Sing!

Newbie soprano Sunny, takes us on her journey from frightened to (almost) fearless and describes what her first – ‘cherry popping’ – performance with the Pinkies was like following our recent concert at Cadogan Hall, ‘Sing!’. 

Last year, I realised I was frightened. What a sorry state of affairs! Frightened of everything (except the things that scare normal people, like perilous heights, jumping into roaring oceans, spiders, and letting people down by being late). Frightened mostly of life and whether it was stuck rotating like a scratched record of Edith Piaf growling a lowish note to a sad song.

Today, I’m feeling mildly (but not very) self-congratulatory, because Frightened isn’t my word any more. I don’t know what is. Blank-page? Expectant? (not in a mother-type way, mind), Wondering? Bumbling? Silly? Fun-loving‘s back on the menu. But not on its own. I feel lifey again though.

I bloody did it. I stood on a big stage with my lovely big gay choir, and sung the heck out of some big gay songs. And it didn’t even feel monumental, it just felt like performing’s what I do, and this was a lovely new community to be part of, and here I was and it was good.

[Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom]

My Pinkies journey began a few years ago when I sat in a lovely comfy seat in the beautiful Cadogan Hall, and watched my friend Alex sing with them. At the time I was struck by the quality of the performance, and also keenly aware that I was not yet comfortable with labelling myself as LGBT+ by joining.

But, my journey continued, and the time became right, and I auditioned. It was still a big step for me, and I was really nervous and pretending really hard that I wasn’t overwhelmed. In many ways, I was on familiar ground – I’m used to joining musical groups and getting on with new people and learning songs.  But I was stepping out into new territory from a cultural perspective, and learning as I went.

[Photo credit: Neil Cordell]

I have been really impressed by many things, but I’ll mention two in particular. Firstly, the concerted effort that the choir and committee made to welcome new members – clearly thought had gone into it, and we were made to feel a valued part of the community so quickly. (It helps that there’s a big crew that go to the pub after rehearsal too.) We were given bits and pieces to do in the songs, stood in prominent positions, and welcomed warmly. Secondly, the number of people that volunteer their time and talents to make the Pinkies function so well, in so many different ways. This really is a community.

The build up to the concert was massively exciting, but the day itself was amazing. And long! I was hosting a lovely French chanteuse called Martine who was part of our guest choir Equivox, and somehow we arrived at The Cadogan on time, in spite of my propensity for being late, and eating Pain au Chocolat for breakfast (just trying to make her feel at home…. ).

This season’s crop of newbies, about to ‘pop their cherries’ and walk on stage for the first time as a Pinkie!

Then there was a very smooth tech run – I’m used to the theatre where people always end up shouting at each other, but there was no hint of that here. And then about 90 minutes of crazy mayhem with about 60 Sopranos and Altos from two choirs squidged into a dressing room, and much flailing of hair-curling tongs and requests to borrow the liquid eye-liner, and “where’s my flower?” yelled across the morass.  Then some bizarre ceremony for us newbies involving cherries and photographs and we were off!

The concert itself. I didn’t think I was nervous as I’m used to going on stage. But then I forgot the words in the second song for a few seconds and realised I was. Unsurprising – I think I was internalising what the occasion was. I had my parents in the audience, many friends who’ve held my hand on my journey, and my church group, yelling and waving like the crazy loons that they are. And I just went for it – hit the moves, hold your head up high, concentrate on Murray and let rip!  It was brilliant – the audience reaction at the end like nothing I’ve experienced before. Woohooooo!

On stage at Cadogan Hall, Jan 2017. [Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom]

Then there was a very sedate after show party….. Oh ok, perhaps the truth is that at one point I accidently twirled an Equivox choir member violently onto the floor in a dance-off to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop The Beat. Oops. Je suis desolee.

We start rehearsals for the next Pinkies season in two weeks. I can’t wait to get back. I’ve found this brilliant group of people, remembered how much joy singing brings, and I’m excited to be a part of it.  To quote a Christian song I like: The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning, it’s time to sing your song again.

To see more photos from our concert, please click here. 🙂

Timeline datestamp: 14 January 2017

AmaSing Festival

Daniel Craig

The Pink Singers were delighted to perform at the presigious Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam as part of the Europride Amasing Choir Festival earlier this month. Massive thanks to our wonderful hosts Manoeuvre – Gay Men’s Chorus Amsterdam and Galakoor. Here’s the low-down from bass, Daniel… 

According to the Oxford dictionary (and thesaurus) there are 2,730 positive adjectives beginning with A and honestly I could use pretty much every one to describe the Pinkies latest jaunt to Amsterdam for the AmaSing festival.

As an Aussie, it is very exciting to travel interstate to perform. Travelling internationally to do so is always a dream, and – as a part of the Pinkies – I’ve been fortunate enough to do that twice now. Firstly, Dublin and more recently, to Amsterdam – not just to sing anywhere but in one of the best concert halls in the world, the Concertgebouw.

The trip officially started off with registration at Het Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum) where a few pinkies started to congregate. I don’t think you really appreciate your friends until you haven’t seen them in a while, so there were lots of hugs all round. The organisers then put us on a great canal cruise which allowed us to see Amsterdam from the water and helped get our bearings in this horseshoe city.

Amsterdam 2016

The cruise dropped us off at Het Amsterdam Museum for our official meet-and-greet which really gave us a great feeling for what was to come. With all the recent hate crime in the world, it was incredible to get together with 600 of our LGBT+ family to chat and to sing.

After a great afternoon, most of the Pinkies retired early to prepare for our big day of performances (which turned out to be of epic proportions).

Amasing festival, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

Friday saw the first of our performances: a 15 minute outdoor set and a beautiful set inside the Conservatorium Hotel. Both were greatly received with a request for more from the patrons of the hotel; however, these gigs were just the warm up for the night to come. Later that day, we had a quick sound check inside the Concertgebouw, which reduced a chorister from another choir to tears. He said, “Our opening of ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ gave him shivers and made his eyes well up”. (Wow, we only sang 16 bars)!

Amsterdam 2016

The pinnacle of the festival was the main concert in the spectacular Concertgebouw. The acoustics of this hall are world renowned (it has a reverberation time of 2.2 seconds, for those playing at home) and was certainly a spectacle to behold – for a full 6.5 hours (!!), as the concert inevitably over-ran… It’s definitely the first time I have finished a concert the day after it started.

The organisers of AmaSing had hired a park on the banks of the canal where all the choirs could leisurely watch the parade from. They even provided lunch (!) and we all sat around chatting with our new choral friends and enjoyed the stunning day that celebrated everything we believe in (and of course there were impromptu performances from various choirs as well…).

Amsterdam is synonymous with taking mind altering substances 😉 and the Pinkies’ excursion to this wonderful city certainly left us on a high.

Amsterdam 20116

A huge thanks must go to the AmaSing team for a brilliant Europride event and to basses Gary and Paul for organising the trip from our end!

Timeline datestamp: 04 August 2016

GAZE film festival

Sally Anne Snith

Long-standing soprano, Sally-Anne, joined the Pink Singers for a weekend of song in Dublin as part of the Dublin “GAZE” LGBT film festival. Here’s her ‘gloria’ous’ account. 

The Pinkies spent the weekend of 18 – 19 June as guests of our wonderful friends “Gloria”, and had the opportunity to sing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, along with the RTE Orchestra.

I am very proud to have been a part of that amazing experience. We have a very special relationship with Gloria – they have sung with us in London at one of our Cadogan Hall concerts and they are a lovely friendly, kind and generous bunch of people.

Whilst we were there, they organised an after show party, hosted a picnic (which unfortunately I missed as I had to get back to the UK to the cats -I would probably have drunk too much Pinot Grigio anyway…) and even gave us some of their CDs.

Dublin_2016

The National Concert Hall is a truly fabulous venue and it was an amazing experience to sing there, as well as having the privilege of performing with the RTE Orchestra. It was, as usual, an afternoon of hard work prior to the concert, but we were well looked after by the kind lady in the “Artist’s Bar” and topped up with tea and cakes.

It was really exciting to hear a full concert arrangement of two of one basses, Chris Chambers’ arrangements. They sounded incredible. The show was beautifully performed by the Pinkies and we had a really enthusiastic audience. Even better though, there was also an announcement of the forthcoming marriage of two women who were sitting in the balcony seats from a delighted compère!

Dublin_2016

It was an evening of fun, inclusiveness – and quality music – which I was proud to be a part of. I am delighted that we were invited to be involved and it was a pleasure to be in Dublin again with my Pinkie family. Thank you to our special friends “Gloria” for making us so welcome. Dublin has a very special place in my heart – as do the Pink Singers. Can we go back soon please?!

Dublin_2016
Timeline datestamp: 18 June 2016

One Night Only

Cadogan Hall, London

The ‘One Night Only’ concert was alto Nicki’s first experience of performing with the Pinkies. Here she relives how she ‘popped her cherry’ and how being a part of the choir has transformed her life.

Performing with the Pink Singers on 4th June was my first concert in over 20 years and what a way to re-ignite my passion for music. All those years ago I studied piano at the Royal College of Music but I wasn’t one of the stars and unfortunately the experience sapped my confidence and with it my love of music. For the past couple of years I’d started to think about doing something musical and had thought about joining a choir, but I didn’t want anything too stuffy or serious. So soon after a friend of mine suggested that joining the Pink Singers would be a laugh, there I was auditioning.

The day of the concert itself was long, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it. We started the rehearsal and sound check at 12.30 and with only about an hour’s break before the concert we were already shattered and I can’t imagine how those of the choir who had built the stage beforehand were feeling. It must have been pure adrenaline that kept us all going. Just before the concert there was a ‘cherry-popping’ session where all of us newbies were given our pink rose – and we had the chance to get 1 of our 5 a day!

My first hurdle was getting onto the stage, which was alright on the night. Thankfully we had the rehearsal first and this was my opportunity to trip over the speaker without too many people seeing. When we finished the opening number and I hadn’t messed up the choreography and the audience broke out into hearty applause, I knew it was going to be OK. Despite several things going wrong in the run through somehow it all came together and between us we remembered all the notes and the words. The soloists and compéres did an amazing job, and one of my friends even said that no-one got the dance moves wrong. I’m not sure that’s true, but if the audience didn’t notice we’re not saying anything….

I had persuaded my mum and stepfather to come along on the night. My mum is very supportive, but bearing in mind that she is definitely not into choirs and got 9% in her school music exam I was nervous to know what they would make of it. I needn’t have worried though because I’ve never seen them so enthusiastic, and it continued for a good 30 minutes on the phone the following day!

So with the concert over and us all on a high it was time for the after show party. Although I’d only been with the choir for a few months I’d already been to a couple of the parties and I had an idea of what was to come. The play list had clearly been selected to include every choreographed song that the choir had ever done. At one point I found myself surrounded by about 50 people all swooping down around me as “Ain’t no mountain high enough” belted out of the speakers. I escaped early – at about 2am – because I knew I had to be up for the Pinkies brunch the next day. There’s officially no rest for a Pinkie….

😉

So less than three years after joining I’ve made so many amazing friends, I’ve travelled to India and Germany with the choir, arranged a song, led a project to re-organise how the choir runs and set up a band with two fellow Pinkies. Three years ago I couldn’t have imagined how my life would have transformed. Thank you Pinkies you’ve made me very happy. 

Timeline datestamp: 04 June 2016

By Special Arrangement

Cadogan Hall, London

Philip, a longtime member of the Pinkies, looks back on a concert of some of our most special arrangements…

Our winter concert in 2016 showcased the diversity and talent of our members through their very own choral arrangements and compositions. Most pieces were specially arranged for the Pinkies by choir members, along with some iconic classical commissions. Well, we needed an excuse to sing Handel’s Zadok the Priest!  Also included was a piece specially commissioned for our 30th Anniversary in 2013 from composer Richard Thomas:  I, Choir.

The concert opened with an arrangement of the Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr Blue Sky by Michael Derrick, who joined the choir in 1987 and has been arranging songs for us ever since.  Kate Bush has many fans in the choir and two of her songs were featured: Running Up That Hill (arranged by Simon Pearson) and This Woman’s Work (arranged by Andy Mitchinson).

One of our most prolific arrangers is Chris from the basses, who joined the choir in 2008. We sang his first ever arrangement for the Pinkies, Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, as well as Chris’s arrangements of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax and a new version of epic pop hit Chandelier by Sia. Soprano Naomi came up with a fabulous arrangement of Video Killed The Radio Star, while ex-Pinkie Fran composed some beautiful music to the poem Lake Isle of Innisfree by the Irish poet W.B.Yeats.

The concert also featured two talented home-grown small groups comprised of current and ex-Pinkies– the bubbly Barberfellas (www.barberfellas.com) and the high-spirited Gin and Harmonics (www.ginandharmonics.com).  For those of you who missed the concert most of these pieces were recorded for our latest CD appropriately entitled By Special Arrangement.

The Pinkies performing Video Killed the Radio Star
Timeline datestamp: 14 January 2016