Wales and London, a glorious Brotherhood

11425219_786979201417093_4758403475791285004_oSo after months of preparation, another concert date is proudly ticked off on the SWGMC calendar. This time it was a particularly manly affair (although isn’t it always!?) as the boys of South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus took to a stage bedecked with power tools and sports gear for ‘Brotherhood – a Celebration of Masculinity’.

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If you came to see us we hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did, and I’m sure you’ll agree that a huge level of credit is due to all involved, especially Andy Bulleyment and the SWGMC music team for their amazing work once again in putting together a fun, engaging and enjoyable concert.

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But enough about us. We were also thrilled to welcome to the Gate our guest choir for the evening, the amazing Barberfellas, for their debut performance in Wales. Affectionately known as the Barbies, they are an off-shoot of our London-based friends the Pink Singers (who, if you’ve ever seen them in concert, you’ll know are utterly fabulous!). As well as their stellar performances both the Pink Singers and the Barberfellas run a few websites and blogs of their own, and so – not content with just hearing them sing – we’ve also persuaded them to do a guest blog for us giving their experience of last weekend, as well as a brief history of the Barberfellas and their place in the barbershop tradition. Enjoy!

“The Glory of Wales – London’s Barberfellas join SWGMC for “a Celebration of Masculinity”
By Mark Winter

Barbershop singing with a twist! – that’s what we gave the good folk of Cardiff at the Gate Arts and Community Centre on 6 June 2015. We’d braved the M4 in our canary-yellow minibus as guests of our friends at the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus for a celebration of all things manly.

Performing in both halves of the show, we shared our unique take on traditional barbershop singing with some classic a capella, close harmony pieces – Under the Boardwalk, The Glory of Love and Over the Rainbow.

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Barbershop singing is one of the oldest macho singing pursuits and sprung up in last half of the 19th century where American barbershops often served as community centres, where most men would gather; they would harmonise while waiting their turn, vocalising in spirituals, folk songs and popular songs.

Things have moved on since then and female as well as mixed barbershop singing is gaining popularity, although in national and international competitions male, female and mixed groups don’t compete against each other.

The Barberfellas are here to challenge those stereotypes by presenting the barbershop sound and look, but with a twist. We are probably the only LGBT mixed group that exists anywhere in the world. And we’re certainly the only one in heels!

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Our second set of the evening brought a touch of masculine glamour to the proceedings as we donned our stilettos and popped our corks to the sassy strip-tease sounds of Big Spender, U2’s pensive lullaby MLK (written to honour Martin Luther King) and an exclusive arrangement, written just for the Barberfellas, as a homage to every boy’s favourite – the diminutive Miss Minogue.

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Thank you to everyone who came to the show and enjoyed our performance and we hope to be singing again for you soon!

Barberfellas: making heels manly again.

So, SWGMC say a huge thank you to Mark for his lovely contribution to our blog, and thank you again to all of the Barberfellas for joining us on stage! It was a pleasure to sing with you and we’re already looking forward to the next time we can share a stage – even though most of us will never be able to pull off heels as well as you did!

Our Halloween Spook-tacular

Halloween NickSo the dust has finally settled on what I must admit was one of our best concerts yet! Halloween’s ‘A Nightmare on Keppoch Street’ may have come and gone, but the warm fuzzy afterglow from an amazing night is still gently burning on…

What can I say really to describe how it all went? Well, this has to be one of the most enthusiastically prepared concerts we’ve had in a long time. We had great fun setting up the stage and carving some marvellous pumpkins (even if I do say so myself). Halloween Pumpkins
The countdown to the start of the night was a mass of ghastly preparations and lashings of fake cobweb and we were very excited by all the tweeting and support, especially from Stonewall Cymru, our charity for the year who we were raising funds for on the night.

We had the most amazing audience who completely engaged with the night and the sounds of our amazing orchestra as soon as we took to the stage. We were even treated to an array of be-costumed supporters dressed as spooks, ghouls and… dare I say it…clowns (*shiver*).

Halloween ClownsThe music shocked, surprised and delighted the audiences – the gasps and shrieks in ‘Hearse Song’ were especially funny to listen to – and we thoroughly enjoyed treating them to our spooky repertoire.

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The Committee and myself were very proud of all the boys who really got into the ‘spirit’ of the concert, working so hard to produce a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all. We were also honoured of course to be joined by our ‘sister’ choir, the Songbirds, who joined the guys for a couple of songs and entertained the audience with a few pieces in their inimitable style. I’m glad we finally got to sing together and I really look forward to doing so again in the not so distant future.

I often find the period immediately following a performance a very odd time as we suddenly find ourselves with an abundance of free time after the intensity of rehearsals in the run up to a show. However, things haven’t quite ground to a halt for us just yet as the festive season is rapidly approaching (I really must start thinking about starting my Christmas shopping (*double shiver!*)). Before a couple of Christmas-related appearances in early December (keep an eye on our events pages for more on these in the coming weeks) we will be marking the annual World Aids Day commemoration with a performance at the Kings Bar on Churchill Way on Sunday November 30th, and we’d love to see you all there.
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Before I finish I’d just like to extend my thanks to a few people for making the concert the amazing event it turned out to be. I am constantly impressed and humbled by the time and effort a lot of people put into making our shows so entertaining and professional. Firstly our music team, who arrange a large amount of the music we sing and help us and the orchestra to achieve our best performances on the night. Also our creative team, who help to stage the performance and organise all the publicity and design elements that go into our shows. And finally, the Committee who help ensure all the myriad bits and pieces fit together….no mean feat I can assure you! To all of you, I thank you!

We’d also like to say a special thanks to Gordon and all the staff at the Kings for the fabulous afterparty and the great support they continue to show us.

Right – onwards and upwards – 2015 looks to be another exciting year for us – more on that to follow I’m sure!