Crouch End Festival Chorus set for spotlight moment in the Proms

PUBLISHED: 16:04 05 September 2015

Crouch End Festival Chorus. Picture: Scott Wishart

Crouch End Festival Chorus. Picture: Scott Wishart

Scott Wishart

The chorus will be playing ‘one of the most magnificently bizarre musical scores to have emerged from America in the early 20th Century’, says Michael White.

I can’t think of a more up-for-it choir than Crouch End Festival Chorus, and on Wednesday they’re up for a spotlit moment in the Proms, helping the BBC Symphony Orchestra perform one of the most magnificently bizarre musical scores to have emerged from America in the early 20th Century, Charles Ives’ 4th Symphony.

Written for enormous forces, it’s a riot of musical dysfunctionality with unrelated meters, pulses, melodies swirling around like pieces from a dozen different jigsaw puzzles mixed together. And amidst the mayhem is a choir singing American revivalist hymns that Ives remembered from his childhood.

That’s where CEFC comes in, singing “Watchmen tell us of the Night” in the first movement, with a wordless intonation of the hymn “Bethany” in the last. And for good measure, they’ll lay the ground for the symphony with a sequence of other old American hymns that CEFC’s director David Temple tells me have a special resonance for him in that his father was a Methodist minister and he grew up on not dissimilar church music.

The Charles Ives Prom starts 7.30pm at the Albert Hall, with live broadcast on BBC Radio3. Details: bbc.co.uk/proms


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