The Bar Choral Society, headed by Tim Dutton CBE QC of Fountain Court, was established in 2014 and has more than 100 members, while the Bar Musical Society, whose secretary is Nikolas Clarke of 4 Field Court, has been going for more than 60 years. Both provide great opportunities for barristers to join forces with like-minded individuals who appreciate choral music and who perform many fantastic concerts. For those that prefer more ‘rock’ based music, Law Rocks! has been going since 2009 and has seen many chambers take part in its now global programme, raising hundreds of thousands for charity.
Legal Harmony launched
I went to a LawRocks! gig at 100Club in 2012 and came out with a crazy notion that I could do something similar, but with choirs. A lapsed chorister, I always had a keen interest in music and had sung in many oratorios and secular concerts when I was younger. I was keen to link a musical passion with my work so, in 2013, Legal Harmony was launched.
More than 25 law firms’ choirs have now taken part in Legal Harmony competitions, including three sets of chambers, 23 Essex Street, 9-12 Bell Yard and Essex Court Chambers, and we’ve raised more than £25,000 for charity. Music sung has been diverse, ranging from Adele to Mozart, Billy Joel to Verdi, Pharrell Williams to Fats Waller and the general spirit has been exciting and fun. Some performances even included highly choreographed dance routines and costume changes.
Word has spread too. In June last year we were invited by the American Bar Association to form a Legal Harmony choir for their Magna Carta celebrations which took place at Central Hall Westminster, a venue perhaps better known for holding the BBC’s New Years Eve concerts over the past two years and the live General Election televised debates last year. Slightly more formal than our competitions, at that event we brought together over 70 choristers from about 10 firms and chambers to sing for our American guests.
We were awarded with a standing ovation and all came out exhilarated. The feedback was so positive we thought we could do something bigger and bolder with several charities benefitting. Central Hall, with a capacity audience of over 2,000 and staging for a large choir and orchestra, seemed the perfect venue, so we set about arranging an event that had never happened before in the legal world: a massed choir of 180 barristers, solicitors and support staff, full orchestra and a headline act to perform and raise money for charity.
On 8 June 2016, a charity music gala will take place at Central Hall with the largest ever (we think) massed choir from law firms. Choir members will come from over 20 law firms’ choirs, sets of chambers and members of the Bar Choral Society. To make the evening extra special, we have brought in a headline guest singer, Lesley Garrett CBE, and the National Symphony Orchestra will provide the musical support. Singing a mix of well-loved songs and opera classics, for two or so hours, we want to create an atmosphere similar to our competitions, but without the costume changes (or dance moves).
We want to raise a huge amount of money for three fantastic charities: London Legal Support Trust, AvMA and Sparks (a charity that raises funds for children’s medical research) will each equally benefit from the proceeds. Each charity fully supports us and has been part of our planning since last June.
Come and support this landmark event. It will be a night to remember. Visit www.legalmusicalgala.co.uk and follow the links for tickets. For those on twitter it’s @musicalgala2016 #justsing2016.
The Bar Choral Society’s next event is on 12 May at Temple Church when they will be singing Brahms Alto Rhapsody, Geistliches Lied, Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (from German Requiem), Elgar Give unto the Lord and Vaughan Williams O clap your hands.
The Bar Musical Society will perform four concerts this year, including Peter and the Wolf narrated by Sir Richard Stilgoe. ●
Contributor David Smith is business development director at Outer Temple Chambers, founder of Legal Harmony and co-founder of Fiscal Harmony for the banking and finance sector.