ABOUT THE CHOIR
The London Adventist Chorale was formed in 1981, to bring together and develop the latent talents of singers from various Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Its current principal conductor is Ken Burton, who has conducted the choir for over two decades.
The choir's first artistic director was the late John Tolman, who laid out the vision for the choir: high-standard performance of varied and challenging sacred repertoire, with a heavy leaning toward a cappella music. Fundamental to the original vision was that the choir would be of a standard to 'stand before kings and queens', a statement borrowed from a Bible verse.
Throughout its years, under several directors including Derek Hoyte and Tina Brooks, this dream has been realised; the choir has made a strong impact on the choral world internationally through its moving performances, combining, as one music critic put it, 'discipline with fervour'. Its repertoire over the years has included music in Hebrew, African-American Spirituals, close harmony, and Western choral music from Renaissance through to new commissions.
The Chorale's performances have been experienced by tens of millions world-wide on stage, screen, recordings and radio appearances. The choir has performed in most of the UK's major performance venues. Among the many notable venues and performance are Blenheim Palace in the presence of former US President Bill Clinton, Buckingham Palace on the occasion of Her Majesty The Queen's Golden Jubilee, Toronto's Sky Dome before an audience of seventy thousand, and BBC Proms concerts. Its performances very often receive long standing ovations, and one Times reviewer was so taken aback, he wrote in the newspaper that he had found 'the perfect choir'.
In 1994, the choir won the prestigious 'Choir Of The Year' title, and was awarded BBC UK Gospel Choir Of the Year by the BBC a year later. Even to the present day, many of the UK's choral directors have verbally stated that the London Adventist Chorale has had a profound effect and influence on the UK choral scene. By way of example, it is not uncommon to see the inclusion of African-American Spirituals - a genre which has been almost unilaterally preserved in the UK by the Chorale - on choral programmes and in competition repertoire. The choir has worked in collaboration with a number of notable artists including Bryn Terfel CBE, Sir Willard White, Larnelle Harris, Wynton Marsalis, Wilhelmenia Fernandez and Lesley Garrett.
The choir performs yearly Christmas concerts at the Clonter Opera Theatre and celebrity chef Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons. It has also been involved with the Kijani Kenya Trust which raises funds for HIV,Aids and Conservation projects in Kenya, through a high-calibre music festival and ongoing education programme.
Recordings to date include the debut album 'Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus', 'Deep River', 'Steal Away' (EMI), 'and 'Live In Australia'.
Ken Burton is a choral and orchestral conductor, composer, arranger, judge, educator, presenter and performer, with his musical activities experienced in churches, to those in challenging situations (health, incarceration, poverty) on stage, on printed page (Edition Peters,Faber,OUP, Walton, RSCM and his own Voquality Music) , on numerous regular television and film screens - among them Oscar, Grammy and BAFTA winning films and programmes, in educational institutions, and on recordings,
He read music at Goldsmiths' College, University Of London. Immediately after his studies, he was appointed chorusmaster and director of the chamber choir at the same, covering music from the Renaissance to contemporary Classical. Parallel to his Classical music-making was his regular activities in gospel and other sacred music genres. As a child, he was actively involved with his church choirs which covered a wide range of genres from anthems to contemporary gospel. This, as well as coming from a large family which would sing every morning and evening in family worship sessions, would foster his great passion and appreciation for choral music, and diverse genres.
In 1985 he was appointed musical director of his church youth choir, which developed into the well-known Croydon SDA Gospel Choir, which, in addition to numerous prestigious concert appearances and broadcasts, was a runner up in the 1994 Choir Of The Year, wowing audiences with its innovative approach to gospel. In 1990, he was appointed musical director of the London Adventist Chorale, winner of Choir of the Year in 1994 (Burton was in charge of two of the three finalists!). The Chorale occupies a unique place in the British choral world, with an approach inspired by the African-American university choirs, themselves continuing on a foundation laid by the Fisk Jubilee Singers - a choir founded in the nineteenth century which combined Western choral idioms with African-American repertoire. In 2002, Burton conceived the Adventist Vocal Ensemble - which allowed him to pool singers, mostly from both aforementioned choirs,under a neutral name, mostly for BBC Songs Of Praise broadcasts. The ensemble has performed hundreds of songs for the programme, and is regularly featured, and regularly performs for the Easter and Christmas Radio 2 Good Morning programmes. Out of the ensemble came the male quartet Tessera, which has also made regular appearances on Songs Of Praise.
As a composer and arranger, Burton has written for both instrumental and choral forces. In 2005, he composed and arranged Soul Symphony, a suite of orchestral and choral music which he conducted at Symphony Hall, with the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
He also conducted, as a guest, BBC Concert orchestra and Orchestra Of The Swan, among others, and conducted the 60th Handel Messiah performance at the 3,000 seater Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington DC. This church is home of international gospel composer and singer Richard Smallwood. He made his Proms conducting debut in a concert by the London Adventist Chorale, in 1996.
As a judge, Burton judges regularly for Choir Of The Year, was 2016 judge on Songs Of Praise: School Choir Of The Year, one of the judges for the BAFTA nominated 2013 series The Choir: Sing While You Work, and has, on several occasions, adjudicated Young Chorister Of The Year.
As a presenter, he was a guest presenter on BBC Radio 3 The Choir, where he explored ways in which gospel choral music combined with different genres. He presented two nine-part series of an online TV broadcast Music In My Life - where he interviewed and interacted with various Christian music artists from across the continent.
JOIN LONDON ADVENTIST CHORALE
Interested in Joining?
You can enquire at any time.
(Please note you will be unable to apply unless you meet the following requirements:)
1. You must be a full member of the worldwide body of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. (Baptised, with active membership). It is not necessary for your membership to be currently in the UK, but you will be required to confirm membership.
2. You must be independently able to travel. Minimum age 17.
Entry is by audition only. The audition requires performance of two pieces: a sustained tune to show techniques necessary for singing in a choir such as sustaining, holding tuning, not pushing the voice, phrasing, diction etc… , and a second song of the candidate’s own choice to show personality.
There will also be extensive tests to demonstrate the ability to blend with the choir’s existing sound, understand the type of repertoire (which uses occasionally complex intervals and rhythms), and the speed at which things are picked up once heard.
Confident and experienced singer.
Comfortable and technically able to sustain long lines. (The London Adventist Chorale sings little contemporary gospel)
Sight singing is not necessary, but will most likely be a useful skill, as there will be a lot of repertoire to learn.
Flexible voice which can sing Classical, a cappella Spirituals, close harmony, contemporary gospel.
Rehearsals are mostly on two Sundays of a month, at the Advent Centre, London. You are allowed to have a life :-) However, you should be generally available, or have flexibility to be available, on Sundays (the specific Sundays may change, and will be given in advance).
Performances take place around the UK, and internationally on any day of the week. Many are at the weekends, but some are during the week.
In addition to full rehearsals, additional sectional rehearsals are held.
The London Adventist Chorale is partly a ‘music ministry’; it is not simply about performance, but an understanding of the message, and an understanding that rehearsals are not solely musical, but incorporate theological discussion and worship.
The London Adventist Chorale does not have a subscription system, however singers do join on an ‘amateur’ (voluntary, non-paid) basis as individuals.