The choir members met each other at 2pm on 21st September, and were coached by John Lubbock, conductor of the Orchestra of St John’s, and his accompanist Derek Paravacini, a virtuoso pianist with severe learning disabilities. After several hours of rehearsals, the singers had become amazingly accomplished in following music and harmonising, even those who had no experience of being in a choir previously. By 7pm the choir were ready to entertain their colleagues and guests from many other local businesses with impressive renditions of Eleanor Rigby, When the Saints Come Marching In, and several choral songs in Latin.
The event was organised by members of Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s responsible business group Reciprocate, with companies buying tables at the evening event, and profits of over £7,000 going to John Lubbock’s charity Music for Autism. John described how he set up the charity after discovering how his own autistic son responded to orchestral music, and a music therapist who has worked with the charity gave a moving account of its work, which uses instrumental music as one of the only ways to connect with the most hard-to-reach children with learning disabilities.
After the choir’s performance a three-course meal was served in the magnificent surroundings of The Orangery restaurant, and a game of ‘Heads or tails’ raised more funds for Music for Autism. Reciprocate Chair Richard Venables addressed guests, and compared the way Reciprocate businesses worked together to the voices in the choir – achieving greater harmony and stronger results by coordinating their efforts rather than singing alone.
Businesses interested in joining the Reciprocate group and taking part in similar events can find out more at www.reciprocateox.org. There is no obligatory cost to joining, and member companies have made pledges for what they commit to doing for the local community, which vary from employee volunteering to fundraising, in-kind or financial support for the charitable sector, or other CSR
initiatives of the company’s choosing.
Companies that took part in the choir were Bicester Village, Blenheim Estates, Lucy, Organisation Unlimited, Oxford Pharmagenesis, Richardsons Chartered Accountants, Royds Withy King, Savills, Unipart, and VSL and Partners.