Concerts in Paris


Like a family?‘Your choir is like ours’, smiled Aline, my host for the weekend, having met Cilla, Jo, a particularly exuberant Johnathon and I at Gare du Nord. ‘Everyone seems really friendly and welcoming’. ‘Like a family?’ I suggested. We both laughed. What a wonderful weekend followed! Equivox were the most charming of hosts, everyone enjoyed themselves and, I must say, it was one of my favourite foreign trips with the Pink Singers so far.

The dismal weather, which continued all weekend, precluded any proper sightseeing, so we headed back to Aline’s cosy flat, where she made tea and my gift of all-butter highland shortbread biscuits went down a treat – ‘now we can have tea and biscuits, just like in England!’ she laughed. Aline’s English was rather more polished than my rusty degree-level French but, with her encouragement – and Johnathon’s – we took it in turns throughout the weekend to talk in both languages.

Tea was soon followed by a memorably delicious dinner with fellow Pinkies at ‘Le Coude Fou’, a traditional French wine bar/restaurant in the Marais. By the time we got to the Open Café to meet the others I was starting to wilt a little and only managed one drink before calling it a night.

I awoke the next morning to noises from the kitchen and the smell of something delicious and savoury wafting under the bedroom door…Aline was preparing a savoury ‘cake’ for the pre-concert brunch and this was the first of several home-cooked treats over the course of the weekend – I can still taste the quiche she prepared for the brunch on Sunday, which was rapidly devoured as soon as it arrived.

‘C’est le troisième, c’est chic!’, I was told as we entered the very grand and ornate town hall in the 3rd arrondissement, where the two concerts were to be held. We warmed up in a side room, then squeezed onto the tiny stage for the rehearsal. The few hours before the first concert flew by, as they usually do when you’re so focussed on the music, Mladen’s conducting, remembering words in Latin, French and English (and trying to talk in all three), devouring savoury ‘cake’ and swigging Normandy cider!

Equivox were highly entertaining and gave a quite compelling performance. Babette, their vivacious and theatrical ‘chef de choeur’ is not so much a conductor as an artistic inspiration. She really engages each and every singer with infectious enthusiasm, demanding passion in every song. Very French! The outfits are quite a hoot too, this year’s theme being ‘beach party’.

Our own performances went down very well with the audience, who particularly loved the French pieces. It was really heartening to see people in the front few rows fondly singing the words to ‘Hymne à l’amour’ – the French still have a great affection for Edith Piaf. Aline congratulated us backstage after the first concert, saying she’d been very moved – ‘Now I can really understand the great English choral tradition!’, she enthused.

For me, one of the highlights of the weekend was our joint performance, with Equivox, of ‘Let the sunshine in’, complete with extended chorus and grinning, arm-swaying audience participation, presided over by Babette in her absolute element. It’s one of those great moments when the song leaves the stage with you and echoes through the corridors and in your head for days afterwards. What a fabulous end to the show!

by Jenny

Timeline datestamp: 08 December 2007

Pink! its the colour of the season.


Pink really was the colour of the season.
Far too early one Friday morning, I found myself in Heathrow airport about to get on a plane for the first time in a decade. I was alternating between nervousness and excitement. Just as I was starting to panic, Lynne and Michael arrived and we checked in and got through security in record time. I really enjoyed the flight. I love looking out of the window at the clouds below. At Helsinki airport we were met by a group from Out’n Loud, including my host for the weekend, Mathias. We got our weekend travel cards from Mikko and then Mathias drove Lynne and I back to his flat.
Continue reading “Pink! its the colour of the season.”

Tales of the Pinkie – Hsien

The Pinkies at GALA 2004“GALA in Montreal in the summer of 2004 was a big event for me. It was the first time that I was heading overseas with the Pink Singers and also the first time I had ever been to a choir festival, let alone a gay one. Even more importantly, it was the first time that Simon and I were going away on holiday together since we had started dating, so there was quite a bit of excitement to the whole trip.
Due to really bad co-ordination on our parts, however, Simon and I ended up flying to Canada separately. He went there directly, while I made a detour via New York in the company of Stephan from the basses. Stephan and I checked into a tiny little hotel room just north of Washington Square with a view of a brick wall and no natural light. But at least it was cheap! Most of our time there was spent shopping and eating, with the odd foray into Chelsea of course. Another friend of mine was in New York at the same time and, on the recommendation of a native he had picked up, we went to a very down-to-earth Venezuelan restaurant in the East Village. It pays to get to know the locals – I now visit religiously whenever I am in Manhattan. Continue reading “Tales of the Pinkie – Hsien”

Festival 2000


Festival 2000 brought 140 performing groups and more than 5,000 singers to San Jose for the largest gay and lesbian choral event in history July 22-29.

You can find out more about GALA Choruses on their website, but here’s Martin to take us through the events of GALA 2000 – it might help to know that ‘Philip’ is a longtime Pinkie and Martin’s other half!

Saturday 22 July 2000
Philip was recovering from a bad cold and had hardly any voice (a pleasure for me and the rest of the choir). The opening ceremony at 8pm was great fun, with about 6000 choristers and their camels (the people who get involved with the choir without singing – like me). They are called camels because they end up carrying all the singers’ baggage when they are rehearsing! Kate Clinton was hilarious as keynote speaker and Harvey Fierstein was an excellent presenter.

Sunday 23 July 2000
The day of the Pinkies first concert and my first tour of duty on the choir’s merchandising stall. This was next to the Melo’Men from Paris. They had draped the European flag between the stalls thus reuniting the old enemies France and England as only dykes and queens can.

Monday 24 July 2000
This was the day of the Pinkies’ trip to Monterey and Carmel. They hired two camper vans (well, they were camper after we got in), and we crossed the mountains to the coast where we visited the Monterey aquarium. The display of sealife was interestingly set out, especially the jellyfish. The way they kept moving aimlessly but somehow reached their destination was an allegory for the Pink Singers. An evening meal in Carmel involved a lot of walking around in growing gloom and fog, until we eventually went back to the first restaurant we had seen. 8,000 miles to California and we ate in an “English pub”; but the food was good.

Tuesday 25 July 2000
The Pinkies were singing at the Expo at 5:30, so I looked after the stall while they were on. I could hear some of their act from the stall, and they seemed to be well-received. They were asked to do an encore, as if they wouldn’t anyway. Philip went with Paolo to see the No-Talent Show. This is a performance of non-choir-type things by members of the choirs. Philip said I missed a treat: the Ethels were very funny – six Ethel Mermans, and a silent Ethel as signer (Kevin).

Wednesday 26 July 2000
Portland Gay Men’s Chorus upset all my prejudices about commissioned pieces with stirring and effective songs about coming out in the words of Portland’s young gay women and men. People have been coming up to Philip and saying how great his jokes were. Philip is attempting to look modest and unconcerned but he doesn’t fool me.

Thursday 27 July 2000
The Pinkies were still rehearsing when the Expo closed for a couple of hours, so I went to the London Gay Men’s Chorus tea party in the park – the Boston choir didn’t throw it in the fountain, so I guess that problem is sorted.

Friday 28 July 2000
After lunch we saw the Men’s Chorus from Tulsa. One of their members had flirted with Philip on the Pinkies stall (to his undisguised delight) and had been to every one of the Pink Singers performances so we had to support them. We went on the last ride up the View Tower at sunset – it was spectacular. They had closed all the gentle rides and all that were left were the check-your-brain-at-the door stuff, so we ate fairground schlockfood instead. The park, to quote Glenn, was neither “Great” nor “America”, but it passed an evening.

Martin Edwardes
FOPS (Friend of Pink Singers)

Timeline datestamp: 22 July 2000