How is the Chorus year structured?

  • The Chorus year is generally made up of three seasons:
    • • January to May (generally culminating with Brighton Festival)
    • • May to August (generally culminating with Pride week)
    • • September to December (generally culminating with a Xmas show)
  • We generally have a break during August, following our activities during Brighton Pride week, and also over Christmas.

When and where does the Chorus rehearse?

  • The Chorus rehearse every Tuesday from 7.30-10.00pm at the Brighton Unitarian Church, New Road, in central Brighton. There are monthly workshops, generally 10.30am-4.30pm, on Saturdays at All Saints Church Hall on Eaton Rd in Hove. Additional rehearsals may be held at other venues around Brighton.

What does it cost to be a member of the Chorus?

  • The membership charge is £24 per calendar month payable monthly by standing order.
  • 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 Management Team’s discretion. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • You are welcome to attend your first two rehearsals as a taster, free of charge. If you subsequently decide that you would like to join us, please complete the membership form which you will be provided with and return it to the Membership Secretary.

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 Musical Director and Deputy Musical Director, insurance, tea and biscuits at break time, etc.
  • The cost of purchasing music scores and the various rights to perform them in public, along with costumes and publicity, are recouped from the monies raised in ticket sales for the corresponding season’s show.

How is the Chorus structured?

  • The Chorus has four ‘voice sections’: Tenor 1, Tenor 2, Baritones (Bass 1) and Bass (Bass 2). 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 Musical Director on behalf of the section.

How do I know what voice section I will be in?

  • On the first evening you attend the Chorus, or soon afterwards, the Musical Director may have a short one-to-one session with you. This is not an audition; rather it helps the Musical Director to determine which section will best suit your vocal range.

Can I change the voice section I sing with?

  • If you do not feel that you are in the correct voice section for your voice range you can discuss this with the Music Director who may re-assess you. It is very unusual for someone to change voice sections after the initial assessment. You may have previous singing experience and feel that you already know which section you are best suited to sing with and if this differs from the initial assessment carried out by the Music Director then placement to your preferred section is negotiable with the Music Director.

What kind of performances does the Chorus do?

  • They are quite varied. We produce our own productions 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, the Barbican in London and of course the BBC programme ‘The Last Choir Standing’ to name but a few.

When can I start performing with the Chorus?

  • Assuming you attend the majority of rehearsals in a season, you will be able to perform at the end of season production. The Music Director will generally decide whether you are ready to perform or if you require more practice.

Can I choose which performances I want to appear in?

  • Being a member of the Chorus it is expected that you will perform as often as you can. Obviously other commitments may mean that you may not be available. The chorus is looking for maximum impact at performances and this is best achieved by having as full a compliment of members as possible, so whether the performance is singing on the beach to a small audience or at a large gala dinner it is expected that you will, if available, participate in the performance. Occasionally the performance may require a specific number of individuals to perform, in such a case it is usually based on who is available and who responds first.

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?

  • Although it would prove very useful to be able to read music it is not a problem if you cannot. There are many Chorus members who joined being unable to read music.

Can I learn the rudiments of reading music?

  • You will find that by listening to the various groups rehearing under the direction of the Musical Director, and following them on the score, you will start to pick up the rudimentary elements of reading music. In addition you will find within your section other individuals that can read music and will be more than happy to support you in learning. You may find it useful to check out your local library for books on reading music, for example: Burrows T (2006) How to Read Music. London: Carlton Books.

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 tracks. These can be downloaded to an iPod, for example, 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 from suggestions made by the membership. Every member of the Chorus is invited to suggest songs, themes, styles, etc. The Music Team, consisting of the Musical Director, the Deputy MD/accompanist 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 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 Musical Director to assess the quality of the Chorus’ performances and may stand-in for the Musical 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 Musical Director, or any member of the Music Team. You can also email the Music Team with suggestions.

Why do we have to have warm-up exercises before each rehearsal or performance?

  • The 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. Over time these exercises provide an element of voice training. The exercise regime normally lasts for about 15 minutes depending on the needs of the rehearsal or performance.

What does the Management Team do?

  • The Management Team consists of elected members of the Chorus who are responsible for all administrative and managerial aspects of the Chorus. The various officers have specific roles and responsibilities. The members of the Management Team are also the Trustees of the Chorus, a registered charity. All members do this on a purely voluntary basis and receive no payment for this.

How can I join the Management Team?

  • Elections are held every January as part of the Chorus’ AGM. Any member can be nominated to stand for the Management Team and is voted in by the membership. If you are keen to be involved, you don’t have to wait until January – just ask any member of the Management Team if there are any vacancies.

Can I go to Management Team meetings?

  • As a paying member of the Chorus you are more than welcome to attend the Management Team 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 or meal each year 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 cinema, pub night outs, 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 (essentially, black trousers and smart black shoes) and the Chorus will provide much of the rest. You may also be asked to buy a particular shirt. You should not buy anything by yourself until you have discussed what you need with a member of the Management Team. The Chorus agrees on any outfit which is proposed.

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 in the evening or at weekends. You will be notified of the schedule in advance, but it is important to check your emails regularly, as late changes are sometimes necessary. 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 Saturday Workshops?

  • The Workshops 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.

Do I need to tell anyone if I cannot make a Workshop or rehearsal?

  • If you are unable to attend a rehearsal or Workshop, it would be appreciated if you could inform the Membership Secretary or your Section Leader at least the week before, or by email.

What is the difference between the various gay choirs in Brighton?

  • There are two other major gay choral groups in Brighton – The Rainbow Chorus (a mixed choir of men and women) and the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus (previously known as Brighton and Hove (Actually) Gay Men’s Chorus), as well as a number of smaller groups such as Resound Male Voices. We have performed all of these groups on various occasions. We all have different styles and we are very proud of our distinct approach to music that has won fans locally, nationally and internationally.

If I miss a few weeks is it okay to come back?

  • Yes. It is preferred that if you are aware that you will not be attending for a few weeks that you let the Membership Secretary, or your Section Leader know about it. Of course, things can happen unexpectedly which prevents you from attending, but please let someone know what is happening when 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 Secretary or you Section Leader.
  • It would be useful for the Chorus Management Team 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 Standing Order 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 any Management Team member will be happy to help.

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