Pink Singers

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The Pink Singers are Europe's longest-running LGBT choir, founded in April 1983 by Mark Bunyan and Brian Kennedy. They are a mixed four-part choir, with over 80 LGBT singers. The repertoire includes everything from pop to classical to jazz, folk and show tunes. The choir has had six musical directors since its inception.

Setting up: Mark Bunyan and Brian Kennedy, April–July 1983

The first rehearsal was at the Oval House Theatre on 7 April 1983 with about 20 people, and their first public performance was at that year's London Pride march. In the early days there was a radical aspect to the choir's repertoire. The sign-up sheet from the first choir rehearsal shows members’ awareness of the significance of joining a gay choir. Asked to indicate which voice part they intended to sing, some people simply wrote ‘political’. Kennedy was the driving force behind the creation of the choir, as he had visited the USA and seen some of the choirs which had been set up there, and the visit to London of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus was a great inspiration. However, he did not feel capable of fronting it himself and persuaded cabaret artiste Mark Bunyan to take on the role of musical director. Bunyan's diary for the first meeting recorded, ‘The rehearsal for the gay choir survived both my incompetence and the potential splits of cultural/political and male/female but we’ll see how next week goes.’

Radical politics and cabaret: Robert Hugill, July 1983–September 1988

Bunyan's own performing career was taking off at the same time and he felt that he did not have the time to give to the choir. Robert Hugill expressed an interest in becoming musical director and Bunyan gladly handed over the reins. The group was intended to rehearse at the new London Lesbian and Gay Centre in Cowcross Street, but for the two years until that was finished rehearsals were at the GLC's County Hall thanks to the support of Bob Crossman who was a member of the Greater London Council and though a non-singer, was a supporter of the choir. Early public performances were thanks to the good offices of the cabaret artist Eric Presland who arranged for the group to support him on a couple of gigs. The first full length concert was at Christmas 1985 with the first of the choir's Christmas Alternative concerts.

Repertoire varied between political songs and cabaret numbers, Gershwin, Cole Porter and Tom Lehrer to Kurt Weill, Hanns Eisler and Alan Bush.

Important connections with European choirs were made when the choir visited the European festival of gay singing in Stockholm in 1987 and Berlin in 1988, and the 1989 festival was hosted by the Pink Singers in London. The group celebrated its 5th birthday in 1988 with Hanns Eisler's cantata Die Mutter and other music from 1936 at Lauderdale House in Highgate.

Return of the women: Michael Derrick, September 1988–September 1992

Paul Cutts, 1992-1997

Mladen Stankovic, 1997-2010

Murray Hipkin, November 2010–

External sites