Singing is good for your health. Really. All the research says so, and not just the writers of features on Gareth Malone. And it is certainly good for morale.
Our singers have been sighted humming and skipping back to their desks after rehearsals with smiles that might suggest an early exit from the office rather than a late-ish re-entry.
The Travers Smith Choir (not really a name – just a statement of who we are and what we do) began life 15 or more years ago, when the firm’s annual carol service in nearby St Bartholomew-the-Great was first started. The idea was for the firm’s own relatively meagre singing resources to be boosted by musical associates of the founder – former choral scholar Philip Mills, now in-house at PwC – and a group of talented singers led by Rupert Preston-Bell of the BBC (and including the Lawyer’s very own editor) have proved ultra-loyal and are welcomed back every year. They seem to love singing in the glorious acoustic of the abbey church; and they might just like the sausage rolls that come a bit later.
Three years ago the retirement of corporate partner Richard Skelton left us with no very obviously musically talented partner to take over as partner-in-charge of the choir. Someone had to do it, so I took it on: not because I could remotely hope to conduct or accompany, but because I reckoned I could put together an outsourcing contract. Chris Dearmer (deputy director of music at Latymer Upper School) has proved an inspirational conductor and we owe huge thanks to him for his skill and enthusiasm, not to mention his good-natured tolerance.
From time to time, brave souls have whispered two questions. Could we make a decent sound ourselves, without the ringers? And would there be enough enthusiasm and commitment to put together a programme outside of Christmas? I was sceptical on the latter: a church service has hymns and prayers and readings to pad it out, and an hour’s service probably contains only 20 minutes of choir items. You can’t hold a summer concert which is only 20 minutes long.
And then Legal Harmony came along and provided us with the opportunity to test out both questions, and to do it in support of the Travers Smith Charity of the Year, Bowel Cancer UK. Chris has found us a varied repertoire of pieces – Vivaldi, Faure and Billy Joel – which seem to fit our voices well. Much as we love the Christmas favourites, this is something that is really worth doing. Thank you to David Smith of Outer Temple Chambers and to Legal Harmony for giving us the opportunity.