Novem Consort - "A choir of angels"
Novem Consort formed in September 2015 at Southend High School for Girls, Essex. Rehearsing together for just thirty minutes each week, the students work hard to learn demanding classical unaccompanied repertoire for performances in school and beyond, as well as competing in local and national music festivals where they have enjoyed great success this year. Highlights of the year have included receiving The Claire Singers Award for Most Moving Choral Performance at the Southend Music Festival, and their recent performance at the National Festival of Music for Youth at Birmingham Town Hall. The members of Novem Consort change each year with the departure of Year 13 students to University, therefore the dynamics of the ensemble are always changing. Our current members include two members of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and a student at the Royal College of Music Junior Department.
Novem Consort will be performing in the Music for Youth Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 14th November. They also did a lunchtime concert as part of the Free Music Fridays programme at the Verdi Restaurant in the Royal Albert Hall. Novem Consort was lucky to be offered these two opportunities following their participation in the Music for Youth Regional and National Festivals, performing first at Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh, and the Birmingham Town Hall. Only five other ‘youth’ groups have been offered a lunchtime concert opportunity at the Verdi Restaurant, it is therefore a great honour and accolade to be invited to perform there.
Glowing Praise Received for Novem Consort from professional music critic Mark Thomas
“The question is what next for Novem Consort? As a collection of individuals, their academic and career paths will, of course, diverge. Some may become scientists, some may become historians, politicians or diplomats, and some may take up artistic professions. However, this is really a story of collective strength and cohesion as a group. One thing is for sure, they will always have music in their lives and in their souls. You can hear and feel this in their performances, and their recent lunchtime recital at the Royal Albert Hall’s Verdi Restaurant, with surprisingly good acoustics to enhance the choral sound, brought this all into sharp focus. Their varied programme mixed religious and secular pieces, with works from big names like Taverner, Mendelssohn, Poulenc and Sullivan as well less familiar repertoire. There was even a contemporary piece with a poem set to music penned by Tara, one of their number, written for a wedding and which was particularly moving. Presentationally, they strengthened their sense of unity and oneness with coordinated outfits and accessories, with the school crest proudly displayed on their choir folders, and have an assured stage presence to match anyone you are likely to see. Jessica was calm and confident doubling up as MC for the recital, giving fun, informative and articulate introductions to the pieces - a very welcome addition to the whole experience letting us know that we were in safe hands.
But most impressive of all - and this is what matters - was their sound. With a maturity that perhaps belies their years, they have developed a cultured blend with a very fine balance between upper and lower registers. This is where many choral ensembles can fall down, but Novem Consort have absolutely nailed it. You need to have a strong core of middle and lower voices to hold everything together, and with enough subtlety to allow individual lines to come through, and this they did rather skilfully. Their rich and velvety range of inner voices was superbly complemented by wonderfully pure and crystalline sopranos that didn’t overpower but created a lustrous sheen of a sound that meant that you could hear individual melodic lines melding into luscious harmonies effortlessly. This was also more than a recital of just two or three pieces. There were many works performed, and the ensemble kept the concentration and energy levels going right to the very end, which is not as easy to do as it might sound. Make no mistake; this is a quality outfit with a clear love of music, an infinite amount of enthusiasm and great care taken over their preparation and performance. Making no excuses for blatantly using a cliché, Novem Consort really does sound like a choir of angels, bringing us all a little of what we need in our lives - Dona Nobis Pacem!”