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London Gay Men’s Chorus
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 Far From Kansas
Website www.lgmc.org.uk
Members
Chairman
Anthony Fordham
Musical Director
Simon Sharp
Deputy Musical Directors
Julian Harris & Roger Sayer
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.

Contents

Introduction

London Gay Men's Chorus logo

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.

The Chorus also provides support for the creation of new LGBT choirs around the UK. The Chorus is a prominent member of Sing Out and Legato and a former member of GALA.

Structure

With approximately 190 voices, the London Gay Men's Chorus has five sections, Bass, Baritone, First Tenor, Second Tenor and SemiTones. Each section is divided between upper and lower voices supported by a music support team drawn from the ranks and a music team. SemiTones are non-singing members who help support the chorus.

A group of twenty auditioned members constitute 'Far From Kansas', a small group which works as an ambassadorial and fundraising entity and performs at corporate events and civil partnership 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 2006, 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 performance, production, business development, and membership.

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 (Current)

Historic overview

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, 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 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) and the Royal Albert Hall.

Recent history

2004

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

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

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

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 passed away 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

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 Catalunya (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.

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

2009

Members of the Chorus spear-headed 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 (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].

Future Developments

The Chorus will be one of the many guests of Sandi Toksvig's Christmas Cracker series of shows at the Royal Festival Hall. The performance on the 22 December in which the Chorus will be taking part is to be shown live on Sky Arts 1. In 2010, plans include concerts at the Roundhouse and a trip to Warsaw Pride.

Online presence

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

Accentuate the Positive (2009)

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)

The LGMC Christmas show from 2005.

From the Ritz to the Anchor & Crown (2004)

LGMC's collection of audience favourites.

Showtime (2003)

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

Moving Ahead (2002)

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)

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

References

  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

External links








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