The group was formed originally in 1971 with friends getting together to sing Christmas carols to the accompaniment of an antique portable harmonium. The instrument itself has long been left behind but the group has gone from strength to strength and established itself as a successful local chamber choir.
Often singing without accompaniment, the Harmonium Singers specialise in smaller-scale choral repertoire from the 16th century to the present day, both sacred and secular. Thoughtful sequences of words and music with a particular theme or spiritual dimension have become a feature of programmes. The group often performs for local community or charity events.
Accompanied by orchestra, instrumental group or organ, the Singers have also given successful chamber performances of more substantial choral works. These have included the Handel Coronation Anthems, the Requiems of Fauré and Rutter, Stainer’s Crucifixion, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Credo, the Haydn ‘Little Organ Mass’ and Schubert’s Mass in G. The group has twice sung in Andover's twin town Redon in north-west France, and over the years has appeared with Carlo Curley, Jon Pertwee, David Owen Norris, Gabriel Woolf, Test Valley Brass and the Army Air Corps Band. A first performance at Winchester Cathedral took place in March 2004 as part of a charity event with the Hampshire Ex-Servicemen’s Concert Band. The choir has twice collaborated with the period orchestra Linden Baroque in concerts featuring Purcell, Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.
Bruce Randall has directed the Harmonium Singers since the 1980s, covering a wide range of largely unaccompanied repertoire from the 16th to the 21st century in venues ranging from village halls to Winchester Cathedral. He has also directed larger scale choral performances with orchestral forces, including Andover’s millennium ‘Credo’ concert in 2000 and the Andover Choral Society.
Bruce is also organist and choir director at St John the Baptist RC Church in Andover, and has studied the organ with Robert Fielding at Romsey Abbey. Although from a family of music teachers he chose to study applied physics at Durham University, later becoming a chartered engineer working in broadcasting and communications.
Tim James, a retired GP, has sung with and often directed the Harmonium Singers for over 30 years. A Welsh tenor, Tim has wide experience in choirs of all sizes and as a soloist. His particular focus with the Harmonium Singers is in promoting consort singing, with the aim of developing voices in small groups where greater confidence and accuracy are required. Tim steps in to take full choir rehearsals when Bruce is unavailable.