The Crouch End Festival Chorus first came together in the mid-'80s, founded by David Temple and John Gregson (the pair had both sung as tenors in the London Philharmonic Choir). By the next decade, the choir had become one of England's leading large choirs, as they built a wide ranging repertoire that incorporated selections from standard classics to less familiar 20th century works (resulting in a total of four Performing Right Society Enterprise Awards the CEFC's innovative programming of contemporary music). Although they'd racked up an impressive number of accomplishments by the mid-'90s, further accolades continued to flood in -- the choir was invited to sing in a concert to celebrate Philip Glass' 60th Birthday at the Royal Festival Hall with Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Martyn Brabbins in 1997, in January of 1998, the choir performed the Verdi Requiem to a full house at Westminster Central Hall, with the year ending with the choir's first promotion at the Barbican.
A prime example of the CEFC's talent to combine classic and contemporary work, the choir commissioned Paul Patterson to compose Hell's Angels, which also featured the Brodsky Quartet, as the concert ended with a performance of Mozart's Requiem. The Crouch End Festival Chorus has also managed to release several recordings, including their ongoing Cinema Choral Classics series (which thus far has included a total of three releases), a collaboration with composer Joey Talbot titled Fin de Siècle, David Bedford's Twelve Hours of Sunset, which was recorded by the CEFC with BBC Symphony Orchestra, as well as 2000s Christmas Choral Classics. The 1998-1999 season saw the choir promote their first concert at the Royal Festival Hall, with the season culminating with a concert of July 4, 1999, celebrating the United States' independence two renown works -- John Adams' Harmonium and a concert performance of highlights from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. There were further shows throughout 2000, tops being a program of Glass, Stravinsky, and Brahms at the Barbican Hall, a performance of Arvo Part's Credo and Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts at Westminster Central Hall, as well as a rendition of Hayden's exuberant The Creation at the newly-refurbished Somerset House. At the Royal Albert Hall in May 2000, CEFC joined Lesley Garrett and Andrea Bocelli for a closing rendition of "There Is Nothing Like a Dame," at an AIDS fundraiser celebrating Elizabeth Taylor's Damehood. ~ Greg Prato