Strength in Harmony

The Rainbow Chorus is Brighton & Hove’s only non-audition community LGBTQ+ choir, and the only one in the south-east outside of London.

History Timeline

Below is a brief timeline of Rainbow Chorus history which all began way back in 1997.

1997: Carl Boardman our first Musical Director and 8 fledgling members started the choir at the Brighton Lesbian & Gay Centre.

To read Carl’s recollections of starting the choir please click here.

To read how Basil Richmond, one of the original members of the choir recalled those early days in 1997 please click here.

1998:
26th July – Blue Skies, Gardner Arts Centre, performance with The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.
5th December – Requiem for Those Who Die Young – World AIDS Day, , Brighthelm Centre.

1999:
21st April – Royal Academy, London – A shared stage with Pink Singers and Gloria – we ‘brought the house down’ with our ABBA medley.
7th August – Before The Parade, Rainbow Chorus and Friends (Lisa FitzGerald, John Bruzon, Stewart Barlow) Part of Brighton’s 1st Pride Festival of Arts and Comedy, Tower Theatre. This was the first concert organised by Rainbow Chorus, part of the GLAM Pre-Pride events.
14th August – Brighton Pride, Preston Park. Palais Tea Tent, GLAM Tent and the Promenade.
4th December – A Rainbow Chorus, A choral work with orchestra by Toby Collins, The Old Market, Hove (Specially written piece in seven parts for RC as a follow up to “Requiem For Those Who Die Young” in 1999)

2000: The Chorus had grown to 35 members!
29th April – Happy Together, a joint concert with Rainbow Voices (Birmingham) and Birmingham Gay Men’s Chorus at St Peter’s Church, York Place, Brighton.
1st July- London Mardi Gras 2000, Finsbury Park, Classical Stage

2001:
12th March – 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.
4th November – GLAM Arts Festival Concert with the Pink Singers at Pavilion Theatre, New Road, Brighton. The Gay and Lesbian Arts and Media Festival was a registered charity whose objects were to advance the education of the LGBT communities in the arts, particularly through education, training, exhibition, production and performance.
1st December – 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.

2002:
13th May – Singing In Spring, Brighton Fringe Festival held at St. Michael and All Angels, Victoria Road, Brighton.
3rd June – 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.
10th August – Brighton Pride, 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!

2003:
Matthew Pollard joined the choir as Musical Director and was later named ‘NABBC Conductor of the Year’ in 2008
12th May – Brighton Festival Fringe Concert at Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Victoria Road, Brighton
12th June – 10th birthday party of the Sussex Beacon AIDS Hospice.
30th November – Tying the Knot, at the Theatre Royal, Brighton with the London Gay Men’s Chorus for World AIDS Day. 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.

2004:
10th May – Vivaldi’s Gloria for the Brighton Festival. We were accompanied by the Brighton String Quartet. 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.
4th December – Carmina Burana for World AIDS Day at St. Andrew’s Church in Waterloo Street, Hove. A benefit concert for the Sussex Beacon performing to a standing ovation!

2005:
10th July – We had an offer to sing Carmina Burana again with around 1,000 other singers at the Royal Albert Hall in London. We hesitated for about 3 microseconds then said yes!
2nd December – For the World AIDS Day Concert. “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.

2006:
29th January – When You Tell Me That You Love Me, a memorial tribute to Phil Starr one of Brighton’s most loved Drag Queens at the Brighton Dome. We brought the crowd to its feet with the finale of ‘When You Tell Me That You Love Me’ with BGMC.
26th May – Concert with Hazel O’Connor during the Brighton Festival. The concert took place at The Old Market in Hove, where we performed a solo spot and then we backed her for some of her most well-loved songs.
12th June – Europride Sings at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. 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!

2007:
28th June – Paris Pride as guests of Podium Gay Men’s choir on the first Parade float & performed at Le Jardin de Luxembourg concert.
2nd August – A Concert for Pride Week – the theme of Pride was ‘Musicals’ – so our performance, 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”. It was a milestone concert for us in that it was the first full-length concert we’ve given on our own without music folders – and what a difference!
18th November – We performed at Hazel’s final gig of the tour at Dingwalls, Camden Lock, London.

2008:
3rd May – The Romantic Reaction for Brighton Fringe Festival. In this concert we explored music from a specific period – the mid-20th century – written by composers who were gay.
17th May – Tina C in the Udderbelly. In a new collaboration for the Rainbow Chorus we joined country pop icon Tina C. for 3 nights.
2nd August – Our first Pride float! The theme that year was “Pride Around the World”.
18th October – We were invited to perform at Brighton’s Old Ship Hotel for the LGBT teachers at the National Union of Teachers conference. It underlines how we manage to reach out to the less conventional places in which an LGBT choir can perform.

2009:
1st May – Various Voices was an extraordinary LGBT music festival on the South Bank, London lasting 4 days.
9th October – The Three Choirs Concert, a unique event took place: all three of Brighton’s gay choirs (Rainbow Chorus, BH(A)GMC and BGMC) performed together for the very first time to raise money towards the Brighton AIDS Memorial. 
18th December – Hallelujah! It’s Christmas concert at St. Nicholas Parish Church in Dyke Road, Brighton.

2010:
7th August – 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.
18th December – A Dickens of a Christmas! at the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton. 
17th May – Speaking About Silence: IDAHOBIT – International Day Against Homo, Bi and Transphobia held annually on May 17th commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases. RC has performed regularly since 2006.

2011:
4th June – Kemptown Carnival.
12th August – CD Launch Concert – our first ever professional recording made available for purchase on CD at our Singing the Rainbow concert. It was a showcase of some of our favourite songs drawn from our extensive repertoire over the last 14 years, and also a few brand new songs.
1st December – 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, Brighton. We also shared the evening with Resound, Qukulele and Red Gray.

2012:
April – Our current amazing music team Aneesa (MD) and Monti (Pianist) took over from Jacob Swindells.
30th June – Pimm’s and Pergolesi Summer Concert showcased the 2 musical directors talents and this show celebrated their contrasting approach. Half of the show was a passionate classical piece sung in Latin, accompanied by organ and guest strings section and conducted by Jacob Swindell. This was sandwiched by a fresh mix of jazz, pop and gospel conducted by our new MD, Aneesa Chaudhry.
15th December – The Beaux and Belles Christmas concert was inspired by the new musical team.

2013:
29th June – Our summer concert was titled Something Inside So Strong with fundraising for MindOut, the LGBT mental health charity in Brighton.
13th July – We took part in the first Hand in Hand UK & Ireland LGBTQ Choirs festival in London.
30th November – Our winter concert this year was A Fairytale of Kemptown.

2014:
8th February – As part of Worthing’s LGBT History Month the choir performed a special celebration concert in Worthing Library.
19th May
12th June – We had an amazing time at Various Voices, this time in Dublin.
1st December – Once again the Rainbow Chorus took part in the World AIDS Day memorial concert at St Mary’s Church in Brighton.
13th December – Our winter concert Blame It On The Baubles raised money During the evening we will be raising funds for the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard’s Older LGBT Project.

2015:
12-14th June – RC and BGMC co-hosted the Hand in Hand Festival over a weekend in Brighton, culminating in a massive concert at The Dome.
17th-18th July – The choir held two summer concerts to celebrate their 18th anniversary. The concerts were conceived as a musical journey, transporting the audience from the earliest days of LGBT music right up to the present day and showcased how far we had come in such a short time.
5th December – The Can You Hear the Rainbows Sing? winter concert served up the usual traditional mix of Christmas favourites with a side-serving of revolution and patriotism thanks to the medley of songs from Les Miserables.

2016:
23rd January – Our RC+ Group had it’s first monthly workshop.
4th July – “An evening out with the Rainbow Chorus is more than just going to a concert, it’s an expression of belonging, solidarity and inclusion that defines the very notion of community that many aspire to when they come to live in Brighton and Hove.” This is the sort of impact we aspire to, and we delivered with our summer concert, Songs without Borders
4th August – We took part in the Amasing Choirfestival in Amsterdam, as part of the Europride weekend. We performed in the spectacular Royal Concertgebouw building, ranked as one of the finest concert halls in the world, and we sang at outdoor events throughout the city.

2017:
13th May – The Deep C Divas joined us for our Can’t Take My Eyes Off You concert as part of Brighton Fringe Festival.
15th July – Our summer concert Classics To Classical was one of two halves with he beautiful and moving Faure’s Requiem, along with more recent classics from Lady Gaga and Queen.
29th August – The choir featured on BBC’s The One Show singing True Colours and some members were interviewed.
18th August – We took part in the Manchester Hand in Hand Festival.

2018:
9th-13th May – We took part in the Various Voices Festival in Munich, singing at the Gasteig concert hall.
14th July – Another anniversary summer concert!
24th September – We appeared on the front cover of Gscene thanks to winning a pub quiz!
15th December – Our winter concert Les Mistletoe was delayed until 12th January 2019 due to Storm Deirdre damaging the roof and flooding the venue.

2019:
29th June – We held our summer concert Rainbows in Summer.
16-18th August – Hand in Hand Festival in Cardiff hosted by South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus and Songbirds. We performed in St David’s Hall.
14th December – Our Christmas concert Phantom Festivities took place just before lockdown included a medley of Phantom of the Opera.

2020:
Lockdown spurred us onto do loads virtually including a More Scrubs project & video supporting our wonderful NHS, carers and keyworkers and messages of support for Trans Pride, Brighton Pride and our LGBTQ Deaf community.
12th December – We performed two concerts virtually beaming our usual Christmas cheer right into people’s homes.

2021:
24th April – We took part in the LEGATO Spring Affair Virtual Choir Festival
10th November – Gay Games presented RC+ our Workshop Choir with the Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Trans and Non-Binary Culture Participation’, for creating a truly inclusive singing space where anyone canexplore their voices.
11th December – Our first concert back at St George’s Church Rainbows Return was named after our virtual zoom pub.

2022:
4th April – We celebrated 10 years of our amazing music team.
17th May – We once again supported IDAHOBIT by performing at their community vigil.
9th July – Our Summer Concert simply titled 25 was a celebration of the past 25 years of the chorus and was a huge success.
16th July – Two performances in one afternoon supporting two great local events. First up was Brighton Transpride in Brunswick Square and then the Brighton Bear Weekend in Dorset Gardens for an intimate acoustic set and raising money for the Rainbow Fund.

2023 and beyond…watch this space!!!