We recently announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £31,000 to the choir in order to collect oral history, memories and memorabilia relating to the choir’s 30-year history. We are really excited to be doing this project as it is a great opportunity to tell our story. We’re busy amassing an archive of material relating to the choir’s history and we’re about to embark on a programme of interviews with choir members current and past to capture their stories, too. We are seeking more volunteers to help us with this project. If you are interested in helping with research or the creation of the exhibition, or if you have memories, photographs or other material relating to the story of the choir, then please get in touch. We are particularly keen to hear from experienced graphic designers. If you can help us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org The exhibition will open this summer. More details to follow soon!
In the second of a couple of posts, Newbie Lara reflects on her first season as a Pink Singer, and reveals a little bit of choir romance to boot!
My very first rehearsal with the Pink Singers, I remember I’d originally felt so shy and nervous to step into what I’d earlier read to be ‘Europe’s longest-running LGBT choir’ of about 80 members, I almost turned around and went home! Having previously made a habit of keeping myself just a little distanced from the mainstream hubbub of the LGBT community, I was a little unsure and had my reservations about joining such a large choir of its type.
Yet as I approached the rehearsal venue, brain chatter by now in a state of drastic panic and near evacuation, I was immediately greeted by friendly smiles and hellos and introduced to a gaggle of equally timid potential newbies (and I should mention here in a sad attempt to embarrass her, that I have been seeing one of these other newbies for the last few months now and it was one of the most unexpected yet awesome things to happen in my life to date!). We were then escorted into the building to watch and take part in the first rehearsal of the season, and the second I heard the choir burst into a fantastically uplifting rendition of the gospel piece, ‘Joyful Joyful,’ I was hooked! My previous reservations vanished on the spot, particularly after spotting the colour co-ordination of Murray Hipkin’s fabulous bright pink socks and shirt.
As someone who has had quite a lot of choral and singing experience, it’s always fascinating to me to see how different groups operate, and one of the immediate attractions of the Pink Singers was the vast array of different musical styles within the repertoire. From classical Brahms and Mozart, to the show tunes of Les Miserables and Hairspray, across to pop covers of Tina Turner and Elvis Presley, it seems there is nothing this choir won’t try! There is truly something for everyone in the Pinkies, and the choir welcomes people with open arms from all walks of life, whether they have had previous singing experience or not. Whilst I personally aspire to make singing and performance my career, I have felt so humbled to enter into such a loving family of some of the most interesting and inspiring people I have ever met. We have IT consultants, business managers, charity workers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, artists, dancers, and even the odd musician here and there. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you love to express yourself through song, the Pink Singers have a place for you.
My first season has been especially exciting, as this year is an ongoing celebration of the Pink Singer’s 30th anniversary! We started this January with a fantastic first concert in Cadogan Hall to celebrate the choir’s ‘greatest hits’ in conjunction with our brand new CD recording, ‘The Pink Singers, P.S. We’re 30’. This included a whole range of different music specially selected in order to reflect the history of the last 30 years of the Pink Singers, tracing the political, social and cultural changes that affected the LGBT community, alongside the choir’s own development. For me, this gave a whole new meaning to the powerful opening and closing song of the concert, ‘Hand In Hand’, reminding us that historic events and the lives and actions of all people are intrinsically connected.
I have been blessed to grow up in an environment where it is gradually becoming more acceptable to be a member of the LGBT community, a fact that should not be taken for granted. Our hard work this season as a choir, plus all the direction, help and stories emerging from the wonderful committee members and our artistic directors have taught me so much about our brothers and sisters before us who fought hard to get where we are today, and how much work there is still to be done across the world to make our voices heard. Through a cleverly put together combination of photomontages, documentaries, speeches, and different types of live performances (with choreography!), we blew away our audience whilst also moving them to think and reflect. ‘That performance certainly conveyed a message,’ is what my father said after our performance, for which we received a mighty standing ovation! This ability to both entertain and provoke people to think and reflect is one of the most special qualities of the Pink Singers.
I felt honoured to be amongst so many talented new friends in Cadogan Hall and to receive such a positive response, and I’m so looking forward to the rest of the year to come. Happy Anniversary to The Pink Singers I say! Thank you all for making me feel so welcomed, and here’s to the next season ahead!
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. In the first of a couple of posts, Newbie Gary reveals all about his first concert experience as a Pink Singer.
Well I did it: I got through my first “Pink Singers” concert, the culmination of 5 months hard work by the choir.
I remember back in the summer when I decided I would go along for an audition. I was very nervous, but everyone was so friendly and helpful. There is so much talent in the Pink Singers and I am still in awe of the fact that I am part of such an amazing group. The Newbies Party was great fun and a chance to meet everyone socially, and made settling in a lot easier…
My first season was challenging, as firstly I don’t read music and secondly I hadn’t realised how much learning I would have to do away from rehearsals, especially for this bumper season featuring over 20 songs to learn! However the rehearsal piano tracks were a big help, but I’m sure many people were a bit scared when I have been singing along to them on my iPod whilst walking the dog!
In November, mid-way through the season we recorded a CD, which was brilliant, and sounds amazing. It makes me very proud to see my name on the sleeve. It’ll be available to buy online very soon!
So it was suddenly 19th January and Concert Day, I can’t believe the performance went so quickly, and I only forgot my words once as far I know which I am sorry to say wasn’t during a number involving choreography! I was nervous throughout most of the first half, but the response of the audience to every number was amazing and made all the rehearsals so worthwhile, and I only just managed to hold back the tears after the final rendition of Hand in Hand to which we received the most amazing standing ovation.
In the short time I have been a ‘Pinkie’ I have had a blast, and made some good friends. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, and if I’m honest I am a little sad to lose my “newbie” tag, but I am looking forward to our next season (starting on 17th February) already!
Today, we’re delighted to announce the Pink Singers have received £31,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, ‘Pink Singers @ 30’. Led and carried out by volunteers, the project will collect and exhibit oral history and community heritage relating to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) experience over the three decades since the choir was formed in 1983.
The project will enable Londoners to reflect on the LGBT civil rights movement of the last 30 years. As Europe’s longest-running LGBT choir, the Pink Singers have evolved against the backdrop of three decades of political and social change. When the choir was formed in 1983, the landscape was substantially different to today: the age of consent was unequal, AIDS had barely reached the political agenda, Britain had not yet had appointed an openly gay MP, and any form of legally-recognised partnership between same-sex couples seemed like a pipe dream. The Pink Singers were created to add music to that year’s Gay Pride march and the choir has been an established element of the London LGBT scene ever since. We believe that it is important for communities like ours to capture our own heritage. LGBT heritage does not (generally) pass from parent to child like the heritage of most groups; intergenerational spaces like that created by the Pink Singers are the main means of ensuring that the stories of the past are not lost; such spaces are rare. It is not just the history of famous individuals and momentous events that should be featured in exhibitions; an organization which has been – and continues to be – central to the lives of ordinary people has a heritage value and is worth remembering and celebrating. Through our project, we hope to inspire others to record their stories.
Commenting on the award, Pink Singers’ Chair, Jenny Cousins said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable us to create a truly grassroots LGBT project taking the stories of ordinary Londoners into the public realm. It is a fitting way for the Pink Singers to mark its 30th anniversary as the oldest LGBT choir in Europe.” Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “This is a project where heritage meets harmony by documenting the choir’s development through three decades of changing social attitudes. It will also provide opportunities for those taking part to learn new skills while increasing awareness of the LGBT community.” We are also celebrating our 30th birthday by commissioning a new piece of music from renowned contemporary composer Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer the Opera; Shoes), and we are delighted that the BBC Performing Arts Fund and the PRS for Music Foundation are also supporting us in our ambitions for our landmark birthday year. The piece will be premiered at our Summer concert on Saturday 13th July. In fact we’re planning more than a concert that day – we are hosting a special event ‘Hand in Hand’ – a day of music workshops here in London, open to non-choir members as well as singers. The culmination will be a spectacular evening performance with sets from ourselves and other choirs. Save the date and look out for more details very soon, either on our website, on our Facebook page, by following us on Twitter or by signing up to our mailing list. For press enquiries, please get in touch with email@example.com.