While Pride was in full swing here, Brighton’s very own Rainbow Chorus were sharing the Brighton love as part of Europride, this year held in Amsterdam. Europride’s theme was diversity and our strength in numbers fighting discrimination, remembering there are still 74 countries where it is a criminal offence to have same-sex sexual contact and 78 where gay marriage is still not recognised.
The Rainbow Chorus was one of four UK choirs invited to take part in AmaSing, an LGBT Choir Festival featuring 14 choirs from all over Europe and part of the Europride celebrations. Arriving at the crack of dawn on the Thursday, by lunchtime the Rainbow Chorus were performing beneath the glass ceiling of Amsterdam’s National Maritime Museum. Performances followed in a public square and a beautiful leafy park. Friday was taking up by preparations for the main event, the festival itself held at the Royal Concertgebouw, acoustically regarded as one of the finest concert halls in the world and where the likes of Maria Callas and Tchaikovsky have performed. Under the direction of its dynamic and talented music team—the dazzling Mojca Monte on piano and the mesmerising Aneesa Chaudhry (certainly the only MD there sporting steampunk ankle boots!), the Rainbow Chorus were led through a varied and fun repertoire that included Sign Supported English and earned a cheering standing ovation from the sell-out audience of over 1,600 spectators.
The hard work over, it was time to relax and Amsterdam certainly knows how to celebrate: the beautiful party city literally pushed the boats out for Europride—with the Rainbow Chorus more than happy to lend a helping hand. Almost every street corner, canal and building was covered in rainbow balloons and Pride banners. The Europride parade itself on the city’s canals saw over 80 party barges decked to the nines celebrating diversity and unity in fabulous style all watched by thousands and thousands of spectators crammed along the banks and bridges where the cheers, beers and sometimes tears all flowed.
As the most diverse and representative LGBT choir at the festival and one of the very few non-audition choirs, we were very proud to represent Brighton.
The Rainbow Chorus would like to sincerely thank the AmaSing organising team who looked after them wonderfully and made them all feel very welcome. Our Chair, Finola Brophy, echoed the feelings of our 90 strong Rainbow Chorus contingent of singers and supporters when she said “As the most diverse and representative LGBT choir at the festival and one of the very few non-audition choirs, we were very proud to represent Brighton. Our internal organising ‘A-team’ was brilliant and our bursary scheme meant that all members who wanted to come could come regardless of income. The Rainbow Chorus motto of Strength in Harmony was demonstrated loud and clear in Amsterdam with a real sense of support, solidarity and pride ”. The Rainbow Chorus also got to meet and mingle with their peers from the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and France and many friendships were forged.
An unforgettable experience that the Rainbow Chorus feel privileged and fortunate to have been a part of.
Photos: Liza O’Malley