Since 1991, when 9 friends sang Christmas carols to raise money for the Terrance Higgins Trust, the London Gay Men’s Chorus has grown to become a registered charity with over 200 members.
As we celebrated our Silver Jubilee in 2016, we undertook 25 events and activities that reflected our vision – to be at the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what a gay chorus can be – and focused on our mission statements.
- Fundraise £25,000 to celebrate 25 years. We’re just totting up the final figures now, but expect to have exceeded our target through a ‘LGMC Bake-offs’ at rehearsals, a ‘pianaoke’ night with our very own Simon Sharp, Body-Pump fitness classes, life-drawing classes and various events by the LGMC Running Group. Obviously we continue to fundraise for the Chorus, so if you’d like to help us, visit our BT Donate page.
- Celebrate with a 25th Anniversary concert at the Royal Festival Hall. On 27th November we took to the stage of the Royal Festival Hall for our special Silver Jubilee concert! It was also the closing event for the Southbank Centre’s ‘Being a Man’ festival, and we were joined by special guests Hannah Waddingham and Hannah Pedley, as well as members of the Orion Symphony Orchestra and the London Gay Big Band.
- Participate in an international pride event. In August 2015 we travelled to Prague to take part in the 5th Annual Pride parade. As well as singing, dancing and marching in the parade, we also put on a special performance at the Nová scéna theatre with the Doodles – the Czech Republic’s only gay choir – and performed at the British Consulate. As a result of the performance, our Ensemble were invited back to perform at the Prague Fringe festival in summer 2016.
- Undertake a tour of the UK in 2016. In August 2015 we collaborated with the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus for a special concert for Brighton Pride. In October, we then travelled to Leeds on the 29th October for a one-night only concert with Gay Abandon and the Deep C Divas. We then travelled on to Newcastle to perform at Fenwick’s department store and the mainline train station. We hope to travel to other parts of the UK to perform with other choirs in the future, so keep an eye on our Performances page for more information.
- Create a film about the history and future of the chorus. We’ve been in conversation with a number of organisations about potential collaborations, but in the meantime we created a series of short films to give more insight into the Chorus. You can see these videos here.
- Commission a new piece of music. In 2015, the LGMC collaborated with Jordan McKenzie, and world-renowned psychoanalyst and culture critic, Susie Orbach, on the Shame Chorus project – taking interviews from our members where they were asked to recall memories of being shamed, and using them to create original songs and choral works from a variety of composers including Billy Bragg and David McAlmont.
- Create a collaborative piece with music and dance. If you’ve been to one of our shows, you’ll know that we always like to entertain our audiences with choreography. Over the last few shows we’ve developed this to regularly have a ‘dance troupe’ made up of members of the Chorus. We also collaborated with Corey Baker and Chris Scott from Corey Baker Dance for The Big Gay Swing in December 2015, and the relationship with Chris Scott continues today with various pieces of choreography, including One Night Only from our UGotMale? show in November 2016. We also used our own internal talent, with choreography for pieces from History and UGotMale? being created by our own members.
- Host a Big Gay Picnic. In July 2015, we hosted our ‘Origin of the Species’ picnic held on Blackheath Common, which brought together members past and present, and friends and family of Chorus members. Over 200 people spent most of a sunny Saturday celebrating our 25 years.
- Participate in a Proms event. We have some plans in the pipeline for this one that we can’t say much more about at the moment. Watch this space!
- Create a visible presence at Pride 2016. On Saturday 25th June we once again took to the streets of London to celebrate Pride – making an even bigger sound this year thanks to a better PA system. Over 120 of our members sang and danced through the streets, providing entertainment to the people who came to see the parade and cheer everyone on. A big thank you to everyone who came down to show their support.
- Participate in a choral festival. In June 2015, over 60 of our members attended the Hand-in-Hand LGBT choir festival in Brighton. We joined 25 other UK LGBT choirs to take part in choral workshops and flash-mobs around the city, and perform as part of a special concert at the Brighton Dome.
- Create a 25–piece interdisciplinary art exhibition illustrating the diversity of the Chorus. Aside from their vocal capabilities, our boys have some other amazing talents up their sleeves. A number of our members have created various works of art, choosing a variety of individuals from within the Chorus to base their work, celebrating the diversity of the Chorus members and highlighting their individual personalities, journeys and life experiences. We’ll be curating the exhibition at a later date once we’ve found a suitable space, so watch this space!
- Explore the possibility of a memorial plaque at Angel. We explored a number of options to have a plaque at Angel Tube Station to commemorate the birth place of the Chorus. Unfortunately however, we have yet to find away of making this a possibility.
- Create a workbox of two school lesson plans to challenge homophobia through music. One of our newest Trustees, Steven Smith, is working on this goal, following his incredibly successful work with Mosaic Youth (see below).
- Start an LGMC Alumni group. Following our ‘Origin of the Species’ picnic that we mentioned above, a number of relationships have been established – primarily in recruiting members to our Semitones (non-singing members). Our membership committee are now taking over the ongoing management of this growing endeavour.
Develop meaningful collaborations with groups, including:
- Orchestral group. For our History show in 2015, we collaborated with the incredible Orion Symphony Orchestra – a full 21-piece string orchestra with harp. The string section for our Silver Jubilee concert was also made up from members of the Orion Orchestra. We’ve been thrilled to have these amazingly talented musicians involved in our shows, and we hope to continue this relationship in future performances.
- Organisation that supports people living with HIV. On 1st August 2015, we returned to St. Giles-in-the-Field to perform for HIV charity, Positive East, and help them raise vital funds for their work to stop the spread of HIV. In October 2015 and 2016, we also headlined a special concert to help the Robert Grace Trust raise money for their work to support people living with HIV and their carers.
- Black and ethnic minority group. Through a number of bake sales at our all-day rehearsals, we raised money from our members to fund 20 tickets for members of Micro Rainbow International to come to our Big Gay Swing! in December 2015, to help begin a relationship between our two organisations. Members of their own choir have also attended our rehearsals. Our Historian, Jason Carvalho, continues this relationship.
- Trans group. On 6th October 2015, we took to the stage at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to support Wotever World’s ‘Bar Wotever’ – a safe space for everyone, no matter what identity, or multiple identities a person may have or choose. The event also raised money for Uganda’s only standing sanctuary house. Ideas for interactive work continue to be shared amongst various Chorus members and friends, and our Chair (John Carrion) and Historian (Jason Carvalho) are looking at ways in which the Chorus can further more interactions with the trans community.
- Youth group. In 2016 we collaborated with the Mosaic LGBT youth centre on youth music project called Sing Out, which saw the young people create, record and perform original music. Find out about our work on the Sing Out project with Mosaic LGBT Youth here.
- Faith group. On 29th November 2015, we returned to the West London Synagogue to perform at their annual World AIDS Day concert. Our performance followed a moving service at the Synagogue and this was the second time that we’d performed there. The results from this great relationship have inspired ongoing discussions with other faith groups with regard to future performances.
- Older LGBT people. We’ve been developing our relationship with Opening Doors London, and a number of their members came to our Big Gay Swing! in December 2015. A number of our members have also been reaching out and hosting a dinner for members of their local older LGBT community.
- Sports group. One key area where homophobia is still rife is in the world of sport. Among a number of organisations that we’ve reached out to, we held a Chorus social with the Ishigaki Martial Arts Club at the Queen of Hoxton rooftop. We also put forward a 5-strong team for the Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s Sports Day fundraiser for GMFA, and members of the Chorus joined Outdoor Lads at their Big Spring Camp in 2016.
- LGMC family members. As mentioned above, our ‘Origin of the Species’ picnic involved family and friends of our Chorus members, and a number of family members and partners of our chorines have joined the LGMC as part of our Semitone programme. In November 2016, the son of one of chorines also contributed incredible artistry to highlight a couple of songs in UGotMale? Various ideas are in the pipeline for participation in future performances and workshops.
- Women’s group. As mentioned above, our UK tour in 2016 included a visit to Leeds which included a collaboration with the Deep C Divas – a “small but perfectly formed” lesbian a cappella group based in Yorkshire. Following our performances for the Robert Grace Trust, we also maintain a relationship with the Deep Throat Choir to explore potential collaborations in the future, and have a number of other ideas in the pipeline involving long-term relationships with women’s organisations.
If you’d like to keep updated on our continuing work against these goals, please subscribe to our newsletter using the sign-up box at the bottom of the page. If there’s any way that you think you can help us continue and develop the work from these goals, please do get in touch.