VIDEO OF LIVE PERFORMANCE
Croydon SDA Gospel In Poland
He'll Never Let Go Of Your Hand
Produced by tedMedia.
Featuring Helena-Jade Simpson
OTFORD METHODIST CHURCH, KENT
June 17, 2017
VIVALDI GLORIA WITH LONDON MOZART PLAYERS - CROYDON
ABOUT CROYDON SDA GOSPEL CHOIR
The Croydon SDA Gospel Choir is quite unique. It posses the heart and soul, the vivacity and energy of a gospel choir, yet a diversity which is hard to find elsewhere. After all, where else are you going to find a choir which the press describes as giving a "superlative performance" of.... an eighteenth century Classical piece of music, sung in Latin with an orchestra?The choir's ethos is to be different, to stand apart from the crowd, not for its own sake, not to say 'we are different', but because it believes passionately that it has been placed in this world for a purpose - and that is to reach people of diverse backgrounds and differing situation. The choir seeks to reach the very churched, the deeply theological, yet seeks to reach out to the soul who is hurting, the one that needs to hear a message of hope, that dark place which needs some light.
The Choir was formed as the Croydon SDA Youth Choir in 1979 to bring together in one place the latent talents of the young people of the church. It changed its name eleven years later, not simply because the singers had grown up, but in recognition of its mission. A number of the original members still sing with the choir some three decades later. The choir's longevity is a testament to how much it means to the individuals who sing in it. What makes the choir story so interesting is that the singers were never initially auditioned - it was very much a case of "come with willing hearts". Yet the choir's progress and development have been a powerful testament to the work ethic laid down by its original pioneers, and the tremendous support and encouragement it has received over the years from members of the Croydon Seventh-Day Adventist Church, its home base in South London.
In addition to singing for services ,concerts and mission based performances to homeless and shut-ins, the choir has an impressive history of album recordings, appearances on television and radio, and international performances in both Europe and USA. The choir's progress can also be tracked through its progression in the national UK choral competition Choir Of The Year. In 1988 and 90, the choir entered the competition, progressing no further than the initial audition stages, however they saw this as a means to really work on becoming a better choir. In the following competition in 1992, the choir progressed further to the televised stages, and in 1994 was one of three finalists. The winning choir was its sister choir, the London Adventist Chorale, which shared a number of singers with the choir. in the competition. The fact that two out of three choirs in one of Europe's most prestigious choral competitions were sacred music choirs from the same denomination had a major impact on the choral , not to mention the religious world, which had often seen the Adventist faith as rather cut off from the mainstream.
Floods of requests from television, radio and concert organisers came in following the competition, including a request from HTV television for the choir to present its own 30 minute programme as part of the Swansea Festival. In addition, the choir was invited to two Royal Gala television programmes, including the 1995 LiVE for Peace. which took place on a special bank holiday to commemorate VE Day. Following that performance, when conductor Ken Burton was presented to HRH Prince Charles, a CD of the gospel choir was given to the Prince. A few weeks later, there was a letter sent from Prince Charles to the Choir to say how much he had enjoyed listening to the CD.
Legacy is important to the choir. Indeed it was the older generation who paved the way, and many of the choir members are now parents, and grandparents; paving the way for the next generation is important. Two ways in which the choir is creating a legacy is through its regular recording programme, and in its singing of original material.
Its musical director, Ken Burton, is a professional international choral composer and conductor, with music published by major publishers, and much of his choral output has been songs which were originally written for the Croydon SDA Gospel Choir. The choir's repertoire is such that it could easily be said that it is one of the most diverse gospel choirs in the world. It is at home with a piece from traditional choral repertoire and contemporary gospel. It has sung original 19th century style pieces in Latin, combined Mozartean Classical with foot-stomping gospel, performed hymn arrangements with a Latin American flavour in Spanish, embraced repertoire from the Yoruba (Nigeria) and Chichewa (Malawi) traditions, sings a setting of a piano piece by Polish composer Chopin, and the list goes on. It performed concerts of the Baroque Work Gloria by Vivaldi with the London Mozart Players, and the press described it as 'superlative'. In addition it has performed works from Messiah with the Royal Philharmonic, as well as working with Jazz and Classical giant Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. It has sung with the BBC Big Band, and various BBC orchestras.
The choir has been a part of a number of interesting television programmes. Flashmob: The Opera took place and was broadcast live from a West London train station on BBC television; the choir was part of this piece of history, performing opera choruses including a reworded version of Va Pensiero from Nabucco.
The choir was also part of Eastenders , one of the main soap operas on UK television. It was actually part of a storyline (though, of course, not under its own name) and appeared the programme on the biggest viewing day of the year - Christmas Day. The story literally did not end there, as the choir was invited back to the programme to perform at another wedding. The director of the programme had actually purchased his first gospel album which was the choir's 1997 release, The Very Best Of Gospel, and established a relationship with the choir, whom he invited to perform its own music at a village mystery play.
The choir has recorded and released nine albums to date: Until We Reach, Perfect Love, The Very Best Of Gospel, The Praise Shall Never End- a worship collection , Because Of Calvary, Love Without End, Advent Songs Vol 1: How Far From Home, Advent Songs Vol 2: We Are Nearing Home, and Sounds Of Gospel.