throwing caution to the wind as we hit full throttle for the final movement, Wild Nights. Audience member Luke Morris, who is due to take his music GCSE in a few weeks’ time, commented that while he could detect the minimalist roots of the piece, "It just took off and went crazy. Awesome." The verdict of the musicOMH critic? "Wild Nights was the gloriously abandoned bacchanal that [Emily] Dickinson suggested and that Adams wrote." And as the music calmed and the closing strains dwindled away to nothing, the audience went wild too.

Crouch End Festival Chorus is back at the Proms!

Enlarge Image CEFC at the Nielsen & Ives Prom in 2015 | Picture: Paul Robinson
CEFC at the Nielsen & Ives Prom in 2015 | Picture: Paul Robinson

April 2016: We're pleased to announce that we'll be performing a UK premiere at the BBC Proms this summer. The exciting new commission is The Infant Minstrel and His Peculiar Menagerie, by Lera Auerbach, scheduled for Sunday 31 July at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Prom - number 22 - will also feature music by Ravel and Debussy, under the baton of Edward Gardner. Onstage with CEFC will be the BBC Symphony Orchestra and violinist Vadim Gluzman.

And the programme has already attracted the attention of the critics, with the Independent's Jessica Duchen choosing it as one of her 10 Best Proms.  

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Playing Wembley with Hans Zimmer

Enlarge Image

April 2016: Crouch End Festival Chorus is to join Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer on his first ever tour of Europe in April and May.

The singers are among 70 musicians performing with the 58-year-old composer, whose credits include scores from successful films such as The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rain Man and Gladiator.

The chorus was part of two sell-out ‘Hans Zimmer Revealed’ shows at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in 2014, which included live versions of the German-born composer's global hits Inception, The Dark Knight, and many other films.

Zimmer, who has recently become a patron of the chorus, will start the tour with two nights at the SSE Arena at Wembley on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 April. A 24-strong group of CEFC singers will take part in three further concerts on the British leg of the tour in Birmingham (Tuesday 12 April), Bournemouth (Saturday 28 May) and Manchester (Sunday 29 May).

“This show reflects my love and admiration for all of the great musicians and singers with whom I have the privilege of working,” commented Zimmer. “And performing in the UK is especially exciting because I get to work with so many of my favourite players and with a truly great choir, the Crouch End Festival Chorus, under the expert direction of David Temple. I am looking forward to it very much.”

“It will be such an honour for the choir to share the stage again with some of the world's greatest musicians performing this brilliant music,” says CEFC’s music director David Temple.

Blissful Bach, pitched just right

Enlarge Image Choir, orchestra, conductor and soloists take a bow as many audience members stand to applaud at the end of a superlative evening | Picture: Paul Robinson
Choir, orchestra, conductor and soloists take a bow as many audience members stand to applaud at the end of a superlative evening | Picture: Paul Robinson

January 2016: On a mild winter's day at the Barbican Hall, the singers of Crouch End Festival Chorus returned to one of our favourite works: Bach's Mass in B minor. And this time we were after perfection.

The work was sung at Baroque pitch (a semitone below the modern rendering of each note), and was accompanied by period instruments, in the hands of the wonderful Bach Camerata.

With some of the choir's favourite soloists also on board – Mary Bevan, Diana Moore, Ben Johnson and Callum Thorpe – the concert promised much, and critic David Winskill felt we had delivered. On the OpinioN8 blog, he said CEFC was "in cracking form". He continued: "The performance completely engaged many members of the almost sell out audience with heads bobbing, fingers drumming and eyes focussed in rapt attention. 

"The part in the Credo that deals with Christ’s Crucifixion (He suffered and was buried) tapers to a very quiet, almost hushed passage and conductor David Temple, throwing his left arm up in ostentatious direction, moved them on seamlessly to the surging, glorious Et resurrexit – a real hairs-on-the-back of-the-neck moment!"

All the soloists distinguished themselves, Winskill added, but declared it should be "hats off" to tenor Ben Johnson and mezzo Diana Moore - whose voice "conjures memories of Kathleen Ferrier".

Audience member Kollyn Bailey agreed, posting the following tribute on the Crouch End Festival Chorus Facebook page: "Diana Moore's Agnus Dei was the highspot of a terrific evening. Take a piece as wonderful as the Bach mass in B minor and you have a good base for a great evening, add a top quality choir, orchestra and a quartet of superb soloists and the result is blissful, as those of us at the Barbican can attest."