This is the first in a series of posts by two choir members, Jo Parker and Lindsey Charles, giving snapshots from the history of Oxford Harmonic Choir in celebration of its centenary. Apart from the choir archives, made available to us by our archivist, Don Marshall, an important source for the years 1921-71 has been the history compiled by Dr Joe Wilson, who kindly loaned his notebooks, with transcripts from the early newspaper reviews, and financial records from 1946 to 1993.
An outdoor rendition of Edward German’s light opera Merrie England on 28 July 1921 was the first reviewed concert in the long series, extending to the present, given by the Oxford Harmonic Choir, and we date our foundation from this event. At that time, the choir was called the Iffley Glee Club and was associated with the Iffley Memorial Institute, which had been set up in 1917 as a tribute to the war dead and to surviving soldiers. One of the Institute’s founders was Sir George Forrest, a retired Indian civil servant, and it was in the grounds of the house he and his wife rented, Iffley Turn House (a Regency villa, now called Grove House, 44 Iffley Turn) that the performance of Merrie England took place.