Friday 14 June 2013

Singing the Changes

Singing the Changes exhibition poster
Thirty year's ago this month, I agreed to stand in as musical director of a fledgling choir, the Pink Singers, the first lesbian and gay choir in London. The choir had been founded a few months earlier, inspired by the recent visit to London by the New York City Gay Mens Chorus. I was with the Pink Singers for five years and, amazingly, thirty years later the choir is still going strong. In January they had a concert to celebrate their birthday (see my article on this blog) and now they have put together an exhibition, Singing the Changes, which looks at the 30 years of their existence in the context of the changes to lesbian and gay life in the last thirty years. The social landscape was very different in 1983 and the exhibition seeks to capture this, and show how it was reflected in the Pink Singers history.

The exhibition is part oral history, with touch screens enabling you to see and hear interviews with current and former members of the choir, including Mark Bunyan (the founder musical director), one other of the founder members of the choir, myself and two further musical directors. (The choir has had just 6 musical directors in its existence and five of them were at the opening of the exhibition last night). The exhibition has been put together entirely by members of the Pink Singers, including recording and editing the video interviews.

But there are also artefacts, from LGBT history and from the choir's history (including a banner we made for Gay Pride in 1987 which I never thought to see again). Many of the current Pink Singers are under 30 and have no experience of what life was like for lesbians and gay men in the 1980's, or what it meant to join a group like the Pink Singers. The exhibition explores this lucidly and informatively, without preaching, and has come up with some fascinating images and facts. There is also an introductory film to go with the exhibition, but at the opening this wasn't playing as instead we got a lovely performance from the current choir.

The exhibition runs from 14 June to 12 July 2013 at Audit House, 58 Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars (Thursdays and Fridays 6pm-9pm, Saturdays and Sundays 10am-6pm), then 15 July to 18 Augusts 2013 at the Guardian, Kings Place, York Way, London (10am-6pm). Admission is free. Further information from the Pink Singers website.
Elsewhere on this blog:

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