FCMG was founded in 1958 to give the first amateur performance of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, and for most of its life has been the most celebrated children’s choir of its kind in the UK. Since its formation it has pursued an ongoing commitment to the commissioning of new music for children’s voices. Composers who have written for the group include Brian Chapple, Malcolm Williamson, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Alex Roth, Piers Halliwell Christopher Gunning and Malcolm Singer.
FCMG is regularly invited to supply the children’s chorus for major choral works, performing frequently with the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Crouch End Festival Chorus, under conductors including Kurt Masur, Matthias Bamert, André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy and our president Sir Colin Davis.
Recent FCMG appearances at the BBC Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, London include Weill’s Propheten (1998); Nielsen’s Springtime in Fünen (1999); Alex Roth’s Earth and Sky (2000) with Joanna McGregor, Britten’s War Requiem (2004), Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (2005), Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ A Little Birthday Music for the Queen’s 80th Birthday in 2006 and Berlioz Damnation of Faust (2008).
Other highlights have included Orlando Gough’s 2001 project for Artangel, Because I Sing; Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortileges and Britten’s Spring Symphony both under André Previn; and High Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris on All Saints’ Day 2003, performing Britten’s Missa Brevis.
In stark contrast, singers from FCMG performed live with Madonna at the Live Earth concert at the new Wembly Stadium in 2007
Many FCMG children have had the opportunity to sing with the English National Opera, the Royal Opera, the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Ballet (for whom FCMG provided the “Snowflake Chorus” for the annual Nutcracker for many years), as well as at opera houses abroad.
FCMG has made recordings for television, radio, film and disc – including a TV musical of A Christmas Carol for NBC starring Kelsey Grammer of Frasier, and an episode of Silent Witness for the BBC – and has led the singing in prestigious events such as the VE and VJ Day memorial celebrations before Her Majesty the Queen.
FCMG has recorded a substantial amount of American Jewish music for the Milken Archive in Santa Monica, California. A 50 CD set from that project was published in 2005 by Naxos and further recordings are still being released as part of an online archive at www.milkenarchive.org
The FCMG Christmas 2004 CD, Bethlehem Down was released on Naxos 8.557581, in aid of Hope. Our previous Christmas collection Little Donkey (1997), under the direction of Murray Stewart, was sold in aid of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Over the last four years the choir has been used extensively to record tracks for Sing Up!, the government initiative to encourage singing in primary schools.
Their 30th anniversary production of Noye’s Fludde was the first fully staged Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and in their 40th anniversary year they took part in the world premiere of the children’s opera Alexander the Great by David Blake, on the island of Lesbos in Greece.
In 2009, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, FCMG commissioned a major new opera from composer Malcolm Singer and librettist Nick Tozek – The Jailers Tale. This was first performed to great acclaim at the ArtsDepot in Finchley and subsequent performances included the Royal Festival Hall.
New members are always welcome to join FCMG. There are four different choirs and the age range of the children is from four to eighteen. The Beginners and Intermediates choirs are open to all. In order to enter into the Senior and Chamber choirs, it is necessary to audition. Children may join FCMG at any time – it is not essential to have passed through the early stages of FCMG in order to audition for the Senior Choir, although having done so will have provided children with a very sound musical basis on which to build. There is an annual Summer School which provides a week of intensive music making at the highest level. Every other year a European Tour enables the children to perform in some of the major cathedrals on the continent and in other prestigious venues.
FCMG is a registered charity. We have no premises of our own, but rehearse in rented space at a North London primary school. Apart from the music staff and a part-time administrator, the choir is very much dependent on parents who voluntarily take on all other aspects of its organisation including fundraising, chaperoning etc. Choir members are charged a fee to cover costs but there is financial assistance available in cases of hardship to ensure that children are not prevented from joining by family circumstances. The children and young people who make up FCMG are drawn from a wide variety of social, economic and cultural backgrounds. There are currently a little over 150 members of FCMG.