Songbirds Choir sang in our first public concert since the pandemic, as guests of the South Wales Gay Mens Chorus, on Saturday 2 April 2022 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. It was exciting, nerve-wracking and moving, all at once, and it’s made us look forward even more to our 10th Anniversary Concert later in June. Diolch o galon to Lizzie, our Musical Director, for all her hard work throughout the pandemic to get us back onto an actual stage again. And also to SWGMC for having us!
Although Songbirds has taken part in L Fest (a UK Lesbian Music, Art and Comedy Festival) several times in previous years, this year was the first time for me. In a car full of Songbirds and camping gear, we set off across Wales, for a proper “road trip” just like “To Wong Fu Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar” (in spirit, if not glamour).
Camping with the choir was such good, wholesome fun. It is rare that we all get to just chat and enjoy each other’s company. Even when we have time to go to the pub (which is rare), everyone has only a short while to finish a drink and have a chin wag before rushing home to rest up for a busy tomorrow. Once we’d all pitched up, we had hours just to sit and natter, take part in L Fest events, or (my favourite) go for a swim at Llandudno’s famous beach (we found the water to be less cold, but more jellyfishy than we anticipated).
L Fest itself was cracking. It was very much an “L with the T Fest”, with an atmosphere welcoming not just Lesbians, but also Trans women trans men, nonbinary and bisexual peeps, families, and, most importantly, a lot of very cute dogs. There were lots of fun and varied things to do like a Drag King show, morning yoga, musical performances, and a dog show (did I mention there were a lot of cute dogs?).
Practicing in the open air in our little camp circle had such a spontaneous, informal feeling, and it was just lovely to hear the hush from neighbouring campsites as people wandered over or stopped their chatting to listen. I particularly enjoyed cramming all the second sopranos into a Volkswagon in order to practice together as a section; very cozy. And our performance itself was exhilarating; we’ve had enthusiastic audiences before, but there, as we sang “Calon Lan”, someone stood and waved the Rainbow Welsh flag. We might have been 150 miles from Cardiff, but we were very much at home at L Fest.
As we crawled our way up the motorway through the classic Friday afternoon duet of traffic and roadworks, stuffing our faces with alternate handfuls of chipsticks, mint imperials and grapes (quite possibly the trifecta of car snacks), I felt the tell-tale bubbling of nervous excitement. We were headed north towards the bright lights of Manchester to join hundreds of other LGBT choristers at the Hand in Hand Festival 2017, and I wasn’t sure what to expect… Continue reading Side by Side, Hand in Hand, we all sing together
Waiting to go on at Chapter on Friday night gave me time for thoughts like, ‘I’ve forgotten all the songs!’ and ‘What if I blast out a high note all on my own in the wrong place?!’. It was reassuring standing between my first Soprano compatriots. Starting with You’ve Got Time was so cool: Clap Clap, Stamp! – like saying, ‘Shut up and listen everyone, the Songbirds are here!’ After that our voices rang out and if I hadn’t been so busy concentrating on Rosie’s conducting (and great facial expressions!) I reckon I’d have shed a tear for the beauty and strength of the sound we made together. Continue reading Feeling proud (with a small sprinkling of panic) at Pride
The sun is up, Pride is on the horizon.
“Where can I catch those Birds?” I hear you think… Continue reading Catch them Birds: August Performances
Last Monday, several hundred people – the BBC estimated 350 – gathered in front of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to hold a vigil for the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting. Sparked by the dreadful news that hit our televisions, newspapers and web pages on Sunday morning, the vigil was organised in a matter of hours and was one of many held across the world. Continue reading Cardiff for Orlando
Way back in December last year Songbirds were invited to perform at a wedding – the third matrimonial event we were to perform at as a choir. What it is to be in demand!
Having had plenty of notice, we had been learning new material over the spring and were really looking forward to have the opportunity to perform it. Continue reading Treowen Manor: Wedding Serenades and a Wall of Cows
This year Songbirds were asked to entertain the masses at the Wales Millenium Centre WOW Festival to help mark WEN Wales’ International women’s day celebrations. As a group of LBT women, we all understand how important and pertinent it is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world. Whilst there are some significant advances in these areas, we are also reminded that progress towards gender parity globally has slowed in many countries, and that there is a greater mountain to climb for women especially those being oppressed, raped, tortured, segragated, excluded from education work and politics, and those used in modern slavery. Continue reading International Women’s Day 2016: Songbirds on the Glanfa Stage
I’m not going to lie to you, between supporting my wife through some pretty intense work stuff and starting a new job myself, January has been a pretty busy month for me. So when I arrived promptly at my usual 19:34 and joined in with Rosie’s warm up at the back of the church, it did take me a minute to clock the ginormous cake at the front of the church and realise what it must represent. Four years of Songbirds choir! Continue reading Happy 4th Birthday Songbirds!
As we nestle in these last few peaceful moments before we thrust ourselves back into our usual routines and take on the bluster of January, I find myself reflecting on the many activities of the last month.
This Christmas it was our pleasure to make a return visit to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement’s (LGCM) Christmas Carol Service. It provided a lovely opportunity for us to share the stage with the boys at SWGMC and to support the good people of City United Reformed Church and The Gathering. City URC have been fantastic in supporting us on our journey thus far and we continue to be deeply grateful for the use of their beautiful church as the base for our weekly rehearsals. The service was lively yet thought provoking with a number of deft changes of pace between the celebratory boom of carols like the ’12 Days of Christmas’ and quieter reflections from guest speakers on what it means to truly stop and observe Christmas. Particularly poignant were the speeches made by representatives of Displaced People in Action (DPIA), a charity which works with refugees and asylum seekers and who are looking to set up a coffee morning for LGBT* refugees and asylum seekers who may be struggling to find community for many reasons.
On the 14th of December we played host to our own Christmas Concert ‘Sing Noel! With Songbirds Choir’. In spite of the enthusiastic attempts of this year’s triumphant cold virus to flatten our forces, we pulled through as a choir and managed to deliver a buoyant and joyful performance at Jolyons. It was fantastic to sing to a full room and I get the distinct impression that the audience enjoyed it as much as we did! There’s something about a pinch of adversity that brings this flock together and I think the light and strength of our bonds as a community (which doesn’t take itself too seriously…) shone through.
On the 19th we popped up to the second floor of John Lewis on the Hayes to entertain the milling masses with our own brand of festive fun. It was something of a departure from the focused beam of audience attention that we have experienced at our previous gigs as our listeners made their way around the shop to our dulcet chorus, but it was evident from the smiles (and from our own sofa-based family of impromptu supporters) that we were able to add something special to the atmosphere.
At the end of the month we paid a visit to De Courcey’s Manor to sing at our second wedding gig of the year. This was great fun despite the many and varied logistical challenges of getting ourselves back to Cardiff for the 27th. (Thank you to our pianist Rich for rescuing our Musical Director from Newport…). And yes, the bride looked beautiful.
In a way the season saw us come full circle – returning to Jolyons and ending the year by fulfilling the gig we booked in June (or maybe May?) after we were spotted singing at the wedding reception for two of our own ‘Birds. By my watch that makes it the perfect moment to heed the words of my beloved late mentor MG – ‘Respice Prospice’ (Look back, but also look forwards).
And so we launch into 2016 buoyed by the successes of the last year and lifted by the hope of all that is still to come for our community.
Our first stop – finding some more of us!
To this end – on Wednesday the 6th of January we will be holding a New Members session, and you are very welcome to join us.
7.30pm at City United Reformed Church on Windsor Place, Cardiff.
No auditions. Just community and choir fun.
– Jan 2016
Songbirds Choir is a Cardiff-based non-auditioning community choir for self-defining Lesbian, Bisexual, and Trans* women.