Founded in 1999, the Oxford-based choir Commotio performs contemporary choral music primarily from the 20th and 21st centuries showcasing works by younger or lesser-known composers. The choir is particularly recognised for its fine tuning, attention to detail and challenging repertoire. The name Commotio derives from the Latin for movement/excitement.
"I defy anyone to sing better than Commotio!" (Bob Chilcott, Composer)
Commotio's latest CD - available now! Recorded in September 2016, this disc represents the first recording of several new works for choir and jazz trio featuring Alexander Hawkins (piano), Raphael Mizraki (double bass), Jon Scott (drums), Sue Greenway (saxophone) and Bob Chilcott (piano). Order from Presto Classical (Click here), Colchester Classics (Click here), or through the choir (Click here).
Our live performance of 'Thou, my Love, art Fair', made during the recording sessions, can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
"There are a number of things about Commotio that I have always found compelling. Firstly, their sound: it is clear and mobile and I never tire of listening to it. Their sound is also consistent, even though the singers change from time to time. The choir work in a very detailed way with their conductor Matthew Berry who encourages honest, good music making with a real focus on intonation. They are an enabled, intelligent group who clearly love what they do." Bob Chilcott, Presto Classical, 11th September 2017
"This is a most enjoyable disc, full of attractive and entertaining music...The jazz musicians are slick, tight and professional. Their contributions seem right on the money to me. As for the singing of Commotio, it’s consistently fine...The choir is disciplined and well-balanced and diction is very good. It’s clear that they’ve been expertly trained by Matthew Berry who on this occasion shares the conducting duties with Bob Chilcott...Buy this disc to blow away the cobwebs and put a smile on your face." John Quinn, Music Web International Presto Classical, October 2017
"Is it jazz? Is it classical? Does it matter? Yes, maybe, and no, are probably the answers. More importantly , this CD swings, and is thoroughly enjoyable...The Blake-inspired Jazz Songs of Innocence...finds the women of Commotio in zesty voice, neatly nailing the syncopations in the faster numbers, and distilling considerable poignancy in The Divine Image...Of the shorter pieces the unaccompanied Weather Report provides the Commotio singers the opportunity to show their paces technically, and they turn in an appropriately dashing performance." Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, November 2017 (Performance 4-stars, Recording 4-stars)
"On the one hand you have a master of melody, and on the other a writer of jazz idioms that hark back to the early days of the King's Singers...Underpinning this is a formidable choral writer. Chilcott's music may be popular and audience friendly, but that in no way diminishes the compositional strength of his unaccompanied works such as Marriage to My Lady Poverty, Thou, my love, art fair, and the humorous Weather Report...Commotio are no strangers to the composer's music and give very persuasive performances." Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir & Organ, November/December 2017 (4-stars)
Next concert - Saturday 2nd December 2017 19:30, St John the Evangelist, 109A Iffley Road, Oxford OX4 1EH
Commotio invites you to start Advent with a superb concert of contemporary choral music. Pärt's Seven Magnificat-Antiphons were written for the RIAS Chamber Choir during the composer's residency in Berlin. During this time, he embraced setting German texts, a contrast to his earlier 'tintinnabuli' choral works which were predominantly set to Latin texts. Using the extremes of vocal range throughout the choir, Pärt invokes a sense of individuality for each antiphon with deceptive simplicity.
Grace Williams' Ave Maris Stella, arguably one of the most astounding and vocally acrobatic British choral works of the 20th century, perfectly evokes the ebb and flow of the sea, in a scintillating setting of this Marian hymn.
Staying true to its mission to promote the works of contemporary composers, Commotio is delighted to present the première of Stephen Montague's Poor baby Jesus, written for the choir and published in Cadenza Music's new anthology of contemporary carols, The Nativity Star. Rupert Jeffcoat's sensitive arrangements of Milhaud's O magnum mysterium and Beata viscera Mariae, from his Cinq Prières, give choral depth to works originally written for soprano and organ.
Several of the works to be performed were originally written for the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. Reminiscent of his earlier Five Carols, Bennett's Lullaby baby is a rarely heard treat, which has only recently been published. Rütti's setting of O nata lux de lumine was also commissioned for King's for the Advent Procession of 2016 and Richard Allain's Welcome all wonders was written for the Collegium Regale (The Gentlemen of the King's Choir). Commotio looks forward to seeing you for an evening of rarely-heard seasonal gems.