Crispin Lewis has conducted his own ensembles many times live on BBC Radio 3 and at London venues including Wigmore Hall; the Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio; Christ Church Spitalfields; the South Bank Centre, Purcell Room; St John’s Smith Square; Kings Place Hall One; St James’s Piccadilly; and St Martin-in-the-fields.

Crispin is the conductor of The Musicall Compass (a specialist baroque ensemble of voices and instruments), Carillon (St Alban’s-based chamber choir), Thurrock Choral Society, Luton Choral Society, and chorus master of Welwyn Garden City Chorus.  He is also regularly engaged as a guest conductor by symphony orchestras, baroque orchestras and choirs.

In recent years, with his ensemble The Musicall Compass, Crispin has produced and conducted many performances in collaboration with contemporary dance choreographers, actors, and with musicians of other genres and disciplines.

After studying violin to postgraduate level at the Royal College of Music, he studied orchestral conducting for three years with Denise Ham in London, and for four summers studied at Canford conductor’s course under George Hurst, Rodolpho Saglimbeni and Robert Houlihan.

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Orchestral repertoire includes:

J.S.Bach: Overtures (Suites ), Brandenburg Concerti, Various concerti; Barber: Adagio for Strings; Bartok: Dance Suite; Beethoven: Symphonies 1,2,3,4,5,7, Violin Concerto, Overtures - Egmont, Coriolan; Borodin: Polovtsian Dances; Brahms: Symphones 1,3,4, Violin Concerto, St Anthony Variations,Tragic Overture, Academic Festival Overture, Hungarian Dances 1,5,6; Bruch: Violin Concerto No.1; Debussy: Nocturnes, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune; Dvorak: Symphonies 8,9, Serenade for Strings, Slavonic Dances Op.46; Elgar: Enigma Variations, Serenade for Strings, Chanson de Nuit, Chanson de Matin, Salut d'amour; Da Falla: Three Dances from The Three Cornered Hat, The Three Corned Hat Suite No.1; Franck: Symphonic Variations; Handel: Concerti Grossi, various concerti, Music for the Royal Fireworks, Water Music; Haydn: Symphonies 99, Seven last words (orch version), Cello concerto in C; Mendelssohn: Symphonies 3 "Scottish", 4 "Italian", Overture and Nocturne from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Violin Concerto, Hebrides Overture Mahler Kindertotenlieder Mozart Symphonies - 35 "Haffner",36 "Linz" ,38 "Prague", 39, 40, 41 "Jupiter", excerpts of Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte, Overtures - Le Nozze di Figaro, Cosi fan Tutte, Der Zauberflöte, La Clemenza di Tito; Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet, Suite no. 2, Peter and the Wolf; Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe Suite No.2, Mother Goose Suite; Rossini: Ovetures - Italian Girl in Algiers, Semiramide, The Thieving Magpie Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 'Organ'; Schubert: Symphony No. 3, 6, 8 Rosamunde Overture, Ballet Music and Entr'acte Schumann Symphonies 2, 4, Piano Concerto; Sibelius: Karelia Suite, Finlandia; Richard Strauss: Don Juan; Stravinsky: Pulcinella, Petroushka (1947 version); Tchaikovsky: Symphony 4, 5, 6, 1812 Overture, Capriccio Italien, Swan Lake Suite; Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, Siegfried Idyll; Walton: Crown Imperial Weber Overture to Der Freischütz.

 

Choral repertoire includes

Bach: Magnificat, B minor Mass, Lutheran masses, St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, numerous cantatas, Christmas Oratorio. Beethoven: Mass in C. Bernstein, Chichester Psalms. Brahms: Ein Deutches Requiem, Liebeslieder Waltzes, Zigeunerlieder. Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb, Saint Nicolas, Bruckner: E minor Mass, F Minor Mass, Motets.  Dvorak: Te Deum, Mass in D. Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius. Faure: Requiem. Handel: Judas Maccabeus, Alexander's Feast, Messiah, Coronation Anthems, Chandos Anthems. Haydn: The Creation, Nelson Mass, Te Deum, Missa Sanctis Brevis, Theresienmesse, Paukenmesse, Seven Last Words. Hummel: Mass in Bb. Mendelssohn: Elijah. Mozart: Requiem, Solemn Vespers, Mass in C minor, Kyrie in D minor, short Masses. Parry: I was Glad, Blest pair of Sirens. Schubert: Mass in G, Stabat Mater. Vaughan Williams, Dona Nobis Pacem, Five Mystical Songs. Victoria, Various Masses, Reuiem Mass 1605. Vivaldi: Gloria, Magnificat.

Crispin has studied singing with teachers including John Wakefield, Graeme Danby and Christopher Field.  He has taken part in masterclasses including with Dame Felicity Lott, Iain Burnside, Christopher Purves and many others. He gives frequent song and oratorio performances as well as taking part in opera.

 

Recent staged-opera productions with orchestra:

2018           Don Alfonso      Cosí fan tutte      Instant Opera

2018           Leporello          Don Giovanni        Instant Opera

2017           Leporello          Don Giovanni        Thames Philharmonia Opera

2017           Sid                   Albert Herring       Oxford & Cambridge Music Club

2016-17       Figaro              Le Nozze di Figaro Thames Philharmonia Opera

Recent Professional Solo Oratorio Engagements as bass soloist:

2018           Fauré Requiem                  All Saints’ Festival Chorus

2017           Messiah                            All Saints’ Festival Chorus

2017           Beethoven Mass in C         All Saints’ Festival Chorus 

2017           Brahms Requiem                Dartford Choral Society

2016           Elijah, Mendelssohn           Dartford Choral Society

2015           Haydn, Creation                All Saints’ Festival Chorus

2015           Mendelssohn, St Paul        Dartford Choral Society

2015           Bach, St John Passion       All Saints’ Festival Chorus

Church singing:

2017-           Professional quartet at St Giles-in-the-Fields, London
2001-17        Professional quintet at the Annunciation, Marble Arch
1998-2000:  Choral Scholar at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Also sung services at St Pauls' Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, York Minster, Durham Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, and at the major London churches.

 

 

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Video and Audio

 

 

 

 

 

Lassus - Lamentations of Jeremiah
with Balkan Folk Laments and improvisations by Moira Smiley
The Musicall Compass,
in a collaboration with Moira Smiley
Director and original concept: Crispin Lewis

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s 1605 Requiem sung in a new collaboration with the improvisations of guitarist Laura Snowden. Live at Kings Place, Hall One, London.

J.S. Bach, Motets, choreography by Julia Pond.

collaboration in which TMC singers form the centre of a new contemporary dance piece

In collaboration with contemporary dance choreographer Julia Pond, the baroque music ensemble The Musicall Compass conducted by Crispin Lewis premieres a new and original production of the J S Bach Motets, in which dancers and singers interact and share the stage. Performed at St John Smith Square, Westminster. Dancers: Melanie Simpson, Nicholas Bodych Sopranos: Emily Atkinson, Claire Tomlin Altos: Cathy Bell, Giles Pilgrim Morris Tenors: David Lee, Robert Jacobs Basses: Adrian Horsewood, Thomas Flint Conductor and original concept: Crispin Lewis Choreographer: Julia Pond www.themusicallcompass.com

Reviews Scrapbook

 

REVIEWS:

Lamentations, at St John's Smith Square. 

The Musicall Compass have undertaken some fascinating projects in the past, combining vocal music with, for example, dance in a memorable performance of Buxtehude’s Memba Jesu Nostri in Christ Church Spitalfields. On this occasion they interspersed the nine five-voice Lamentations of Orlando di Lasso with folk laments from Eastern Europe, sung by Moira Smiley. Written to be performed during the three days leading up to Easter, the Lamentations set verses from Jeremiah’s rather morbid reflections on the decline of Jerusalem: ‘How doth the city sit solitary .. she has become a widow’. Three settings are sung on each day, each finishing with the lament Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum (Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God).

A distinctive feature of Lamentations by all composers is the included of the alphabetic Hebrew letters that started each verse in the Vulgate Bible (Aleph, Beth, Ginel, Daleth etc). In the case of Lassus, these little miniatures offer delightful little essays in counterpoint. The five singers of Musicall Compass stood on the highest step at the back of the St John’s, Smith Square stage, with director Crispin Lewis conducting sideways on from one side. The nine Lamentations and the interspersed folk melodies proceeded without interruption. The folk laments came from Bulgaria, Hungary, Bosnia, Ukraine, Macedonia, Croatia, Herzegovina and, curiously, Appalachia. With the exception of the latter, these cultures have benefitted from an enormous number of influences, including Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. The resulting musical mix is compelling, particularly in the first few songs with their distinctive ornamentation, ‘catches’ in the voice, and whoops.

The evening started with Moira Smiley singing from behind the audience, later moving to different positions for each one. She also included an accordion and banjo for occasional accompaniment, and once added her plaintive voice to one of the Lamentations. The laments were generally about love, rather than any religious yearnings, but were full of the similar intense expression of Jeremiah’s woe. Moira Smiley’s voice is delightfully stable, combining ‘early music’ vocal style with folk. Her subtle stage presence was well thought out and effective.

Crispin Lewis’s conducting was attractively unobtrusive. He focussed on the emotional and expressive nature of Lassus’s extraordinary setting, which uses word-painting on every opportunity.  The five singers sang with a lovely sense of consort, each voice melding with the others. Lassus often uses variations of texture, including smaller groups of singers, to reinforce the text, so the ability of individual voices to blend in different groupings is important.

Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Reviews. www.andrewbensonwilson.com

 

From Early Music Review, The Musicall Compass' new dance collaboration on Bach's Motets:

Motets and Dance

St John’s, Smith Square (26 Oct) was the venue for a concert combining music and dance, with The Musicall Compass following on from their similar take on Buxtehude’s  Membra Jesu Nostri in Christ Church Spitalfields in 2009.  This time it was five Bach Motet that were the musical focus.  What was noticeable about this presentation was that the choreography infused the whole performance, the eight singers and conductor of The Musicall Compass slowly moving around the SJSS stage while they were singing - they started in the back corner of the stage, facing away from the audience.  In Jesu meine Freude, two of the singers pealed away from the choir to join the two dancers.  Only in the very last piece was the normal stage format reached, with the conductor centre stage.  

The five Motets were sung without an interval, and we were asked not to applaud until the end.  The eight unaccompanied singers produced an excellent consort sound, with well-blended voices and no interfering vibrato, and with particularly fine contributions from the three female singers, sopranos Emily Atkinson and Claire Tomlin, and also alto Cathy Bell.  Their fine blend was helped by the fact that the director, Crispin Lewis, kept their voices at a gentle level, with no attempt at forcing the voices - a very welcome change from the many ‘belt-it-out’ vocal groups. 

Julia Pond’s choreography was flowing and coherent, the mood of the two dancers ranging from exuberance to gentle intertwining in a series of evolving tableaux, some evoking recognisable baroque sculptural groupings, for example, a couple of Pietás.  The dancers frequently immersed themselves within the choir, moving with them as they slowly changed position, often carrying the conductor’s music desk desk with them.  A video of the performance can be found at https://vimeo.com/53191787

Andrew Benson-Wilson

 

From The Times, of the Musicall Compass' production of Dido and Aeneas at the Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio Theatre.

   'Their light touch and airy élan certainly showcased the sparkle in Purcell's music, right from the first notes of the evening's curtain-raiser...finger perfect, always eloquent. “

 

Of The Musicall Compass' new dance collaboration on Bach's Motets:

"When Baroque met contemporary dance in a unique collaboration at St. John Smith’s Square:   Choreographer Julia Pond and Conductor Crispin Lewis of the baroque music ensemble, The Musicall Compass, teamed up at the St. John Smith’s Square’s ravishing concert hall on October 26th to put together a night of contemporary dance and JS Bach’s motets. The motets were sung one-to-part and a capella by eight singers who were joined on stage by two dancers, Mel Simpson and Nicolas Bodych.

In this rare performance, the dancers not only performed on stage with the ensemble but danced with them as well.  The Bach motets filled the hall with such wonderful buoyancy and delicacy that it was easy to see how Pond’s contemporary choreography could lend itself well to these classical compositions. The dancing on stage was fluid and Lewis’ choir was exceptional. They were completely in synch and harmonised beautifully together. It was really neat to see the choir actually start to move together with the dancers which is something you do not see every day in such a traditional concert space.

One of the highlights for me was when two of the singers broke off unexpectedly from the choir and started to join the dancers attempting to imitate their graceful movements. It brought quite a comedic moment to the piece and showed both a sense of humour and theatricality. When I asked Julia what inspired her to collaborate in such a classical setting she said “I was really excited about the piece because working with dancers and musicians is something I love and this was a chance to do it in a very interesting way”.   A collaboration of this kind is interesting for sure and also full of potential.

Conductor Crispin Lewis seeks “to explore the possibilities of interaction between musicians and dancers” and if one of his objectives is to spread the beauty of baroque music to a wider audience, I think he is moving in the right direction."  Melissa Palleschi for HackneyHive

 

"This was a fine evening where practitioners of movement and song rose to meet the standard of Bach." Malcolm Eadie for Remotegoat

 

Of The Musicall Compass’ sell-out debut production at the Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio:

 

" Their light touch and airy élan certainly showcased the sparkle in Purcell's music, right from the first notes of the evening's curtain-raiser.  Trumpeters were fearless...cello sang out, finger perfect, always eloquent. "  The Times.

 

Of The Musicall Compass’ new production of Haydn’s Seven Last Words

"Performed in every alcove of the novel venue...the concept was refreshing, the performers slick and skillful" -The Londonist

 

"With St James's Church Piccadilly as the backdrop, this evening of classical music, poetry and dance was already set to be pretty epic...   The Musicall Compass, the period ensemble who performed Haydn's work, was an 18 instrument group who are well worth tracking down as they perform in lots of different venues around London. 

Directed by Crispin Lewis, their seven orchestral movements were flawless, and complimented the setting, dance and poetry to a T.   Their decision to stage an updated version of a work that would usually only be seen within a religious context was a very welcome one." - RemoteGoat

 

Of The Musicall Compass' new production of Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri:

 

"...one of the most exciting events of the year so far"

"...played beautifully by a band who were seated in front of the altar facing away from the audience so that director Lewis could see the dancers as well as the musicians and this had a very nice, and perhaps unintended effect on the sound quality; it was integrated and harmonious, more than I have sometimes heard it in more conventional settings. After the introductory movement, the band began to disappear gradually up into the northwest gallery, where, by the end of the piece, they were making a truly wonderful sound."

"The singers were magnificent performers. Not only were they responsible for a lot of clearly enunciated and beautifully modulated sound, often a long way away from both band and conductor, they acted and interacted with the dancers, involved in the movement, moved by and moving the dancers, singing from the floor and processionally. Perhaps the movement highlight was Chris Wardle and Christopher Bowen picking Lucy Anderson up and carrying her slowly out of the nave. Claire Tomlin sang with amazing tone and purity notwithstanding being nine months pregnant..."

"Musically I think purity was the hallmark of the evening. Played and sung in an entirely unaffected manner, the performance seemed effortless in many places, with the players obviously owning the piece and relaxed with it."

"This was an excellent evening, one that brought much more than I expected in emotion, clarity, complexity and in being memorable. This performance deserves a repeat and would work well in many churches. This Lewis/Meredith collaboration has succeeded superbly and one measure of that was how, gradually, slowly, they won the audience and received an enthusiastic and long ovation that was well deserved."

from Colin Wills' reviews on "wineBarre"

 

Of a Thurrock Choral society performance conducted by Crispin Lewis

…the performance of the Faure Requiem was one of the most moving accounts I have ever heard

Richard Wade, Thurrock Gazette, 2012

 

Of a performance of Mozart by Chiltern Sinfonia conducted by Crispin Lewis

...a vivid performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, the ‘Jupiter’. Here the reduced string numbers gave a welcome feeling of chamber music to some sections of the slow movement, whilst the almost Beethovenian energy of the outer movements and the Minuet was powerfully realised under Crispin Lewis’s baton. A joy to hear.

Richard Wade, Thurrock Gazette, 2011  

 

 

Of a production of Britten’s ‘Noye’s Fludde’ with combined schools 

(Director - Orpha Phelan, Conductor - Crispin Lewis)

 

You have changed the lives of at least 1,000 children and brought tears to our eyes’. 

Philip Langridge CBE, Tenor

 

‘Thank you for doing so much to inspire so many people of all ages. I was completely bowled over by it’. 

Lenore Reynell, Purcell School

 

‘I was absolutely gobsmacked by Noye’s Fludde. I’d been expecting something well-meaning for the kiddiwinks and lo! It was spectacular wherever you were starting from’. 

Katharine Whitehorn, Journalist.

 

‘You must be proud’. 

Tim Piggot-Smith, Actor, voice of God.

 

‘I think all you are doing is wonderful’. 

Patricia Routledge, Actress

 

‘Immensely impressive and a really moving experience for children and adults alike’. 

Deborah Rees, Music Service, Camden.

 

‘Really lovely’. 

Janet Suzman, Actress. 

 

‘You managed to create and co-ordinate professional performers and so many children into such a harmonious whole - amazing. A wonderful performance - I hope you will do another one.’ 

Alasdair Palmer, Journalist.