December the first each year has become perhaps the most poignant day for the city’s LGBTQ+ community. It is a day of both remembrance and of thanks, time to remember those lost to this most invidious of diseases before medication had been developed that would successfully fight the virus, and to thank that enormous band of people who are there, in whatever capacity, to help those who are living with HIV. The impact of the disease goes far further than health issues, the stigma attached impacts through prejudice, isolation and poverty.

Resound Male Voices

The evening for many starts in the New Steine with a candle-lit vigil at which many of the names of those lost are read. It’s a moving experience and this year was well attended as we gathered around the beautiful AIDS memorial created by Romany Mark Bruce.

This is followed by the annual World AIDS Day Concert at St Mary’s Church hosted by Father Andrew and compèred by Alfie Ordinary. This annual event is given by the best of the city’s LGBTQ+ choirs, and does not exclude our queer allies of course. The programme was opened by the truly inclusive Rainbow Chorus who never fail to delight and this year of their four songs I was particularly impressed by Rune Carol and You will Be Found, rousing stuff for sure.

Next came Qukulele, a bizarre ensemble of craziness that provided a somewhat erratic comedy moment in the whole.

Actually Gay Men’s Chorus delivered two very fine medleys of pop classics with their usual strength and confident harmonies, crowd pleasing stuff for sure. After mulled wine and mince pies Resound Male Voices took to the platform. Resound are exceptional and on this occasion delivered three pieces that showed their finesse and ambition. Sam Barton is taking this choir on a very interesting journey and all three pieces were the evidence that proves their talents. Sam also leads Rebelles Female Voices and to the same excellent effect, and my word there are some soaringly great voices in this ensemble of nine. In musical terms these two choirs are the musical pinnacle of the evening and when the two combine that sound is stunning ,When Thunder Comes proving just that.

Next the evenings music directors took to the stage with Pie Jesu, the Lloyd Webber version, and a bit of his Phantom, a moment of camp glory in which Aneesa Chaudhry’s extraordinary vocal range is given a very long leash, and the others certainly keep up.

The Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus are the penultimate act with four great numbers amongst which their beautiful arrangement of Secret Love really stands out and forms a poignant end to the concert. I say end but in fact the evening is closed by Gary Pargeter from Lunch Positive, the evening’s charity, and one of his volunteers who made the most moving and affecting speech.

Finally the majority of the evening’s performers headed back to the platform and delivered a very special arrangement of Somewhere Over The Rainbow before we all headed out into the chill December night.

This is always a memorable event, a moving event and above all an important event and the stars I award for this go out not only to those who take part but to those doctors, nurses, scientists, carers, volunteers and families who are making living with and striving for a better future for those with or are affected by HIV a reality.

Andrew Kay

St Mary’s Kemp Town

1 December

Rating: ★★★★★

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