David and Rachel Musgrove launched Harlequin Chamber Choir in 2013. A core group of friends and work colleagues were attracted by the idea of setting up an ambitious, small, balanced singing group for confident, competent choral singers.
The bench-mark was set refreshingly high from the outset—with MMus and Phds in Music included, Harlequin surely must have more music degree graduates per head than any other choir out there! Ex-choral scholars from Wells and Cambridge, graduates from music conservatoires and both specialist singing teachers and classroom music teachers all gathered together for the first term of rehearsals. Day jobs also include consultant neural anaesthetist, barrister, solicitor, town planning officer, students, IT consultants and PR consultants. The number of those who enjoy music at an academic level informs everything the choir does, including pub banter.
The choir’s organisational structure has grown since its inception. Catherine Beddison was appointed as our initial music director in 2014. Simultaneously the choir gained charitable status. Rachel Musgrove is the choir’s Chairman and Administrator, David Musgrove is the Treasurer and Peter Larcombe, our Brighton-based tenor, is the choir’s Secretary.
In September 2014 the choir celebrated its first anniversary with a concert at the Electric Theatre in Guildford. Following this Harlequin was invited to perform in the Haslemere Festival and also further afield, as part of the Brandenburg Music Festival which takes place in the Spring across many London venues. Its home turf for these first years has been Bramley Church, as part of its small but prestigious concert series.
At the end of the Summer term, 2015, Harlequin recorded its first cd, Over the rainbow, a selection of songs reflecting its eclectic repertoire. Two years on and the choir is looking forward to recording more repertoire in the Autumn of 2018 with its fully-fledged line-up.
Due to our bass trombonist David Musgrove, the choir has formed a lovely link with the splendid brass ensemble, Surrey Brass. With this sparky group Harlequin sings in sell-out Christmas performances at the enormous Landmark Theatre in Teddington. Christmases have also been spent carol-singing at Leith Hill Place—the National Trust home of Vaughan Williams—and at Petworth House and the children’s ward at the Royal Surrey Hospital.
Harlequin was busy at the beginning of 2016 with its entry into the Manchester Amateur Choral Competition followed by the Choir of the Year Competition, in which its ambitions came a step closer to being achieved when it jointly won its heat. In 2017 it won first prize at the Portsmouth Music Festival.
2017 has been a pivotal year for Harlequin. Now entering our Autumn run we will be saying goodbye to Catherine Beddison after a concert for the Hoddesdon Music Club in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. We wish Catherine every success with her rapidly-progressing teaching career at Cranleigh School. Composer and arranger Tom Lydon will be taking us on for our Christmas run.