Tenor Liang remembers joining the Pink Singers back in 2005, and his experience of Various Voices 2014
Various Voices Dublin 2014, what a blast, what an adventure, what an experience.
Let’s rewind to January 2005. I had just watched a concert by the Pink Singers and thought, these guys are quite good and I want to have a go at it. With no training in music or singing, I joined the choir with some trepidation. Having only done karaoke, this was a new experience for me as the need to cooperate and listen to each other encouraged a sense of togetherness which extended beyond the confines of the singing and fostered a community spirit.
Fast forward to June 2014 and Various Voices Dublin. The festival was looming. With 4 days to go, I was not perfect with the “movements” (greens, Jenny?) to Shine and found myself rehearsing this to passers-by giving me weird looks. Singing in the City was a programme organised by VV Dublin to perform to and engage the public. Our first performance was in this programme at Axis Ballymun alongside the Rock Creek Singers from Washington D.C. It went down a treat and we formed a new mutual appreciation society with our American brothers. You can see a picture of us all together at the top of this post.
With the first concert in the bag, I knuckled down to the remaining three I had to do. In between erecting the exhibition, watching the other choirs, late night partying coupled with early morning rehearsals and meeting friends old and new, this turned out to be an exercise in concentration and application – not something that I was expecting. Singing at 1am as the last act with Pink Singers small group, the Barberfellas, in Spurious Voices was overwhelming and that was the moment when I wanted to crawl away and have a little me time.
Every choir brought its own personality to the festival. It was a joy to be sharing the stage with our fellow choristers. It was an honour to be singing with representatives from Asia where LGBT choirs are barely tolerated in some countries. I laughed at the comedic shows and I cried at the heart rending performances.
Night after night, the Pink Singers took over the dance stage to show off our choreography to Proud Mary, Shine and other songs. There was probably a mole whispering to the DJ to play our songs and in true Pinkie style, we took up the challenge and jumped at every opportunity to strut our stuff, including the ridiculously difficult line dance for 9 To 5. By the 3rd night, the other delegates were joining in with Proud Mary – success!
To fully enjoy VV, you have to embrace the concept, throw caution to the wind, talk to everybody. Be prepared for anything and expend all your energy in the few short days of the festival. Who needs sleep? – we can get that when we return home.
Come the end of the festival, I was exhausted but exhilarated. But the fatigue was what allowed my barriers to break down and let me bare my emotions. I rarely cry but I had shed a few tears here. It was time to go home to recover and revel in the memories of being a part of an event that had brought so many people together in a show of humanity. Various Voices Dublin, I salute you and I look forward to Munich in 4 years.
Don’t want to wait until Various Voices 2018 to see the Pink Singers? Get your tickets now for Notes from a Small Island, our celebration of British composers and songwriters on Saturday 19 July 2014 at Hackney Empire.