Musical Memories

GaynorAltos Gaynor (pictured left) and Kirsten roundKirsten up musical memories from the choir in preparation for Saturday night’s theatrical-themed spectacular!
Just 3 days to go – grab your tickets here while you can!
“Being a newbie Pinkie is a blast – and a trip down memory lane. Pretty much everything I’ve done with the Pinkies for our One Night Only concert on 4 June reminds me of something…we’re singing ‘Ascot Gavotte’ (from My Fair Lady), which takes me back to performing it in the last year of primary school in Brisbane to mark the anniversary Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia – even, in 2016, doing some of the same dance moves that I did in 1970!” [Gaynor, Alto]
“My first appearance in a musical was at the age of six when I played the devil in a school production. Sixty years later I have been promoted to Jupiter, King of the Gods, in Orpheus – but I’m still sending the Pinkies to hell!” [Philip, Tenor]
“I waited outside the stage door to get my programme signed after seeing the original west end cast in Wicked and Miriam Margolyes – who was playing Madame Morrible at the time – stole my pen.” [Tracey, Soprano]
Headshots_montage“Speaking of memory lane, remember the early-90s TV series, May to December? We’re singing the title track, ‘September Song’, by Kurt Weill – sure to pull on your heart strings!” [Gaynor, Alto]
“I was given several minor roles in a production of Les Mis, which lead to me wearing parts of four costumes at once and having four changes in the first 20 minutes (all before Fantine dies) – which included playing a nun. The wimple meant I couldn’t hear a thing, so the guy playing Valjean had to listen for my cue and literally push me on stage!” [Alicia, Alto]
“I did Les Mis at school. On the first night when we performed ‘At The End of the Day’ we were all facing backwards to start for dramatic effect. The pianist forgot to cue us as he was so nervous so we didn’t turn around and ended up facing backwards for the whole first verse! When we turned around a few of us bellowed the second verse to make sure the rest of the cast carried on. It was a scary moment – but the audience didn’t have a clue! The magic of theatre…” [David, Tenor]
“Then there’s Little Shop of Horrors, recalling a long drive to Hull to see my niece play Audrey, and then fast forward several years to seeing Anything Goes in the West End – we’ll be performing ‘Blow, Gabriel, Blow’ (no tittering in the back, there).” [Gaynor, Alto]
Headshots_montage“My grandparents saw one of the very first previews of Les Mis at the Barbican in 1985. 25 years later, in 2010, I took my grandma to the anniversary celebration production at the same theatre.” [Naomi, Soprano]
“I saw Wicked for the first time on Broadway in 2005! I had no idea what sort of musical this was going to be, and I was super worried that I wasn’t going to like the story or get any of the jokes – I was only 12. However, after ‘Defying Gravity’ had been sung and the lights came on for the intermission, my big sister and I were both glued to our chairs, covered in goosebumps and unable to speak. That night, Wicked became our favourite musical and we memorized all the lyrics and harmonies in our hotel room. To this day, I am still delegated Glinda’s parts on Popular without much say in the matter!” [Marianne, Alto]
“When I went to see Spamalot in London a couple of years ago, as we were applauding at the end Michael Palin suddenly stepped on to the stage!!! [Abigail, Soprano]
“A big group of Pink Singers went to see one of the first performances of Funny Girl during its recent run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, thanks to the expert booking skills of our tenor Gary – it sold out within hours! And what a show it was. ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ was a stand out moment – Sheridan Smith was incredible!” [Kirsten, Alto]
Headshots_montage“My parents produced Little Shop on Broadway when I was 14. I used to go sit on the back stairs and watch it, and then my dad and I would run backstage five minutes before the end and greet the cast as they came offstage. When we sing ‘hold your hat and hold on to your soul’ I think of that, and think, it’s time to start running!” [Zoë, Soprano]
“I was in Little Shop at school and got eaten by the plant. Lots of fun but the bruising was spectacular!” [Kate, Alto]
“So far, I’m having a ball singing with the Pink Singers. I know if you come along to see the show on Saturday, you won’t be able to stop yourself from tapping your foot, singing along, and wondering how to join up for next season – so don’t miss out, grab your tickets here!”

Q&A with the Pink Singers Artistic Team

Murray HipkinOur Artistic Director David Baxter (pictured David Baxterright) and Musical Director Murray Hipkin (left), squeezed in time for a chat.
Here’s what we found out about our upcoming concert One Night Only, with less than a week to go until curtain up!
How will next weekend’s show be different to previous Pink Singers concerts?
David Baxter: Given the popular theme, we’re pulling out all the stops for this one! The concert will have a different feel in terms of mood I think. We’ve got two fantastic comperes who will run the whole show, slick choreography for more numbers than normal and we’ll be showcasing a number of our choir members through various solos, duets, trios and even a small group! It’s definitely going to be a night to remember.
What has been the most challenging thing about the repertoire this time?
DB: There are a lot of words! I think the most challenging thing so far has been making sure we follow the choral arrangements we have. Sometimes when you see a show at the West End, you get used to the tune but need to remember that we’re now singing 8-part harmonies and can’t all be Elphaba in Defying Gravity….
Murray Hipkin: Choosing it; there was so much material.
Rehearsal photos for One Night OnlyWhat are you most looking forward to?
DB: I’m really excited to see the audience’s reaction to whole event. My vision is for it to be a theatrical spectacular which showcases some show-stopping favourites, as well as some pieces they may not have heard out of context before.
MH: Close friends might imagine that it’s the bottle of Pinot Grigio waiting at the end – but I am looking forward most of all to watching everyone realise that they do know all the words and all the moves and that actually concerts can be lots of fun rather than something to be fearful about.
David, What is it that you find most inspiring about being in the Pinkies and specifically, working on the artistic vision for this concert?
DB: I love watching the whole concert come together when we start to run it; that’s where the real creativity begins for me. Seeing people ‘off copy’ allows them to think more about what they’re singing, what the song means to them and perform it to the very best of their ability.
One Night Only rehearsalsMurray, what do you love most about being a conductor?
MH: Being a conductor is a great job for a passive-aggressive control freak with borderline narcissistic personality disorder.  But it seems to suit me too. 😉  Actually, the conducting is the easy bit; it’s the preparation that is challenging and I do love my work as a teacher and enabler.
Who are your musical heroes from the West End/Broadway/Opera and why?
DB: Hmmm…that’s tricky. There’s a few actually; all women too! But my top choice would have to be the legendary Imelda Staunton. Having recently seen her in Sweeney Todd I was stunned by her energy. Apparently Sondheim saw the Press Night, grabbed her hands and said ‘You gotta play ‘Rose’…’ and she did. Just when I thought she couldn’t get better I then saw Gypsy – and was blown away by her energy throughout, so much so that I saw it twice. My other choices would be Cynthia Erivo and Jenna Russell.  
MH: Currently Glenn Close.  Oh sorry, did I mention Glenn Close again?  I never got bored with her performance in Sunset Boulevard.  And I rehearsed it for five weeks, saw it at least eight times, and played in twenty-three performances! Or maybe Emma Thompson.   
I did once work with Sondheim (my main hero) but it was before cameras were invented.  
Murray and Glenn CloseIf you had to give the choir just one piece of advice on the night of the performance, what would it be?
DB: Relax and Enjoy – it’s time to perform all your hard work you’ve put in!
MH: Eat a banana in the interval.  Or a flapjack.  Preferably dripping with Manuka honey, which (we are reliably informed by Dr Iain in the basses) is a good humectant.
Rehearsal Pics for One Night OnlyIs there anything that you do when you perform, rehearse, compose or conduct that others might find unusual (any quirks, tricks, useful tips)?
DB: Sometimes I end up on a chair getting very excited when I can see how well a piece is going. They probably think I’m all a bit nuts…and they’re probably right!   
MH: If I get tense while performing I visualise the tension as a liquid and little taps in every joint of my body.  I open the taps one by one and let the tension flow to where it’s needed.  If I am playing the piano it’s quite useful to have tension in my fingers, or I wouldn’t be able to press the keys, but I don’t want it in my shoulders or my jaw.  If I’m conducting I like to keep some tension in my legs because without it I would end up in a heap on the floor, but tension in the hands and neck is a bad thing.  (If you see a puddle on the floor where I have been standing, that will be why.)
So do make sure you come and see all this work in action – next Saturday, Cadogan Hall, 7pm – book your tickets here now!
One Night Only rehearsal pics

Why Barbra Streisand is my favourite musical legend

Emelda
Emelda

In the second of a series of blog posts about favourite music legends – leading up to our Legends concert on 10th January – soprano Emelda Nicholroy explains why La Streisand hits the high notes for her:
My mother has always loved musicals and I fondly remember watching some of the great movie musicals on TV with my family, often at Christmas. The Sound Of Music, West Side Story, Oliver, My Fair Lady, Fiddler On The Roof – we loved them all.  But I seem to remember my mum having a particular soft spot for anything starring Mario Lanza.
YentlOf all of those films one that really stayed with me was Yentl. For quite some time I wanted to be Barbra Streisand when I grew up. The last shot of her on the boat to America belting out a note that seems to last for about ten minutes just had me gobsmacked. While the music in Yentl is amazing and La Streisand is clearly on top form (they said she was too old to play Yentl!), looking back I can’t help but wonder if something in the film spoke to me on a deeper level. She even gets the girl. (Well sort of. You’ll have to watch it).
whatsupdoc9After Yentl I began to search out all the Streisand films I could find. There is a long list: Funny Girl, A Star Is Born, Hello Dolly, What’s Up Doc, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever and many more. As well as singing and acting on stage and screen, her talents include writing, producing and directing and on top of that she has sold 245 million records worldwide. She got her first big break after being spotted performing cabaret in a gay bar in Greenwich Village in 1960 at age 18 and went on to win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy by the time she was 28! She is truly a phenomenon.
U.S. singer and actress Barbra Streisand performs in ParisI have always wanted to see her perform live but this doesn’t happen all that often. In 2007 she came to the UK for the first time in 13 years but unfortunately the ticket prices were a little out of my reach. I was devastated and promised myself that that when she returned I would somehow beg, borrow or steal a ticket. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long and in 2012 she announced that she would be coming to London in summer 2013. I knew I had to go and thankfully my wife Kate appreciated this and was prepared for the large credit card bill to follow. On 3rd June 2013 I finally made it. Sure we were up in the gods at the O2 – it was an intimate gig for 13,000 of her closest fans – but it was everything I had hoped for. Age 71 and she can still hit those notes and banter with the best of them. And they played “Barbra Streisand” by Duck Sauce during the interval. Priceless.