The carol singing contingent was out on the streets of Brighton, after singing upstairs at Pokeno Pies having been previously fortified with some warming mulled wine kindly supplied by Keith of Pokeno Pies. We stayed in Gardner Street, trying to hide under the large canopy to keep the ‘seasonal’ rain off our woolly hats. One of the most popular songs with passer-bys seemed to be Gaudete (made famous by Steeleye Span in the 70s) but we performed many other well-loved carols too.

After two separate performances outside we decided to call it an afternoon and retreated for pies and mash and more seasonal generosity from Keith.

We don’t have any photographs of us, so here’s something you certainly would not have seen that afternoon!

Joint World AIDS Day concert

Our regular WAD concert took a slightly different turn as we took part in an externally organised event and so the format was rather different from what our regulars had come to expect.

It was absolutely packed inside the reasonably warm St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown which was a new venue for us. Though our MD, Matt, had had a piece of his performed there before by the London Gay Symphony Orchestra.

The music for the evening began with some lovely performances by Andrew Ballantyne on harp and Neil Carter on flute, followed by Greg Moore singing a number of ballads accompanying himself on piano.

Then it was time for us to come onstage - you can see what we performed from the programme
here. Our opener, Homophobia, went down a storm and in fact the whole programme seemed very well liked. We had a lot of positive feedback in the following interval with several people saying that it was our most together performance so far (You’re only as good as your last concert eh?).

After the interval, we joined the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus on stage for O Fortuna!, the rousing opening movement of Orff’s Carmina Burana (which we had performed for WAD in 2004). We then left them to perform a small selection of movements from the whole piece during which they were joined by a large number of enthusiastically musical children (singing in Latin!) and the lovely soprano voice of Ms Red Gray. The selection was rounded off with us joining forces again to sing the closing O Fortuna! as you can see below:

The concert was organised by the Gay Elderly Men’s Society (GEMS), sponsored by Age Concern; funds raised were donated to Sussex Beacon. The Mayor opened the concert.

After the concert, a goodly number of us went to join the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus in the Amsterdam for some nibbles and much chatting. It was really great to spend some more time socialising with them and we were even treated to a spontaneous rendition of Dancing Queen and Bridge Over Troubled Water - quite a bonus!

Film Night Social

The choir, and friends, had its first ‘Film Night’ round at the home of two members of the choir on Saturday evening. We showed two ‘appropriate’ films, namely “Breakfast on Pluto” and “But I’m a cheerleader”. The films were both very funny in places, but the first of the two had some very dark moments.

Film Nigh group

There were fairy lights (of course) plenty of wine, crisps, homemade soup, chocolate, pizza and enough popcorn to supply a small cinema and plenty of chat! Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I’m sure there will be repeat in the near future.

Both films are available to hire from
Brighton & Hove libraries.

A performance for the NUT

We were invited to perform at Brighton’s lovely Old Ship Hotel for the LGBT teachers at the National Union of Teachers conference on Saturday the 18th of October. We did not advertise it on the ‘Latest News’ page beforehand as you could only come if you were at the conference and then you would have known about it anyway!

It was a small set in the lovely and rather intimate Regency Suite which felt a little like being inside a giant piece of Wedgewood crockery! Our audience started off quite small in numbers but by the end of our programme slot it had filled considerably and Homophobia and the close of the concert, received an enthusiastic and sustained applause.

It was great to be asked to perform at this conference and again underlines how we manage to reach out to the less conventional places in which an LGBT choir can perform.

Here is what we sang:

Simple gifts
The Rainbow
Sure on this shining night
Nobody knows
Go down, Moses

Photographs kindly provided by Nigel Tart

Our first Pride float!

Brighton Pride this year had the theme of “Pride Around the World”. After giving it some though we remebered last year’s Pride in Paris as guests of Podium (we had originally hoped they could have joined us, but sadly it was not possible) so we on our “Café de (gaie) Paris” theme. To create the effect, we had suitable music and a wild array of outfits including a French maid, several cabaret dancers, two onion sellers, Marie Antoinette, two French waiters, two phantoms of the opera and two French mime artists.

We’re very grateful to lots of the women in the choir who put in loads of time to make all the lovely cutouts of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, L’Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge (and one other I think), organise the PA and drive the truck! Swags and flags completed the scene. We had a wondeful time singing along with the music, Can-Can dancing and acting out bizarre scenes from The Phantom of the Opera! And there’s also a big thanks to our wonderful wheel stewards who didn’t get to rise on the float, but without whom there would have been no float.

We’d also like to thank Brighton & Hove Council for our grant without which this extravaganza would not have been possible.

There are more pictures in the gallery - so have a look.

And of course, we hope you all had a fantastic Pride ...

Tina C in the Udderbelly

Did we have a great time? Hell Yea!
In a new collaboration for the Rainbow Chorus we joined country pop icon Tina C. on her campaign trail to the White House on the 15th, 16th and 17th of May! The images below are from the final Saturday night.

The picture below was actually taken before the Friday night performance when one of our newest members (the bearded Steve, background left) conducted the choir because Matt, our MD was away conducting his
Hangleton Band! Well done Steve for stepping up to the podium ...

We opened the show with a cracking new version of the little known Stephen Sondheim song "Someone's Coming" - and yep, Tina was that someone and she arrived to tumultuous applause and the unveiling of huge banners of her wrapped in the stars and stripes on either side of the stage.

It would be impossible to recount all the nuggets of political insight shared with us by Tina, but be assured, they were many.

She next invited us to join her with a rousing rendition of her campaign song, the title track from her new album "Tick My Box" and as you can see below, we certainly did ...

Our next musical collaboration was "I Am America" on which Tina took the lead and we backed her whilst everyone admired "her perfect formation and her damn fine Grand Canyon". After that we gave a rendition of a 'Patriotic American Song' namely the Shaker song, Simple Gifts giving Tina the opportunity to make an emotional speech to her supporters. Next we we enacted a scene between Tina and her campaign advisers as "America" but with a new set of lyrics followed by a gentle exit from the stage to let Tina spread the love on her own.

From the 180News Fringe Review:
"ABLY SUPPORTED by the Rainbow Chorus, Tina C ran for president in a spectacular show at The Udderbelly. Looking fabulous in sequinned hotpants, Tina involved the audience at every turn, from inviting them to check out her legs to demanding they storm the stage."

We came back at the end to help out with the final song "Ain't nobody do me like Tina" which involved audience participation on stage, a lot of balloons, clapping, swaying and general exuberance - it was a great one with with to finish the evening and you can get a feel from the picture below.

Angela Goodall, one of our Tenors, said:
“I guess all I could say is that I wasn't intending to do any of these nights, and ended up doing all three - I laughed so much, I just had to keep going back! Definitely ticked my box - as in funny bone!”

Secretary of the choir Stephen Watson, also a Tenor, said:
“I really enjoyed the opportunity for us to let our hair down and have some good fun, combined with a quality performance - yes, we can do both! I really appreciated Tina's warmth and kindness to the choir both on and off stage - she made us really feel at ease"

It's safe to say that Tina, the audience and the choir enjoyed the 'campaign roadshow'. Let's hope we don't have to wait until the next US Presidential election to work together again. Hell Yeah!

You can see more and larger images in the photo gallery.

IDAHOBIT in Brighton

Rainbow Chorus was honoured to be invited to perform again at this year's commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia event in Brighton, after appearing at the inaugural Brighton day back in 2006.

The event, intended to celebrate human rights and to draw attention to those countries still persecuting gay people with punishment or execution took place
near the Volks Electric Railway Station as it did last year. Here we are just before the start on a rainy May evening ...

Us getting ready at IDAHOBIT

Michelle Bridgeman introduced the event after which we performed Chumbawumba's "Homophobia" - a song we've performed several times but it could not be more appropriate than at this event!
Us performing

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for SE England gave a passionate and loud (the loudspeaker was just behind us in a waterproof bin liner!) speech against all kinds of sexual discrimination. Ms Bridgeman then spoke again on 'Trans Inclusion' (help available from the
Gender Trust) and then we were on again for "Simple Gifts" followed by "Go down, Moses". It was quite hard to perform well in the drizzle and cold but we did our best.

Next was a speech by Derek Lennard the IDAHO National Coordinator who gave an introduction to a minute's noise as a protest to those unable to speak our against their discrimination.

Then we were joined by the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus (not forgetting the dog!) in a joint version of "Somewhere" during which the sky lanterns were set off.

We were able to stay long enough to listen to Melvin Hartley, Chief Executive of Broken Rainbow talk about the problems of same-sex domestic violence where he gave us some though provoking statistics.
However, as we had to get to the Udderbelly for the sound checks, warm-ups and such like with Tina C. we unfortunately had to make an exit when we would have liked to have remained to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" with the CBGMC and everyone else. Apologies to all ...
An important event and well attended considering the weather and we'd like to thank the organisers for inviting us again to this special event in Brighton's calendar.

The Romantic Reaction: 20th Century Gay Composers

Over the past ten years, we have performed music encompassing many genres and eras, from popular to classical and from the 17th century to the present day. Our identity as a gay and lesbian community choir informs much of our programming, and in this concert we explored music from a specific period – the mid-20th century – written by composers who were gay.

Concert poster

There are interesting parallels to be drawn between the six composers (from three countries) who were represented. Not only were they all gay, they all reacted against the prevailing modernism of the avant-garde that was the dominant musical ideology of the time, and sought to preserve an emotional expressivity in their music. Direct and profound communication of ideas and emotions is found in the socially and politically-aware music of Britten and Tippett, the nostalgic sound world of Barber and Copland, the jazz and Latin influenced works of Bernstein, and the populist approach to religious ritual so brilliantly displayed by Poulenc in his Gloria.

This concert provided us with the opportunity to explore our own gay cultural heritage through the performance of some of the most moving and powerful choral music ever written. To allow the exploration of this theme, all ticket holders were invited to attend a pre-performance discussion with Matthew Pollard, our Musical Director. It was very interesting and although we don't have a transcript of the Q&A session which followed it, I’m pleased to say that we (finally) have the text of Matthew's talk

You can download a PDF of the programme

Just before the performance there are those few moments to either squeeze in a little extra rehearsing or just relax. Here's a few of us doing just that.

Here's Liam, Anthony, Darren and Vijay ...

and Caroline, Sharon and Jen ...

... and finally, Anna and Tanya.

Here we were waiting to come on stage

Waiting for the call
After a beautiful first half and some lovely wine in the interval the highlight of the evening was Poulenc's Gloria which was accompanied by both a guest orchestra and solo soprano Elisabeth Wingfield.

Performing Poulenc's Gloria
Performing in St George's Church in Kemptown was quite a change from our usual Festival venue of St. Michael's - this building is much smaller and has a wooden roof. The acoustic was warmer and more intimate and people we spoke to afterwards found that the sound very enjoyable. It was a lovely warm evening too so our audience (and a few of the choir too) had time to enjoy some delicious organic wine outside under the trees.

It was also lovely to have Marco Nardi, who provided sign language interpretation for our World AIDS Day concert last year, with us again.

A big thanks to Tony

The photographs you can see in the item about our Sunday Jubilee Library performance were taken by Tony Bowall ARPS of Hove - Photography. He very generously gave up his Sunday morning lay-in to take photographs of our performance and we're very pleased with them and I'm sure you can see why. He will no doubt be exhibiting at The Happy House (with Helene and not forgetting Sam the dog!) each weekend of next year’s Fringe.

Sunday at the Brighton Jubilee Library

At an early hour, for a Sunday, we made our way to Brighton Jubilee Library to sing at the launch of its new Sunday opening.

We performed whilst the invited guests were having their breakfast

- mostly out of our line of sight as we were on the mezzanine and they were below us tucking into croissants and coffee.

We packed in quite a few songs, fairly gentle so as not to disturb the digestion, whilst 'up in the air' which was quite novel having a space only a few feet wide to fit the choir and Matt our musical director who luckily did not disappear backward over the railings!

After that we went outside where the early bird readers were queuing to be first in under the new Sunday opening hours. There was a lovely moment when two small girls came up to Glen, our accompanist, after the second song they each gave him 50p for the performance. Bless them! Glen said that he should have brought his hat ...

We sang some more up-tempo numbers outside until Councillor David Smith, Chairman of the Culture, Recreation and Tourism committee came to cut the blue ribbon to officially mark the beginning of Sunday opening at 11am. People then walked in between the blue balloons, some remaining outside to hear a few more songs from us (the sensible ones of course as they could then still go in and get their books afterwards!).

We then got to have a refreshment break ourselves with croissants, coffee and juice and a little bit of chat. Then it was back out the the mezzanine for our final selection for the general enjoyment of the people in the library. We all enjoyed it and it seemed that those in the library did too. So, another few firsts for the choir: first that early in the day, first in Brighton library and first performing 20 feet off the ground!

Cheque handover to local charities

We interrupted our regular Monday night rehearsal to hand over cheques from the proceeds of recent concerts to representatives of local charities , contributing a total of £1,300 to ‘The International HIV/AIDS Alliance’, ‘Open Door’ & ‘Terrence Higgins Trust’.

This special event took place after the choir’s rehearsals and turned into a lovely social evening which was attended by special guests Rachel Berry (
Open Door), Simon Moore (International HIV/AIDS Alliance) and Sue Peters (Terrence Higgins Trust).

Chair Simon Hicks was pleased to hand over cheques for £650 to International HIV/AIDS Alliance, £325 to Open Door and £325 to Terrence Higgins Trust. We're now looking forward to raise more money at our next concert on 3 May in St Georges Church, Kemptown (See elsewhere on this page for details)

A letter from The Mayor

After our very successful World AIDS Day concert, we received this letter from the Mayor who attended.

Mayor Letter

BLAGSS Winter Pride Bowling

Yet again, the keen Rainbow Chorus team braved the wind and almost rain to reach the Brighton Marina Bowlplex to 'go for gold'. Ahem. This year our largest choir posse yet was represented by Adam, Michael, Ewan, Gill, Liam and Stephen.
Rainbow Chorus Posse

Although we didn't have such a cracking run of strikes as last year, and we're sure lane 23 was rigged so that we ended up with one 'pin' (to use the jargon) standing far too often, the team average was up considerably on 2007 and as you can see at one point here we were doing very well, though admittedly before all the scores were in ...

Bowling score card

It was all great fun with all 26 lanes taken up with all sorts of local LGBT groups and even the four members of the Stonewall team who had come down from London just for this event. Stephen amazed himself (and everyone else I think) by actually scoring a strike for the first time in his many, many years! Remarkably, the BLAGSS Bowling Team did not get the title, which this year was awarded to the BLAGSS Tennis Team - a little hard for Liam to swallow as his partner was in their team. However, there was much noshing of sandwiches, wraps and dips and not forgetting some little pancakes as it was actually Shrove Tuesday to help forget that we didn't waltz home with the title.

Finally, where were we placed? Well in a beautiful piece of unplanned inter-choir harmony, we finished joint 8th with the
City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus. Ahhhhh.

We'll be back next year and maybe we'll see you there.