Christmas always feels officially open with the presence of the city’s LGBTQ+ choirs on the entertainment scene and post COVID expectations will be high. The global pandemic had a terrible impact on these vibrant ensembles, unable to rehearse in the usual way certainly took its toll. But after last night’s joyous concert I am delighted to say that the BGMC are back on top form with a programme that  not only displays their collective talents but also sees them advance in ambition and see those ambitions  fulfilled.

Launching the evening with an appropriately seasonal medley got us all in the mood for sure and the programme was peppered with festive favourites, in fact too many to list the entire set.

There were of course real highlights. I simply love Tim Nail, their MD’s, arrangement of Secret Love, it’s cleverly conceived and beautifully performed, a credit to all of them. And Xanadu has real impact, showcasing their power as a male voice chorus. Madonna’s Vogue is a tricksy piece both vocally and with the addition of some witty choreography too, but last night they nailed it and put wide grins on our faces, there is a level of campery and humour here that works so well and the same applies to their rendition of It’s Raining Men.

Part two started with Let It Snow and we’re back in Christmas mode and to follow we stay festive with December Will Be Magic Again, a Kate Bush song that is rich and complex. That complexity is handled with such assurance that at this point I am utterly convinced that BMGC are a choir to be reckoned with. This is further confirmed by a beautiful and surprisingly phrased arrangement of Over The Rainbow, it’s a captivating version that once again shows not only vocal talent but also ambition.

There are solos dotted throughout and all are executed well and with real commitment. Some really stand out, John McPhersons I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love is sung so cheekily that it could not fail to entertain and amuse, Ben Fowler takes the George Michael classic Last Christmas and makes it his very own with a heartfelt sadness that was deeply moving, and Sadao Ueda and Declan McCrystal’s Mistletoe returned us to cheeky fun, and fun is never far away, you can see it in the smiles of the members throughout.

Finally a word about the charity benefitting from the evening’s proceeds. Pedal People provide a tandem-tricycle based service to people struggling with mobility issues in whatever form. It was brought to the choir by tenor Adam Betteridge whose husband Freddie, an icon on the city’s LGBTQ+ scene had suffered a major stroke a year ago. It was wonderful to see him there last night looking so well despite the consequences of that illness. Adam made a moving speech about what the year since that stroke had meant to their lives and how Pedal People had  helped them regain a level of normality. It also brought further to life the solo that he had performed. He had sung I’ll Be Home For Christmas beautifully earlier in the second half and those of us that knew what had happened realised how poignant those words were. His speech beautifully strengthened that message of love, commitment and support and no doubt brought out more than a few handkerchiefs. I know mine was put into action.

I normally comment on the comedy sketches with less than enthusiasm, I will admit to not being a fan but I will say that last night they were tighter and better performed than some previous ones and that “Elf”was rather charming and silly. Enough said about that, what was really important about the evening was seeing this major musical ensemble doing what they do best, sharing a common bond in music in the careful hands of Joe Paxton and Tim Nail.

Andrew Kay

St George’s Kemp Town

2 December

[rating: 4.5]

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