21 Apr 2023
Crouch End Festival Chorus will make its seventeenth appearance at the BBC Proms on Monday 31 July when it will join the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales conducted by Ryan Bancroft in a performance of John Adams’s Harmonium.
This will be the seventh time the choir has performed Harmonium, most recently at Alexandra Palace Theatre in October 2022. The Proms programme will also include the world premiere of a BBC commission, Nova Plexus by Derrick Skye, and Copland’s Clarinet Concerto.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading composers, John Adams wrote Harmonium in 1980. It marked a move away from pure minimalism while retaining its characteristic pulsating rhythms. John Adams chose poems by John Donne and Emily Dickinson to realise what is, in his own words, ‘human voices riding on waves of rippling sound’. The result is a complex choral symphony that swells and recedes like the tide, at times wistful and tender, at others violent and ecstatic.
Music Director David Temple described the effect the piece first had on him: ‘I was stunned. The repetitive rhythms seemed to hold the emotion back, but then the intensity would grow and grow until the music simply erupted with energy and passion. I’ve conducted the piece several times in the past thirty years. It never gets any easier, you simply do it better’.
Crouch End Festival Chorus' first BBC Prom was in 2001 and they have since performed Proms concerts with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors in a wonderful selection of works. In 2022, the choir sang Verdi’s Requiem at the First Night of the Proms.
David Temple adds, ‘When I first heard Harmonium in 1991, I never imagined that one day we would be performing this extraordinary work at the BBC Proms’.
The Proms tickets will go on sale on 20 May.