A host of gay choirs and orchestras nationally have long been a treasured haven and a positive means of support, solidarity and expression for their members. Like many choirs, the 40-strong South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus swiftly took to Zoom to keep singing together in lockdown. But they didn’t stop there.
Always inventive and outgoing, they commissioned chorus member and disabled composer Gareth Churchill to write them a new piece that captured the novelty and resonance of meeting online. Grinding is a disarming, affectionate and hugely entertaining musical tribute to digital dating apps. The Chorus not only wittily sing to one another the sentiments one might utter on such platforms: they have lovingly assembled and animated the footage to resemble the app experience. It’s a fresh, original piece of social commentary, and absolutely full of heart: one of the signature characteristics of a choir that for over a decade has brought such joy, openness and inclusivity to audiences across Wales.
‘Soon after retiring to Cardiff, I heard South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus perform. I was bowled over and just had to join. I’ve always sung in choirs but none quite like this. We have fun but we work hard, and we are good! At 75, I’m the oldest member by far, but welcomed and valued. This past crazy year we’ve hung together, not least with the crazy business of recording online. I look forward to the thrill of standing before a live audience again and knowing that we can be proud of who we are and what we do.’
John Webber, member
‘The feeling of being part of a community is as important as the music making. The choir is a second family to me and great friendships have resulted. It is fantastic to be able to participate and be a part of the joint endeavour. In addition to concerts there are Prides, recording sessions, cabarets, competitions and even making a documentary film. During the lockdown it was hard not to feel the sense of loss but home recording projects, online meetings, quizzes and more have kept us together. Now looking forward to being able to rehearse and perform live again.’
Mark Achurch, member
Public voting for the 2021 RPS Inspiration Award has now closed and the winner will be announced at the RPS Awards at Wigmore Hall on Monday 1 November. Here you can read about the other five shortlistees: