Rachel and Steve look back on some of their favourite Christmas memories and let us know what songs are spinning in their house over the festive period!
Rachel – Soprano
I rejoined the Pink Singers after parental leave this season because Christmas is my favourite time and I love Pinkie sparkle and joy. I am ridiculously happy to have been rehearsing Christmas music since September. I seriously love Christmas and like making the second half of the year about enjoying preparation. I have a Christmas cupboard that operates all year round, I buy Christmas presents by August at the very latest, and start Christmas cake production every September. We have many as we give them as gifts to family – plus we always eat at least one ourselves by November. Advent is an important lead up, and as a family we open the advent calendar, with an advent (not Christmas) carol playing and sparkly lights.
I proposed to my wife by hiding a ring in our advent calendar – and made sure to keep the chocolate in the ring box too so she was not deprived! Last Christmas was spent in the maternity ward and we had abysmal food, but two days later our wonderful little girl was born, tiny and miraculous. This year we will have our first Christmas as a family and the food will no doubt be better too.
I will never forget our family Christmas lunch when mum had brought crackers containing tuned hand bells, with special ‘simple-to-read’ musical scores. We were in tears of laughter as we took it turns to ring-out favourite carols, but not necessarily in the right order!
We take a look back on some of our singers favourite Christmas memories and we find out what Christmas songs they love the most!
Pippa – Alto
My favourite Christmas memory is having my younger cousin over for Boxing Day dinner. He was a very picky eater as a child, so we ended up having a very luxurious meal of hamburgers, hotdogs, and chips. It has now become a tradition in our family to focus on the quantity, rather than the quality of the food during Christmas – as long as there is much of it, it can go onto the Christmas table.
One of my fave Christmas memories took place two years ago. Close to Christmas my grandma turned 80 and my family (typical huge Spanish family) organized a surprise birthday celebration for her. All my aunts and uncles plus all her grandchildren were there. We organised a mass in her honour (she has always been a devout Catholic) and one of my uncles took her to the church without any prior notice. When she got there all of us were already waiting for her, and then I read one of the passages for the celebration (she was in absolute shock to see me, because she thought I was in London and that I was not going to return in at least another week). Afterwards we went to our family cottage and spent the day all together. We ended up singing around a bonfire at night (there are some good singers in my family!) It was definitely one to remember
Manuelle’s top three Christmas songs:
So we have this family Christmas “tradition” to end up singing after dinner. One song they always ask me to sing is “Volver” (not a Christmas one, but my family loves flamenco)
Louise Maquelle – “Noche de Paz” is def one of my fave Spanish carols of all time!
Mariah Carey – “All I Want for Christmas”
Don’t forget to grab your tickets here for ‘Sleighing It!’ on Saturday 15 December at Cadogan Hall.
You still haven’t got your tickets to our concert yet? Well check out our quick Q&A to find out why this is a show not to be missed!
1. Cadogan Hall is a spectacular venue for a Christmas concert. How many Pink Singers will be taking to the stage?
There are over 80 Pink Singers, plus 45 from Burntwood School, our orchestra, and all the backstage staff. The venue itself provides a beautiful acoustic stage for the choir, which is enhanced by entertaining visual treats and our world-famous choreography.
2. How long does it take the Pink Singers to prepare for a concert like this? Is there a lot of rehearsal time?
We started work in September, so there are a lot of words and music to learn in just three months, and then on top of that there are the dance routines! We meet in London every week for four hours of intense, but immensely uplifting rehearsal.
3. Is this the kind of Christmas concert where the audience will be singing along?
Oh yes. Many of the songs will be familiar from the titles, but we think our arrangements – many of which are created by Pink Singers members themselves – will be a beautiful surprise. The harmonies we can produce transform some of the traditional Christmas jingles into spectacular numbers.
4. Are there any ‘non-negotiables’ when it comes to deciding the program for this Christmas concert? Are there any songs that have to be included or any that absolutely can’t be included?
Our two main aims are to create a ’tinsel-tastic, jingle-belling, Christmas-cracking’ show, while at the same time having the most fun in rehearsing every number to perfection. Our musical choices will have to fulfil those two aims.
5. Will there be a rendition of Mariah’s classic?
That’s for our audience to find out … but needless to say we have plenty of Mariah fans in the choir!
6. Do you have to be a great singer to be part of Pink Singers? If someone was interested in joining, how would they go about it? Should it be on their list of New Year’s resolutions?
We have some really great singers in the choir, but anyone who can sing in tune and pass our simple audition will find that – no matter what their musical experience – the friendly nature of the choir means that you will soon pick up the tools and techniques you need. Put our web site on your New Year’s resolution list, and you could join us for our next fantastic concert.
Grab your tickets here for ‘Sleighing It!’ on Saturday 15 December at Cadogan Hall.
In the run up to our winter concert ‘Sleighing It!’, Debbie Lammin (Choir Director for Chamber Choir of Burntwood School) writes a message to the Pinkies.
Greetings from the Chamber Choir of Burntwood School! We are very much looking forward to joining all of you Pinkies for the Christmas extravaganza at Cadogan Hall!
As Gareth, Pink Singers Events Manager, noted when he sent us your invitation, our two choirs are very close in their aims. We are also very close in age – just three years younger than you. The choir was born in 1986 when Mayfield and Garratt Green Schools amalgamated to become Burntwood, and we started with about a dozen girls singing in unison. Now you need quite a big chamber to fit us all inside, and the singing has grown in stature too – over the years we’ve sung at every major concert hall in London, recorded with the RPO at Abbey Road and Pinewood Studios, represented England at the Llangollen International Eistedfodd, sung for HM the Queen three times and danced in the aisles of St Martin in the Fields with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to mention just a few of the highlights.
We’ve had a busy term so far, singing at the British Museum on World Peace Day and then performing Lucy Pankhurst’s new Suffragette Anthem at the Women of the Year lunch (we sing wearing the colours of the women’s suffrage movement!), but the nature of school choirs means that we have a constantly rolling membership and as we were last at Cadogan Hall in 2013, this will be a new and exciting experience for almost all of the choir – definitely another highlight in the making.
Our performance style is very different from yours, so hopefully we can celebrate the differences and enjoy coming together for the festive finale – none of the girls are old enough to remember the original Stevie Wonder, but I’m afraid I am!
Choir Director, Burntwood School
Don’t forget tickets for our next concert Sleighing It! on 15 December 2018 are on sale now – Grab them here!
Our new Events Manager, Gareth, reflects that our core purpose has never changed, even though the times have been a-changing.
Having a birthday always brings a few things into perspective, so when the Pink Singers turned 35 (and I reached 36) this year it encouraged me to learn a bit more about where the choir has come from, where we are now and what the future holds.
A quick rummage on the website brought me face-to-face with the immeasurably profound online archive Singing the Changes, compiled to celebrate the Pinkies’ last big milestone of 30 years. Taking time to read through this lovingly curated potted queer history set against my own milestones was a really moving experience and I thoroughly recommend you head over and learn, or remind yourself, of the tenacity displayed by groups like the Pink Singers to make it through a far bleaker situation for the LGBT+ community than that we currently face. Joining a group with such a history can be an intimidating thought, but there are countless inspirational testimonies from past and present members as well as plenty of footage underlining the primary purpose of the choir: spreading joy through song.
Moving on to the present and my first year with the Pinkies, I find that primary aim still very much in place. Joining the choir for my first performance at the Cadogan Hall, I was struck by how much joy this odd-ball bunch of 90 people from across the gender spectrum is capable of exuding in each and every number from .Nuxx’s Born Slippy to Irene Cara’s Flashdance and even Fauré’s sumptuous In paradisum. The reactions I’ve had from friends, family and loyal Pinkie fans, showed me that, even after thirty years of singing in choirs, there’s still a huge amount for me to learn about putting on a good show.
From a celebration of the best of cinematic music to our own 35th celebratory mixtape, my time with the Pinkies keeps throwing out glorious moments and learning challenges The choreography to Livin’ Joy’s Dreamer and the scrunching harmonies of Chris Chambers’ beautiful arrangement of Boy Meets Girl’s Waiting for a Star to Fall are amongst these, not to mention the difficulties of being heard above the rumble of the Central Line.
The season ends with a whole host of exciting small gigs icing our birthday cake as pride fever sweeps the nation. From moving performances at the Science Museum’s Sexuality Lates and eBay’s Pride Party, to a welcome home that passengers at Heathrow Airport will never forget and wonderfully colourful days singing and marching at Pride London and UK Pride on the Isle of Wight; we’ve been dosed up on rainbows, unicorns and glitter for the next few months at least.
And so to the future; what do the next 35 years hold? My crystal ball has been a bit off of late, but I can definitely tell you to save the date for our first December concert in a decade! On Saturday, 15th December we take to the stage of the Cadogan Hall for a host of seasonal specialities and festive favourites as the Pinkies perform some of the classiest and campest Christmas number ones and songs from the most iconic Christmas movies (and yes, that might include Die Hard) as well as a few more traditional winter favourites.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there in the hope that your days will be ‘merry and bright’ as we once again ‘make the Yuletide gay’.