Blog

Pink History Zine

Pippa Sterk

Whilst singing has been tricky online, lockdown has given us a unique opportunity to talk more to our fellow choir members and to share our stories.

Putting the zine together has been a lovely experience! It’s been great to see how many people are eager to get involved in creating something together, and for me personally, it was nice to see some of the talent in the choir come out of the woodwork, where I was previously not aware of it – who knew that there were so many brilliant illustrators, poets, and writers?

I think it’s really important to have different outlets for LGBT+ History Month. Not everybody feels comfortable speaking in front of a group, or making something that they as an individual are responsible for, but unfortunately these are the stories that are most easily archived as ‘history’. With the zine, we have hopefully created a space where people feel able to participate in history-making to the extent that they feel most comfortable – that can be loudly and proudly, but also quietly and anonymously.

The zine includes stories, poems, media reviews and recommendations and if you’ve got kids (or like to do this yourself) there’s also some drawings from our talented members to colour it. Peruse it online, or you may prefer to print it out, grab a coffee and sit back and have a read.

Pippa Sterk, Alto

Yay… I’m a Pinkie again!

Following on from the successful launch of our latest virtual choir project, we thought it would be good to hear from some of our former members about what it was like to be back with the Pinkies and what taking part in the project meant to them?

Andy (1997-1998, Australia)

“I was in the Pink Singers for most of the two years I was in London and back then we didn’t even have mobile phones. So, for the team to expertly coordinate this huge project, across borders, time zones and generations of Pinkies, building community with sectionals and meetings and then amusing and accessible guidance for how to record our parts and then our videos: I tell you, I was amazed. But what I enjoyed the most was how it reminded me of an exciting time in my life and the best parts about living in London, and how the Pink Singers were so important to that.” 

Fran

“In 2019, I went through a difficult relationship break up.  That, coupled with the virus restrictions made things really difficult and I hit a real low.  Then one day whilst visiting some Pinkie friends, they mentioned that the Pink Singers were still rehearsing virtually every Sunday, and the rehearsals were currently open to resters and ex-pinkies to join. I knew that singing with the Pinkies again was going to give me the positivity boost that I badly needed.  Having a reason to sing again, but also to be part of an amazing community has really helped lift my spirits, and even though we are meeting via Zoom, I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I am very grateful for the generosity of the people in this choir and to always feel welcome in this inclusive community.   

It was really exciting being part of this project. I hadn’t previously sung the song, so I first had to learn the words and the music. This gave me a goal which helped take my mind off Covid. I also had the chance to video my two boys for the Dinkie Pinkie section. It was great to see them so excited to be taking part. I’m hugely impressed by the work that the Production team have put in to make this happen.”

Watch the video now!

Paul (1996-2003, The Netherlands)

“It was great to be part of this project and to feel that I was, once again, a singing Pinkie. I also enjoyed getting to know, for me, new Pinkies.

Since I moved to The Hague, I have been singing with the local gay men’s choir Vox Rosa. The main differences is that it is a male choir and also with only 25 members, it is much smaller than The Pinkies. Another difference is that Vox Rosa tends to tell a story with our concerts (especially when we perform at Various Voices). In Dublin the show was about the relationship between Gay Men and their mothers and in Munich our performance started with Vox Rosa as a very straight-laced traditional Christian Male Choir and ended up with all of the members’ expressing themselves as a very colourful choir of different sexualities and gender-identities.”

Kate (2007-2018)

“I miss that communal physical feeling of singing and breathing in the same space (especially this year!), the fantastic sound we all make together, being part of something bigger, at such a good standard. And the family, of course!

I loved seeing everyone again in the rehearsals – and was surprised how effective the rehearsals were over Zoom. Having seen the last video and knowing to what a high standard it’s produced by the team, I’m really looking forward to being a part of this one.”

Zoe (2016-17, The Netherlands)

“What I enjoyed most about this project was The Zoom rehearsals and seeing people I haven’t seen since leaving London! Getting dressed up was fun, but it was seeing old friends that really made it, even if I didn’t get to hug them. I miss the feeling of singing with 90 other people, but mainly the community.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any LGBT+ choirs near me in Rotterdam, nor in the whole of the Netherlands (that I’m aware of). There are a few gay men’s choirs around, and even fewer queer women’s choirs, but nothing mixed that I’ve found 🙁 So being briefly part of the Pinkies again, albeit virtually, was really special.”

Together in Electric Dreams: Virtual Choir Video!

Behind the scenes of our virtual choir project, Together In Electric Dreams. Watch the video now!

Nicki Wakefield, Publicity Lead

Welcome to behind the scenes of our second virtual choir project. This time we’ve been more adventurous, we’ve more than doubled the size of the choir and we’ve turned on the cheese. Get ready for the battle of the 1980s versus the 2020s along with lots of technicolour, dodgy power cuts and virtual connectivity.

Our first virtual choir project of Coldplay’s Fix You involved 56 people and got over 10,000 views on You Tube. This time we wanted to do something bigger, bolder and brighter and we wanted to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Over the past few months we’ve occasionally been joined by people outside the choir for online singing and social events. We thought that asking our friends to join us in our next project would be a good way to reconnect with people we may not have seen for years. This next project is double the size with over 130 singers and musicians including over 50 former members from across the globe.

What was involved?

The first job was to decide what to sing. This involved creating the shortlist of potential songs that the choir could then vote on. There are a surprisingly high number of things to consider including choosing a song that:

  • we already knew pretty well (learning and recording something new would be really challenging when we can’t get together physically to rehearse).
  • contrasted with the solemnity of Fix You, our first virtual choir project.
  • would engage our audience, so something recognisable was preferable.
  • would be relatively easy to manage technically – more consonants and less oohs and aahs make it easier to synchronise the voices.

And finally we needed a song that wouldn’t drive our audio and video editors insane after listening to it over 1,000 times!

We came up with a shortlist of five songs and the choir overwhelmingly voted for….. big reveal…Together in Electric Dreams…apart from anything else the title resonates as being particularly  relevant in these times when we only get to see each other on Zoom.  We’d sung the song the last time we performed together in January 2020, so it was fresh in our minds. The song also appears on our latest album, so an obligatory album plug is needed here…

With the song choice nailed we needed to get the audio recorded and mixed. With 120 people that was quite some feat. We were lucky enough that this came during a lull from lockdown in the summer. One member from each section went into the studio (Francesco’s flat) to record the audio tracks and admire his collection of guitars.

Each choir member then had two weeks to record their own audio. For this we had the relevant pre-recorded audio part playing through headphones on our computer whilst we recorded our own audio into our phone. Most of us sat back for a few days whilst the team synched over 120 voices together.

Whilst the audio was being recorded it was time for the creative team to brainstorm ideas around the story we wanted to tell and how to create it visually. This was followed with a detailed story board indicating which voice parts would appear in which scene, wearing what outfit and if any props or particular facial expressions were required.  

With the audio nailed and the storyboard completed, we then received our instructions and the deadline for creating our videos and any special takes we would be involved in. This involved us lip synching along to the final audio track whilst recording ourselves on our camera / phone which was invariably perched up very high, usually precariously on a pile of boxes.  Multiple takes were inevitable until we got something where we were in the centre of the screen and we didn’t forget our lines, pull any inappropriately stupid faces or the phone didn’t fall over. A five minute take could take many hours! We enjoyed sharing photos and stories about this in the Facebook group set up for the project.

Improvised recording studio!

After that, most of us were done, but for our video editing team the work had only just began. There was lots of uploading, editing, zooming in and out, colour coding boxes and doing other trickery that is frankly beyond me!

Those of us who were in the 1980s had free reign to go wild with back combing, eye shadow and pop star impersonations. The rest of us who were less into dressing up or who didn’t have a box of wigs and accessories on hand in the cupboard were able to record ourselves dressed in something more sensible and fitting for the present day.

Zoe rocking the ’80s look

That was the end of the project for most of us until the big reveal several weeks later. The whole story and details of the individual scenes had been kept pretty much under wraps. Whilst it was disappointing to be returning for virtual choir rehearsals, it was exhilarating to see that we can still create exciting performances from the comfort of our own homes.

This has been a huge team effort, but we really do need to thank Francesco and the Video Media Production team for the many, many hours they have put into creating this masterpiece. We are lucky to have you guys! And finally we hope you enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it… and of course we hope you share it widely. Thank you!

Nicki Wakefield, Alto & Publicity Lead

Launching Our New Album

We’ve remastered our By Special Arrangement Part 2 concert into a live album!

David Baxter, Artistic Director

I am so proud to announce the launch of our brand new album The Pink Singers – Live From Cadogan Hall. The album features 13 tracks from our sell-out concert By Special Arrangement Part 2 which we performed in January 2020 immediately before we were plunged into lockdown. 

The album showcases some of our best-loved arrangements throughout the decades as well as some brand new compositions from our talented, in-house arrangers. The album includes one of our earliest arrangements from 1995, Corner of the Sky, revised by a long-standing member and previous MD, Michael Derrick, as well as versions of some of your favourite songs as you’ve never witnessed them before; from the classic 80s Togetherin Electric Dreams right through to the grime of Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human.

As well as some of our more contemporary numbers, the album includes some opera.  Composer Iain Bell worked with the New York City Opera on a piece to commemorate 50 years since the Stonewall riots. We were extremely lucky to perform the world premiere of the finale which Iain turned into SATB 8-part harmony, commissioned by the Pink Singers.

Back in 2016 we presented By Special Arrangement at Cadogan Hall and followed the concert up with a studio album. We were planning to do the same with this concert, but then Covid happened. Having listened back to our recording that evening, we made the decision to remaster many of the songs from the live concert and release a live album. 

If you were at the concert I’m sure you will appreciate this recording. If you missed it, here is a chance to hear the Pink Singers at their finest and get a taste of our uniqueness, exuberance and passion for performance.

The album is available to purchase from iTunes for £7.99 and can be streamed on Apple Music, You Tube Music, Amazon Music, TikTok, Instagram, Deezer, Pandora, and 150+ more. CLICK HERE to stream or download now! Or search for Pink Singers Live From Cadogan Hall.

So sit back, relax, listen…and enjoy!

David Baxter, Artistic Director

Live From Cadogan Hall

New album – Live From Cadogan Hall

Available now to stream and download, our Jan 2020 concert features 13 songs, remastered into one new album.

Performed to a sell-out crowd, our concert ‘By Special Arrangement Part 2’ was the second in the series (By Special Arrangement was in 2016) to solely feature arrangements by choir members as well as special commissioned works.

How to listen

The album is available to purchase from iTunes for £7.99 and can be streamed on Apple Music, You Tube Music, Amazon Music, TikTok, Instagram, Deezer, Pandora, and 150+ more. CLICK HERE to stream or download now! Or search for Pink Singers Live From Cadogan Hall.

You can stream the album straight from Spotify below. 

About the album

As well as 12 brand-new arrangements by choir members, the album features a world premiere performance from the finale of the Iain Bell’s new opera Stonewall which was arranged specifically for us.

If you were at the concert you will want this recording. If you missed it, here is a chance to hear us at our finest and get a taste of our uniqueness, exuberance and passion for performance. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed performing.  

Track list

Read about the songs in our programme notes.

  1. Together in Electric Dreams – Phil Oakey & Georgio Moroder, Arr.  Giancarlo Galliani Pecchia
  2. Corner of the Sky – Stephen Schwartz, Arr. Rice Majors & Michael Derrick
  3. December Will Be Magic Again – Kate Bush, Arr. Simon Pearson 
  4. What About Us – Pink, Arr. Ian Faulkner 
  5. Human – Rag‘n’ Bone Man, Arr. Simon Pearson
  6. All of Me – John Legend, Arr. Zoe Burdo
  7. Closer to Fine – The Indigo Girls, Arr. Naomi Berwin 
  8. Rolling in the Deep – Adele, Arr. Nicki Wakefield 
  9. Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters, Arr. Simon Pearson 
  10. Much to be Done (Stonewall) – Iain Bell
  11. Define Me – Ryan Amadour, Arr. Chris Chambers
  12. The Show Must Go On – Queen, Arr. Chris Chambers
  13. Proud – Heather Small, Arr. Simon Pearson

With special thanks to our concert team:
Musical Director – Murray Hipkin
Accompanist – John Flinders
London Novello Ensemble (Strings) – Gavin Davies, Karen Anstee, Tina Bowles, David Robinson
Bass Guitar – Naomi Anderson
Drums – John Clark
Artistic Director – David Baxter
Concert Producer – Simon Wilkinson

And our album team:
Sue Kendrick, David Baxter & Ben Thorner
Shaun Davies – Recording
Dom Kelly – Album artwork

And you can check out our other Pink Singers albums here.