We were very fortunate that when we moved into our new building in 2007, space was put aside for a music room, and shortly after the move, Norton Rose Fulbright started to provide subsidised music lessons. A choir had always gathered for the Christmas Carol Service, but in early 2010 the carol service choir were persuaded to stay on into the new year, to enter the first Office Choir of the Year Competition. We were runner-up in the Beginner’s Choir category, and taking part gelled the group into staying together on a full time basis.
Two years later, we won the Office Choir of the Year Competition in 2012 and retained the title to become the Office Choir of Year in 2014. We have performed at a variety of different events, both with other choirs and on our own; in our own building and externally, including the Scoop at More London, the City of London Festival and a performance at Waddesdon Manor.
Everyone is welcome to join the choir and there are no auditions to join. We have people of all levels of experience from former choral scholars and people who have had or considered careers as professional musicians, to those who have no previous experience of singing.
We have people in the choir from across the London office. We have senior partners, lawyers, trainees, support staff and people working in HR and IT. One of the great things about the choir is that in rehearsals there is no hierarchy; everyone is in the same position. It has also been a great way for people in different parts of the practice, who otherwise might not have met, to get to know each other. The experience of working together has resulted in a brilliant team spirit and friendships.
How the choir fits in with the life of the firm
We rehearse at least once a week, in the music room in our offices, with breakfast provided to incentivise attendance. We regularly perform at events, such as the annual Carol Service, and at internal functions such as fundraisers. We also regularly sing in the large atrium in our building for people as they arrive at work, and raise money for charity by shaking buckets while we sing. The choir is incredible well supported across the practice, and not just in London; we regularly receive messages of support from our offices across the world.
Artistic successes and failures
The main aim is to have fun, and to ensure that the music we perform is challenging but accessible to everyone, particularly those who don’t read music. We spend a lot of time working on a blended sound, and the togetherness of the group is one of our main successes. There have been tricky moments (particularly with some more difficult items of repertoire in the early days), but we have learned from our experiences over time, particularly in the type of music we perform.
Our chosen charity is the Choir with No Name. This is a charity which provides choirs for people who have experienced homelessness, or are on the edge of society, in a number of locations across the country. The charity was founded on the premise that singing makes you feel good, distracts you from all the nonsense in life and helps you to build up your confidence and abilities. We have supported the Choir with No Name for a number of years, and have regularly fundraised for them. We are thrilled to be able to support them once more.