Choral Carolling for a Cause

Rachel
Rachel

The Pinkies are taking to the stage at the historic Spitalfields Market, East London on Sunday 7th December to raise funds for Get Connected, the UK’s only helpline service dedicated to under 25s. One of our altos, Rachel is also a Get Connected Helpline Officer. Here she explains why the cause is so important to her and how she’s lucky to be able to combine two of her passions.

“Wooohoo it’s nearly Christmas! Or bah humbug the Christmas lights are up… kind of depends on how you feel about the festive season. It comes at us from all angles whether we like it or not, but many of us will enjoy some aspect of the occasion or the silliness that Christmas brings. There are some people that will find this time of year particularly hard – maybe because they are homeless on the streets and the cold has become too much, or the family arguments get worse, or the feelings of isolation are increased by everyone else seeming to be having a great time.

Get_Connected_logo_strapline

That’s why a helpline like Get Connected is so important – open 365 days of the year 1pm-11pm – the volunteers listen and support young people up to the age of 25 to discuss what they are going through and then look for specialist services that may be able to help them further. This year The Pink Singers have decided to support this vital charity at the Connected Christmas event at Spitalfields Market Fun Day on Sunday 7th December for an afternoon of carols and Christmas themed craft activities for all the family.

Get Connected 001

I am privileged to work for Get Connected and sing with the Pinkies and It’s amazing to be able to bring together two of my passions like this and raise money for such a brilliant cause! Get Connected helped connect more than 150,000 young people in crisis to the support they so desperately needed last year and the demand for our service just keeps on growing. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my fellow singers for giving up their time to raise such vital cash for this fantastic charity”.

Richard Greer, Chair of the Pink Singers, adds:

We’re really excited to be joining forces with Get Connected this festive season – it’s a chance to do something we love for such a good cause!

You can join in the festivities from 11am-4pm it is free admission but all donations are welcome and will go directly to Get Connected. Find out more at www.getconnected.org.uk

Timeline datestamp: 07 December 2014

Pride Run 2012

When I grow up, I want to be fit and healthy and be able to run for miles and miles…

Well, at the start of 2012 I realised that it probably wasn’t going to happen automatically, so I took up running. Only short distances at first, and slowly, but gradually improving, so by April I was running about 5km a couple of times a week.

Then one of the Pink Singers, who’s also a member of London Frontrunners, publicised the Pride Run – a 10km run in Victoria Park in September, in aid of the Albert Kennedy Trust. September seemed a long enough time away to make 10km feasible, so I signed up as part of the 20-strong Team Pink Singers.

Fast forward to the morning of September 15th, and I arrived in Victoria Park with running kit, my race number (721!) and a whole heap of trepidation – how could this have been a good idea?! But the other Pinkies started arriving, and we donned our specially-made bright pink shirts, pinned on our numbers and warmed up, and my nerves settled down and excitement took over. We were a team – strength in numbers!

We made our way down to the start line, which was marked out with sections relating to expected finishing time – the lean and fit club runners jostled for position around the 40 minute mark; my fellow novices and I went back to behind the 1 hour line. Then after a short pause the sound of a starting pistol had everyone surging forward. It took a minute or so for us to cross the start line, where we were waved on by Sir Ian McKellen – LGBT royalty!

Then we were off – I’d been warned about setting off too quickly in all the excitement, so I established a steady (ok, slow) pace. Several non-running Pinkies had come to cheer us on, and their encouragement was brilliant motivation as we jogged round the 3 lap course. Even the other supporters and enthusiastic volunteer marshals were vocally supportive, shouting “come on Pink Singers!” – proving that our distinctive shirts were a worthwhile investment!

The first two laps passed steadily; we enjoyed the percussion band positioned at the bottom of the loop, and the water station near the top (it turns out that drinking from a cup while running is a skill I need to work on), and we started to overtake a few people, whilst being lapped by the super-speedy leaders. By the time we started the final lap, I was feeling good – 7km down and nearly there! My enthusiasm for reaching the finish unintentionally manifested itself into me speeding up, which my running buddy Frances pointed out meant that she ran out of breath for chatting!

We counted down the kilometres, until the finish line was in sight. With the Pinkies who’d already finished cheering me home, I even managed a sprint finish to celebrate my first 10km achievement in 1 hour and 5 minutes!
After cheering on the remaining members of the team and collecting our well-earned post-run snacks, we all made our way (slowly) to a nearby pub for lunch, feeling tired, but happy, and immensely proud of Team Pink Singers.

Now….how long is it ok for me to keep wearing my medal…?

Cat

Timeline datestamp: 15 September 2012

Pride Run 2011

Singing and running actually share a huge amount in common: with both you have to use your diaphragm, control your breathing and, if you’ve seen our choreography, have a certain degree of endurance. Pinkies have the additional advantage of being able to look like we are having fun even when feel like we’re dying inside!

At this year’s Pride Run the Pink Singers fielded a mixed team of runners – mixed because this year included Sue and Esther where last year’s run only had guys, and mixed also because everyone had different abilities. There were those who run regularly, either in the gym on pounding the pavement, and for whom running 10km is only slightly more exhausting than a stroll in the (Victoria) Park.

There were also those for whom the route was a personal challenge which they had set themselves. Add to that the fact that we were running for LGBT Pride while simultaneously raising funds for the Albert Kennedy Trust, and the run took on great significance for all of us.

We were blessed, some may say over-blessed, by brilliant sunshine, even though the weather report had predicted thunderstorms, and when the rather shocking start pistol had been fired by the enormous Gareth Thomas, we were off, loping around the track.

Organized by the London Frontrunners, the Pride Run really is a fantastic experience because, although there are many “hard-core” runners there, there is more than enough room for those who wish to wander round at a more comfortable pace. Our team, resplendent in our bright pink Pink Singers running shirts, were easily spotted and every time we ran past the race HQ the sight of the Pink Singers logo garnered a shout out. That served to lift our flagging spirits, particularly as we were heading into our exhausting final lap.

We have to thank our supporters for egging us on, and after we’d finished runner and supporter alike moved on to the pub for a well-deserved lunch. It was only after we had finished that that the rain started falling – what a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

Edit: Late-breaking news suggests that the Pink Singers were also awarded the Sports & Social Team Prize for the Pride Run 2011. Yikes! I guess this means that next year we will be the defending champions…

Timeline datestamp: 20 August 2011

A night at St. Mungo’s

This week saw a small group of Pinkies putting on a show for a very worthwhile charity event. We had been invited by the homelessness charity St Mungo’s to perform for both clients and staff at the launch of their 2011 Action Week. The focus of this special week is on enabling homeless people to rejoin society with an emphasis on accessing healthcare and advice on getting back into employment.

Not only was our performance going to be treat for the audience but it also gave us the chance to show off some of the numbers we will be performing at Razzle Dazzle on 16 July. The concert also included some excellent solos from Phillip, Chris, Sally-Ann and some Debussy on the piano from our very own Musical Director, Murray, along with a group number from the very talented Gin and Harmonics.

It was a wonderful evening and various numbers from Tchaikovsky to Tina Turner had the audience giggling with glee and tapping their feet in delight and I feel proud that the Pink Singers were involved in both entertaining and supporting such a great charity.

Tim

Timeline datestamp: 28 June 2011

Malta

Alex Field

The collaboration between a British gay and lesbian choir and a Maltese Christian choir was always going to raise eyebrows, especially if they met in Malta, where Catholicism holds sway and the Gay Rights Movement is almost non-existent.  In July 2009, however, the Pink Singers managed just that, taking their show to Malta to promote social equality through their music. 

There were two immediate dilemmas; how would the fervently religious Maltese community react to a gay choir, and would it be possible to pair the Pinkies with another choir given these circumstances.  “The gay scene in Malta is still quite backwards and limited”, Andrew says, “there are no gay choirs in Malta and they have no idea what a gay choir is…people were thinking it was going to be all feather boas and being camp”. 

Under the leadership of Andrew Francalanza, a Maltese national, the Pinkies took the first small step towards a brighter future for Malta’s gay community, achieving the seemingly impossible for a minority without a voice. Andrew Francalanza became a Pinkie in 2007, and quickly learnt “how much fun it is to go abroad and sing with another choir”.  In his capacity as International Concerts Co-ordinator, Andrew broached the idea of taking the choir to his native Malta.

At the Malta Gay Rights Movement’s suggestion, Andrew approached Symphonik, the choral branch of a Christian organisation that seeks to promote social equality through music and mirrors the Pinkies in intention and method.  “It ended up growing from just a basic concert to being something really huge” Andrew recalls; “a gay and lesbian choir singing with a Christian choir underneath the Gay Rights Movement’s umbrella to promote equality”.

Eight months of frantic organisation later, the Pinkies headed to Valetta for a large scale concert in the City Theatre, with fifty choir members travelling to Malta’s capital for the event.  Due to Andrew’s prior communication with the Maltese media and his own network of friends and contacts, the island was awaiting their arrival with a mixture of curiosity and wariness.  As predicted, some called for the Church to take a stand against the choir’s promotion of homosexuality, but the majority of the community gave the Pinkies a warm welcome.  “95% of feedback was really good” and the concert audience was very positive; “we blew them away!” Andrew says.

The joint concert was scheduled as the grand finale of Malta’s Pride week, which the majority of the Pinkies attended, having also sung at London’s Pride march two weeks previously.  “London Pride and Malta Pride are two different concepts” Andrew explains.  “London is in a place where it can celebrate being gay” with “a whole day and a big party in the streets where you can just have fun and be silly”.  Malta Pride is “an hour…half an hour of marching, half an hour of speeches, and it was…quiet.”  There was a feeling of silent anger amongst the marchers, whose banners displayed rage rather than celebration.  “Even though it wasn’t said, [the silence] was a way of saying ‘we don’t have a voice’” Andrew says. 

The Pride march had a great emotional impact on the Pinkies, with their Chair, Mark Winter, describing the scene as “London twenty years ago”.  Their presence changed the atmosphere completely, bringing joy and fun to the event and doubling the number of marchers to almost a hundred.  The Pinkies showed the Maltese gay community the way Pride should be; full of fun and, most importantly, pride in who you are.  Their positive attitude, alongside their banners and rainbow flags, had an instant impact.  The Maltese EU parliamentary representative stood up and professed his ignorance regarding the gay rights movement and his desire to work with the community towards a greater acceptance and social freedom. 

Amazingly, the Maltese Prime Minister followed his lead and has now established a lobby group to promote gay rights on the island.  Further to this, the Malta Gay Rights Movement has set the wheels in motion for the formation of a gay choir, an amazing development considering the current social ramifications of being openly homosexual in Malta.

The concert and Pride march were both an astounding success and provided the Pink Singers with a moving experience as well as new friends from Symphonik, who joined them at Malta’s only gay bar for the concert after party.  The trip’s success demonstrates the impact small actions and a positive attitude can have.  “For the choir the [trip] was a really powerful experience…it wasn’t just us singing and having fun, it was such a big political message” Andrew says, “they keep asking me when we’re going back.”

Alex Field, guest writer

Timeline datestamp: 13 July 2009