Not a festival-associated group, but an independent one, 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 it built a wide ranging repertoire that incorporated selections from standard classics to less familiar contemporary works (resulting in a total of four Performing Right Society Enterprise Awards). Although it had 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.
In 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 released numerous recordings, including its ongoing Cinema Choral Classics series, including a collaboration with composer Joby Talbot titled Fin de Siècle, David Bedford's Twelve Hours of Sunset, which was recorded with BBC Symphony Orchestra, and 2000s Christmas Choral Classics. The 1998-1999 season saw the choir promote its first concert at the Royal Festival Hall, with the season culminating with a concert of July 4, 1999, celebrating the United States' independence and featuring two renowned works -- John Adams' Harmonium and a concert performance of highlights from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
In the 21st century the Chorus has continued to record traditional classical repertory, including, in 2017, Bach's St. John Passion, BWV 245, in its first English-language recording since the early 1970s. The group has also continued to commission new works. Increasingly often, however, the choir's activities have also extended beyond the classical sphere. It appeared in 2010 at Britain's giant Glastonbury Festival, backing former Kinks vocalist Ray Davies, and has also appeared with Oasis and its leader, Noel Gallagher. Its list of pop album credits is more than 100 releases long. The Crouch End Festival Chorus has been featured on film soundtracks, including that of The Awakening (2011) and on those for television, such as the BBC's Dr. Who. The choir's 2017 concert engagements included a major role in the Roland Perrin jazz-klezmer cantata Lansky: The Mob's Money, which was commissioned by the choir and depicted American mobster Meyer Lansky. ~ Greg Prato, James Manheim