World AIDS Day Charity Concert

This year we joined the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus again as their guests for the annual World AIDS Day charity concert at St Mary’s Church (at the top of St. James Street). We also shared the evening with Resound, Brighton & Hove’s newest male voice ensemble as well as the fabulous Qukulele (who you will certainly remember from our CD launch concert) and also highly-acclaimed soprano, Red Gray.

We performed Domine Fili Unigenite by Vivaldi, Zum Sanctus by Franz Schubert, My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land by Elgar and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2. The finale for this great evening was a powerful rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen sung by all the groups present tonight.

WAD 2011

This concert, with its varied musical repertoire, provided an opportunity to reflect on the losses many have suffered, as well inspiring those present to celebrate people living with HIV and AIDS. The concert began straight after the annual candlelit vigil at the AIDS Memorial in New Steine Gardens.

As in previous years, all performers donated their time for free and the entire profit of

the evening was donated to The Sussex Beacon to help with its Emergency Appeal to raise £150,000 to prevent their Inpatient Department from closure.

Thanks to the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus, photos of the evening are available
Now snow this year though ...

Mind Out

(Guess who are from the choir!)

We were delighted to be performing some numbers from our CD at ‘Mind Out for the Laughs’, the charity comedy cabaret event at the Komedia on the evening of Wednesday 10th August at 7:30pm - an evening of song, stand up and poetry.

You can see photos of our set and the finale from the evening courtesy of REAL Brighton

We performed a four song set of Can’t Get You Out of my Head, Say a Little Prayer, The Lavender Song and Let the River Run. It seemed to go down well and del thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The evening ended with a joint number with Lorraine and Miss Hope Springs - “Born this way”.

Performers on the night were:

Miss Hope Springs
Debra-Jane Appelby
Julie Jepson
The Rainbow Chorus
Lorraine Bowen
Yvo Luna
Stephanie Starlett – Hostess
Paula Cox – BSL Interpreter

World AIDS Day Charity Concert

This WAD we performed in St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown as one of the guests of the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus for their charity concert.

The snow was falling thick and fast outside the church but inside it was an evening of real musical warmth and variety with the Brighton Gay Mens’ Chorus (obviously!),
Hullabaloo, Qukulele, soprano Red Gray and our lovely selves. The music performed by each group was quite diverse - especially Qukulele with their singing coupled with energetic ukulele playing and whilst surreally dressed in Hawaiian style T-Shirts! We performed a set comprising: I Still Haven’t Found what I’m looking For, Fix You, As Torrents in Summer and ended with the world premiere of a new piece, “Found”, written specifically for the choir by our Musical Director Matt Pollard and his lyrical collaborator Peter Kenny.

There was a massed sing of Holly Near’s “Singing for our Lives”, composed in memory of Harvey Milk, to give the evening a rousing ending.

Afterwards, there was a reading of the names of all those who have died of AIDS related illness in Brighton and Hove, followed by reflection across the road at the AIDS memorial in New Steine Gardens. It was very beautiful surrounded by small candles, some bouquets and the snow falling all the time.

You can see photos of the night’s events courtesy of REALBrighton

Brighton's "No To Hate Crime" vigil

Last year more than 200 people joined together at the Old Steine, Brighton to express their concern and anger and to commemorate those who had been victims of Hate Crime. At the same time there were 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square and many other groups across the country (including several of us from the choir which you can read about on our history page) for the first International Day against Hate Crime. This time we attended the vigil at the Old Steine Fountain with a 2 minute silence at 8pm. The Candle-lit Vigil allowed us to stand shoulder to shoulder with other supporters to stop this happening again and shows our support to all victims of Hate Crime. Phelim from the basses spoke at the event on behalf of the LGBT Greens and Angela in the Tenors spoke about the importance of LGBT choirs for health, self-esteem and visibility amongst other things.

The theme for 2010 was ‘
Uniting communities against Hate Crime
Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard was founded in 1975 and has been providing services to LGBT communities in Sussex ever since. Originally operating as a helpline Switchboard has expanded over the years to include a face-to-face counselling service and to provide diversity, awareness and LGBT affirmative practice training to local organisations.

If you have been the victim of an LGBT hate crime our helpline can provide you with immediate support both emotionally and with the practicalities of dealing with what's happened to you. We can help you to decide whether and how to involve the police and can report the incident confidentially on your behalf - even if you wish to remain anonymous.

The London Vigil is being hosted by the 17-24-30 group.

Elizabeth Noble of LGBT Switchboard said
‘As an organisation, Switchboard supports LGBT people to overcome the violence and prejudice that we still experience in our streets, our schools, our workplaces and our homes. Hate, in all its forms, is a blight on our city and will only stop when people from across our LGBT communities and beyond stand together and say ‘No’ to those who try to scare, hurt and divide us. This vigil is a unique opportunity for everyone who loves Brighton & Hove to stand together against hate.’

Daniel Ibekwe of Brighton Racial Harassment Forum said
‘The damage done to victims cannot be satisfactorily explained by words, because it cannot be rivalled by any other damage done by any other crimes which humans are either used to or have experience of.

It is and should be a crime that cannot be tolerated or accepted by no person or human, for it is a crime which defiles, demeans and demotes every meaning and being of a human.

The greatest fallacy being that sometimes the motivations for such evil crimes is put down to ignorance and lack of awareness. Whereas this should not be permitted, especially where it is blatantly obvious that the perpetrations of such crimes do so with knowing, deliberate, conscious or orchestrated design and aim.’

Joanna Rowland-Stuart of LGBT disability campaigning charity, Regard Said

“Hate crime, because it grows from a hatred of difference, affects EVERYONE. We are all human beings, and we are all different. Those who seek to hurt your neighbour will just as easily turn on you. Don’t turn your back. It might be yours next.”

Bal Masqué - "Kids' Appeal" charity ball

We appeared at the opening of this celebratory evening of entertainment, singing ‘Masquerade’ from the Phantom of the Opera whilst glamourously dressed women (and one man in a gorgeous red velvet frock coat) moved amongst the guets at The Old Market on Saturday the 5th of December - you can read more about it here. There was food and drink, live music. a DJ, dancing, The Drifters, Banquet and an auction and more! Due to technical reasons we were not allowed on stage until 8:40pm for our brief performance.

Here we were just after our performance.

Masked choristers

Promotional poster

Sussex Ecumenical HIV Chaplaincy event

This was a commemorative service for World AIDS Day. Historically, we have organised our own special event each year for World AIDS Day, starting in 1999. This year though, with the 3 Choirs Concert for the unveiling of the AIDS memorial and an invitation to this WAD event we had decided not to arrange our own.

This service, held at the
Brighthelm Community Church in North Road Brighton on Tuesday the 1st of December at 7:30pm had another choir performing - we sang at the beginning of the service and at the end after the candle lighting. The Mayor of Brighton and Hove was unable to attend but his deputy attended instead and we had the High Sherriff as well!

Click to view
page 1 and page 2 of the programme in a new window. (Errata: Our final song ‘Postlude’ was “Sure on this Shining Night”)

NUT LGBT Teachers' Conference performance

Last year, in October, we performed as guest of the NUT at the Ship Hotel in Brighton. They enjoyed it so much that they asked us back for this ear, but this time to their HQ in London. So, we duly set off in our 'tour bus' for the big city and were welcomed and show to our 'dressing room'. This gave us a chance to relax after the journey and find time for a warm up.

After that, it was time for some lunch in the dining area downstairs, kindly provided by the NUT. There were even cakes too! Then time to just prepare ourselves upstairs before our performance in the Mander Hall. Our performance was a good selection from our Choral Propaganda performance and some other songs.

Our performance went down well as it seems that we were invited back as we were leaving the stage ...

Thanks to Peter Arkell and Nigel Tart for the photographs.

The Three Choirs Concert

A unique event took place in Brighton on Friday the 9th of October: all three of Brighton's gay choirs (us, BH(A)GMC and BGMC) performed together for the very first time to raise money towards the Brighton AIDS Memorial. The poster below said it all really.

The church was packed to capacity and the smell of mulled wine was a constant, if distracting, presence for the entire evening! You can see general photos taken by the REAL Brighton photographers here and of us specifically begin here.

Each choir had a 20 minute slot (well, that was the plan!) and in ours we sang the following numbers:

March of the Women
Solidarity Song
As Torrents in Summer
Say a little Prayer for you
Sure on this shining night
Advance Democracy

After we had finished and as we we the last to sing, we were
joined on stage by the other two choirs for a rousing performance of You'll Never Walk Alone, conducted by James Ledward. After that, it was our chance to take some mulled wine out to the reading of the names in front of the AIDS memorial which had been unveiled by David Furnish earlier that day.

Sister Suffragette

In January 1909 the WSPU (Women’s Social Political Union or more widely known as Suffragettes) of Brighton were an active and very vocal group.  They picketed, lobbied, marched and actively sought imprisonment to bring attention to their cause.  It was with great pleasure that in January 2009, women of Brighton & Hove’s Rainbow Chorus attended a talk by Brighton Ourstory organiser, Linda Pointing.  With a sense of history and admiration we sang ‘March of the Women’ a century old Suffragette song.

This song will also form part of our set at the Old Market on 21st May for the Brighton Festival Fringe.

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!

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

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.

Pink Paradiso appearance

The Pink Paradiso
We appeared as part of this 'Cabaret' style evening. We sang Somewhere and Let the River Run on our own followed by us backing their singer on When a Child is Born. As the finale of the show, we let loose with the entire cast in a large-scale White Christmas.

The show actually ran for several nights, but we only performed on the two nights where food was not being served - the 12th and 17th - as they obviously needed to give us their full attention and not be distracted by the turkey.

Hazel O'Connor at Dingwalls, Camden Lock, London

Well here we were appearing at the final gig of Hazel's tour:

and we left North Hove on a wet Sunday morning and it felt like we were on tour, in our own hired coach to London ...

We arrived at Dingwalls in Camden to find ourselves surrounded by
trendy looking shops (seemed a bit like the 60s for those that can (Just) remember them) with plenty of food in small stalls surround the lock - supplied in one case by 'Falafal Queen'. Say no more.

The format of the evening followed that of our
previous performance with her but with a slight change of lineup in that this time we were with Hazel, Cormac and Fionán (acoustic guitar and flute) and we were in North London.

We came on first preceded by a fine introductory speech from Peter (Hazel's promoter) and were met by a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd, considering that we were "playing away from home". Our set was:

Change In My Life
Nobody Knows
I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free
Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

Sadly, not all of the "30 strong" Rainbow Chorus could fit on the stage as it was rather small so what you see here is those of us that made it on, including some for whom it was their first live performance with the choir ...

There was then a short interval, followed by Hazel's set where she sang a goodly number of her songs from over the years, accompanied brilliantly by Cormac and Fionán.

Then it was our turn back on stage, powering into 'Blackman' as the first song which went down very well so we just got stuck in, performing Driftwood, Strong D-Days and Eighth Day. Hazel then did an audience participation number with the audience so we sort of led them in a chorus which had everyone joining in and then we were done...

Except that we then returned for chorus assistance with Hazel of 'Beyond the breaking glass' and then we all closed the show with Hazel's biggest hit - Will You?

Well, it was all really great- the audience had a whale of a time, it was a real pleasure to work with Hazel again who is wonderfully inclusive and made it feel like the stage was for all of us, not just 'Hazel and guests'. Cormac was a treat on the Irish harp too and it was great to meet with Fionán for the first time who lent a new dimension to the sound, especially the lovely flute solo on Hazel's solo version of Will You?

Thanks to Wayne for the photographs (which came out a little odd which we reckon is connected with the LED lighting as we've never seen such strange effects for any pictures we've had before).

Will we all perform together again? Well, you never know ...

This Way for the Gas, Ladies & Gentleman - Brighton Fringe Festival

We were invited again to perform the piece in which we took part for Holocaust Memorial Day earlier this year - see item in January 2007 on this page. The difference is that this time we performed in the UdderBELLY tent (I kid you not) and we performed for 5 nights which was a first for the choir.

There were lots of interesting battles with the sound and lighting. On Friday the video projection was disrupted by a message proclaiming that "Your anti-virus subscription has expired" - still, the show must go on... Then, on the final Sunday performance there was the exciting addition of an evening of torrential rain resulting in water running off one of the main stage lights onto the back of the drummer during the performance!

Guests of the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus

We sang as guests of the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus - some photos can be found here.

Concert with Hazel O'Connor during the Brighton Festival

Hazel O'Connor's first album, Breaking Glass, inspired a movie of the same name which she co-wrote and in which she played the lead. The soundtrack with its three hit songs, including Will You?, made her famous in the 80s; the movie brought her to Cannes and she also won the Best Film Actress of the Year award from the Variety Club of Great Britain.

The concert took place at The Old Market in Hove, where we performed a solo spot followed by Hazel and Cormac alone and then an interval. After that we all came on stage and backed her for some of her most well-loved songs.

Hazel was a real treat to work with and we all loved performing with her during the Brighton Fringe Festival at The Old Market in Hove. We had backing from Cormac de Barra on Harp (and vocals), Joss Peach on keyboard, Adam Boshell on percussion and Josie Owens on saxaphone. Her stepdaughter accompanied her on vocals for 'Driftwood'. Hazel had said that she'd always wanted to sing with a choir and we were more than happy to co-operate. So, the women in the choir backed her on Loveable and all of us joined together for another 6 of her songs: Blackman, Eighth Day, D-Days, Driftwood, Strong, and of course, Will You?

The concert was a sell-out - we had two encores, two standing ovations and people dancing in the aisles. Truly an enjoyably memorable evening for everyone involved as you can clearly see here.

Here are some photos from the rehearsal:

Hazel O'Connor on BBC Southern Counties Radio

We performed three songs live in their studio near Brighton station: Strong, Driftwood and Eighth Day. The BBC recorded all of them and interviewed Hazel as well.

Unfortunately, the BBC no longer has any of these on their web sites, but thanks to the wonder of YouTube it is still possible to enjoy
Driftwood, after which the show presenter Heather Driscoll said “Well what can I say to that……. I’m sitting here with goosebumps, which I’m sure you are too.”

"When You Tell Me That You Love Me" - a memorial tribute to Phil Starr

Phil Starr, one of Brighton's most loved Drag Queens died on October the 18th 2005 and a concert was planned as a tribute at the Brighton Dome. We performed at the sold-out performance where we sang Phil's favourite song, When You Tell Me That You Love Me, as the finale jointly with the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus. A standing ovation greeted us at the end, though I suspect all the other prior acts may have had something to do with that as well...

Tribute to Phil Starr

Gscene magazine said: "Finally, the crowd was brought to its feet by the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus and the Rainbow Chorus, who delivered a magnificent finale to the show with their rendition of the show's title song When You Tell Me That You Love Me."

Pictures of the finale can be found on the REALBrighton web site here.

"Confessions from a Dance Floor" 'launch party'

We were asked if we'd like to sing a couple of Madonna songs to enhance the party atmosphere of an evening to enjoy Madonna's latest album release at The Bank by Seven Dials in Brighton. Ever up to the challenge, those of us who could make it turned up for a chance to camp it up just a little and it was quite a good bit of fun.

Watch out Madonna!


"Oh no!"

At the Theatre Royal, Brighton with the London Gay Men's Chorus for World AIDS Day

The superb, and large, London Gay Men's Chorus finished their UK tour 'Tying the Knot' with a special WAD performance at Brighton's Theatre Royal. They invited us to perform a solo spot and then to join with them on the finale, so, always open to a wonderful opportunity, we accepted. Proceeds from the concert went to Brighton Cares.

We had a solo spot where we sang,
California Dreamin', John Taverner's "Prayer for the healing of the Sick" and Money, Money, Money. Finally, we joined forces with local choir Hullabaloo to increase the on stage numbers to around 120 for the finale performance of Coming and Going. Someone wrote to our chair later saying the following "I shall always remember the World Aids Day segment, the minutes silence was particularly poignant and Coming and Going that followed was so powerful. The first set of Hiyahi's [in Coming & Going] was so powerful I felt thrown back into my seat and a smile a mile wide came over my face. You could see the whole audience experience such powerful singing and be moved by it."

You can hear a couple of tracks from this performance here.


Some of us popped into the pub next door before the performance (just a little drink of course ...)

Our solo performance

The roof-raising finale

10th birthday party of the Sussex Beacon AIDS Hospice

We were invited to perform in the garden of the Sussex Beacon hospice as part of their 10th birthday party.

Performance at a handfasting

Two members of the choir, Kim and Tanya, were being Handfasted and asked if the choir would perform on their special day, which of course we did. We performed 'Something inside so strong' which they specifically requested, 'Hand in hand' and others. Even their dogs wore flower garlands. Aaahhhh.

This was to be the first of many commitment ceremonies at which we have been asked to sing.

Re-opening of Hove Library

The council invited us to sing as one of a number of activities celebrating the re-opening of Hove Library. It was a novelty to sing with us all standing on the staircase whilst people wandered around below, setting off the security alarms when they forgot to have their book checked-out!

Queen's Golden Jubilee

2002 was the year of The Queen's Golden Jubilee. There were BBC organised "Music Live" events up and down the country and they invited us to perform in Eastbourne for BBC TV and radio. We gave a short performance for the BBC Southern Counties Radio which was broadcast live on the day. We also performed a number of our own songs on stage. The BBC also had individuals and groups up and down the country singing The Beatles' "All You Need is Love" with the idea that a number of these performances would be spliced together live on TV from all around the country - we were one of those potential performances. However, despite having TV cameras two inches from our faces and rendering our take on "All You Need is Love" into the microphones on quite a windy day, we didn't make it onto the telly. Maybe next time ...

Live on the radio

Braving the wind!

Getting ready for more

"Brother's Keeper" at the Sallis Benny Theatre, Grand Parade, Brighton

A World AIDS Day Concert intending to embrace all aspects of the local community.

Elvis Presley Band at the Brighton Centre

This was a performance with the Elvis Presley's original backing band and singers ("The Sweet Temptations"). We performed two numbers "Bridge over troubled water" and "American Trilogy". It is remembered as something very special.

The picture here shows the choir at the left of the stage and a virtual Elvis towering over all!

A shared stage with Pink Singers and Gloria in the Royal Academy, London

This event was organised by the Pink Singers. We apparently 'brought the house down' with our ABBA medley!

'Blue Skies' with the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir

This was our first collaborative concert as guests of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir who were on their European Tour that year.