The sense of anticipation and excitement is palpable as I arrive for our first choir rehearsal since we made it through the semi-finals of the Office Choir of the Year. The thrill of progressing to the finals is still there, but it is tempered with a renewed focus on the work we now have to do so we perform in the finals to the highest level we can.
As I look around the room I am struck by the diversity of our members. From partners (including our Senior Partner) to trainees, PAs to members of HR, fee earners to PSLs, this really is a firmwide enterprise. This is our strength as well as our purpose.
In the same way that the firm needs all these people to work together as a team in order to operate efficiently, so our choir needs exactly the same thing. As part of the choir, we all have a responsibility to each other: we need to listen to each other, support each other, trust each other and believe in each other. We have all been through a masterclass in teamwork over the past 2 months and whatever the outcome in the finals on the 22nd March, I am hugely proud to be part of this team we have built.
Never content to sit still, we start work on a new piece for the finals ignoring the fact that this is an impossibly tight timescale (we are only 3 rehearsals away). "Now is the time," Darron, our irrepressible conductor tells us, "that you need to raise your game… Again!". We spend the next 90 minutes trying to "hum whilst chewing", pronounce Latin and breathe in unison. I leave feeling inspired and energised.
In the semi-finals, our performance was lifted in the finale with the ambience-creating drumming of Marcus Barclay, accompanying us in Adiemus by Karl Jenkins. Never content with the status quo and always looking for ways to add a new dynamic to our performance, for the finals we are hoping to source a string quartet to accompany us. To this end I seem to have spent the week on the phone and email to Singingworks, the firm which runs our choir, trying to work out whether a cello can play a viola part and how we'll ever manage to arrange enough rehearsals!
The Singingworks story is also partly the Olswang story. It's owned and run byHeather Phillips who joined Olswang in 1988 as a newly qualified corporate lawyer. By the time she left in 2001 to start a family, she had been a partner for 9 years. As a keen singer herself, Heather saw the opportunity to provide professionals with something she wished she'd had: the ability to sing in a choir whilst working "lawyers' hours". Without them, Olsang would never have thought of entering a competition, let alone of making it to the finals of one!
As the Office Choir of the Year competition draws to a close, we are contemplating what the choir can do next. One of the great things about the choir is that it enables us to reach out to the wider community as part of our CR programme. Last year we sang in two concerts for the Choir With No Name, a charity which runs choirs for homeless people, and also sang Christmas carols at the Whitechapel Mission, another charity which supports the homeless. We are keen to build on this and to take our charitable ventures further.
Whatever happens at the finals, we had a blast getting here and look forward to what the future may hold for us.
The finals of the Office Choir of the Year Awards are being held at St John Smith Square, Westminster SW1P 3HAon 22 March 2012 at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from http://www.sjss.org.uk/pages/BookingInfo/bookinginfo.htm