CD Launch concert

Earlier in 2011, we finished our first ever professional recording which was made available for purchase on CD for the first time at this concert. It is a showcase for some of our favourite songs drawn from our extensive repertoire (now spanning 14 years!) and also a few brand new songs - new to us and to you as well!

Our Musical Director Dr Matthew Pollard said:
“Our first recording gives us the opportunity to show off some fantastic, expressive music-making, and reach an even wider audience. Across a wide range of styles and periods, this choir certainly 'sings the rainbow' of emotion and experience; the joy and enthusiasm they displayed during the sessions is certainly communicated on this brilliant CD.”

The chair of the Rainbow Chorus Jane Wrin said:
“As a mixed ability community choir we are all things to all people and as such this CD shows that range and flexibility.  We go from Burt Bacharach to Vivaldi with ease and enthusiasm.  At the moment there are just over 40 members and I think I can speak for all when I say how much we have enjoyed the process of recording as it was not only about putting history into a CD but about singing with friends, many of whom have been made since joining the choir.”

The CD was launched at a special Pride concert in our new "home" of St George's church in Kemptown which has a great acoustic which really compliments our singing. The launch price that night was £8, but the CD is now its normal price of £10.

We also had some special guests - the UK's first and only Queer Ukulele band and they played Glee-style mash-ups on tiny ukuleles in crazy Hawaiian shirts and they went down a storm!

You can download the evening’s programme

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

BLAGSS Winter Pride Bowling

From the BLAGSS Web site:

Annual 10-Pin Bowling Challenge - Results

The annual BLAGSS ten-pin bowling challenge took place on 1st March at the Bowlplex at Brighton Marina. Nearly 200 players in 25 teams competed against each other, including BLAGSS sports groups and a wide variety of other LGBT community groups (music, professional, students, etc.).

At the half-way point the Rainbow Chorus were showing a small lead over Kickass, followed closely by BLAGSS Ishigaki and Tennis. In Game 2 Kickass regained the lead whilst Switchboard and BLAGSS Golf surged up the field. The overall result put Kickass in top place with Rainbow Chorus marginally beating BLAGSS Ishigaki into second place. Fourth place was taken by BLAGSS Tennis. Final scores can be downloaded

The whole evening, as always, was a lot of fun with the place packed with LGBT teams as far as you could see and a really great atmosphere. Here’s a little bit to the choir from Michael:

Just to let you know that our magnificent bowling team did the Choir proud by coming in at a scorching second place in the BLAGSS annual Bowling Challenge last evening, 1st March. To slightly paraphrase what Liam said, "I normally don't have a competitive bone in my body but when it come to the annual bowling challenge, I don't know what comes over me but I really want to win!"

Well, as you can see below we slipped from our brilliant start but remain the highest placed non-sports team taking part since our first outing way back in 2005. As they say, it’s all about the taking part (well, someone said it was about the winning!) and here’s the team that did it (sadly Gill had to go before the photo was taken):

Clockwise from the left:- Rob, Liam, Simonne, Michael, Adam and Stephen

Stephen staggered everyone, including himself, by scoring four strikes in the first session including three in a row! This was unheard of so let’s hope the same thing happens next year!

You can see the final results below. We will be back ...

Pride Parade

The theme of Brighton Pride this year was “Pride and (No) Prejudice” and our float took the form of an H. G. Wells style Time Machine where we paraded our LGBT heroes from the past and though there were no heroes from the future, Lady GaGa looked as thought she might have been with her holographic silver outfit. Some other characters were Elton John, Alexander the Great and Edward Carpenter.

Big thanks of course to our brilliant and tireless cutters, painters, designers, driver, wheel stewards, trainers, Brighton & Hove Council for the grant and everyone else who made the float possible.

You can see a bunch of other photos

Explanation of Costume for Pride 2010: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga: "Just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time!"

The Bisexual platinum selling pop star from the late 2000's, was named after Queen's Radio Gaga and inspired by Bowie & Madonna. With androgynous and outlandish styling created by her own creative production team, known as the Haus of Gaga. "Whether it's a dress made of Muppets or strategically placed bubbles, Gaga's outré ensembles brought performance art into the mainstream."

Lady Gaga has been an outspoken advocate and activist for LGBT rights throughout her career. She took part in the National Equality Walk in USA, won a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award for outstanding music artist and continues to put her time and money where her mouth is in support of LGBT people worldwide.

Rumours abound about Lady Gaga: Is she a boy/a girl/Transgender? Is she Gay/Straight/Bisexual? The truth is she's a Bisexual woman, but her image embraces, welcomes and plays with all these labels. Not just for the column inches (though it must help shift a few singles!) but with sincere respect for fans who see themselves reflected in the fluidity and flamboyance of her act.

I personally chose to dress as Lady Gaga for Pride 2010 because of what she represents to me: Fun, diversity, openness, loyalty, and a creative, fantastical lust for life. She's talented, passionate about her work, open about her sexuality, committed to her LGBT fans and vocal about human & civil rights.

Plus her costumes were crying out to be adapted for a Pride float and I just really wanted to see if I could make a dress out of silver cardboard!

Washington Post
Lady GaGa

Explanation of Costume for Pride 2010: Stephen Watson as Edward Carpenter
Born Brighton August 1844, educated Brighton College. Died Guildford June 1929

Socialist poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, ‘Gay’ activist,Vegetarian

Instrumental in founding the Fabian Society and Labour Party and a close friend of Walt Whitman

Corresponded with Isadora Duncan, Havelock Ellis, Gandhi, William Morris and John Ruskin

Published 'Civilisation, its cause and cure'

Closer ties with nature and development of our inner nature were his approach and was a strong advocate of sexual freedom, living in a 'gay' community near Sheffield he had a profound effect on D H Lawrence and E M Forster

He introduced sandals to Britain!

Envisaged a future of 'primitive communism', rejecting Victorian industrialism.

Believed that Socialism should not only concern itself with man's outward economic conditions, but also affect a profound change in human consciousness. In this new stage of society Carpenter argued that mankind would return to a primordial state of simple joy: "The meaning of the old religions will come back to him. On the high tops once more gathering he will celebrate with naked dances the glory of the human form and the great processions of the stars, or greet the bright horn of the young moon." (1889) Civilisation: its cause and cure. This brand of "Mystical socialism" inspired him to begin a number of campaigns against air pollution, promoting vegetarianism and opposing vivisection.

In 1891 (age 47) he met George Merrill, a working class man also from Sheffield, and the two men struck up a relationship, eventually moving in together in 1898.[2] Merrill had been raised in the slums of Sheffield and had no formal education. Their relationship endured and they remained partners for the rest of their lives, a fact made all the more extraordinary by the hysteria about alternative sexualities generated by the Oscar Wilde trial of 1895 and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill passed a decade earlier "outlawing all forms of male homosexual contact". Their relationship not only defied Victorian sexual mores but also the highly stratified British class system.

He strongly believed that same-sex attraction was a natural orientation for people of a third sex. His 1908 book on the subject, The Intermediate Sex, would become a foundational text of the LGBT movements of the 20th century.

Sexual education for Carpenter also meant forwarding a clear analysis of the ways in which sex and gender were used to oppress women, contained in Carpenter's radical work Love's Coming-of-Age. In it he argued that a just and equal society must promote the sexual and economic freedom of women. The main crux of his analysis centred on the negative effects of the institution of marriage. He regarded marriage in England as both enforced celibacy and a form of prostitution. He did not believe women would truly be free until a socialist society was established. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, however, this led him to conclude that all oppressed workers should support women's emancipation, rather than to subordinate women's rights to male worker's rights. He remarked, "...there is no solution except the freedom of woman - which means, of course, the freedom of the masses of the people, men and women, and the ceasing altogether of economic slavery. There is no solution which will not include the redemption of the terms free women and free love to their true and rightful significance. Let every woman whose heart bleeds for the sufferings of her sex, hasten to declare herself and to constitute herself, as far as she possibly can, a free woman."

After the First World War he had moved to Guildford, Surrey, with George Merrill.[7] In June 1928, Merrill died suddenly, leaving Carpenter devastated. Carpenter's state of mind is described vividly by the noted political activist G Lowes Dickinson, "Edward's grief when that occurred was overwhelming. I remember him walking on my arm to the cemetery at Guildford where they had buried George a few days before, and where he himself was to lie a year or so later. It was a day of pouring rain, and we stood beside the grave, while Carpenter [cried] again and again, 'They have put him away in the cold ground'."

Harry Hay was so inspired by the work of Carpenter and his prophecy of the coming together of gay people to fight for their rights that he decided to put the words into action by founding the Mattachine Society which started advancing gay rights in America. In Britain, Carpenter’s words were frequently quoted by gay rights activists.

Edward Carpenter Community
The Edward Carpenter Archive

Hotel Seaside Rendez-Vous at Pride

It was a great day on Saturday the 1st, and a big success (watching and listening to the crowds). All of us looked fantastic (well, we reckon so!) and made a really big effort, the music really got the crowds going, the stewards guided us safely to the entrance of Preston Park (making sure that no children went under the wheels), and Gill did a fabulous job by driving us there (massive thanks to Infinity Foods for the use of the lorry).

For your viewing pleasure, here is a picture taken just before we hit the streets with our fantabulosa float (click to see an enlarged version):

You can see more photos from the parade here.

BLAGSS Winter Pride bowling - OMG!

For the 3rd time, we entered the annual BLAGSS Winter Pride Bowling extravaganza at the Marina Bowlplex. This year there were 24 teams taking part.

Here we were ready to take on all comers ...
(Stephen, Adam, Michael, Gill & Liam)

We began in lane 15 and Michael and Gill were doing great stuff with Liam and Adam close behind, doing sterling stuff with strikes and high scores and all sorts of goodness. At the end of our first set of 10 rounds there had been some impressive play, with a scattering of strikes and a quiet warm glow inside that we were doing fairly well.

After a brief pause for a refreshing beer, it was back to the serious business of bowling, only this time we were in lane 3. Things did not begin too well, but after a while scores began rising again and things were looking good.

Things went very spectacular at the end when Gill scored a strike for her penultimate round and then, gobsmacked us all (we expected it really, ahem ...) by scoring 3 consecutive strikes on her final round as you can see here:

Totting up our score and running off to the master scoreboard, it was clear that we were ... err ... in the lead!! We had a one serious rival though in the shape of GIGS. All the results were in bar theirs and at that point we were in the lead but with Stephen frantically pressing keys on his calculator it was clear that they were coming up fast behind us. As they had 8 members it took a while to complete a round and consequently made the finish even more nail-biting.

Finally, the results were in and ... well, there we were as the Winners with 243 points (it’s averaged out so that you can’t win just by having loads of people in your team). As Anna, our chairperson wrote to the choir:

“For those of you not at last night's rehearsal, big congratulations are due to the Rainbow Chorus bowling team, consisting of Michael, Gill (soprano), Liam, Steve, Adam. They came FIRST in the BLAGGS winter pride ten pin bowling competition, beating 24 other teams...are we proud of them or what!!!! Not only that, but Michael and Gill were among the top 10 scorers of the night! Fantastic result, well done you!”

Here we are receiving our prizes - a small trophy, two bottles of bubble and a funky “Winner” pendant each. Sadly, Gill had to leave early so she was unable to bask in the glory on the night, but had deferred gratification at next week’s choir rehearsal.

You can read some more about the event
here and see lots more photos of the entire event here.

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 ...

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.

A Concert for Pride week - Songs from West Side Story and more

In 2007 the theme of Pride was 'Musicals' - so our performance during Pride week as part of our our ongoing 10th Anniversary celebrations was a mixture of songs including a set of favourites from the fabulous "West Side Story"!

Here's the
programme for the evening.

This was a milestone concert for us in that it was the first full-length concert we've given on our own where we ditched our music folders - and what a difference! Not only was the visual presentation of our performance enormously improved but it was reflected in the musical quality too with comments from the audience like "so together", "professional", "when you stop you really stop" and so on. It prompted similar comments from many of us in the choir too and I think it's safe to say that it was probably one of the most musically and personally satisfying and enjoyable concerts we've given.

In the first half we were dressed in our new Rainbow Chorus tops (only seen before on the
Paris catwalk!)

After that there was a short interval and then we came back with a vengeance for part 2 - Songs from West Side Story.
We began spread out, relaxed and chatting around the stage, gradually coming together whilst singing the opening number - Tonight.

There was a narrative beautifully read by Simon, Michael and Edana which gave the context for each song.

The up tempo songs such as Something's Coming, America and Cool gave us a chance to join in the action with moving and shimmying and clicking of fingers and the response from the audience showed how much they liked it.

We dressed in a way that's not been seen at any of our previous concerts and it went down a storm so check out the fab costumes worn by the women (strangely none of the men put on a frock ...) straight from the streets of the Upper West Side in the 50s

The audience loved it, we loved it, Glen and Adam played brilliantly, the staff at the Sallis Benney were great, Jess the front of house manager and especially the sound and light man Graham and Tim the technician. Having such helpful people around really made a difference.

Withdrawal is now setting in ...

You can see some more pictures on our
Photo Gallery.

Free Vocal workshop

Continuing our tradition for LGBT singers to meet and make music together in a supportive and friendly environment we offered a free Pre-Pride vocal workshop in Brighton with an opportunity to sing with us at our Pride concert.

It was led by Guillermo Rosenthuler, a fantastic motivational singer and coach and I think it's fairly safe to say that everyone who attended got a lot out of it. Guillermo tooks us through Argentinian and African songs, a particular type of French spiritual singing with Italian words and even a medieval English song celebrating drink. All in all, fairly international I think! It was lovely to see some new faces (and one familiar one) in our guests and hope that they will continue and join the choir, but even if they don't I'm sure they will have had a lovely day ... and even sun and good weather at lunchtime. And thanks very much to Sé who offered us lovely hospitality at his home.

Paris Pride

On the 28th of June most of the choir arrived via Eurostar in Paris as guests of
Podium and after a brief wander around Montmartre we went to rehearse with them in preparation for Sunday. They were very welcoming, kindly supplied us with food & drink and we ended the evening with a wonderful and moving singalong around the piano.

Their accompanist Antoine knew all of the accompaniment for such diverse songs as Hey Jude, While My Guitar Gentle Weeps, Supertramp's Downstream(!), The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Otis Redding's Dock of the Bay and so on. Antoine's a star. We then wandered back to our accommodation so generously provided in the homes of our hosts - they are all so lovely. Aaahhhhhhh.

Next day we did our own thing but several of us met for lunch and then that evening went to enjoy "
La Nuit d'Equivox" (this link may not be permanent but they're on our links page too) - well, I just cried tears of happiness watching them. They were a sort of theatrical choir and sang around the theme of night and dressed appropriately as burglars, temptresses, sheep, vampires and more. Utterly inspired!

Saturday was Pride and we were on the first float with
Podium and each choir took it in turn to do a little singing/lip-synching to our various pre-recorded hits along the parade which began at Montparnasse and wound it way to Place de la Bastille.

The weather was fine, the crowds were out in force, the speeches were spoken and we had a wonderful time, though some of the songs did tire just a tad after the 10th time ... The evening involved dinner in the Marais with friends from the other choirs, a fabulous South American cocktail bar for some of us and a late bed. Zzzzz ...

So, to Sunday. A picnic in Le Jardin de Luxembourg followed by the concert.
Melo'men were first on, then us and then Podium. The songs we sang were Let the River Run, Steal Away, My Funny Valentine, Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, Will You?, In This Heart, Some where and Tonight. We also performed Will I Lose My Dignity (from Rent) with the other two choirs.

At the end we all came together to close with Comme d'habitude (My Way) which a friend of mine now living in Paris said "gave me goosebumps".

We had an large and appreciative audience who enjoyed this free open-air concert whilst sitting under the lovely trees around the bandstand.
Then most of us walked briskly to catch the Vedettes du Pont Neuf
for a little Seine sightseeing, again kindly organised by Podium. Sunday evening was our last time with our hosts, so a lovely dinner again (Parisien Pizza I think) and then off to do our own thing on our final night.

For those that had stayed the whole time, this was a last chance for a little browsing, wandering, gift purchases and perhaps a little more food and then finally off to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar home. It was a fantastic weekend for all of us which we will all remember for years to come. We hope to return the favour next year, so point your RSS feed
here to make sure that you won't miss it and have a browse through some more photos here.

Au revoir pour maintenant.

BLAGSS Winter Pride 10-pin Challenge

The crack Rainbow Chorus team headed down to the Brighton Marina Bowlplex to to battle it out for the winning title.

Rob 'The Nazz' Collins, Stephen '26 Years since I last bowled' Watson, Liam 'Thunderball' O'Shea and Michael '3 Strikes' Gough poised for the challenge

Here you can see Michael's impressively high individual score

The whole event was a lot of fun with all 26 lanes taken up with all sorts of local LGBT groups. The scores are averaged over the number of team members so that having 9 members in the team doesn't give you an unfair advantage. We did very well in the first of the two games, but whether we were a little blasé or a little the worse for alcohol on the 2nd we didn't quite keep up our original momentum - having said that, Michael, as you can see below, managed a stunning 3 consecutive strikes (all the skittles down with one ball) and was obviously 'robbed' of some super special prize.

Ultimately, we didn't win, but if the BLAGSS 10-pin Bowling team hadn't done so well (as you would expect!) we would have been 3rd which isn't 'arf bad eh?

Europride Sings at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

We sang in June at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank as part of Europride Sings. Other choirs were the London Gay Men's Chorus, the City of Brighton Gay Men's Chorus, Diversity, The Pink Singers from the UK and the small, but perfectly formed Mannenkoorts from the Hague. A great concert and the all choirs finale of All Girl Band was quite a choreographic experience!

On our way

So bossy!

Lunch break

What a bunch of smiling faces!

Rehearsal time

Brighton Pride Parade

We took part in the parade

Craig, Liam and Basil ready for the off

Liam, Adam and Basil in London Road

Tanya engulfed in feathers!

Concert at the Friends Centre

The concert was a pre-Pride event where the basses sang from the main balcony.

Here we are in The Marlborough relaxing after our exertions:

Brighton Pride 2002

This as I recall was the year of the torrential downpour and ensuing mud bath! Lightning hit the stage and blew the power to the stage - not that it stopped us!

Curiously the picture below is of some members of the choir 'busking' in Preston Park and I assume that it's from 2002 as the 'outfits' match, however, the park looks rather dry... any corrections appreciated as always.

London Mardi Gras

Was July 1st 2000 in Finsbury Park on a 'classical' stage. We were on really early so very few people heard us - one choir member has a photo of a small boy on his own watching us. Where is he now?

Brighton Pride

We sang 'Hand in Hand' on the main stage, the rest is lost to the mists of time...

Before the Parade

Part of the GLAM Pre-Pride events - the first concert organised by the choir itself :-)

Here's a clipping from the
Pink Paper at the time.

Programme outside cover:

Programme inside cover:

First Pride performance of Rainbow Chorus

The first Pride performance for the choir took place in Brighton and was a resounding success.