A vocal minority – London’s queer choirs

As part of LGBT history month, every Thursday this February we’ll be posting a video from the archive.

Here’s a short documentary filmed in 1994 and presented by Jonathan Reithmueller on the LGBT choir scene in London at the time. Choirs covered include Vocal Minority, Diversity and us Pink Singers. It even features an interview with one of our tenors who’s still in the choir 21 years on, Philip Rescorla.

There’s another scene in London, a scene that not too many people know about, that can be just as fun and a lot more sociable. Welcome to the wonderful world of London’s queer choirs.

(thanks to Proud Voices for posting this)

Singing the Changes

As part of our 30th anniversary in 2013 we created an exhibition telling London’s LGBT history through the choir’s voices.

The whole exhibition including lots of oral histories recorded in video, can be browsed online and, until February 25th, in person at the Barbican music library.

Legends

Popping my Pinkie Cherry…

Paul

Another season is over and we’re almost in the throes of starting our new season in February. In the meantime, our ‘no-longer-a-newbie’ bass Paul reflects on his first performance as a Pinkie following our sell-out Legends concert…

It’s almost easy to forget that the weekly social event where there’s some singing, some dancing and a few beers with amazing people, that I have been blessed to be a part of for the last four months is all actually in preparation for one of the biggest nights in the London LGBT entertainment calendar.

One minute it’s late September and I’m immersing myself in a wad of new sheet music and wondering how the hell I’m ever going to pronounce anything in Latin. Next minute I’m donning a pink rose and stepping out in front of a crowded Cadogan hall, wondering quite how I ended up part of such an amazing family of wonderful people, and putting on a performance that gave me chills.

A small part of me actually doubted whether I could master the repertoire, but looking back, it shows what some excellent direction, a little dedication and lots and lots and lots and lots of repetition can do.  And as soon as the nerves settled, and I got into the swing of the performance, including a fabulously flamboyant interlude from the Mallorcan Gay Men’s Chorus, the devastating realisation occurred that it was about to be all over.

My highlights were certainly the palpable  ‘pin drop’ atmosphere at the end of ‘Both Sides Now’, the ‘thumbs up’ of acknowledgement from John to the choir after conducting the moving performance of ‘Blackbird’ and the audience’s laughter during ‘Gay versus Straight Composers’. it’s these moments that create a high, a bit like a drug and almost certainly as addictive, so bring on season two, I’m ready for my next fix!

Paul

Photo credit: All photos by Graham Martin: www.eventpics.biz

Timeline datestamp: 10 January 2015

Singing the Changes – now at the Barbican Music Library and online

10521446_771690602897583_5242659917220156793_oIn 2013, to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary, we created an exhibition, Singing the Changes, telling the story of LGBT London throughout the choir’s 30-year history.
The heritage-lottery-funded exhibition is now on display at the Barbican centre music library until February 25th.
Featuring interviews with past and current choir members, the exhibition weaves political, social and personal histories together in a new way.
To plan your visit, check the Barbican’s website.

barbican-exhib
Hsien, Ben, Nicola, Kirsten, Jenny and Simon, the install team

 
But that’s not all. The complete exhibition is now also available to view online.
We’ve added comments and feedback that we collected from the initial showings of the exhibitions, too – and you can add your own.
Browse the exhibition online now >>

Learning to Love Mozart

John
John

With just a week to go until the Pinkies take to the stage for our concert, ‘Legends; homage to the greats‘, our lovely accompanist John Flinders, explains why Mozart is one of his favourite musical legends…
When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s Mozart would not have made it onto a list of my favourite composers. I was mostly drawn to the tempestuous works of 20th century giants, especially Rachmaninov and Britten. Rachmaninov’s gloomy nostalgia was an apt accompaniment to my very conventional teenage anguish, whereas Britten’s music seemed to articulate my sense of being an outsider, and the open secret of his homosexuality was obscurely comforting to a boy whose own sexuality was then still very private.
MozartTheir compositions evoked a world of emotions at fever pitch and they moved and excited me far more than 18th and early 19th century music did – Haydn was way too perky; Beethoven too loud and irritable; and Mozart was well, perfect. Everyone said he was a genius, so clearly the worlds had no need of my opinion on the matter. And the very concept of perfect music alienated me; human beings have quirks and flaws and it seemed unlikely that a perfect piece of music would speak to me at all.
It was when I finally began to study his works that I started to realise what I had been missing. His piano writing is challenging yet practical; if I worked hard it was largely achievable. But playing his music requires courage. It is like putting yourself under a magnifying glass – every flaw is exposed. My growing admiration was mingled with a certain amount of fear. A wrong note in the music of some composers passes by without causing too much damage to the overall effect; a wrong note in Mozart is like mud on a diamond. And then I began to accompany singers, and was won over from that moment on – his vocal music simply amazes me. Far from distant or mechanical, it is fascinatingly expressive of human fallibility; it’s the quality of the expression and the composer’s psychological insight that is hard to fault. When he sets a text to music he demonstrates an extraordinary understanding of its emotional content.
MozartTake the Offertorium (a movement from the Requiem which was left unfinished at his death), which forms part of our concert on January 10th. Like many of his compositions it is enjoyable as a purely abstract experience, but if, for example, you explore the words that provoke the viciously angular vocal lines that the chorus has to negotiate about halfway through, you discover that it is a plea for the souls of the faithful to be saved from plunging into hell. It’s a convincing depiction of that almost hysterical prayer and if I feared that fate I’m pretty sure that I would plead hysterically to be preserved from it. I still love Rachmaninov, and Britten, but Mozart’s ability to translate human behaviour into melody and harmony is uncanny – perhaps it is a sort of perfection but it’s one that, despite my youthful expectations, I find more and more rewarding.