Croydon choir takes on Gershwin, Porter and all that jazz

Croydon's largest and longest-running choir, is performing a jazz mass this month

Croydon’s largest and longest-running choir, is performing a jazz mass this month

The Croydon Philharmonic Choir is turning to the rhythms of jazz for its next concert, Summertime Blues, at St Mary Magdalene’s in Canning Road on Saturday June 25.

The CPC – Croydon’s largest and longest-running choir – has performed some of the great classical requiem masses, by Verdi, Mozart and Fauré, in the past three years. Now it is singing a jazz mass, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, one of the most dynamic pieces in the modern choral repertoire.

Todd – he was born in Durham in 1970 – set the words of the traditional Latin Requiem to a range of jazz idioms, from swing to southern blues via 1970s funk. Reviewers have praised his composition, first performed in 2003, as “imaginative, unpredictable and full of irrepressible energy”.

Choir members were clearly impressed with Todd’s energy when he led a three-hour workshop at the choir’s rehearsal in Croydon last month. He encouraged them to believe they all had a “jazz gene” within them and at one point had them performing vocal improvisations around sequences of notes. Members commented that it had been an inspiring and uplifting evening.

'Inspiring': Composer Will Todd at rehearsals last month

‘Inspiring’: Composer Will Todd at rehearsals in Croydon last month

At this month’s concert, the choir will be singing two other jazz selections. A six-piece medley from Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin, includes “I Got Plenty of Nuttin’” and “Summertime”.

It will be complemented by three Cole Porter pieces, including “You Do Something to Me” and “Night and Day”.

Soprano Tamsin Stevens will be singing the solo part in Mass in Blue and CPC music director David Gibson will conduct.

CPC accompanist Ian le Grice plays the piano, supported by an instrumental jazz trio.

  • The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 (£6 for under-16s) and can be bought on the door, or in advance on the choir ticket line, 07903 011477.

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