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A festive note from one choir to another

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.

Burntwood Chamber Choir at the British Museum for World Peace Day 2018

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.

Burntwood ChamberChoir with Helen Pankhurst

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!

Until December……….

Debbie Lammin

Choir Director, Burntwood School

Debbie Lammin at the British Museum on World Peace Day Sept 2018

Don’t forget tickets for our next concert Sleighing It! on 15 December 2018 are on sale now – Grab them here!

Snow Huskies

Soprano Sunny explains why the Pinkies are getting all Husky on us

Quiz question – name two links between The Pink Singers and this fluffy ole pooch.

Fluffy Husky

Ok, perhaps that was a little too much license to let imaginations run wild…

The first link is with Husky Studios – our new rehearsal venue! Alas, like a ballooning waistline, the Pinkies have expanded so much that we didn’t fit into The Place, our rehearsal venue of many years, any more. The Place had become like a favourite pair of jeans: convenient, well-loved, familiar, prone to beer stains (well, actually the favourite neighbouring public house Mabel’s Tavern), and stretched to capacity with our attempts to stay. It became evident that these jeans couldn’t have an ever-expanding elasticated waistband though, we had to admit to ourselves that we just didn’t fit anymore. Also, it turns out that it’s quite tricky to sing properly while sitting on the floor for 4 hours, so we’ve had to embrace scary change and migrate “sarf of the river”.

So, on to Husky Studios! I’m not sure that the name “Husky” epitomises the clear, crisp sound that we Pinkies aim for, but hey ho, off we go. We are having exciting adventures finding all the greasy-spoon caffs and vegan bistros nearby for the all-important break time nourishment, and have heartily embraced the task of finding a suitable watering hole for post-rehearsal de-huskifying.

You’ll appreciate hearing the hubbub of joy that emanated from the chorus as we found that we are allowed to wear shoes in rehearsal! Some of us are a little crestfallen that we can’t swipe a fellow soprano’s superiorly trendy trainers after rehearsal any more though. You win some, you lose some…

The other Husky pooch link is this:

1. Huskies pull sleds in the snow (apart from for Scott of the Antarctic who famously chose Dobbin Ponies instead, which was a mistake)

2. Another name for a sled is a sleigh

3. Father Christmas rides a sleigh at Christmas

4. The Pinkies are ripping through rehearsals for our Christmas concert “Sleighing It”! Wooo hoooo! One has to admit, it has been a weeny bit odd singing Jingle Bells in September, but we’ve got a lot of 8 part harmony to perfect, so we can’t dawdle. Dashing through the snow, and all…

Here are some reasons you might want to buy a ticket:

You love Christmas
Wahaaay – all the tunes to love!

You hate Christmas
We’ve specially selected a Grinchy song for you. Plus, nobody will be murdering Once in Royal David’s City in an high-pitched awkward way

You like singing
We shall be singing

You are less fussed about the singing
We are back in our favourite venue, the Cadogan Hall, where the bar is lovely and comfy and the posh Christmas shops are a mere stones throw away. Or you can just stick your headphones in and watch our amazing signers, who are top class entertainment all by themselves!

You like dancing
There will be swaying as we are Sleighing. And maybe even a hip dip.

You are less fussed about the dancing
There is bound to be one person who rocks an unconventional move out of time with the others, to provide a frisson of giggleworthiness. Plus we’ll be singing some beautious classical numbers without any step-tapping.

35 years of perspective

Gareth leading the Pinkies London Pride march

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.

Pink Singers perform the Winter 2018 concert “A Night At The Movies: The Sequel” at Cadogan Hall, London, 20th January 2018

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.

Warming up for our recent Mixtape Concert – June 2018

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 Pinkies say “Love” at eBay’s Pride Party

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.

December 15th – Save The Date!

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’.

Transphobia at Pride: A letter from the chair

Zoe, Chair

A public letter from our chair, Zoe Burdo, on transphobia at London Pride and the importance of supporting our trans members, friends and community.

 

 


The Pink Singers was formed to march in the 1983 London Pride parade at a time when the age of consent was still unequal, HIV/AIDS had barely reached the political agenda and legally recognised partnership between same-sex couples was still over two decades away. This year, in annual fashion, we put on our pink and black t-shirts, doused ourselves in glitter and donned more than our fair share of rainbow accessories. Our history has been one from protest to celebration.

“Our history has been one from protest to celebration..”

It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that our protest energy is no longer needed here in London; that we are on a sure path to acceptance here in the UK and that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are far away issues. We revel in the work of generations before, proclaiming our pride. We risk complacency that the fight has already been won.

This weekend served as a stark reminder that we are so far from that point– more upsettingly, not even just from politicians or the ‘outside world’, but from within our dedicated spaces and from those within our community. Pride in London has officially made a statement about the incident, as have other organisations, so I will avoid rehashing the details. But in short – we were ambushed. Our space was tainted by a hate group who forced their way in to spread dangerous, false, disgusting messages about trans people.

“Our space was tainted by a hate group who forced their way in to spread dangerous, false, disgusting messages about trans people.”

It is important to understand that the demonstration on Saturday was different than the anti-LGBT protest groups we have seen dotting the parade path before. Trans people were targeted from within their own space. A group twisted and warped the platform of Pride to spread false, transphobic, harmful rhetoric. To capitalise on the press, visibility and reach of London Pride as our space and manipulate it for prejudicial aims is truly abhorrent.

This is a fight. We are fighting. We should all be fighting. Fighting to be more active allies to our trans friends and family. Fighting for visibility and equality for everyone and using our privilege and platforms to fight even harder for marginalised groups within our LGBT+ community. And sometimes that means standing up to those who may share our umbrella but certainly not our values. We need to remember where Pride started – marching against abuse and oppression and facing the hate groups and opposition along the way head on. Marching in solidarity. We must stand up and call out discrimination when we see it.

“We should be fighting… even harder for marginalised groups within our LGBT+ community.”

The Pink Singers loudly and proudly supports our trans and non-binary members, partners, friends and community. We welcome those of all identities and along all walks of their individual journeys. We do not tolerate transphobia or any form of hate and we will continue to speak out and use our platform to fight for the rights and respect of all people.

“We do not tolerate transphobia or any form of hate…”

The Pink Singers have a large network and are part of an extremely diverse and wide reaching LGBT+ community. We were founded on the values of protest and solidarity and part of our aims as a charity are to promote equality and diversity through celebrating the diversity of the entire LGBT+ community. It is up to all of us with a voice to say something and I encourage you to do the same, whether that be a soprano, alto, tenor, bass or just a good old whistle.

In love and song,

 

 

Mixtape Magic

Samantha Tan, Pinkie newbie for our 35th Birthday season, reflects on a season of love, joy, music and Pinkie Magic!

 

 

 


My contact with the Pink Singers started in January this year as an observer when my friend Phil (bass and extraordinary human being) asked if I’d volunteer as backstage crew for his LGBT choir’s concert. As I stood backstage observing the maelstrom of A Night at the Movies: The Sequel chaos and infectious excitement from the singers, a few sentiments distilled themselves. One: They’re all LGBT (news of the day!). Two: They’re having a whale of a time. Three: They’re stinkin’ good!

The notion of an LGBT choir is altogether foreign to me – I grew up in Singapore, where LGBT visibility exists primarily where you know to look for the signs and seek it out. I came out comfortably at 16 and never sought out the local LGBT community. I felt different from my circle of straight friends, but I was happy being an outlier.

At the same time, I had sung in amateur and professional choirs for 10 years up until I was 18. By that point, I had firmly fallen out of love with choral singing. So call it serendipity, or irony, but I call it “Pinkie Magic” I had certainly inhaled that I soon found myself nervously standing in line for my Pink Singers audition this season and wearing my desire to join the Pinkies blazenly on my sleeve.

Sam with John, our accompanist

This whirlwind of a season promised particular excitement as the choir was travelling to Munich for the Various Voices LGBT Choir Festival. My previous choral experience had sent me on similar overseas trips, so I knew what an experience it would be. Munich didn’t disappoint: Watching other choirs performing with such pride, looking around at the crowds knowing that everyone present was at least a strong LGBT ally, having John Flinders (our regular accompanist) conducting us in a concert so well-received we got 2 standing ovations. Lastly, making friends with choirs from politically dissenting countries. These experiences were humbling and inspiring; the latter reminding me that us singing together is a beautifully reckless act. Even as external forces threaten to crush us, we hold our arms open in love.

Sam sings the solo for This is Me in Munich

The concert was upon us in no time at all. Powering through a long tech, I soon found myself pinning on my pink rose, slicking on one last coat of lipstick and step-digging to our opening song Freedom (90). The pre-concert jitters melted away at the sight of the cheering audience. As we closed with a rousing arrangement of What’s Up with our guest choir, Spectrum, I could scarcely believe my first Pinkies concert was over.

Choreo at Science Museum Lates

I came into my first rehearsal with an inkling that there was something about The Pink Singers. As I bid this season goodbye, and put away crinkled sheet music, I am convinced: The Pink Singers truly are special. And I get to be a part of it.