The Sunday Boys

The Sunday Boys is one of four shortlistees for the 2024 RPS Inspiration Award. We welcomed the public to vote for a favourite group here on our website from early December 2023 to early February 2024, and drew the biggest number of votes we have yet received for this award. Voting is now closed, and the winner will be announced at the RPS Awards on Tuesday 5 March at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music. Thank you so much to everyone who voted.

The Sunday Boys is an ambitious, open access, low-voiced (tenor and bass) choir for LGBTQ+ people based in Manchester. It was formed by composer and conductor Michael Betteridge in 2016 as an opportunity for gay men to come together to sing and banish the Sunday night blues. Now serving the wider LGBTQ+ community in Greater Manchester, over 400 participants have reached audiences of over half a million people (live and digitally), and the 2022-23 season has seen some of the choir’s biggest impact on participants. Highlights have included a European Tour to Paris, Milan and Bologna, and a programme of Queer British Voices at Stoller Hall which featured music by Sigala/MNEK, Self Esteem, Rina Sawayama, and the world premiere of a new work by Fraz Ireland and Ella Otomewo. A staple of the queer Christmas calendar, The Sunday Boys recently presented A Very Queer Christmas: We never met in churches at Manchester Cathedral, exploring stories of the season and themes of Winter alongside LGBTQ+ rights and a celebration of all identities in the community.

The Sunday Boys’ appeal and approach to repertoire has helped the choir diversify its membership this year. 36% of the membership are new to choral singing, with increases in members from ethnically diverse backgrounds, trans members, and age range from early 20s to late 70s. The positive steps the choir has taken to diversify what a low-voice choir can look like was highlighted at Peterborough Sing’s Male Voice Choir Conference earlier this year, as an example of how the choral sector can reverse declining numbers and improve inclusivity and accessibility. Most significant is the impact the choir has on the lives of its members, with the last annual survey showing that 78% noted improved wellbeing since joining, and 58% reporting that their confidence, desire, and ability to access culture has increased.

‘It’s nearly 12 months since I joined the choir. Prior to joining I had never sung in public and to my mind had no discernible musical talent. I have now sung with the choir on three separate occasions. The experience, while challenging, has given me a confidence and self-assurance I did not have before. I attribute this to the leadership of the choir who, with patience and ambition, have allowed me to realise my potential. I cannot praise their professionalism and dedication highly enough.’
Martin, bass

‘I moved to Manchester in December 2022, knowing no-one in the city but looking for musical and queer community. In The Sunday Boys, I’ve found both. I’ve made treasured friends and enjoyed singing a wide range of classical and contemporary music and pieces written or inspired by LGBTQ+ artists. I’ve had opportunities to sing solos, increasing my confidence as a performer. Although I was due to move to China in August, my feeling of belonging is such that I decided to stay and have begun a successful new career as a singer and pianist, largely owing to The Sunday Boys.’
David, bass

The RPS Inspiration Award is generously supported by Presto Music.