‘NLCC were great – very incisive and expressive’ (Jonathan Harvey)
‘The impact of the NLCC’s sustained virtuoso reading was stunning… they sent one away reeling at their skill, precision and stamina’(The Guardian)
Animals! Wilton’s Music Hall, January 2015
All the pieces on the programme were technically amazing… Judith Bingham’s [Unpredictable But Providential]… was delivered with terrific panache… the singers’ easy but secure ensemble continued to amaze…. the singing, frequently with added stamping and clapping, was a technical tour de force, rousingly celebrated in the delirium of Meredith Monk’s Panda Chant II. The NLCC is onto a good thing with Matthew Hamilton.
(Peter Reed, Classical Source, January 2015)
On tonight’s performance the NLCC is arguably one of the best amateur choirs in London.
(Hilary Glover, Planet Hugill, January 2015)
NLCC Concerts 2008-2010
James Weeks’s mellifluous New London Chamber Choir…
(Performance rated ***** by Rian Evans, The Guardian, July 2010)
I am full of admiration for way that James Weeks and his gifted singers can move, seemingly effortlessly, from the most complex modern music to Tudor polyphony and deliver both types of music with such assurance and sense of style.
(John Quinn, Musicweb, July 2010)
The 40-strong New London Chamber Choir are an incredibly
impressive amateur ensemble who specialise in performing challenging contemporary choral music, and this is the kind of music that needs an incredibly good choir – the listener must have faith that the dissonance is intentional, and with such a chromatic score [by Ligeti] the quality of this choir really shows.
(Mark Wilden, OxfordBands, July 2010)
Music and the Genome – Allele by Michael Zev Gordon
Text of BBC Today programme package by Pallab Ghosh
BBC news clip of NLCC rehearsing Allele
NLCC concerts to 2008
Litanei 97 – declaimed, red-robed, in a circle – concluded the New London Chamber Choir’s fearless concert with a ritual of unique perversity.
(The Times, December 2008)
Tongues of Fire speaks with clarity and immediacy, and the New London Chamber Choir delighted in its sonic diversity.
…and as I always do in NLCC concerts, I sat thinking that this has to be the most accomplished choir in Britain…
This splendid group… and by miles the most adventurous… I urge all lovers of polished, intelligent, exciting vocal music-making to attend their next concerts.
New London Chamber Choir, under the direction of composer and percussionist James Wood, has been consistently acclaimed as one of the most adventurous, polished vocal ensembles performing today.
To say that this performance (Incantamenta, Wood) was impressive is an understatement.
Hildegard Tour, Norwich Cathedral 2005
…once you accepted that you were trapped for 90 minutes in a dark nave with a chorus that attacked you from front, side and rear (the brilliantly drilled New London Chamber Choir), six frenetic drummers (Percussion Group the Hague) and an instrumental ensemble (the Critical Band) whose jagged fanfares were bounced electronically a round the nave like aural boomerangs – well, it was all rather ear-popping and thrilling.
(Richard Morrison, The Times, 13 May 2005)
Stockhausen première, Liverpool 2004
Stockhausen’s Litanei 97… was performed in a circle, with the choir moving, leaping and jumping. Stamping and dragging feet on the ground is all part of the music, along with total vocal expression: humming, hissing, whispering, wailing, vocal glissandi, staccato phrases, quiet contemplation.
But what skill this choir has, if only to be able to make the piece work. It’s intensely difficult but they rose admirably to the challenge. The piece is atmospherically charged and sounded stunning in the huge acoustic.
(Glyn Mon Hughes, Liverpool Post, 26/7/2004)
The conductor James Wood’s singers can pull off just about anything, as their mesmerising British première of the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Litanei 97 revealed. His ‘litany’ reflects any serious craftsman’s earnest aspiration that his distinctly personal idiom may ‘channel’, even ‘incarnate’, those truths that lie beyond.
The words, penned in the 1960s – the setting is more recent – have a distinctly egocentric feel. Elusive yet ingenious, although unhelped by some dotty stylised choir hopscotch, the work has an attractive transparency. The angular intervals on offer were superbly served by the cathedral’s cavernous echo.
So was the second half, in which Jeremy Summerly directed an electrifying performance – full of dramatic frissons – of the medieval Play of Daniel.
(Roderic Dunnett, Church Times, 30/7/2004)
Harvey and Messiaen, Mulhouse
Their homage to Messiaen was an ecstatically beautiful O sacrum convivium in which time, whilst minutely observed, seemed suddenly to have ceased.
(Denise Lustenberger, Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, 7/4/2004 – translated)
This exceptional choir of 36 voices … revealed the intensity of [Jonathan Harvey’s] Lauds and especially of The Summer Cloud’s Awakening… These works framed Messiaen’s wonderful O sacrum convivium, a suberbly nuanced haven of peace and reflection.
(Pierre Chevreau, L’Alsace, 7/4/2004 – translated)
Debussy in Luxembourg
Emmanuel Krivine’s performance was splendid; he had at his disposal orchestral and choral forces of the highest quality….Equally magnificent was the precision and timbre of the New London Chamber Choir, prepared by Jeremy Summerly. Whether in instrumental vocalises or at more lyrical moments, this group exemplified the rich British choral tradition.
(Loll Weber, Luxemburger Wort, 10/12/2003 – translated)
Xenakis and Wood at the 2003 Proms
Tongues of Fire – performed by the composer’s vibrant New London Chamber Choir… This late-night concert made good the Proms’ neglect of the late Iannis Xenakis with fiery accounts of two of his works…
(Keith Potter, The Independent, 11/9/2003)
Idmen was a riveting collage of stark choral outbursts, like some long-forgotten tribal chant, set against percussion music that was all thudding beats in intricate patterns … and the New London Chamber Choir showed sensitivity as well as fierce energy.
(Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph, 11/9/2003)
Tongues of Fire creates a textural kaleidoscope, from minimalist riffs to spectralist swoops and slides. At the centre of the soundworld are four oil drums played by the percussionists – instruments that create a dazzling variety of resonances, and which inspire the richness of the rest of the piece. Despite its chaotic piling-up of musical material, Tongues of Fire speaks with clarity and immediacy, and the New London Chamber Choir delighted in its sonic diversity.
(Tom Service, The Guardian, 10/9/2003)
The New London Chamber Choir’s programme, under James Wood’s direction, was a highlight of the season… Nuits (1968), a powerful, raw music of primal howls, was performed magnificently… The world première of Wood’s own Tongues of Fire seemed fired with spiritual fervour. Here, choir and percussionists excelled themselves.
(Stephen Pettitt, Evening Standard, 9/9/2003)
And our thanks to those of the audience who expressed their opinions on the BBC Proms website:
Nuits sent shivers down my spine, as the composer managed to encapsulate the screams of a tortured humanity.
Musically this was beyond compare.
Awe inspiring. The music sensational: literally, we felt it through our bodies; the performances all conviction & intensity. The NLCC & Amadinda were electric in Xenakis’ Nuits & Idmen, conveying vigour & passion: an enthralling variety of sound & emotion, unlike anything else in the Proms…. Huge thanks to James Wood for directing with such clarity & commitment. His setting of words on divine inspiration, was wrapt & incandescent by turns.
Kagel at the 2003 Aldeburgh Festival
At Orford Church that afternoon, the festival charabancs drew up for Kagel’s Burleske: another UK première, but this time focusing on the seemingly infinite soundscapes of the human voice. After two days of immersion in the highest of high art-song, it was like a breath of fresh North Sea air to listen to the New London Chamber Choir and Stephen Cottrell’s saxophone, conducted by James Wood, performing this fantasy of tick-tocking time. It was rather like dying and going to a hedonistic corner of a horological hell. ‘Magic words should be spread on bread and eaten like they used to be,’ wrote Kagel. And, after the choir’s teeth, tongues, larynxes and lungs had been thoroughly worked-out in this irresistible burlesque, they took on Kagel’s Schwarzes Madrigal, a phonic celebration of African place names, magicked into sensuous sound-waves.
(Hilary Finch, The Times, 17/6/2003)
Praise too for tremendous performances of taxing choral pieces of Kagel, Ligeti and David Sawer by the New London Chamber Choir under James Wood.
(Evening Standard, 16/6/2003)
… Burleske (2000) and Schwarzes Madrigal (1999), sung by James Wood’s brilliant New London Chamber Choir in the idyllic Orford Church…
(Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 22/6/2003)
Harvey French première
Headline: Fantastic London Choir!
The New London Chamber Choir yesterday produced something of unforgettable beauty. The London choir’s première of a work [The Summer Cloud’s Awakening] by Jonathan Harvey was the highlight of this festival… …There is no doubt that the event of the weekend was yesterday’s concert…
(Nice Matin, 4/11/2002)
Bach at the 2002 BBC Proms
The English Concert Choir, joined by the New London Chamber Choir, combined nobility and tenderness in the meditative choruses…[of Bach’s St Matthew Passion]
NLCC at the Dublin Choir & Organ Festival
This choir, which has a reputation second to none in the field of contemporary music, gives that rarest of impressions in the world of choral singing – of being a group of musicians first and foremost, always attempting to accommodate voice to music rather than the other way around …. The acoustic captured with clarity and resonance the remarkable performances of what is one of the finest active choirs today.
(Irish Times, 25/6/2002)
Harvey première at Oxford
High-tech or baroque, there’s no music too complex for the New London Chamber Choir.
Like the poet pursuing ‘things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme’ the New London Chamber Choir in its 20-year epic journey has defined new areas of achievement. Having no time for any ‘middle flight’ under James Wood’s inspired direction, they have always attempted the most demanding contemporary repertoire – Kagel, Kurtag, Ligeti, Takemitsu and, especially, Xenakis – often commissioning it themselves…
(Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 21/4/2002)
At last year’s Bath Festival, James Wood’s New London Chamber Choir gave a quite brilliant concert that was the high point of a weekend devoted to the music of Iannis Xenakis. Now here comes the recording, and it serves the composer’s craggy, architectural music just as well. … Everything is delivered with staggering virtuosity… and the instrumentalists of Critical Band are just as impressive. A likely disc of the year.
(Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times)
Shostakovich Symphony No.13 at Luxembourg
No question about the quality of the 40 or so gentlemen of the New London Chamber Choir (coached by Jeremy Summerly), seamlessly following up their excellent performance at the 1999 Stravinsky Festival. Intonatiion, text, and vocal power were all there.
(Loll Weber, Luxemburger Wort, 8/3/2000 – translated)
Britten and Birtwistle at Strasbourg
James Wood, qui est le maître d’oeuvre de l’ensemble avait pris soin d’inclure deux oeuvres, aujourd’hui classiques, l’une de Britten, l’autre de Poulenc qui furent, en leur temps, parmi les audacieux rénovateurs du langage musical. Hymn to St Cecilia (de 1942) et Un soir de neige (de 1944) délimitent également les options de ce maginifique ensemble choral. Elles constituaient comme des points de repère dans un programme consacré par ailleurs à Birtwistle, Jonathan Harvey et à James Wood lui-même. On se doute que l’oeuvre de ce dernier constitue à la fois une encyclopédie et une somme de l’art choral contemporain. On reste pétrifié devant la virtuosité avec laquelle les chanteurs de James Wood, maniant presque sans arrêt le diapason, se tirent de difficultés époustouflantes, sans jamais négliger la qualité vocale de leurs inventions, dans une musique évidemment plus atonale que tonale. C’est prodigieux et ce fut régal, même pour les oreilles plus réticentes.
(l’ami du peuple hebdo)
Xenakis at 1997 Bath Festival
…one concert towered above the rest, and it was given by … James Wood’s New London Chamber Choir … choir and composer [Iannis Xenakis] … were received with something like ecstasy, and quite rightly too.
The standing ovation was as much for the choir as for Xenakis
…this group is simply staggering. Over long stretches of time, the integrity of the tuning while not accompanied by any supporting instruments has to be heard to be believed.
Schubert and Janácek at the Barbican
Wood’s New London (Chamber Choir) with Schiff’s exquisitely weighted accompaniments found the full measure of limpid classical beauty in (Schubert’s) Psalm No. 23 – D706, Gott in der Natur – D757 and with soloist Sarah Walker in Ständchen – D920 which was at once repeated.
The choir at once impresses by the vividness with which it treats words and by its intelligent verbal phrasing… it commands a wide dynamic range, thrilling at climaxes… with perceptive tonal nuances.
(Gramophone, about Poulenc CD)
Schönberg at the South Bank
This concert was quite remarkable… James Wood’s New London Chamber Choir… tackled a programme in which Bach, Brahms and Webern formed a sustained upbeat to music by Schoenberg. They did it with all the blithe confidence that this music needs if it is to sound as convincing as it should. More than that, it seemed that every note was in its right place
Kurtág at the Barbican
James Wood’s NLCC made the Opl6 Omaggio a Luigi Nono not only precisely dramatic but quite ravishing… and in the Op23 Choruses after Dezso Tandori … they outshone the original performers by a long way