They’re better known for raising their voices in the court room but now harmony will reign among Britain’s leading lawyers following the launch of the first Bar choir.
Office choirs, said to encourage teamwork and communication skills, have spread across the professions, thanks to choirmaster Gareth Malone’s television patronage.
Now the legal profession has finally got its act together with the creation of a Bar Choral Society. Tim Dutton QC, who pulled the 100-strong group together, argues that there is a “strong link between musical performance and barristers”.
The Bar choir features the talents of Sir Alan Moses, the outspoken Court of Appeal judge. Sir Alan, who delivered a stinging speech titled “What I want to do when I am the lord chief justice” in response to the government’s planned legal aid reforms last year, is said to be an excellent bass.
Instead of Malone, the Bar choir can call on the arranging skills of John Rutter, the internationally renowned conductor and composer of choral works, who has agreed to become its President.
Given the demands on a busy barrister’s time, the choir aims to perform just once or twice a year. rehearsals are underway for the choir’s debut gig at Temple Church on Monday 23 June.
The programme includes excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer. The concert will be followed by a drinks reception in the Master’s Garden.
The choir is still seeking members. In an invitation letter to silks, Mr Dutton wrote: “As some of you will know from conversations over the past months the idea has been germinating that we should form a Bar Choral Society with a view to us having a good quality choir which will enable members of the Bar, of the Judiciary, family members and invited others to sing choral work.
“I am pleased to say that the renowned choral composer John Rutter has agreed to be President of the Bar Choral Society, and that Greg Morris will be the musical director.”
Mr Dutton writes: “The purpose of this letter is to invite you to join or to encourage colleagues who are interested in singing and helping to sustain the Bar Choral Society to join the choir.
“The Society will be funded in due course by a very modest annual subscription, donations and concert receipts. Because Temple Church is making facilities available to the Society we will aim to make contributions to the Church as we grow.”
British lawyers have been somewhat tardy about finding their voice. Last month the 85-voice New York City Bar Chorus, described as the city’s only “all-legal” chorus, recently celebrated 20 years of performing for community causes by inviting the Chicago Bar Association Chorus, for a joint concert in New York. The New York choir’s repertoire ranges from “Queen to Dolly Parton, Gershwin to gospel.”
Malone’s recent Sing While You Work series discovered hidden singing talent at P&O Ferries, Birmingham City Council, Sainsbury’s and Citi, the multinational banking empire.
Workplace choirs reduce stress, increase personal confidence and help employee retention, according to feedback from Music In Offices, a body which has helped set up workplace choirs for a number of City banks.