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North Camden Chorus – a ‘fabulous’ choir’s Christmas

13 December, 2019 — By Michael White

North Camden Chorus community choir; below: Mary Anne Evans

When the travel journalist Mary Anne Evans needed to refocus her life after her husband died a few years ago, she resolved to do three things: improve her French, take tennis lessons, join a choir. And now? “The French is much the same, my tennis is abysmal,” she says. “But I joined the choir and it’s been great, like therapy. I always feel materially better after I’ve been singing: the mere fact of disparate people coming together and making a fabulous sound is somehow very moving. And I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

The choir she joined is the North Camden Chorus, which has its Christmas concert this Saturday. And the fabulous sound is, in all the circumstances, quite remarkable because it’s a community choir with no auditions, open to anyone prepared to commit to the regular Tuesday-night rehearsals at William Ellis School. The school connection has significance in that the choir was founded 25 years ago by a group of William Ellis parents. These days the 80 or so members reflect a wider constituency, and their conductor, Ian Gibson, represents another school altogether, being assistant music director at UCS in Hampstead. But the ethos remains the same. And the standards?

Evans calls them “self-policed, by peer-pressure and conscience. People who aren’t terribly good or don’t get to enough rehearsals tend to drop out of their own accord. There are no hard and fast rules but somehow it works. And I think we are fabulous in our way.”

A good test of fabulousness will be the programme they deliver on Saturday, which is Handel, Bach, Holst and the inevitable Rutter (no escape from him at Christmas).

And if you’re prepared to be amazed, it’s at 7.30pm, Saturday December 14, St Mary’s Brookfield, Laurier Road, NW5 1SL. Tickets on the door or from www.ncchorus.org.uk. £15, £12 conc; wine and nibbles available after the concert.

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