Our history

The Pink Singers choir was formed in 1983, and has a vibrant and interesting history. Check out our exhibition Singing the Changes, which reflects on our first thirty years, collated in 2013.

Here are a few highlights from the choir’s history.

  • 7 April 1983: The choir is formed by Brian Kennedy (publisher of Kennedy’s Gay Guide to London) and cabaret musician Mark Bunyan. Fifteen singers attend the first rehearsal at Oval House Theatre in Kennington. Mark Bunyan is Musical Director (MD). His diary for the day reads: ‘The rehearsal for the gay choir survived both my incompetence and the potential splits of cultural/political and male/female but we’ll see how next week goes.’
  • July 1983: Robert Hugill takes over as MD; the choir performs at the first official Lesbian & Gay Pride (previously it was Gay Pride, with the first march being held in 1972 on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, a turning point in the LGBT civil rights movement).
  • 1984: Pink Singers back the British pop trio Bronski Beat (including Jimmy Somerville) in two songs on the band’s album, Age of Consent.
  • May 1987: The choir takes part in its first European Lesbian and Gay Festival of Song (the forerunner of ‘Various Voices’), held in Stockholm, the third time the festival had been held. Four choirs are in attendance.
  • September 1988: Michael Derrick becomes Musical Director
– he is the choir’s longest-serving member having joined in 1987.
  • May 1989: The 5th European Lesbian and Gay Festival of Song, ‘Singing The Blues Away’, is organised in London by the Pink Singers; London was chosen as host city to show solidarity with the British LGBT community following the passing of Section 28 which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities. Fourteen choirs join in the festivities at the Hackney Empire. At the closing concert at Sadler’s Wells, Michael Cashman announced the launch of a new lobbying group – Stonewall.
  • June 1989: The Pink Singers appear on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Ned Sherrin’s Loose Ends as part of a special programme for LGBT Pride.
  • October 1990: The Pink Singers go to Florida, the first European gay choir to sing in the United States. The mayor of West Palm Beach named Friday October 26th ‘Pink Singers Day’!
  • June 1991: The choir appears in ‘Hysteria III’ at the London Palladium, a benefit for the Terence Higgins Trust which was televised by Channel 4.
  • June 1992: The choir performs at Seattle Opera House and has its first appearance at the 4th Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses Festival in Denver, Colorado. We and the Berlin-based Männer-Minne were the first European choruses to be invited to perform at the festival.
  • September 1992: Paul Cutts becomes MD.
  • July 1993: ‘10 Years in the Pink’ anniversary concert at the London Lighthouse.
  • 1994: The choir is featured on the London Weekend Television programme Londoners.
  • October 1995: Pink Singers join other gay choruses to accompany Sir Elton John at the Royal Albert Hall in the Stonewall Equality Show.
  • 1997: Mladen Stankovic becomes MD.
  • December 1998: ‘Happy Together: the Pink Singers’ 15th birthday concert’ is held at the Royal Academy of Music.
  • December 1999: Six Pink Singers appear in the millennium episode of BBC comedy Gimme, Gimme Gimme, singing Tomorrow from Annie.
  • February 2005: First LGBT History Month in the UK; the choir performs in Lewisham to launch a photographic exhibition charting Pride events.
  • July 2008: ‘A Silver Serenade: the Pink Singers at 25’ anniversary concert at the Royal Academy of Music.
  • May 2009: London’s South Bank Centre goes gay for the Various Voices festival (formerly 
known as the European Lesbian and Gay Festival of Song); the Pink Singers are one of the festival’s three stakeholder choirs.
  • November 2009: The choir comes second in the Manchester Amateur Choral Competition – the first event like this the Pink Singers entered.
  • January 2010: Children’s choir, Purple Harmony, are our guests at ‘The Big Pink Chill’ concert.
  • November 2010: Murray Hipkin becomes MD.
  • May 2012: The choir performs a joint concert with St George’s in Harpenden, a religious foundation school, in support of the charity Diversity Role Models.
  • November 2012: Our first studio CD was recorded at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London.
  • January 2013: The 30th anniversary concert, ‘P.S. We’re 30!’ is performed to a sold-out Cadogan Hall. It features songs from each of the choir’s three decades and celebrates the journey that the choir had made, politically and musically.
  • 25 March 2013: The choir is officially registered as a charity.
  • 7 April 2013: The choir celebrated its official 30th birthday with a ball at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn.
  • 14 June 2013: With Heritage Lottery Fund support, the choir opened ‘Singing the Changes’, a public exhibition presenting oral history and artefacts from its past, at Audit House, Blackfriars. It moved to The Guardian’s HQ at King’s Place later that summer.
  • 13 July 2013: ‘Hand in Hand’ festival takes place at The Troxy, Limehouse. Representatives from 21 choirs from around the UK and Ireland took part, with 12 performing in the evening concert. The Pink Singers’ set included the premiere of The Great Choir of London: a pair of pieces written for us by Richard Thomas of Jerry Springer The Opera fame.
  • 29 June 2013: The Pink Singers perform on stage at Trafalgar Square for Pride. Philip Rescorla, a veteran of the choir, who is attending his 40th Pride, makes the introductory speech.
  • 24 July 2013: The choir performs in the garden at 10 Downing Street for the Prime Minister’s LGBT Reception, celebrating the passing of the Equal Marriage Act.
  • August 2014:  pop artist Bright Light Bright Light records a charity single with the Pink Singers and it is released in November for World Aids Day.
  • June 2015:  the choir take part in the second Hand in Hand festival, a gathering of LGBT choirs from the UK and Ireland, in Brighton; the Pink Singers started the Hand in Hand series in 2013.
  • January 2016: we make our fourth album, ‘By Special Arrangement’, consisting of songs arranged by members of the choir, together with commissioned pieces by composer Richard Thomas. The recording project is crowd-funded.
  • June 2016:  the Pink Singers and the London Gay Men’s Chorus take part in a vigil in Old Compton Street, standing in solidarity with the Florida LGBT community the day after the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando. Later in June, The Pink Singers, the Adam Street Singers, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, Diversity Choir and the NHS Choir put on a joint concert to commemorate those lost in the massacre and to raise money for the victims’ fund.
  • June 2016:  the choir perform the first anthem ever commissioned for London’s Pride festival, ‘Together’ by Seán Doherty and Duncan Day, on the main stage in Trafalgar Square.
  • August 2016:  the choir appear at the prestigious Concertgebouw in Amsterdam for the AmaSing Chorus Festival, a Europride 2016 event.
  • January 2017: the choir travelled to India to perform with Rainbow Voices Mumbai (RVM) at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai.  The trip was the next stage of a year long project raising awareness of LGBT rights in India and supporting the members of RVM. The choir also marched hand in hand with Rainbow Voices Mumbai at Mumbai Pride, Queer Azaadi Mumbai.
  • July 2017: the Pink Singers invited RVM over to London to march with them in the Pride in London parade and perform with them on stage in Trafalgar Square. Members of both choirs were both interview on television which brought the awareness of LGBT rights in India to a whole new audience. RVM also performed at the Pink Singers summer concert that same month.

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