How is the Chorus year structured?
The Chorus year is usually made up of three seasons:
- Spring – January to May (culminating with a 2 night show as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival)
- Summer – May to August (culminating with a 2 night show that kicks off Pride week)
- Winter – September to December (generally culminating with a 1 or 2 night Xmas extravaganza)
We usually have a break during August and also over Christmas & New Year.
What kind of performances does the Chorus do?
We produce our own shows, usually 3 times a year, and are approached to perform at various functions. As well as our shows at Christmas, for the Brighton Festival and our Pride show, the Chorus has performed at the Gay Police Federation annual conference, The Golden Handbag Awards, at the Barbican in London and of course the BBC programme The Last Choir Standing to name but a few.
Can I choose which performances I want to appear in?
Yes, but we hope you love it so much you will want to perform at every show.
When and where does the Chorus rehearse?
The Chorus rehearses every Tuesday from 7.30-10.00pm in a central Brighton location. There are also a number of weekend rehearsals at other venues around Brighton & Hove.
What does it cost to be a member of the Chorus?
The membership charge is £24 per calendar month payable monthly by debit or credit card through an automatically-recurring subscription purchase on our Members-only website.
A concessionary rate of £12 per calendar month is available to those less able to pay – for example, if you are unemployed, on a low wage, on a pension, are a student, etc. Please note that this rate is not automatic, and is awarded at the discretion of the Trustees. Don’t be afraid to ask!
You are welcome to attend your first two rehearsals as a taster, free of charge. If you decide that you would like to join, the Membership Co-ordinator, who will tell you how to sign up
Where does the money from subscriptions go?
The monthly subscription fee is used for the general day-to-day running of the Chorus rehearsals. It is used for the hire of the hall to rehearse in, payments for our professional Chorus Director, Music Director and Assistant Musical Director, insurance, etc, as well as the all-important tea and biscuits at break time!
The cost of purchasing music scores and the various rights to perform them in public, along with costumes and publicity, is recouped from the monies raised in ticket sales for the corresponding season’s show.
Musically, how is the Chorus structured?
The Chorus has four ‘voice sections’: Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Baritone and Bass. Each section chooses a ‘Section Leader’ whose primary role is to co-ordinate additional rehearsals for their section as necessary, support section members and to communicate with the Chorus Director on behalf of the section.
How do I know what voice section I will be in?
If you’ve sung in a choir before then you will be asked to join the section where you believe you should be, otherwise the Membership Co-ordinator will show you to a section that you think might suit you. Shortly after joining the Chorus Director will have a short informal session with you to determine that you are in the correct section. Note that this not an audition, but rather to ensure that you are in the right place for your vocal health.
Can I change the voice section I sing with?
If you feel that you are not in the correct voice section for your voice range you can discuss this with the Chorus Director who will re-assess you and discuss your options with you.
When can I start performing with the Chorus?
If you have learnt the repertoire, you will be able to perform at the end of season concert. The Chorus Director will decide whether you are ready to perform or if you require more practice.
What can I use my Section Leader for?
The Section Leader for the section you are placed in is a good point of contact when you first join the Chorus. They can inform you of the music being practised at that time and provide you with information regarding any forthcoming events.
Is it a problem if I can’t read music?
Absolutely not. There are many Chorus members who joined being unable to read music.
Can I learn the rudiments of reading music?
With practice most people start to pick up music reading as they go along and your fellow Chorus members will be more than happy to give you pointers if you get lost during a rehearsal. You may find it useful to check out your local library for books on reading music, for example: How to Read Music : Reading Music Made Simple by Terry Burrows.
Is the Chorus repertoire available on-line?
Yes. Our online resources include material to help you learn the various songs for that season including backing tracks and individual section voice and piano tracks. These can be downloaded to your smartphone or MP3 player so can rehearse songs at home or in the car. They are hosted behind a password-protected area of the website and are not intended for public consumption. You’ll be provided with details of how to access these when you join.
How does the music that the Chorus will perform get chosen?
The choice of music that the Chorus will perform is chosen by the Music Team who always welcome suggestions from the membership. The Music Team (consisting of our music professionals and members of the Chorus), meet regularly to carefully consider the suggested music and define the programme for the shows to come. Choices are often restricted due to the availability of musical arrangements suitable for a male voice chorus.
What else does the Music Team do?
In addition to choosing the music to be performed, the Music Team may adapt the music to suit the Chorus and reflect the different voice parts. Members of the Music Team will also assist the Chorus Director to assess the quality of the Chorus’ performances and may stand-in for the Chorus Director if he is unable to attend a rehearsal or performance.
What do I do if I have an idea about music we could sing?
Chorus members are encouraged to be actively involved in the choice of music the chorus performs. If you have any ideas of music that you think may be appropriate for the Chorus you should discuss your ideas with the Chorus Director, or any member of the Music Team. You can also email the Music Team with suggestions.
Do we have warm-up exercises before each rehearsal or performance?
Absolutely – warm-up exercises are important and essential to the vocal development of the Chorus. The exercises help to prepare our voices for singing and to ensure that we do not strain our voices and over time provide an element of voice training. The warm-up normally lasts for about 15 minutes depending on the needs of the rehearsal or performance.
How is the Chorus organised?
The Chorus is a Registered Charity, number 1171020, structured as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (“CIO”). The CIO is run by three elected Officers and a number of elected Trustees (collectively referred to as “Trustees” from here on). All Trustees are members of the Chorus and all members of the Chorus are members of the CIO, and so have a democratic say in the running of the Chorus. Members are encouraged to become involved in the running of the organisation through a number of Committees and Teams, or just on an ad-hoc basis.
Finally there are our Music Professionals who are employed by the CIO on a freelance basis. They are all actively involved in the planning and preparation for our shows, but they are not members of the CIO and so do not have voting rights at AGMs, etc.
What do the Trustees and Management Team do?
The Trustees of the CIO are responsible for all administrative, legal and compliance aspects of the Chorus. The Trustees have specific roles and responsibilities and are voted in to position at the AGM.
Below them are the wider Management Team who take on additional management responsibilities, but who are not Trustees and are generally appointed from time to time rather than being elected.
The Music Professionals are not members of the CIO, but are involved with the various teams and committees, and the Chorus Director joins in the Trustees meetings in a non-voting capacity.
With the exception of the Music Professionals, participation is on a purely voluntary basis and no remuneration is received for this.
How can I join the Trustees / Management Team?
Elections for Trustees are held annually as part of the Chorus’ AGM. Any member can stand for the available roles, which are voted on by the membership. If you are keen to be involved, you don’t have to wait until the next AGM, just ask any Trustee if there are any vacancies. If there aren’t we can often create one just for you!
Can I attend Trustees’ meetings?
Members are more than welcome to attend the Trustees’ meetings. Just let the Chairman or Secretary know that you would like to attend and they will give you details of the next meeting.
Does the Chorus have any social events apart from going to the pub on Tuesdays?
Yes. The Chorus tries to have a Christmas Party each year (usually in January!) and we generally have some kind of gathering at the end of the Pride season. In addition, you will find yourself invited to birthday parties, trips to the theatre or cinema, pub night outs, the annual BLAGGS Bowling competition, walks upon the Downs, etc. It is up to the members themselves to decide how much or how little to organise or participate in.
What clothes do I need for performances?
We have a basic costume, which is then adapted for different performances. You will need to provide some of this yourself – specifically a white collared shirt, a black collared shirt, black trousers and smart black shoes. The Chorus will provide much of the rest, including sparkly waistcoats, ties and t-shirt. There may also be occasions when you may be asked to buy a different colour shirt for a performance.
Please do not buy any items of costume until you have been informed of the specifics of our requirements – for example, shirts should have button cuffs, not cufflinks, and shoes should be smart, black and polishable – so no suede loafers, for example!
What is the rehearsal schedule like leading up to a performance?
It can get quite busy. Extra rehearsals may be planned in the period running up to the performance. These may be in the evening or at weekends. You will be notified of the schedule in advance, but it is important to check your emails regularly. If you need to miss extra rehearsals due to prior commitments, it is important to let your Section Leader know.
What is the purpose of the weekend rehearsals?
Weekend rehearsals allow us to work in depth, and for an extended time, on particular pieces or aspects of singing. They also allow Chorus members to develop their singing ability and increase their confidence.
What should I do if I intend to miss a few weeks?
If you are aware that you will not be attending for a few weeks please let your Section Leader know if at all possible.
What if I have joined the Chorus and now wish to leave?
In the first instance we ask that you please inform the Membership Co-ordinator.
It would be useful for the Trustees to have some feedback as to the reason for you deciding to leave. Obviously, if it is personal then we would not expect you to share any personal details.
All scores issued to you remain the property of the Chorus and must be returned at the earliest convenience. We reserve the right to charge you the cost price of any scores that are not returned or are returned in an unacceptable condition.
If you do decide to leave, please remember to cancel your Membership Subscription to the Chorus.
Who should I talk to if I have a problem?
Your Section Leader should be a useful resource in this respect. Even if he cannot help with your problem, he may well know who best to discuss it with, with your consent. If you feel you cannot talk to your Section Leader for some reason, then the Membership Coordinator or any Trustee will be happy to help.