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de Merc Chamber Choir
History

 

The de Merc Chamber Choir was originally founded by Derek Harrison and Michael Frith in 1973 and initially called "Harlow Chamber Choir".  The choir was re-named after the de Merc family, who had been tenants of the Norman baron Eustace of Boulogne, who had settled in the Harlow area in the 11th century after the Conquest. The name survives as "Mark" in many places in Harlow, like Mark Hall, which burnt down but whose outbuildings still survive as the Museum of Harlow.  The church of Mary Latton was in the Hall grounds and ancient cellars and passageways still connect it with the Museum.






Derek and Michael were later succeeded by Richard Latham and from 1992 by Jeremy Rowe.  After Jeremy, de Merc was jointly run by Fergus Black and the late Adrian Jolliffe, and then by Adrian and Kathleen Berg. It was under Adrian that the choir evolved into a specialist a cappella group, exploring a very broad, innovative and mainly secular repertoire, which was challenging and engaging for singers and audiences alike.




The choir’s repertoire was further expanded under Phil Cowling, who had stepped into the breach when Adrian was no longer able to continue.

Richard Brain took over the baton in September 2012, he consolidated the work of his predecessors whilst introducing fresh musical material and new concert venues.

September 2017 de Merc welcomes Alison Smart Fisher as their new musical director, taking over from the highly successful Richard Brain.




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