As far as I know I am the youngest Pinkie ever to join. I was 19 at the time, just off the plane from Finland. Being so young also means that I wasn’t even born when Mark Bunyan and the late Brian Kennedy formed the Pink Singers in May 1983. It seems amazing to think that when I was just a twinkle in my fathers eye, the Pink Singers were born. I cannot remember how I found out about the Pink Singers, it was probably while browsing through Diva or perhaps on the Internet, but anyhow, in the late summer 2003, I took up all the courage I had and went along to a rehearsal. I remember wearing a bright yellow jumper and a big smile on my face. During that time the Pinkies rehearsed at the Drill Hall and we were not as many Pinkies as we are now in 2008. Now we cant even accept more altos as we have too many already. Continue reading “Tales of the Pinkie – Nathalina”
“I had tried out another choir. Their rehearsal space was in a basement, the tea break chaotic, and we were required to stand for the entire practice. When I wandered into the Pink Singers, into a room with light streaming through the windows, there were chairs to sit down, and we had our break in the Drill Hall cafeteria with tasty snacks! But of course, those were minor pleasures. The greater ones were found in the people there who welcomed me warmly, the songs we sang (if I remember correctly, we sang No One Is Alone and Big Spender on my first day), and who was this east European fellow at the front of the room directing with such humour and skill? I joined the Pink Sisters and sang with them for over a year, from 1998 to 1999. It was not a large group of people and I liked it that way. With only a few tenors, it was important for me to be there for rehearsals and performances and I felt needed! I loved the mix of people, women and men, from many countries. Most important was that London was the largest city I’d ever lived in, and I’d found it tough to make friends, and if succeeding in that, arranging to match up our busy schedules. After a while in the choir, I realised that the Pinkies were giving me connection and community. I felt a satisfying glow to see the same people every week and to do something together that we loved. Continue reading “Tales of the Pinkie – Andy Quan”
“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”
“I joined the Pink Singers in 1988, walking into the rehearsal ‘dungeon’ that was the basement of the London Lesbian & Gay Centre, in Farringdon. I was young and a bit nervous at first, but soon found a place in the tenor section and started to sing my heart out for the next seven years. The first big event for me was a Christmas concert in Stratford. Why? Well it was my first concert and someone had suggested I sing a solo – Getting to be a Habit With Me from 42nd Street. I can still remember the words. I can’t remember who suggested I do it, so I can’t ‘thank’ them for the experience. In Miami, disaster was averted when our accompanist, Brian, lost one of the pieces of music and had to run back to the dressing room. Philip Rescorla (our resident continuity announcer) was only vaguely aware of the problem and carried on making jokes. As he returned to his position next to me, I whispered, “Just in time” as Brian scampered back with the lost music. Continue reading “Tales of the Pinkie – Richard Seymour”
Andy joined the Pinkies in 1996 and became one of our talented composers and arrangers. Let’s go back to the turn of the millennium…
It was the time of pre-millennial fever and everyone was either planning the biggest party in history, or stocking up on tinned food, ready for the Y2K bug. How appropriate then, that the Pink Singers should receive an invitation from the makers of BBC2’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’, asking us to appear as special guests for their special millennium episode. How could we say no?
Of course, it wasn’t as straightforward as that. As so often happens, we were only contacted a few days before the TV shoot, and the choir would be required for half a day. Most Pinkies couldn’t make it, as they weren’t able to arrange the time off work. In fact, it looked as if we wouldn’t be able to take part, and a golden opportunity would be missed. A compromise was reached – the TV company would hire extras to make up the numbers. That’s right, we had wannabe Pink Singers in our midst!
I was lucky enough to be able to arrange time off work, so I met up with my fellow Pinkies – all six of us – at the TV studio on the day of filming. I’d never seen a TV programme being recorded before, and the first thing that struck me was how small the set was. The second surprise was seeing how short the lead actors were, so maybe television screens just magnify everything.
For those who haven’t seen ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’, the show is about a gay man sharing a flat with a straight woman; neither of them can get a man. Kathy Burke and James Dreyfuss played the lead roles, both of whom are heroes of mine. We sat in the audience seats watching them rehearse, which gave us a sneak preview of the show. In between scenes, Kathy would chat to anyone who was around – I remember her talking about having some building work done to her house. Apparently she would take the builders to the pub to keep them sweet.
Our job was to appear right at the end of the show, singing the song Tomorrow from the musical ‘Annie’. Of course, none of us had ever sung it before. Fortunately we only had to sing a few lines. We had a chance for a quick run through of the words, and then we had to go on the set to work out how we would enter, where we would stand and so on. Then we rehearsed the scene with the leads a couple of times – we were awful! We kept forgetting words, losing time, and everyone seemed quite intimidated by being on the set. The producer was looking quite worried, and kept telling us not to be so timid.
After that, we had a few hours to wait before the show was filmed. We were kitted out with clothes from the costume department, and then we just had to hang around, grabbing a bite to eat as the audience arrived. Other programmes were being recorded that night – we saw Boy George, who had just been interviewed for a chat show. He was most intrigued when we told him who we were!
Tension mounted as we were gathered backstage for our big moment. We had to be extremely quiet hiding behind the set, as our appearance was to be a huge surprise for the audience. Time seemed to drag, as the crew fiddled around with lighting and microphones for the scene. We all knew that we had to get it right first time, because glitter, balloons and streamers were going drop all over the set, and they wouldn’t have time to clean it all up for another take.
We were on! I was the first on to the stage, and I ran out, waving my arms around and trying to look as bold and confident as possible. We sang at the tops of our voices, with a conductor hidden behind the camera to keep us in time. Glitter flew in all directions, and the audience gasped and laughed as we burst onto the set. And we were wonderful, even if I do say so myself. The crowd loved us, and we spent ages basking in the applause. The producer was exuberant, saying how we had been “infused with the spirit of theatre”!
And then it was all over. We were invited to the after-show party, which was nice, so we browsed the buffet and chatted with the stars. Then we had to wait, excruciatingly, for weeks before we could see the final product. What did I make of it? Well, I thought that I looked like a chipmunk in a pink smock, but I was really proud of our appearance. The episode was repeated a few times on the BBC, and then endlessly on cable stations, so there were plenty of chances to see it. I have friends who still have it recorded on video for posterity! I’ll never forget that day, and it has gone down as a classic moment in Pink Singers history. Here’s looking forward to our next TV appearance!