Our Story

The Rainbow Journey So Far

LGBTQ people have been excluded from the mainstream throughout history, and have fought since the late 1960s for the fundamental human rights to be visible, to love, to marry, to be protected under the law. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the inclusion and sense of community that singers of all backgrounds feel in a choral group is something especially important to LGBTQ+ singers. Choral groups, it turns out, have a unique function in the LGBTQ+ community, as a safe space for creative expression and a place of deep belonging.

This was what inspired our founder, Cliff van Tonder, to start Surrey Rainbow Choir in 2019 as part of the Surrey Music network. The idea took off and we even performed at the BBC Radio Surrey recording studios live as well as the first ever Pride in Surrey that year!

Choir circa 2019 practicing in bright hall


"For several years I have wanted to form an LGBTQ+ choir here in Surrey, and as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall last year, coupled with the first ever Pride in Surrey event that took place in August 2019, I felt that there was never going to be a better time! So we did it!"

Cliff van Tonder, Surrey Music Founder

However, when COVID-19 struck in March 2020, like the rest of the world we were forced to find new ways to celebrate music without meeting in person. For Surrey Rainbow Choir, that meant getting together virtually, with Zoom rehearsals and get-togethers. 

The beginning of 2022 saw us begin meeting in-person again under the leadership of our new Music Director, Timothy Peters. He brought new music and different styles to the choir, such as acapella numbers that would allow the choir to perform unaccompanied, and with his bespoke compositions that widened the genres and styles of songs we were performing.
He also created some great ways to make learning music more accessible, such as through creating practice tracks so that members could listen to their individual parts and support what they do in rehearsals by learning at a time that works for them.

Tim's back to the camera looking out at the choirOver-the-shoulder shot towards Muscial Director Timothy Peters talking Choir members in alto section smiling

We welcomed a whole cast of new faces, and in the Spring we put together our first 'Sing Out Loud, Sing Out Proud’ open evening and mini-concert. It was an opportunity to open the doors and invite in friends, family and wider music lovers to join us and hear what we’d been up to.
Everyone enjoyed it so much that now it’s how we end every term, and we’ve even begun to expand it as a creative showcase by adding readings from poetry and short stories by members.

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