What would be on your MixTape? part 2

On Saturday June 16th The Pink Singers will be singing songs from our 35th Birthday mix-tape. What songs would be on your favourite compilation?


We thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to another handful of the Pinkies Management Committee – those stalwart volunteers who keep the Pinkie machine motoring forward. We asked them what three songs they’d have on their mix-tape, and why.


Paul Simon- Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes. My favourite song from my favourite album. Conjures up memories of long summer afternoons.
Frank Turner – love Ire and Song. My mum and I have almost groupie status over Frankie T! This song speaks to my inner activist- it tells us to keep fighting the good fight no matter what.
The King Blues- I Want You. All songs that include Robson and Jerome must be awesome eh? They unfortunately didn’t authorise the Pinkies the use though! Fab to sing on long (or short) drives!
 



Train – drops of Jupiter – I love this song as it reminds me of my good old university days.
Gregory Porter – More than a woman to me – well it’s obvious isn’t it? It’s written about my beautiful fiancee Tracey Button 😍
Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes – takes me back to my backpacking days lying on a beach in Fiji listening to this album over and over again – amazing!
 
 



 “Who do you think you are?”  The Spice Girls.  This song was released in my late teens, and I see as my ‘coming out anthem’.  It was played in the gay bars in Belfast in the late 90’s and will always be  synonymous with the time in my life when I was discovering a whole new side of myself, having moved to University and experiencing what it was to live by myself and the freedom of embracing my sexuality. And yes, I can do the dance moves.
“All about you”  McFly.  This is such a sweet romantic song, and very much describes a very simplistic and altruistic sense of being in a relationship.  It’s a proper karaoke favourite of mine, and in 2009, My husband Ben and I danced to it as our first dance as a married couple.
“Both Sides Now”  Joni Mitchell.  The Pink Singers sang the most heart wrenching arrangement of this song in my first season back in 2014.  The song is quite emotionally raw, and it provoked such a physiological response in me every time we sang it.  My heart beats faster and I get goose bumps every time I listened to it, and it still does.  It is by far my favourite ever Pinkies song that we have performed.


Now is the time to snap up a ticket for our Mix-Tape concert in June. Get them now – they’re hot!  This week we’ve introduced a group discount – 15% off the top two ticket prices for group bookings of 8 or more people.
Check out this promo video from an excited @TotallyPatsyMay

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Choral geekery

Almost half the Pink Singers are in Munich as this post is written, singing at Various Voices in Munich. We wish them much fun. They are singing a selection from our rep for MixTape – and mark my word!– tickets are going quick for our summer concert. With all the lowest-price tickets gone already, get yours ASAP!!


In the meantime, some of us are left in London without a rehearsal this week.  Sunny, one of our geeky Sopranos, took the opportunity of a gap in the schedule coinciding with her work 24h “hackathon“** to attempt to write some software to tell her when she is singing amiss to the Pinkies score.
Here was the aim:

  • Take a PDF of Pink Singers music
  • Write a programme to turn it into a MIDI
  • Singalong to the backing track and record that singing as a MIDI
  • Compare those MIDIs and output where the singing is amiss

 

It turns out that the following is true:

  • There is software out there that will do some of this for you, but that’s no fun. Start from scratch to learn things!
  • It’s really hard to turn a PDF of sheet music into an accurate MIDI
  • Sheet music and MIDI can be represented as MusicXML, which can be read by all sorts of software, like Sibelius and other cheaper software
  • It’s even harder to turn a vocal recording into an accurate MIDI, if you aren’t an operatically trained singer 🙁  :

Three Blind Mice Vocal Recording into MIDI


 
However, we got something working:

Read the PDF


Friendly interface


Note comparison code


Compared output


 
 
 
So, Sunny will be using her new software to make sure that Rainy Days and Mondays and other top tunes are spit-spot for our June 16th Concert.
In the meantime, we wish the Pinkies in Muenchen Viel Gluck!!
**hackathon – 24h to write computer code as quick as you can


What would be on your Mix-Tape?

On Saturday June 16th The Pink Singers will be singing songs from our 35th Birthday mix-tape. What songs would be on your favourite compilation? 


We thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to a handful of the Pinkies Management Committee – those stalwart volunteers who keep the Pinkie machine motoring forward. We asked them what three songs they’d have on their mix-tape, and why.



Scissor Sisters, I don’t feel like dancin’. This reminds me of going to a gay night at Black Sheep Bar in Croydon in my 20s with my best friends and dancing all night, on a Wednesday night. It was so fun and I was just getting to see how fun being gay could be!
George Michael and Elton John. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me. Before I got together with my girlfriend I started singing this one day walking along a mountain road in Taiwan and she joined in with me singing the harmony. I loved singing with her and I’ve never looked back!
I Choir, written specially for and sung by the Pink Singers. If you haven’t heard it, it’s on our CD “By Special Arrangement” so go – buy it now!



Orbital – ‘Halcyon’.  Orbital are my favourite band ever, got into them around aged 16 when I discovered ambient and electro music. This song is a piece of genius and makes me smile every time.
bis – ‘Eurodisco’.  This song reminds me of dancing my pants off to their gigs so many times across the years, its such a pop tune! Hopefully I will get the chance to dance at many more gigs to come in  future.
Marvin Gaye – ‘Abraham, Martin & John’.  This song reminds me of my mum, she loved Motown and I’d always sing and dance to their albums with her in our house. She brought so much love and light to my life, and like the song says ‘the good die young’. Never forgotten you Mum.



Forever & Ever (Demis Roussos). I threatened to sing this to my fiance on our wedding day, he HATES it!
Can you Feel it (The Jacksons). A disco classic that you cannot help but get up and dance to
 
Wow (Kylie Minogue) Love this song and it should have been a bigger hit! The Pinkies should definitely do a version!
 



We Can Do Better Than That, from The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown. I could have chosen any song from this musical, or frankly anything by JRB. I love the concept of this show and the perfect way it’s played out.
Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. When the choir went to Manchester last August for Hand in Hand, while everyone else was at the launch party I went to see this musical at the Opera House (a much better night out by my standards 😉 ). I already knew I loved Sheridan Smith (leading the cast) but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the show. This show recurs throughout the show, firstly as her wanting to impress her boss, and then her husband to be, and then finally as a show of female independence.
Into The Words, from Forbidden Broadway (sensing a theme yet?!). I was lucky enough to play the clarinet for an amateur dramatic production of Into The Woods which, unfortunately, and controversially, cemented my dislike for Sondheim musicals. This song provided my with some relief during a long week!


More coming next week!  In the meantime, now is the time to snap up a ticket for our Mix-Tape concert in June.  Get them now – they’re hot!


Happy 35th Birthday, Pinkies!!

Joey

Our beloved Joey wishes the Pinkies many happy returns of the day, and explains why this choir means so much to him.

Join the Pinkies as we celebrate our 35th Birthday in our own inimitable way at our June concert: The Pink Singers Mixtape: Celebrating 35 years.


The Pink Singers turn 35 today!

The Pink Singers, London’s magnificent and quintessentially fabulous LGBT+ choir turn 35 today! Arriving in a new city without any friends, I joined the choir when the Pinksters turned 25. Fast forward 10 years and those closest to me trace their roots to the Pinkies. I can’t quite imagine London in a pre-Pinkie era! There have been so many Pinkie fairy dust moments: singing at St Pancras Church in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting; marching in the first Maltese Pride March in Valletta; numerous Prides in Trafalgar Square; standing by Mumbai’s first LGBT+ choir, to name just a few.

The choir is love, LGBT+ love, pure and simple.

Today’s milestone for the Pink Singers is not only a milestone for the Pink Singers – it is a milestone for all those who may once have felt alone and found consolation through others – it is a milestone for anyone who has ever felt persecuted and been given a helping hand – it is a milestone for anyone who has ever felt unloved and found a hug.

Anyone who has ever been involved in The Pink Singers shares today’s birthday.

So I wish each and everyone of them a piece of Pinkie magic today.
Because, no matter what, once a Pinkie, always a Pinkie.


An Epic Night At The Movies

Wahooo!  Newbie Mark relives the excitement of our recent concert, A Night At The Movies, the sequel. Which was epic.


I’d been waiting for this day to arrive since I joined the Pink Singers in the Autumn of 2017. With my outfits packed and a bubbling sense of excitement in my belly, I treated myself to an Uber that drove me through Chelsea to Cadogan hall. I thought it quite rare and fortunate that this particular driver was playing a classical compilation CD in his car, which set my anxious and excited mind somewhat to rest as I absorbed the lovely architecture on the way to the hall. I arrived, and eagerly ran to the door because I was, as always, fashionably late. At the door I was greeted by Penny, elegantly puffing the last embers of a fag before our call, and she directed me down through the somewhat arcane stairways of the former Church of Christian Science to the basement changing rooms. Once downstairs, I was able to greet a few of my chorister comrades before the pre-concert work would begin.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

The day was long and hard. We spent it practicing entries and ironing out creases, and I tried my best not to annoy an anxious Murray and poorly Jerome. Our lovely hostess’s sass kept me entertained as we ran through the numbers and the various steps we’d have to take in, out, and about the stage. Seeing the video accompaniment for the first time, I’m once again impressed with the talent that this choir endlessly seems capable of deploying. At last, a coffee break. A cigarette (or two). And then running through the second half. By now the excitement was welling within me. We had our pre-concert dinner break and I wolfed down the squashed yellow sticker sandwich I’d bought on the way in. Night had fallen and some people were arriving at the hall. I couldn’t wait to see the rows of seats full of our Pinkie friends.
We’ve worked hard on this one. All those Sunday afternoons’ labours were about to come to fruition. I’m lined up on the stairs, taking deep breathes to calm my nerves. Simon informs me that I’ve been referred to as the one with the Tarzan hair. I ruffle my mane in response. Basses and Tenors are joshing about in hushed (not always) voices as we wait for a cue to walk on stage. These moments of pre-performance excitement are my favourite. In this moment, the potential for beauty is almost palpable. I dwell momentarily  upon the collective intention, logistcal efforts, thought, planning, practice, talent, and no small measure of love too, is about to collide into a musical explosion. This is it. My first Pinkie’s concert. I think it was somewhere in the middle of the Indiana Jones theme that I’ve taken my position. I’m scanning the crowd for my brother, but can’t seem to see much past the lights. Of course, I notice a few cute faces in the crowd. There’s so many people! It’s basically a full house! And then there’s the banner of Richard’s face hanging from the balcony. Legendary. Cue the Universal theme, and we’re off!

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

The first half goes so quickly. It feels like being in an altered state of consciousness, where the music flows our of me without deliberate effort. My whole attention rests on integrating my memory of the music, the auditory information from around me, and the motions of Murray’s hand guiding our collective voice. And the dancing. I’m proud of myself for changing my attitude to choreography. My confidence has grown. I’ve found a new way to express myself.

Mark (far right) getting into the choreo.
Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

It’s interval. I should quit smoking… Maybe not just yet. Time for a quick wardrobe change. Gods! This is a damn good looking choir! Adorned in all the colours of the rainbow, these beautiful bodies, voices, and souls stand proud and ready. We’re back, and looking fabulous! My feet hurt, my eyes feel strained, but the adrenaline is coarsing through my veins. I’m giving it my all, playing the congas, shouting about your mum in the tube hole, focusing on keeping time and sensitive dynamics, and not bashing my neighbour when we Flashdance for our final number.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

(When I was later to see the videos my brother took of some of the performance, I learned that I look so happy when I let myself go and just do the moves without self-doubt. And you know what? I realise how lucky I am to have this space to be my gay self with pride. Being part of this choir has helped me accept myself more as a gay man; an ongoing process for many if not all LGBTQ+ folks. I’ve grown in a way I could never have done otherwise than being a part of this choir. I am grateful for this unique opportunity.)

A Night at the Movies: The Sequel Jan 2018
Photo by Jess Rowbottom / Hotfox Media

The concert is done, and we’re milling about Cadogan before heading off to the afterparty. I say a few hellos, and all I hear from everyone is about how they absolutely loved it. My brother is impressed, and finally understands why I disappear for hours every Sunday. He can’t believe how professional it was. Born Slippy and O Fortuna were his favourites. I have a last puff on my post concert fag (this really has to stop soon though!) before heading back in to lend a hand setting down the stage. After lugging bits of stage and poles to the van, one of the stage crew asks if I’d like an old confetti cannon that the theatre was throwing out. I jumped at the opportunity, stroking my new one-use toy. I have a plan.
I rush off to the afterparty. Good cheer abides! And what an epic venue – Kirsten is a genius. I can’t quite remember how I got the drinks I did, but they were hardly necessary given the elation one feels post-concert. The bodies are moving. Colours are everywhere. Smiles, joy, new faces and familiar ones, young, and old, and all shapes and sizes. I’m waiting for my moment. The DJ plays Born Slippy. I wait for the wall of sound, poised on the balcony above the dance floor. The beat stops and the moment arrives. I unleash the confetti and it feels like time slows down. Colours flitter in the air. It’s one of those pure and rare peak moments in time. I am happy.

Mark’s confetti cannon.
Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

See you next season!
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London's LGBT+ Community Choir