In the second of a couple of posts, Newbie Lara reflects on her first season as a Pink Singer, and reveals a little bit of choir romance to boot!
My very first rehearsal with the Pink Singers, I remember I’d originally felt so shy and nervous to step into what I’d earlier read to be ‘Europe’s longest-running LGBT choir’ of about 80 members, I almost turned around and went home! Having previously made a habit of keeping myself just a little distanced from the mainstream hubbub of the LGBT community, I was a little unsure and had my reservations about joining such a large choir of its type.
Yet as I approached the rehearsal venue, brain chatter by now in a state of drastic panic and near evacuation, I was immediately greeted by friendly smiles and hellos and introduced to a gaggle of equally timid potential newbies (and I should mention here in a sad attempt to embarrass her, that I have been seeing one of these other newbies for the last few months now and it was one of the most unexpected yet awesome things to happen in my life to date!). We were then escorted into the building to watch and take part in the first rehearsal of the season, and the second I heard the choir burst into a fantastically uplifting rendition of the gospel piece, ‘Joyful Joyful,’ I was hooked! My previous reservations vanished on the spot, particularly after spotting the colour co-ordination of Murray Hipkin’s fabulous bright pink socks and shirt.
As someone who has had quite a lot of choral and singing experience, it’s always fascinating to me to see how different groups operate, and one of the immediate attractions of the Pink Singers was the vast array of different musical styles within the repertoire. From classical Brahms and Mozart, to the show tunes of Les Miserables and Hairspray, across to pop covers of Tina Turner and Elvis Presley, it seems there is nothing this choir won’t try! There is truly something for everyone in the Pinkies, and the choir welcomes people with open arms from all walks of life, whether they have had previous singing experience or not. Whilst I personally aspire to make singing and performance my career, I have felt so humbled to enter into such a loving family of some of the most interesting and inspiring people I have ever met. We have IT consultants, business managers, charity workers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, artists, dancers, and even the odd musician here and there. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you love to express yourself through song, the Pink Singers have a place for you.
My first season has been especially exciting, as this year is an ongoing celebration of the Pink Singer’s 30th anniversary! We started this January with a fantastic first concert in Cadogan Hall to celebrate the choir’s ‘greatest hits’ in conjunction with our brand new CD recording, ‘The Pink Singers, P.S. We’re 30’. This included a whole range of different music specially selected in order to reflect the history of the last 30 years of the Pink Singers, tracing the political, social and cultural changes that affected the LGBT community, alongside the choir’s own development. For me, this gave a whole new meaning to the powerful opening and closing song of the concert, ‘Hand In Hand’, reminding us that historic events and the lives and actions of all people are intrinsically connected.
I have been blessed to grow up in an environment where it is gradually becoming more acceptable to be a member of the LGBT community, a fact that should not be taken for granted. Our hard work this season as a choir, plus all the direction, help and stories emerging from the wonderful committee members and our artistic directors have taught me so much about our brothers and sisters before us who fought hard to get where we are today, and how much work there is still to be done across the world to make our voices heard. Through a cleverly put together combination of photomontages, documentaries, speeches, and different types of live performances (with choreography!), we blew away our audience whilst also moving them to think and reflect. ‘That performance certainly conveyed a message,’ is what my father said after our performance, for which we received a mighty standing ovation! This ability to both entertain and provoke people to think and reflect is one of the most special qualities of the Pink Singers.
I felt honoured to be amongst so many talented new friends in Cadogan Hall and to receive such a positive response, and I’m so looking forward to the rest of the year to come. Happy Anniversary to The Pink Singers I say! Thank you all for making me feel so welcomed, and here’s to the next season ahead!