by David Hardy
2018 was the year we celebrated more than 20 years performing and telling our stories in Queensland and beyond.
Tim Smetham, our Music Director for the past seven years led the Choir in our most ambitious program ever, the YES concert at Brisbane’s Powerhouse in May 2018. We brought together current and former singers, as well as our founding Music Director, Marina Aboody Thacker in a tribute concert to Australia’s YES vote for marriage equality.
Our special guests at the May concert included Lucinda Shaw, Candy Surprise, Dawn Daylight and Mary Jane Carpenter. Early in our history, we had a small group of singers, Petit Four that regularly performed in the 2000s. The May concert brought back singers from this group who travelled from Tasmania, Victoria and even Malaysia. Our ‘YES’ concert also honoured three people who had recently passed away, including prominent singer Carol Lloyd, former Choir member Jimmy Finn and the Melbourne musician, Ben Leske who composed a major work, ‘Mianjin Millen’, which we performed in 2016.
2018 has been a momentous year, which began before our May concert. Alongside Candy Surprise, we performed at the ‘Sparkle in the Sand’ concert as part of the Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games. The Choir was featured at the opening in July of the expanded New Farm Library, the Choir’s rehearsal home for the past four years. And in September, we sang at the Brisbane Square Library, part of an ongoing series in recent years of performances at public libraries.
2018 marked the fond farewell of Tim Smetham as Music Director, and the appointment of an interim MD, Robert Dryden. Towards the end of 2018, we were delighted to engage a new Music Director, Queensland Conservatorium graduate and former Choir singer, Elliot Rentoul. Elliot alongside our piano accompanist, Peter Ridgeway, have led the Choir in performances around Brisbane during the final months of 2018, including for the World AIDs Day event on 1 December. The Choir has featured at every WAD and Pride Fair Day event since it first formed in 1998.
As Marina Aboody Thacker wrote for a recent program, “we formed, as the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir, in 1998. We weren’t a choir at the start but just a group of people who came together for a series of singing workshops funded by a Brisbane City Council grant. The fire was lit with those workshops and just a few months later we performed at the annual Pride Fair Day.”
Since 1998, the Choir has been an important part of the LGBTIQ community, singing and telling our stories, not only in Brisbane but around Australia and internationally. Some key events included:
The Brisbane Pride Choir will feature the premiere of a new composition, Mianjin Millen at its ‘belonging’ concert at the State Library’s Red Box on Saturday, 28 May.
Melbourne composer Benjamin Leske will attend the premiere of his work. ‘I first observed the Brisbane Pride Choir in 2009 and enjoyed their passion and enthusiasm for both singing together and singing for a cause,’ said Leske, a former music director of shOUT Youth Chorus (previously the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Youth Chorus) and Associate Music Director of the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus. ‘I was fortunate to work with the Brisbane group at choral workshops in 2015 and was delighted to be asked to compose this new work.’
‘Mianjin Millen celebrates the journeys of the Choir members and their wishes for the future,’ said Leske. ‘It captures small elements in Brisbane's LGBTI history - Dornoch Bridge and the Story Bridge Hotel, both places important in the fight for equality and it celebrates the unity of singing within a diverse community and the layers of identity.
‘I also wanted to give a sense of the Brisbane river as it winds its way through this beautiful city. The work honours the local Jagera people and Turrbal people and I appreciated the support by Yuggera elder, Uncle Des Sandy to use Yuggera words within the work.’
The ‘belonging’ concert on 28 May will begin at 6pm in the Red Box of the Queensland State Library. The performance is held during National Reconciliation Week and forms part of the State Library’s year of activities around a central question: Who are we, what connects us to Queensland, and how do we belong? The Choir will perform local and world songs about place and family and justice and belonging.
Tickets are on sale for $12 and can be purchased online at: brisbanepridechoir.org.au
The Brisbane Pride Choir is gearing up for its final performances for 2015, beginning with a Marriage Equality rally in Ipswich on 14 November. The Choir will also perform at the Transgender Day of Remembrance in New Farm Park on 20 November, at Brisbane’s World AIDS Day commemoration on 1 December and at the launch of a new book on 4 December, ‘BOLD: Stories from older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’.
‘Since early last year, each time we go on stage we dedicate our performance to marriage equality,’ said Katherine Richardson, Choir President. ‘We’re delighted to sing at the start of the rally in Ipswich to join community voices in promoting marriage equality to our local political leaders.’
The Pride Choir has performed every year since its formation in 1998 at Brisbane’s annual World AIDS Day commemoration. ‘We’re also pleased to be performing, for the second year, at the Transgender Day of Remembrance,’ said Katherine Richardson.
The final performance for the year will be at the Brisbane launch of a new book, ‘BOLD: Stories from older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’, published by Melbourne’s Rag and Bone Man Press and authored by Choir member, David Hardy. This free event, to be held at the Queensland AIDS Council on 4 December will include the Choir’s performance and readings from Queenslanders who feature in this book.