A Night At The Movies

Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London

Wahooo! Newbie Mark relives the excitement of our recent concert, A Night At The Movies, the sequel. Which was epic.

I’d been waiting for this day to arrive since I joined the Pink Singers in the Autumn of 2017. With my outfits packed and a bubbling sense of excitement in my belly, I treated myself to an Uber that drove me through Chelsea to Cadogan hall. I thought it quite rare and fortunate that this particular driver was playing a classical compilation CD in his car, which set my anxious and excited mind somewhat to rest as I absorbed the lovely architecture on the way to the hall.

I arrived, and eagerly ran to the door because I was, as always, fashionably late. At the door I was greeted by Penny, elegantly puffing the last embers of a fag before our call, and she directed me down through the somewhat arcane stairways of the former Church of Christian Science to the basement changing rooms. Once downstairs, I was able to greet a few of my chorister comrades before the pre-concert work would begin.

The day was long and hard. We spent it practicing entries and ironing out creases, and I tried my best not to annoy an anxious Murray and poorly Jerome. Our lovely hostess’s sass kept me entertained as we ran through the numbers and the various steps we’d have to take in, out, and about the stage. Seeing the video accompaniment for the first time, I’m once again impressed with the talent that this choir endlessly seems capable of deploying.

At last, a coffee break. A cigarette (or two). And then running through the second half. By now the excitement was welling within me. We had our pre-concert dinner break and I wolfed down the squashed yellow sticker sandwich I’d bought on the way in. Night had fallen and some people were arriving at the hall. I couldn’t wait to see the rows of seats full of our Pinkie friends.

Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

We’ve worked hard on this one. All those Sunday afternoons’ labours were about to come to fruition. I’m lined up on the stairs, taking deep breathes to calm my nerves. Simon informs me that I’ve been referred to as the one with the Tarzan hair. I ruffle my mane in response. Basses and Tenors are joshing about in hushed (not always) voices as we wait for a cue to walk on stage. These moments of pre-performance excitement are my favourite. In this moment, the potential for beauty is almost palpable. I dwell momentarily  upon the collective intention, logistcal efforts, thought, planning, practice, talent, and no small measure of love too, is about to collide into a musical explosion.

This is it. My first Pinkie’s concert. I think it was somewhere in the middle of the Indiana Jones theme that I’ve taken my position. I’m scanning the crowd for my brother, but can’t seem to see much past the lights. Of course, I notice a few cute faces in the crowd. There’s so many people! It’s basically a full house! And then there’s the banner of Richard’s face hanging from the balcony. Legendary. Cue the Universal theme, and we’re off!

Mark (far right) getting into the choreo.Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

The first half goes so quickly. It feels like being in an altered state of consciousness, where the music flows our of me without deliberate effort. My whole attention rests on integrating my memory of the music, the auditory information from around me, and the motions of Murray’s hand guiding our collective voice. And the dancing. I’m proud of myself for changing my attitude to choreography. My confidence has grown. I’ve found a new way to express myself.

It’s interval. I should quit smoking… Maybe not just yet. Time for a quick wardrobe change. Gods! This is a damn good looking choir! Adorned in all the colours of the rainbow, these beautiful bodies, voices, and souls stand proud and ready. We’re back, and looking fabulous! My feet hurt, my eyes feel strained, but the adrenaline is coarsing through my veins. I’m giving it my all, playing the congas, shouting about your mum in the tube hole, focusing on keeping time and sensitive dynamics, and not bashing my neighbour when we Flashdance for our final number.

When I was later to see the videos my brother took of some of the performance, I learned that I look so happy when I let myself go and just do the moves without self-doubt. And you know what? I realise how lucky I am to have this space to be my gay self with pride. Being part of this choir has helped me accept myself more as a gay man; an ongoing process for many if not all LGBTQ+ folks. I’ve grown in a way I could never have done otherwise than being a part of this choir. I am grateful for this unique opportunity.

A Night at the Movies: The Sequel Jan 2018Photo by Jess Rowbottom / Hotfox Media

The concert is done, and we’re milling about Cadogan before heading off to the afterparty. I say a few hellos, and all I hear from everyone is about how they absolutely loved it. My brother is impressed, and finally understands why I disappear for hours every Sunday. He can’t believe how professional it was. Born Slippy and O Fortuna were his favourites. I have a last puff on my post concert fag (this really has to stop soon though!) before heading back in to lend a hand setting down the stage. After lugging bits of stage and poles to the van, one of the stage crew asks if I’d like an old confetti cannon that the theatre was throwing out. I jumped at the opportunity, stroking my new one-use toy. I have a plan.

Mark’s confetti cannon.Photo credit: Jess Rowbottom

I rush off to the afterparty. Good cheer abides! And what an epic venue – Kirsten is a genius. I can’t quite remember how I got the drinks I did, but they were hardly necessary given the elation one feels post-concert. The bodies are moving. Colours are everywhere. Smiles, joy, new faces and familiar ones, young, and old, and all shapes and sizes. I’m waiting for my moment. The DJ plays Born Slippy. I wait for the wall of sound, poised on the balcony above the dance floor. The beat stops and the moment arrives. I unleash the confetti and it feels like time slows down. Colours flitter in the air. It’s one of those pure and rare peak moments in time. I am happy.

See you next season!

The original performance of ‘A Night At The Movies’ was on 20 January 2018 at Cadogan Hall, London

Timeline datestamp: 04 February 2018

From melody to 8-part harmony: arranging for the Pinkies

Chris C

With just over a month until our next concert, A Night At The Movies – The Sequel, we thought we’d find out how Chris Chambers, one of our home-grown arrangers, goes about his craft. 


The Pink Singers’ concert repertoire comprises a superb collection of songs from movies, in a variety of styles.  Although we acquire some rights for existing arrangements, we are lucky enough to have several talented Pinkies who arrange beautiful songs especially for us.  Chris has been doing this for several years, so we thought we’d quiz him on how the magic happens. Here it is in his own words:


STEP 1: THE SONG

The announcement of the concert theme is succeeded by a lengthy trawling of internet ‘top 100’ lists. I also see if I can sneakily find a tenuous link between my favourite pieces of music and the theme in question.  The list of suggested repertoire is released for the Music Team’s consideration which is also a good time to sway opinion. And drink wine. Then I wait to see what the Artistic Team would like to offer me.

STEP 2: THE ARRANGEMENT

As a teacher this is normally done in my holiday repose after a certain amount of dread and much procrastination. In the final 2 days of my six week holiday I set up the laptop, turn the telly on in the background (somehow this makes it seem like less of a formal commitment to hours of work) and place the first of a multipack of Diet Coke on the digital piano. I then spend hours playing the same chords over and over again, much to the delight of my husband, until I stumble accidentally on something I like.

Four hours later this is all securely entered into the music notation software. The play button is pressed and the afternoon’s work is duly deleted. When eventually completed the score is emailed to the Artistic Team 4-7 times to rectify numerous omissions, errors and changes of heart. Sadly the hours spent listening to and playing my favourite songs over and over again render me insensitive to the reasons I liked them in the first place.

STEP 3: REALISATION


The rights have been successfully obtained and it is the exciting first rehearsal with the choir. Some parts of the arrangement instantly come to fruition. There is a certain degree of disappointment with some of my decisions and my unreasonable expectation that everyone should sing it perfectly from the first read through. These hugely narcissistic thoughts fed by an extreme fear of inadequacy are usually allayed by the second rehearsal. The ensuing sense of achievement and satisfaction is punctuated with occasional trips from my rehearsal chair to the musical director to highlight yet more omissions, errors and changes of heart.

STEP 4: POST-CONCERT


Of course, everything works out well in the end. I vow not to do any more arrangements due to the emotional turmoil. The theme of the next concert is revealed. I remember that I am incredibly lucky to be an amateur having their work performed by such a vast and able choir and repeat Step 1.
A Night At The Movies – The Sequel will be performed by The Pink Singers at Cadogan Hall on Saturday 20th January.  Tickets are on sale here.

Stepping into the limelight for the first time!

Teddy
Teddy

A Night at the Movies was the culmination of my first season with the Pinkies, and so I was continually reminded I was “popping my Pinkie cherry”.  Prior to joining the choir, I had never been to a Pinkies concert.  Although I had performed in choirs for many years in Sydney, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I be nervous?  Would it be a professional appearance?  Would the concert ‘come together’ on the night? 
Any uncertainty I had was soon eased upon arriving at the venue.  As I walked from the Underground station to the venue, there was the most glorious parade of Pinkies carrying the most sensational array of hat boxes, suit bags, suitcases full of makeup, the obligatory feather boas and of course the absolutely necessary glitter that is required for such a concert. 
There had been many months of rehearsals leading into the big day.  There had been a lot of blood sweat and tears – and literally tears from all of us on different occasions trying as we tried to memorise repertoire and choralography (aka choreography for choirs).
The afternoon of the show was spent in a full technical rehearsal.  It went something like this… Start a song. Stop midway.  Move to the right.  Readjust lighting levels.  Have a sip of water.  Start the song again.  Stop again.  We’d moved too far to the right.  Shuffle the left.  No the other left.  No no.  Keep going.  Have a sip of water. Have a chat amongst ourselves.  Fix the balance between the band and the choir.  Have another chat. Okay start again.  Repeat.  Next song.  Repeat the process.  Have another sip of water.
I was soon starting to realise any apprehension I had about the concert had been far too premature.  What was quickly unfurling was an A-Grade professional performance of the highest calibre – choir, bigband, piano, solos, movement, lighting, videos, audience interaction, emotion.  There was an apparent degree of pre-performance preparation and thought put in by a very talented team of Pinkies.  We were scheduled to deliver a fun-filled and spectacular evening.  Continue reading “Stepping into the limelight for the first time!”

A Night at the Movies guests: The London Gay Big Band

Tickets for A Night at the Movies are now all sold out! Keep an eye on our website in case any extras become available at the last minute, and keep Saturday 19 July free in your diary for our next London concert.
On Saturday 25 January we’ll be joined on stage by the hugely talented London Gay Big Band! They’ll be helping us bring to life a whole host of movie music favourites. Having heard them perform numerous times, most recently with the lovely London Gay Men’s Chorus at their Hallowe’en Ball, we’re delighted to have them join us.
LondonGayBigBand_Group_rgb_265_f1(1)
The London Gay Big Band was founded in the summer of 2011 and is a full-size, 20 piece, jazz orchestra made up of talented musicians and vocalists, bringing a fresh vibe to the London music scene.
Since its formation, the Band has gone from strength to strength, performing at a number of high profile events and venues throughout London and beyond, including the Southbank Centre, the main stage at Trafalgar Square for World Pride 2012, main stage at BT London Live in Victoria Park (part of London 2012 Olympics), The Langham Hotel, Hackney Empire, Floridita, Clapham Street Party, The Lord Mayor’s Show & Charing Cross Theatre, among others.
More information and details of their other upcoming shows

The best film I’ve never seen and the worst film I’ve ever seen

Jess
Jess (looking festive)

In the latest of a series of blog posts leading up to our next concert, A Night at the Movies, alto Jess recalls a particularly moving film moment…

I don’t often watch films at home. We all have a far shorter attention span these days, apparently, and when I have other distractions anything longer than The Great Muppet Caper (95 mins) makes me feel I should be doing something useful such as re-arranging the magnetic fridge poetry.

As a result, there are many good films that I’ve simply failed to see. One of the best has surely got to be Apocalypse Now.

Continue reading “The best film I’ve never seen and the worst film I’ve ever seen”