Pinkie Weekend Away Camaraderie

 

Newbie Tina

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.

Campfire’s Burning…

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.

Some more newbies all dolled up for the party
Tina transformed!

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.
Choreo practise
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.
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Happy Birthday to Us, Happy Birthday to Us!

Michelle Wanna hear how ‘Wicked’ our 33rd birthday party was, how much ‘hairspray’ was used, & how many Pinkies got ‘Footloose’ and fancy free on the dance floor? Spot the theme yet?  Soprano Michelle gives us the low down on our 33rd birthday party shenanigans…
Happy Birthday to Us, Happy Birthday to Us!
In true Pinkies style we celebrated the choirs 33rd birthday by going FOOTLOOSE and ON THE TOWN for a LITTLE NIGHT OF MUSIC and CABARET at Claphams’ Two Brewers.
Pinkie b'day Apr 2016Us GUYS AND DOLLS were dressed up to the NINEs in our ‘musical theatre’ themed costumes in honor of our next Broadway inspired Concert – ONE NIGHT ONLY.
This is my 4th Pinkies birthday party and I never fail to be utterly amazed by the effort everyone puts in to the event. From MY FAIR LADY Rachel catering us with cake (complete with ‘green icing flowing down’ – a prize if you can spot that reference!) – to DREAM’GIRL Jezza ordering the fizz and decorating the venue to perfection. There are too many people to mention that make these celebrations the highlights of the Pinkies’ calendars.
33Our traditional Open Mic session was was hosted by the suave Master of Ceremonies Paul with his naughty banter, cheeky smile and slick hair shining from his HAIRSPRAY.
(You have to remember the singing doesn’t stop after our small group gigs, concerts and weekly rehearsals. What excuse is better than celebrating our third-and-a-bit decade as London’s community choir. It wouldn’t be a Pinkie event without a sing song – or two, or three…).
34Kicking off the show was our Saz singing a little ditty (she’s a FUNNY GIRL). Next up, those DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRALS – small group old favourites the Baberfellas – and new kids on the block the ‘Raundrettes’ entertained us with some close harmony campery. All followed by some amazing and show stopping numbers from resident Tenor Divas – What a THRILLER of a night!
27The final act of the evening was our very own ACORN ANTIQUE Alto leader Jeremey and Artistic Director David who embodied good old ‘Barry and Freda’ for a final Hurrah! paying homage to our late and great Victoria Wood. [We all agree will now begin a petition to insist we replace the National Anthem with ‘Let’s Do it – The ballad of Barry and Freda’ so watch this space!]
Pinkie b'day Apr 2016There was however a very important absence from proceedings. THE MUSIC MAN himself, our Musical Director Murray Hipkin was busy tickling the ivories for another particular Diva at the Coliseum. However he did film a little video including The ENO Cast singing us Happy Birthday which was truly amazing and managed to race south of the river to catch the grand finale of the evening in full concert dress – TOP HAT missing but definitely the tails!
Pinkie b'day Apr 2016The SOUND OF MUSIC completely took over us. In our KINKY BOOTS and with moves like FOSSE we danced the night away until we MERRILY WE ROLL(ED) ALONG home.
We had such a WICKED evening.
We do hope you will be able to join us on the 4th of June for ONE NIGHT ONLY at Cadogan Hall where WE WILL ROCK YOU.

Choral cavorting and carrots!

KirstenOur weekends away have become a real highlight of the Pinkie calendar and this year’s was no exception. Alto Kirsten gives the low down on an epic weekend of singing, stretching, eating, human hungry hippo’ing, cavorting and bonding. Thanks to everyone for mucking in and making it magic… 
Well well well. What a weekend that was! We are still recovering from our annual residential, which took place this year in the aptly named Carroty Wood, in deepest darkest Kent.
We arrived on Friday evening and settled into our rooms, slightly unsure at first if we were on a choir jaunt or geography school trip. Things swiftly got underway however with soup (carrot, of course), sparklers and singing around the bonfire. What a wonderful start!
11219388_10206099332937270_2572522669729643055_nBright and early on Saturday morning a breakfast feast greeted us – thanks to our incredible Mama Tanya, who slaved away in the kitchen all weekend to keep us going. We then got to work and were lucky to be led in workshops by accomplished soprano Andrea Brown who, amongst many things, taught us about vowel sounds, honing our oohs and aahs into perfection. I really enjoyed Andrea’s approach and know we will be certainly putting the techniques we learned to use in our upcoming concert!
We also had a chance to brush up on choreography with our wonderful artistic team. I think the basses enjoyed these moves a little too much…?!
Carroty WoodLate afternoon came the highlight of the weekend for me – the masterclass. Two Pinkies bravely put themselves forward to sing under the watchful eye of Andrea, who gave tips and teaching in front of us all. Newbie soprano Clare was first up – what a voice! It was really interesting to hear even more come out of her performance with Andrea’s suggestions; her delivery of the song really changed as her engagement with the words developed. Next up was tenor Simon Harrison, who gave us all a beautiful rendition of West Side Story’s ‘Somewhere’ – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after that one! Andrea also explained how to deal with last minute nerves and tension, and how to use emotion to make more of your performance.
After enjoying another wonderful feast – thanks again to Tanya, her helpers Teddy and Simon W, and the rest of the intrepid cooking crew – the fun really started. The evening kicked off with the ‘open mic’ performances, opened and compered by the fabulous Simon H, Phil and Michelle. Several excellent performances followed – what a talented bunch!
The party then got underway, with the theme “The Enchanted Wood” – what a sight to behold! We had gnomes on toadstools, red riding hoods, Robin Hoods, plenty of fairies – and of course a couple of carrots too! The revelry continued into the night, with plenty more singing, dancing and merriment.
Carroty Wood
Sunday morning didn’t involve any singing – the team clearly knew better! Instead we had a choice of fun activities to choose from – from rope climbing (let’s not ask what happened to Simon H’s shorts in that one!), swimming, our very own Bake-Off, judged by the glamorous ‘Marky Berry’ and ‘Tanya Hollywood’, prop making for our winter concert – and human hungry hippos! With only four injuries, that one was definitely a resounding success!
The day continued with rehearsals led by our Musical Director Murray Hipkin and fantastic music team, and some more choreography practice. As always this was interspersed with plenty more sustenance – we were certainly well looked after!
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153270852930745.1073741844.19397925744&type=3After all pitching in with the final clean up, we then trundled into our chariots to make our way out of the enchanted forest and back into reality. Boooo….until next year!
The whole weekend was put together by our fantastic events manager Mark – what an incredible job he did. We can’t thank him enough! Here he is with the wonderful Tanya, who I may have already mentioned worked really hard to keep us fed and watered all weekend. Thank you both!
Click here to see more photos from the weekend! 
Carroty Wood

Happy 32nd Birthday To Us!

We celebrated our 32nd birthday this year, with a fun, colour-block themed party and a cake with enough e-numbers in it to ensure we’ll still be buzzing in time for our concert on 11th July!
32nd birthday party
In fact, tickets for the concert are now ON SALE!
Can a song shape the world? Join us as we explore the link between music and history, showcasing a variety of musical styles in St John’s Smith Square – one of London’s most atmospheric and beautiful venues. With music at the heart of change, the show will highlight many significant moments in history, through the suffragette movement to the HIV/AIDS crisis; from Monteverdi’s early opera to record-breaking chart toppers.
The show will also feature the wonderful Hinsegin kórinn – Reykjavík Queer Choir – in their debut London performance.
Click here to book!

The Pink Singers go to Brantridge

Simon BOne of this season’s newbies tenor Simon Blakey, sums up his experiences of his first weekend away with the Pink Singers…

Mention ‘Brantridge’ to a Pink Singer and the overwhelming response will be that of excitement and positivity. I’m one of this season’s ‘newbies’ and it was easy to spot its cult status amongst the choir – an annual event which has firmly ingrained itself in Pinkie lore, it was clear to us newbies (and the numerous not-so-newbies of the previous Spring/Summer season who were yet to experience Brantridge) that it would be an integral part of our initiation into the choir.  A definite weekend to remember. 

Friday 

10525354_10203907406700484_6570985703091873460_nExcited (and a little nervous), we arrived at the estate to settle into our apartments and gather together for dinner.  We were promised that we wouldn’t starve and boy was that an understatement!  We feasted like royalty throughout the weekend.  After all, an army marches on its stomach… and the indisputable Captain of Brantridge, alto Jenny Cousins, made sure this army was well stocked (seriously, that woman could give Sun Tzu a run for his money on the military planning front, I’m in awe).

After dinner we all marched down to the bottom of the estate for a bonfire and fireworks, quite literally starting the weekend with a bang (and toffee apples hard enough to pull our dentures out).  The Xmas jumper parade was a sight to behold.  Quite how all that much polyester survived so close to the fire without combusting I’ll never know… a minor miracle.

Saturday

Sam demonstrating the tilting larynx, or was it the glottal onset?
Sam demonstrating the tilting larynx, or was it the glottal onset?

The Saturday was taken up primarily by workshops and sectional rehearsals.  We were honoured to have Sam Kenyon attending for the weekend, who is fast becoming an annual addition to Brantridge.  Sam is a master of several trades, but his knowledge and expertise as a voice teacher were a highlight of the weekend for me.  My thinned vocal folds and larynx-tilting will never be the same again.

Following a day of vocal exertion I reported to Captain Cousins for kitchen duty.  I was part of the team assigned to craft  Christmas dinner for everyone, a task I very much enjoyed.  I was told ‘this might be one of the toughest tasks of the weekend, but it’s definitely one of the most rewarding’.  How true that was.  Luckily, we were a good team of kitchen wenches and dinner was a great success; absent friends were toasted (you resting Pinkies and those who couldn’t make it, you were much missed!), and then the evening really kicked off…

10393755_10154886275665357_7493555437710233179_nI’m unlikely to ever forget what came next: the annual Christmas party.  By the time dinner rolled around most people had adopted their alter-egos for the evening.  I counted several Madonnas, a Dolly Parton getting down with George Michael and Elton John, no less than three Freddie Mercurys, two Amy Winehouses,  several Chers, one Cheryl Cole and a grand total of eleven Conchita Wursts (as well as four Wombles!?).  Led by the compères to end all compères we were entertained with an open mic show of vocal treats.  I was part of a group making our debut that evening (though we should really revisit our group name for next year – The Sweaty Crotchets is REALLY not appealing.  Suggestions on a post-card please). 

Sunday

10712820_10152576042540745_6033920101232004789_nAfter a rather epic evening I awoke bleary-eyed to join another set of workshops run by Andrea Brown, a guest tutor for our final day at Brantridge.  Andrea has an impressive list of credits and qualifications to her name and was an absolute pleasure to work with.  I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from both her and Sam over the course of the weekend.

Sunday evening saw me delivered back home, practically comatose with exhaustion, but content with memories of an engaging, productive and eye-opening weekend.  What really came across most was the concerted effort everyone made to connect with members they hadn’t yet had the opportunity to meet properly.  Friendships were forged and cemented, repertoire was tweaked, fun was had…what more could I ask for?

I’m brimming with excitement for our upcoming concert on the 10th January; it’s clear that it’s going to be one hell of a show, and I’m thrilled to be part of it as a fully initiated Pinkie. Thanks for the fun ride Brantridge.

Photo credits: Simon Pearson & Hsien Chew.