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Choir Festivals

Hand in Hand: London 2013 | Brighton 2015 | Manchester 2017 | Cardiff 2019 | Virtual Festival 2020
Pipe Up!: Manchester 2018
Various Voices: Dublin 2014

Hand in Hand festivals

Hand in Hand 2013

The Hand in Hand festivals are a chance for the UK & Ireland LGBT choirs to get together every two years. The inaugural Hand in Hand UK & Ireland LGBT choir festival was put together by the Pink Singers in London in 2013. The second Hand in Hand festival took place in Brighton in 2015 and was organized by the Brighton Gay Men's Chorus and Rainbow Chorus. The next Hand in Hand festival will be hosted by Manchester Lesbian Á Gay Chorus in 2017.

Hand in Hand London 2013

Hand In Hand poster London 2013

On Saturday 13th July 2013, the Pink Singers was joined by 23 LGBT choirs and singing groups from all over the UK for a day of vocal workshops and song in the amazing Troxy theatre.

During the daytime the delegates participated in vocal workshops led by choral experts including Jamie Burton, Chris Rowbury, Louise Shephard and Loré Lixenberg which provided an opportunity to learn new singing styles and brush up on technique. We even managed a bit of choreography!

This was followed in the evening by the spectacular 'Hand in Hand' concert which involved over 460 performers and the world première of the Pink Singers' new commission from composer Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer the Opera, Kombat Opera).

There were energetic performances from members of our Proud Voices family. For some it was the first time they performed in public, or outside of our home towns, and was an unparalleled opportunity for all of us to meet, learn, sing and socialize.

Participating choirs: the Pink Singers, Brighton Gay Men's Chorus, A Choir of Equality, Deep C Divas, Diversity Choir, the Fourth Choir, Gloria DLGC, Leicestershire Rainbow Voices, Liverpool LGBT Singers, London Alternative Choir, London Gay Men's Chorus, Loud & Proud, Manchester Lesbian & Gay Chorus, Many Voices, the 9 Bob Notes, Northern Proud Voices, Quire, Rainbow Chorus, Rainbow Voices, Resound Male Voices, Sing With Pride, Southampton Gay Men's Chorus, Thames Valley Gay Chorus.

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Hand in Hand Brighton 2015

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Hand in Hand Manchester 2017

Manchester Lesbian & Gay Chorus

Hand in hand poster Manchester 2017Paul

On Friday 18th August 2017, Hand in Hand Manchester officially started after many months of planning by the MLGC (Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus) Committee. This as made up of Loz Kaye, Kathryn Pearce, Joe King, Paul Johnson, Chris Wilson, Nick Gaskell-Clow, Marjorie Kuss, Matt Guest, Lorna Campbell, Mike Lake, Richard Sendover and Jon Atkin.

MLGC wanted to welcome everyone of the 29 LGBT+ choirs from all over the UK and Ireland in a proper Mancunian style. How else would we do that but have a party of course at Tribeca Bar in the heart of the gay village. A live band, The Red Room and a DJ helped bring together everyone as a family for the weekend. The party carried on into the small hours and some may have had hangovers in the morning.

The welcome party!

On Saturday 19th August the singing started. This was held at the RNCM (Royal Northern College of Music) this is a leading international conservatoire located in the city centre of Manchester. In the morning there were meetings for choir MDs, Chairpersons and the first meet of Proud Voices Representatives from all over the country. While this was happening tech rehearsals ran for all choirs in both theatres.

Some of the choirs on stage

During the afternoon the delegates had many choices. They could participate in workshops led by voice coaches, dance teachers or delegates and guests could dip in and out of the fabulous Hand in Hand Manchester Choir performances which involved over 720 performers. These performances ran in both theatres consecutively through out the day and into the evening. Each choir's performance was unique in style and sound. The last section of the evening was made up of the European Queer Choir, South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus and of course Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus. The end of the evening was dedicated to Victoria Wood as she embodied a lot of the Manc feel for the music, laugher and fun. Loz Kaye (MLGC musical director) re-wrote the famous “The Ballad of Barry and Freda” (Let's Do It) and changed it into an LGBT version with his version “The Ballad of Barry and Fred and Carrie and Freda”. The night ended with confetti cannons showering the delegates and guests.

A fitting finale to the Saturday concert

No rest for the wicked as the after show party at the famous Bar Pop on Canal Street started. Well it was a night to remember. Hot and sweaty was an understatement. Drag queens on the decks alnight long with cheese pop music for all the delegates to sing and dance along too into the early hours. What more could you ask for?

A party on the Saturday night

On Sunday 20th August we all headed to The Peoples’ History Museum. The museum provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, be inspired by and get involved in ideas worth fighting for: ideas such as equality, social justice, co-operation, and a fair world for all. A very apt place to hold our ‘Protest Sunday’. There were debates, learning a political song to sing later in the day, and the chance to review the exhibition on the repeal of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 which partially decriminalized homosexual acts.

A discussion on the roles of LGBT choirs

We all gathered later for the Brian Kennedy Awards hosted by Hsien, the co-ordinator of Proud Voices UK & Ireland, for the amazing people who have been in LGBT+ Choirs over 10, 20 and 30 years. Then on to the handover. It was no secret that in 2 years time we are going to be in Cardiff and being hosted by South Wales Gay Men's Chorus, Songbirds Choir and Cardiff Trans Singers. SWGMC sang a few songs to tempt everyone back for Hand in Hand Cardiff 2019.

In the final part of the day, before we said our goodbyes, we walked through the streets of Manchester to Albert Square where we joined the demonstrators remembering the Peterloo Massacre, a major event in Manchester’s history, and a defining moment for Britain’s democracy. The Peterloo Massacre occurred at St Peter's Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Delegates gathered in Albert Square to sing “March of the Women”.

Singing together in Albert Square

The whole weekend at Hand in Hand Manchester was AMAZING. I hope you all enjoyed as much as we did. We are so looking forward to Hand in Hand Cardiff, mainly because we don’t have to organise it LOL.

See you in 2019 if not before.

Here are a few statistics from the event:

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Hand in Hand Cardiff 2019

From 16th to 18th August, LGBT+ choirs from across the UK and Ireland congregated in Cardiff for the 2019 edition of Hand in Hand. The biennial event offers a forum for LGBT+ choirs from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland to participate in three days of concerts, workshops, social events, and public interventions. Hand in Hand first took place in 2013 in London as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the region’s oldest choir, the Pink Singers. Inspired by corresponding events, such as the European wide Various Voices festival, Hand in Hand was instigated by Proud Voices UK and Ireland in order to network the increasing number of LGBT+ choirs in the region, today totalling 51 choirs.

Hand in Hand Cardiff 2019 banner

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Virtual Festival 2020

With Hand in Hand Newcastle postponed to 2022, and in the face of restrictions on rehearsing and performing as choirs due to the COVID pandemic, there has never been a greater need for all our choirs to pull together and celebrate all we have achieved, and all that we have to look forward to when we eventually meet face-to-face again.

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Various Voices

Various Voices is the four-yearly international LGBT choir festival which takes place in Europe. It is an incredible experience and one not to be missed. Unfortunately, not all the choirs in the UK & Ireland are able to attend. The Proud Voices choir enables members of those choirs who are not going to get together to form our own 'from scratch' choir.

Various Voices Dublin 2014

Proud Voices at Various Voices choir

Various Voices Dublin 2014 was an opportunity for Proud Voices to bring together members of six choirs from the UK - Leicestershire Rainbow Voices, the Pink Singers, Positive Voices, Rainbow Voices Choir, Sing With Pride, Southampton Gay Men's Chorus - together with two choirs from Proud Voices Asia to create a special choir which performed on stage on Monday 16 June 2014 at 12 noon in Mahony Hall.

Here's a quick video of how the ties between choirs was formed:

And here is what some of the participants had to say about the event:

Southampton Gay Men's Chorus

MattJust watched our performance again and the memories came flooding back.

Firstly, it was a a real privilege to be able to take part in the festival. Coming from a new small choir in Southampton with only a few members present in Dublin, it was a thrill to take to the main stage of Mahony Hall as part of the choir and be welcomed into the heart of the festival - there was a lot of love in that room! The Various Voices community is a wonderfully affirming bunch of people from across the globe that I now feel connected to!

Secondly, the impact of meeting the folks from Beijing and Taiwan has left me humbled and so very grateful for the freedom we experience in the west. It was delightful to see our visitors from the East having such a positive time, and I hope our small venture somehow provides some hope, strength and encouragement for a better future for us all. Thanks to all involved - it's been a treasured highlight of my year. Cheers!

Rainbow Voices

JamesI had an amazing time at Various Voices Dublin. I went there as part of Rainbow Voices Birmingham and when I joined them last year I had no idea where the adventure would take me. To find myself as part of an International Festival with over two thousand singers from all over the world was surreal. To be part of Proud Voices was a great honour and the sense of pride and elation that I felt as we performed together was fantastic.

I really loved the fact that our choir represented east meeting west and showed that music can transcend barriers of language and distance. Meeting other choirs from around the world was so inspiring and honestly the four days were just not long enough. Well done Gloria and the Irish team for organising such an incredible welcoming and professional event. It made me very proud to be Irish.

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