London Gay Men's Chorus

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London Gay Men’s Chorus
Lgmclogo2.png
London Gay Men's Chorus logo
Background information
Origin London, England, United Kingdom
Genres 20th century, baroque, choral, classical, folk, gospel, jazz, popular, show tunes,
Occupations Men's Choir
Instruments 190 voices
Years active 1991-present
Associated acts London Gay Men's Chorus Ensemble (formerly Far From Kansas)
Website www.lgmc.org.uk
Members Chairman
John D Carrion
Artistic Director
Simon Sharp
Assistant Musical Director
Chris Pethers

Founded in 1991 by a group of six gay men, the London Gay Men’s Chorus is now, with around 190 singing members and over 230 members in total, Europe’s largest and best known gay choir.

Introduction[edit]

With a widely varying repertoire from classical music to folk, jazz, pop, R&B or show tunes, and often including choreography, the Chorus's aim is to challenge preconceptions - both musical and social - in society, while providing a social network for its members. The Chorus operates an open access policy, allowing anyone to join. New members are simply voice-tested and not auditioned when they join the group.

The Chorus rehearses at Cecil Sharp House, Camden Town and has offices at Hampstead Town Hall Centre, Belsize Park.

Structure[edit]

London Gay Men's Chorus members marching in Pride London 2011.

With approximately 190 voices, the London Gay Men's Chorus has four singing sections, bass, baritone, first tenor and second tenor. Each section is divided between upper and lower voices supported by a music support team drawn from the ranks. SemiTones are non-singing members who help support the chorus, primarily with serving refreshments during break and Front of House activities during a concert.

A group of auditioned members constitute the 'ensemble' (LGMCe), a small group which works as an ambassadorial and fundraising entity and performs at corporate events, civil partnership and wedding ceremonies.

The Music Team including the musical director their deputies and assistants are professionals employed on freelance contracts by the Chorus.

The Chorus also employs a general manager but mostly draws on volunteer work from its members to support its activities.

As of 2012, the Chorus is governed by an elected steering committee composed of a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer with eight additional members who share responsibility for the various areas of activities of the Chorus including music, production, marketing, membership, external relations, and youth, education outreach.

Revenue comes from membership subscriptions, ticket and merchandise sales, donations, and performance fees.

The Chorus has had a number of commercial sponsors, both monetary donors and providers of pro bono professional services, including the former pioneering gay website Queercompany, design firm Marsh and Malone who developed a new corporate identity in 2005-6, and fundraising consultants Brakeley. The Chorus also enjoyed a commercial relationship with Selfridges, and has sung carols in the Oxford Street store during the Christmas season for five years (between 2004 and 2008).

The London Gay Men's Chorus is a charity (Reg. No. 1092827) and a private limited company registered in England (No. 4390145)

The most recent chairs, for the past ten years or so, include:

  • David Batten
  • Steve Bustin
  • Martin Brophy
  • Dr Greg Battle
  • Anthony Fordham
  • Alisdair Low
  • Jim Robertson
  • John D Carrion (current)

Historic overview[edit]

Previous logo of the London Gay Men's Chorus

After humble beginnings in 1991 at Angel Underground station (where the station had to be closed due to the crowd that had gathered), the Chorus has performed around the UK and toured overseas in the United States, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, Poland, Ireland and Australia and sung with the Helsinki Gay Men's Chorus in the summer of 2009.

The choir has made many TV and radio appearances including Top of the Pops, So Graham Norton, Loose Ends, Ruby Wax Christmas special, London Tonight, the Paul Ross weekend breakfast show on LBC, and Comic Relief, and has sung and performed with stars including Sir Elton John, The Human League, Heather Small, Damien Hirst, Simon Callow, Alison Jiear, Jocelyn Brown, Toyah Willcox, k.d. lang, Rula Lenska, Sandi Toksvig, Dame Cleo Laine, Mark Ronson and The Pet Shop Boys.

Over the years the Chorus has raised thousands of pounds for charity (the Food Chain, the Royal Marsden Hospital, Crusaid, the RNIB, Changing Attitude, [The National Autistic Society], the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Orchid Cancer Appeal, Cara and others), and sung everywhere from the tube station of its beginnings to pubs and street corners, XXL, Heaven, Trafalgar Square, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Aussie Stadium, the Millennium Dome in the presence of HM The Queen, La Cigale in Paris, The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the National Concert Hall in Dublin, the Gianni Agnelli Auditorium in Turin, the London Coliseum (for the centenary of the building), the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, the Congress Hall in Warsaw, Poland and the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent history[edit]

2004[edit]

In December the Chorus sold out the Barbican Hall with their Christmas show Make the Yuletide Gay hosted by Simon Callow. This was the fastest ever sell-out concert for the venue. In May 2005, the Chorus took part in the Various Voices festival in Paris. In July of the same year, they gave three performances of You'll Do For Now at the Cadogan Hall, London. The show, devised by a Chorus member, charted the lives of four gay men in London over the second half of the twentieth century. The inclusion of a narrative thread to a show was a new artistic challenge for the Chorus.

2005[edit]

In December, the Chorus returned with an improved version of their Christmas show, Make the Yuletide Gay promoted like the previous year by Raymond Gubbay Ltd and hosted by Rula Lenska who sang and danced as well as hosting the show. The Chorus performed at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, The Concert Hall in Brighton and the Barbican Hall in London. At the same time, they released their fifth recording, and first Christmas CD, Make the Yuletide Gay.

2006[edit]

To celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, the Chorus organised celebration concerts at the Cadogan Hall, London and in Cardiff in July as well as a party at Heaven, London. The Chorus also took part in the Europride celebrations held in London, and performed at Europride 2006, The Show was produced by Sir Ian McKellen at the Royal Albert Hall in July.

In September, the Chorus was invited to take part in the prestigious international music festival, Settembre Musica in Turin, Italy. The Chorus, still collaborating with Raymond Gubbay Ltd, sold out the Barbican Hall once again with their third Christmas show there (20 December). The show was hosted by Sandi Toksvig.

2007[edit]

On 26 and 27 May, the Chorus made its first visit to Scotland with performances at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh and the Strathclyde Suite at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow. They were performing with one of Scotland's LGBT choirs, Loud & Proud. The show, directed by Julian Woolford, was titled Bad Boys and compiled rock anthems with classical/operatic pieces. It also featured the premiere of My Friends, a song by Julian Woolford and Richard John, which was performed by Far From Kansas. It is a tribute to those who died in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. There were also two sold out performances at the Cadogan Hall in London on 20 and 21 July.

The LGMC during its performance at Castellar del Vallès.

At the end of the summer season, Charles Beale, the Musical Director left to become Musical Director of the New York Gay Men's Chorus. Andrea Brown also had to leave to Chorus after having been offered a teaching job at Morley College (south London).

On 16 December, the Chorus appeared on the stage of the London Palladium. The show, Accentuate the Positive, directed by Stuart Burrows, marked the 25th anniversary of the Terrence Higgins Trust. Alison Jiear appeared on stage with the Chorus.

2008[edit]

In July, the Chorus performed a selection of songs based on the work of William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience at the Cadogan Hall on 4 and 5 July.

Later in the month, the Chorus was invited to take part in the second edition of the Trobada Internacional de Cors d'Homes in Catalonia (Spain). The Chorus, one of the five male voice choirs taking part, performed at Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona with the other choirs, in La Garriga with the Societat Coral L'Aliança, Castellar del Vallès with the Coral Sant Josep, and in Vila-Seca[disambiguation needed].

The Christmas show, For Christmas' Sake, took place at the Cadogan Hall and was in support of the National Autistic Society.

2009[edit]

Members of the Chorus spearheaded the bid for London to host the European choir festival Various Voices 2009, which was awarded the Inspire Mark by the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics. The festival took place at the Southbank Centre in May 2009 in collaboration with the 2 other London LGBT choirs (The Pink Singers and Diversity), and with the support of Visit London and the Greater London Authority.

The Chorus visited Helsinki in June and performed with Out and Loud the Finnish gay male voice choir in a one night concert in Helsinki. The LGMC also marched in Helsinki gay pride and sang on the main stage.

The Chorus's repertoire for that season brought together a selection of songs about London. The show at the Shaw Theatre on 16 July was called Songs of London.

On 30 October the Chorus together with members of the LGBT choirs of London, Brighton and Hove, Birmingham and Reading as well as the London Gay Symphonic Wind took part in a vigil against hate crime in Trafalgar Square in memory of Ian Baynham who died after a homophobic attack near the Square.[1] The event gathered several thousand people and was hosted by Sandi Toksvig. It featured contributions by Richard Barnes (Deputy Mayor of London), Chris Bryant MP (Minister for Europe) and Maria Eagle MP (Minister of State for Equalities and twin of the only out lesbian MP), Stephen K Amos and Sue Perkins.

The Chorus's winter performances, which included panto elements and titled Singderella took place at the Cadogan Hall on 4 and 5 December. The performances were in support of Everyman, Marie Curie Cancer Care and St John’s Hospice.

The Chorus was also invited to be the lead choir at the annual GLA Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral on 15 December.[2]

The Chorus appeared as one of the many guests of Sandi Toksvig's Christmas Cracker series of shows at The Royal Festival Hall. The performance on 22 December 2009 was broadcast live on Sky Arts 1.

2010[edit]

The summer show, The Seven Deadly Sins was performed at the Camden Roundhouse on 25 & 26 June 2010. The Chorus performed in the Congress Hall in Warsaw, Poland on 16 July 2010 and took part in the Europride 2010 parade. Members of the Chorus appeared on the (originally eponymous) track "Introducing The Business" in Mark Ronson's album Record Collection.

The Christmas show Make Your Own Kind of Christmas was performed on 10–11 December 2010 at the Cadogan Hall with its trademark mix of fabulous pop hits and stunning classical pieces, all laced with a generous splash of festive spirit.

Taking inspiration from gay men’s relationship with what’s traditionally a family celebration, expect a funny, moving and memorable journey to an eclectic soundtrack including music by Kurt Weill, the Smiths, Handel, Kylie Minogue and Carly Simon.

A share of the proceeds from these concerts supported the Samaritans UK .

2011[edit]

The Chorus performed the summer show, Sound: An Aural Adventure on 24 and 25 June at the Union Chapel. Guests performers included members of the London Bulgarian Choir. The repertoire included a Bollywood medley and a 16-part version of Björk's Triumph of the Heart, complete with beatboxing.

The Christmas show, Make Mine a Snowball, was performed on 16 and 17 December to a sold out crowd at Cadogan Hall.

2012[edit]

In February, the Chorus sang at 10 Downing Street in the presence of Prime Minister David Cameron for an event against homophobia in sport.

The Chorus performed its 21st anniversary show: A Band of Brothers at the Royal Festival Hall (for the first time) on 6 May 2012 in support of the Kaleidoscope Trust with participation of the Southbank Centre's Voicelab and London school children. The compere for the show was Paul Gambaccini. (audience reactions) They also performed the show at the Grand Opera House in Belfast on 20 May.

The repertoire for this show includes Madonna, Lady Gaga, Richard Wagner, Lily Allen, The Smiths and a new commission with music by Conor Mitchell and book by Mark Ravenhill entitled Shadow Time. The piece explores the evolution of mentalities in respect of homosexuality in the life time of the Chorus.[3]

As part of an outreach project the Chorus worked with two London schools (Stoke Newington School, Riverside School). The pupils involved in this (some of them with special needs) took part in the show at the Royal Festival Hall. A short film about the project, introduced by Jon Snow, was produced by the Media Trust and shown on the Community Channel as part of the Untold Stories series.

The Chorus also performed at Southwark Cathedral on 6 July as part of World Pride while members took part in various events linked to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Members of the Chorus also feature in episode 5 of a new BBC Three sitcom. The show, titled Dead Boss is written by Sharon Horgan and features Jennifer Saunders, Caroline Quentin and Susan Calman. Episode 5 also features Tony Blackburn and Carl Barât. The show aired in June and July.

Online presence[edit]

In addition to its website, the Chorus has a wide online presence. Its recordings can be found on most music download websites. The Chorus has a Twitter account, @LdnGMC, a YouTube channel, a Facebook fan page and an unofficial flickr photopool.

Discography[edit]

Accentuate the Positive (2009)[edit]

A studio recording of the LGMC sell-out show Accentuate the Positive. First performed at the London Palladium, December 2007

Make the Yuletide Gay (2005)[edit]

The LGMC Christmas show from 2005.

From the Ritz to the Anchor & Crown (2004)[edit]

LGMC's collection of audience favourites.

Showtime (2003)[edit]

This CD is a selection of songs from the LGMC 2003 touring production, Tying the Knot.

Moving Ahead (2002)[edit]

Recorded (mostly) live in front of the capacity audiences for the Golden Reign concerts staged in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, July 2002.

Hear the Difference (1998)[edit]

LGMC's first effort in CD production mostly recorded at the Croydon Lesbian and Gay Forum show held in 1998.

References[edit]

  1. ^ In Pictures: Vigil Against Hate Crime @ Trafalgar Square, Londonist, 31 October 2009
  2. ^ London Gay Men’s Chorus to sing at mayor’s Christmas carol service, PinkNews, 11 December 2009
  3. ^ London Gay Men's Chorus turns 21, The Guardian, 3 May 2012

External links[edit]