This year we are supporting London Friend. They are the UK’s oldest LGBT charity supporting the health and mental well-being of the LGBT community in and around London.
Throughout the year we will be raising awareness of this fabulous charity and the great work they do. We will also be collecting donations for them at our concerts and events, so please look for their donation buckets.
Tina, our newbie Soprano for this season, tells us how she survived the craziness that is a Pinkies weekend away!
I am a newbie to the Pink Singers having joined them in October 2017. During this time I have begun to get to know a vast number of diverse friendly faces who all share a real commitment and passion for music. Recently there was a planned weekend away for the choir, based at Newland Park in Chalfont St Giles. As a new member I felt very nervous attending this event but also felt excited at the prospect of being involved in a real fun packed weekend of activities all themed around developing our voices, our breathing techniques and more importantly how to work together as a team to produce the professional sound that the Pink Singers have achieved. The weekend began with an evening campfire sing song (given that we were near to November the 5th). All of us huddled around a fire, on a cold dark night, yet the night was lit up with pitch perfect songs that the group spontaneously performed from memory without sheet music. I was really moved by the camaraderie, humour and sense of belonging evoked from this experience.
Saturday had a busy schedule, very well organised with important rehearsals and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about controlling our breathing and hitting high notes from Patrick Jeremy, a professional singer. After a busy day of choir rehearsals, we had a fun-packed evening themed “a night at the movies” with an open-mic night. All Pinkies dressed up for the occasion, we had Smurfs, Cruella Deville, The Joker and Julius Caesar to name but a few. There were some amazing solos, duets and even a performance of the cup song. To finish off the night we had fireworks which seemed to sum up again the sense of belonging to something truly special and memorable.
On Sunday there was more rehearsals and choreography which included a fun dance routine themed on Footlose, this gave us a chance to practice choreographed music and burn a few calories whilst getting valuable feedback on how this music could be interpreted through movement. There were options to attend a quiz or some improvisation classes which I really enjoyed. By the end of the weekend I felt I had developed more connections to other Pinkies, I felt included, had so much fun and felt a real sense of achievement although somewhat tired….., but what a weekend of fun !!!! This choir has a real sense of its own identity and feels more like belonging to a large family and I feel very privileged to be a part of something so energetic, committed and creative. Save
A new season and a new wonderful group of newbie Pinkies set sail on our pink ship. We asked our new bass Francesco what music means to him and why he decided to become a Pinkie, after his world travels landed him in London. Singing. Just singing. I missed it so badly. I moved to London earlier this year, at the beginning of January. Of Italian origins – my name easily betrays me – I spent the last seven years of my life in Barcelona, where I finished my studies. By now a little piece of my hearth is Spanish and, to my utmost frustration, so is my accent when I speak Italian. Music has been a part of my life since I was little. As a kid I was forced into my village music school – I have a clear memory of my mother asking which instrument I wanted to play, and not whether I wanted to play one at all. In hindsight, I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I have so many great memories of playing the cello. I always enjoyed it the most when together: duets with the piano or with my sister on the violin, trios, quartets, orchestras, etc. When I finally turned into college material, I dropped the bow to focus on my studies – that was the plan at least. But, in fact, music always found his way to drag me into a new, unplanned, adventure. That is how, I ended up spending many Saturdays of my twenties in bars, with an indie-rock band, playing the electric cello (not quite the outcome my mother was hoping for, I believe). Also, as an exchange student in Portugal, I joined a tuna – a sort of university band voted to polyphonic mockery of college life [Editor – ha! Tuna!] . In Brazil (yet another exchange period) I joined a samba percussion group. In Barcelona I was back in an orchestra… Long story short, no matter how hard I would tell myself I was too busy, I have always the time to let music distract me. This is how, four years ago, I auditioned for the newly born Barcelona Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC). I sang with them as a bass ever since, never missed a concert. That was one of the best musical experiences of my life: the companionship among singers, the flow of adrenaline going back and forth with the public, the body resonating with the harmony of the ensemble. It makes me feel so alive and so happy, every single time. It’s a chemistry I do not understand and yet one of the biggest pleasures of my life. And in the process I gained friends, a real family of people that shared with me the alchemy of making music together. Finally, when I decided to move to the UK and I was kissing my BGMC friends goodbye, I remember Matteo’s advice – quoting verbatim he would say: “Francesco, once in London you should audition for the Pink Singers. They are very good. And they party very hard.”
So, time to unpack my luggage, settle in the new flat, find my balance at work… and I was already showing all the symptoms of vocal abstinence. I had to follow Matteo’s wise advice. So I reached out to the Pinkies for an audition. Next thing I know I was on a trial rehearsal, being so happy I could not help smiling like a loser all the way through it. It was such an energy booster. I didn’t actually realise how much I missed it since that moment. And fingers crossed, legs broken and a pretty lame audition later, I was actually embarked on a pink ship headed towards the next concert season! I am super excited about this new adventure and greatly thankful for the welcoming reception of the choir. I just need to apologise in advance to my new choir friends for all the times I ask everyone’s names again. Memory was never my strength. I really hope that in time I will have occasion to know the choir all a little better and eventually gain a little spot in their Pinkie heart. Even if @LaLaLondon it is always another day of rain, if feels very sunny to me each time we meet! Save Save Save Save
Newbie soprano Verity has just taken part in her first concert with The Pink Singers. And what a concert it was! Read about her percy pig, pixie cut, Pinkie cherry popping experience…
Arguably, the idea of a ‘community choir’ is tautologous: a choir is inescapably a kind of community. Every member must be valued, not despite, but because of, their different voices. A good choir only functions when all the parts are listening and responding to each other. A choir is united towards a common goal: sharing a beautiful sound.
The Pink Singers is undoubtedly a community in this way, and with every rehearsal and sectional, my pride in being part of it only grew. Joining the Pink Singers this season, I came to better appreciate the extraordinary diversity within our vibrant community. There are so many places to carve out a home on the LGBT+ spectrum: having only really occupied the student halls of queer living before, it has been so liberating to learn from the experiences of other Pinkies. I’ve met those who have sung with the choir for decades and fellow newbies, those who are recently out and those who have known since they were eleven, doctors and cupcake decorators, granddads and mums-to-be. I felt immediately embraced and included.
We are also a community choir in the sense we represent the wider LGBT+ community and this was best demonstrated by our concert on From Queer to Eternity: Songs of Struggle and Celebration featuring Rainbow Voices Mumbai and Out Aloud (Sheffield). After months of rehearsals, things began to kick off when I met the members of Rainbow Voices Mumbai – about whom I had heard so much from Pinkies who had visited India last year – at London Pride to sing inTrafalgar Square in front of ten thousand happy revellers.
After sweaty dress rehearsals and choreography clinics, Saturday the 15th July rolled around. I arrived at Cadogan Hall clutching a bag of Veggie Percy Pigs (which are rapidly becoming a Soprano section staple) and filled with determination. The elements of the show we’d only heard about came to life – the gallery, the staging and the poignant projections which would be played behind us (designed by the very talented Soprano Jessica Cheeseman). After a tech run which seemed to whizz by and before I knew it, I was doling out hair clay and styling pixie cuts in the dressing room. Someone pinned a silk pink rose on my left boob and gave me a cherry to bite seductively in a bizarre but wholly consensual initiation ritual. A quick dressing room warm up was had and we were ready to wander onto the stage to the sounds of birdsong as the marvellous Artistic Director Simon Harrison had planned.
It is difficult to do justice to the concert itself using words alone, but moments stand out. For example, when bass Phil hit the last note of our cover of Radiohead’s Creep; the standing ovation as Rainbow Voices Mumbai walked onstage; the stillness as we sang Dear Mr President, followed by Somewhere from West Side Story; and the ecstatic moment giant colourful balloons fell down on us to close the concert.
As we waved goodbye to the hall of supporters, it was then I really understood what it means to be an LGBT+ community choir. We had held an audience of LGBT+ Londoners, allies, friends and families and whispered gently that we saw them; that we’re proud of them; that we stand with them in their struggle for liberation.
I love listening to post-concert hubbub. Significant others of Pinkies were spotted in the crowd, proud parents were posing for photos. In this big and often impersonal city, I realised that I had at last found a home with my beautiful choir.
Can’t wait to get your next Pink Singers fix? Not feeling the Pinkie love because we never perform up north? This August, The Pink Singers will be performing as part of the Hand in Hand Festival in Manchester (Celebrating LGBT+ choirs in the UK and Ireland). This concert will also feature Sing Out Bristol and Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus. Tickets are only £7 and going quickly!
What does it mean to be part of the LGBTQ community? Why is there a need for one? Our next concert – on 15th July – seeks to explore this, as we mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In the run up to the show, which we’ve called ‘From Queer to Eternity‘, alto Claire shares what being part of the LGBTQ community means to her… Lesbian. It’s a word. It’s a word that I use to describe myself. I’ve used this word to describe myself for a long time, but truly it is only the last few years that I wear this word like a layer of skin; an epidermis; a fully functioning part of myself that exists in peace rather than a badge that gets brought out on occasion. It’s part of my identity that I share and I don’t care who knows. I realise I am in a fortunate position – this country has come a long way to protect the rights of LGBTQ people and the way the community is perceived. Growing up in Thatcher’s Britain, there was Section 28, homophobic mainstream media, no positive gay role models on TV that I could identify with, the word ‘lesbian’ thrown around my classroom like a shameful slur…. In short, growing up as a gay kid in the 80’s was a lonely experience. To quote the fine words of Skunk Anansie, ‘It takes blood and guts to be this cool, but I’m still such a cliché’. I think it is human nature to reach out to others like yourself and being part of the LGBTQ community, I have done just that: joining the Pink Singers (coming up to 15 years now.. eeek!) not only normalised my gayness but I have also been blessed with amazing friendship, companionship, laughter, LGBTQ campaigning buddies (home and abroad), and compassion – all wrapped up in a big glitterball of song and sparkle. By being part of the LGBTQ community I have had the opportunity to perform and campaign all over the world: Iceland, France, Ireland, Denmark and more recently, India. I feel it is my duty as part of this community to campaign for the rights of our friends abroad who are not as fortunate as we are in the UK; to campaign for equality and to address hate in all forms. I am so excited to be welcoming our friends from Rainbow Voices Mumbai in July this year to march with us in London Pride and perform with us in London – part of a year long, life changing cultural exchange. The brief I was given for this blog was ‘how has being LGBTQ changed your life’. Well, to be honest, it is my life, it is who I am. But only one part of me: I am also a daughter, sister, friend, lover, singer, performer, colleague, activist, transport nerd, indie tunes enthusiast, fan of drinking tea and dancing (although not necessarily at the same time) and so much more. Hello, my name is Claire and I am a lesbian. There’s still time to book tickets to see us and our special guests, Out Aloud from Sheffield and Rainbow Voices Mumbai. Please click here to book!