Choir's first post pandemic concert will be 'pure fun'

Crouch End Festival Chorus

The Crouch End choir will play their first post pandemic live concert at Alexandra Palace on July 17. - Credit: Courtesy of CEFC

Fans of the Crouch End Festival chorus will be delighted to hear they will play their first post pandemic concert in their spiritual home of Ally Pally.

After Zoom get togethers, and rehearsing on the netball courts at Channing School, the 90-strong chorus take to the stage of the grand Victorian theatre on July 17 to perform Sacred Concert by jazz great Duke Ellington, and pieces for unaccompanied choirs by Philip Glass and Eric Whitacre and Lillie Harris.

"It's been a strange time," says Music Director David Temple. "We have been rehearsing on Zoom and I have tried to make it engaging and fun with quizzes, corny jokes and stories, but it's limited. You can't hear people because of the time lag on the internet so I have to trust they are singing in their houses and use my knowledge of the things they might get wrong if they were here in person.

David Temple conducts a damp rehearsal on the netball courts at Channing School in Highgate

David Temple conducts a damp rehearsal on the netball courts at Channing School in Highgate - Credit: Courtesy of CEFC

"But it's fantastic to be back rehearsing live. At our first rehearsal in May, people were quite emotional because they thought their voices would have disappeared, but it was as if we had never been away. We can't be indoors so we've been on the courts at Channing School where funnily enough the acoustics have been pretty good."

Temple praises Ally Pally's "fantastic" theatre which will allow a distanced audience.

Crouch End Festival Chorus record at Alexandra Palace's Victorian theatre

Crouch End Festival Chorus record at Alexandra Palace's Victorian theatre - Credit: Paul Robinson

"We are hoping it will become a home for the choir, not just because it's local but because it's such a brilliant space. This will be the first time I stand up in public since Feb last year and honestly, I can't wait. The Duke Ellington is pure fun, a mix of jazz and big band meets gospel choir with a real groove to it. I have conducted hundreds of works and I don't think I have ever had such fun as this. I feel exhilarated."

Temple and friend John Gregson formed the choir 37 years ago to sing Verdi's Requiem at Hornsey Town Hall for the Crouch End Arts Festival. It has since become one of the UK's leading choirs, playing The Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, BBC Proms and even Glastonbury with patron Ray Davies. Noel Gallagher, film composer Ennio Morricone, and conductor Sir Mark Elder are also patrons.

Most Read

With 150 singers aged 20-70 on the books (they have to learn to sight read once they have successfully auditioned) CEFC is programmed up to 2024 including Mozart's Requiem at Ally Pally in October, Christmas concerts and recording sessions.

Temple's attitude to the future involves having "high hopes but low expectations."

"It's unsettling. You have to plan, keep your spirits up, but always temper your expectations. The singers have been totally inspiring the way they have stuck to their commitment and passion for singing."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter