Hallelujah! It's Christmas

Having already performed at the AIDS memorial 3 Choirs Concert and been invited as guests to a WAD concert we felt that putting on a Christmas concert made more sense so indeed on the 18th of December, 7:30pm we performed at the beautiful, snow and ice bound Saint Nicholas Parish Church in Dyke Road Brighton - a new venue for the choir. Although the snow throughought Brighton (and the South East and Europe!) provided the perfect concert backdrop it meant that Caroline, David, Jen and Sharon were very sadly unable to perform and also people who had intended to come could not attend either. Despite this we felt we gave a very creditable performance of some festive favourites and a rousing rendition of excerpts from Handel’s marvellous Messiah. There was also audience participation in the first half which we know many enjoyed.

Half time was well supplied with mulled wine and mince pies which went down a treat. You can download the programme
here and see some photos here.

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 performance of Fauré's Requiem for World AIDS Day

Another sell-out performance, this time for our Concert for World AIDS Day. This was a beautiful evening with some fine solo performances by choir members, culminating in an ensemble and full organ accompanied performance of Fauré's Requiem.

There's an article from our local paper about the performance

You can see pictures from the concert

You can see page 1 of the concert programme
here and page 2 here.

Donations were made to local HIV/AIDS charities from the proceedings.

World AIDS Day concert 2005

For this we performed a selection of English music - Warlock, Skempton, Britten and others.
As Liam, our chair at the time said afterwards, "We had an avalanche of positive feedback from audience members saying how well the choir had sung, what an interesting and varied repertoire it was, and how professional and polished the whole evening was."
We also welcomed the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus as our guests.

Singing at the Royal Albert Hall!

We performed Carmina Burana for our World AIDS Day concert in Brighton in December 2004, but we had an offer to sing it again with around 1000 other singers at the Royal Albert Hall in London. We hesitated for about 3 microseconds then said yes! So here we are in July the following year.

Well, here we were at the Albert Monument, those of us lucky enough to be singing Carmina Burana (again!) at the Royal Albert Hall.

Yep, that's us!

As part of the Really Big Chorus along with 1,000 of our closest friends ...

Handel's Coronation Anthems

A selection of Handel's well loved Coronation Anthems plus other celebratory tunes were there for the listening during our Brighton Festival Fringe performance at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels.

Purcell and Handel at the Royal Academy

We were invited to perform as guests of the Pink Singers. We'd just like to say it's a lovely venue with great acoustics. Thank you.

Carmina Burana for World AIDS Day 2004

Encouraged by the success of our rendition of Vivaldi's Gloria, we took on the challenge of performing Carl Orff's extraordinary Carmina Burana, and judging by the standing ovation we received at the end, we pulled it off. The music was exciting enough, but an added frisson was provided by the fear that due to the precarious state of the electrics we wondered whether the entire venue would be plunged into darkness at any second. Edge of your seat stuff ...

The performance took place in the beautiful, but chilly, St. Andrew's Church in Waterloo Street, Hove, a building being preserved on behalf of the nation by the Churches Conservation Trust. We used Orff's two piano and percussion arrangement: Matthew Pollard was Musical Director, Basil Richmond and Glen Capra played piano whilst Will Fry, Adam Bushell and Tom Norrell played percussion. We were also graced with two fine soloists - Soprano Elisabeth Wingfield and Baritone Ian Macdonald.

The members of the choir were:

Sopranos - Jen Green, Sharon Krummel and Amanda Spooner
Counter-Tenor - Michael Gough
Altos - Jill Cannon, Tanya Izzard, Hannah Latham and Gillian Stevenson
Tenors - Russell Brewerton, Adam Clarke, Iain Fleming, Angela Goodall, Simon Hincks, Daniel Kirwan, Scott McPherson, David Pitts and Stephen Watson
Basses - David Caffery, Sam Chambers, Matthew Cook, Gordon Ferguson, Luc Harvengt, John Hood, David Hoyle, Liam O'Shea and Craig Thomas

The programme was:
Happy Together - Full Choir
Joanna - Ian Macdonald
The Vain Desire - Ian Macdonald
Aria: Mi Chiamano Mimi - Elisabeth Wingfield
Duet: O Soave Fanciulla - Elisabeth Wingfield and Ian Macdonald
Fie Nay Prithee John & Pox on You for a Fop - Matthew Cook, Gordon Ferguson and David Hoyle
The Night - Full Choir
Peace - Full Choir


Carmina Burana - Full Choir, Elisabeth Wingfield and Ian Macdonald

You can hear a couple of tracks from this performance
We made a donation of £1,000 to the Sussex Beacon from the proceeds of this concert. Nice one.

Vivaldi's Gloria for the Brighton Festival

We had performed two movements a capella from this piece in 2003 and when Matt (our Musical Director) said he reckoned that we could perform the entire piece there were indeed doubts amongst the ranks. However, next May there were were accompanied by the Brighton String Quartet with Ellie Blackshaw & Ester Ward-Caddle and performing the whole piece! This was the first time that Rainbow Chorus had performed with an orchestra - and it was a new experience for us and one which we very much enjoyed, setting the pattern for a number of our future concerts.
Some other pieces we performed were the beautiful Locus Iste by Bruckner, Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart and Ave Maria by Mascagni. You can hear a couple of tracks from this performance