I am Charlie Beale, award-winning choral educator, jazz musician, writer and LGBTQ activist.
What I do
In the first half of my career, I was a pro musician. I was based in London, where I was lucky enough to work at the highest level as a freelance pianist, conductor and educator in jazz, with significant gigs in classical music and pop music too. I wrote multiple publications on teaching jazz, and went around the world leading ground-breaking workshops for teachers, and changing the lives of thousands of young jazz musicians in the process.
Then in 2007, my life pivoted, when I was appointed conductor of the 260-strong New York City Gay Men's Chorus. Now based in New York City and focused increasingly on singing, I mainly work internationally as a conductor and choral director. Ten years on, I am proud to lead Big Apple Performing Arts, an organization that changes the world by curating queer vocal ensembles.
i have several award-winning books out, on teaching jazz and on singing pop, jazz and musical theater safely, enjoyably and authentically. I arrange for many ensembles around the world, gay and straight. I am on the Board of GALA Choruses, which produces LGBTQ choral festivals, and works to improve the impact of LGBTQ singing across the US and internationally. I write and give workshops on the challenges of leading LGBTQ choral groups. And I continue to give jazz workshops when I can.
Day to day, I work regularly with a range of groups, from 300 strong choruses to high school bands and a cappella groups – on the street, in elder centers, in day centers for people living with HIV, and , yes, in major concert halls across the US and the world.
How Can I Help You?
I see music as a catalyst, to create change. It can help individuals to find out who they are. It can bind people into stronger communities. It helps them find their voice and their creativity. It connects them. It feeds them. It teaches people about themselves and about the world. It creates real social networks. It can help organizations find a common purpose. I think I can help you make that happen.
I am involved in consultancy more and more. How can I help you?
Mentoring ensembles: Can I help you unify your band or choir? Would you like to start an LGBTQ singing group or a big band in your area? Perhaps we can taylor make a program over a few weeks or months.
Choral singing weekends: Do you need a weekend to work on blend and resonance, or explore singing pop music safely, authentically and enjoyably with your group?
Jazz workshops: Are you a classical musician who wants to explore jazz and improvising for the first time?
Corporate training and leadership development: Can I help you develop your team, or think afresh about your leadership style? Could a day of singing or music-making help a group within your organization think differently about itself, and perhaps work more collaboratively, like a musical ensemble?
Speaking engagements: I speak regularly in public on music and change, music and relationships, music and choral singing education more generally, and also on LGBTQ issues. Am I right for your event?
If you'd like to know more, click on the button below, and let's start a conversation.
Born in London in 1964, Charlie Beale is a choral conductor, a jazz pianist, a music educator, and a speaker on the arts and LGBT issues.
He has been Artistic Director of New York City Gay Men’s Chorus for eight years. Under his energized leadership, the chorus has expanded to 275 singers, has a renewed, more passionate sound, has developed a more interactive style with audiences, and has transformed and expanded its outreach programs. NYCGMC has achieved strong commercial success in recent years, and is recognized for its innovative and entertaining performances locally, across the US and internationally. Recently, NYCGMC has performed with Sia, sang in the Emmy Award-winning movie of Larry Kramer's iconic 'The Normal Heart', toured Europe and raised around US$55,000 for Marriage Equality Ireland In one Dublin performance. In 2015/16, it also performed at Carnegie Hall with Alan Cumming, was the guest star of the New Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center, and sang at GALA Festival 2016 in Denver Colorado.
A campaigner for stylistic diversity within music education, Charlie became one of the UK's leading jazz educators, and was nominated for a UK Jazz Parliamentary Award for services to jazz education in 2005. Central to the invention of Grade exams for beginner jazz musicians, he toured within the UK and internationally, working with thousands of musicians and educators on first steps to improvising, jazz rhythm skills and teaching and learning by ear. Having received his Doctorate in 2001 from the Institute of Education, he is also a prolific writer and arranger in jazz and choral music, published by Oxford, Hal Leonard, Faber and ABRSM Publishing.
In recent years, Charlie continues to give frequent clinics and workshops internationally, focusing more and more on the transforming power of music. A member of the Board of GALA CHoruses, he worked with an all-Australia LGBT chorus of 200 in Summer 2013, and has been central to 'Big Gay Sing' events in Denver Colorado, Trafalgar Square in London and New York City since 2009.
If you need more detail than the short bio above, take what you need from the text below:
At 17, Charlie won an organ scholarship to Trinity Hall, Cambridge and in 1989 he won the Rose Morris Prize for jazz at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Charlie’s 1990s playing career included national radio broadcasts as a classical pianist, a jazz organ concerto with the UK's National Youth Jazz Orchestra and West End theatre work. He also has both playing and arranging credits on albums and singles by pop and dance artists including Whitney Houston and Adeva. In 2004, he directed members of the London Philarmonic Orchestra in an improvised performanceof Howard Shore’s Orbits at London’s South Bank Centre.
Jazz education was a main focus for many years. From 1999-2007, he taught at the Royal College of Music in London, where he was Area leader for Aural Training, Professor of Jazz Piano and directed the Royal College of Music Big Band. He went on to write a critically acclaimed book 'Jazz Piano from Scratch' (Hal Leonard/ABRSM) and penned the chapter on Jazz Education in the recent Oxford Companion to Jazz.
As Lead Jazz Consultant to the Associated Board for ten years from 1996-2006, he was central to the design of innovative syllabuses and over 50 publications for beginner jazz players of all ages. He also trained and moderated ABRSM jazz examiners, and facilitated dozens of jazz workshops and seminars for hundreds of teachers in the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. In 2005, he was nominated for a UK Jazz Parliamentary Award for services to jazz education.
RESEARCH AND WRITING
Charlie completed his doctoral studies at the institute of Education, London university in 2001. Key research interests include jazz and choral singing, with a focus on improvisation, working by ear, and the relationship between music as it is performed and music in education. Most recently, he has contributed a chapter on LGBTQ choral singing to the Oxford Companion to Choral Singing (February 2017).
Increasingly in demand internationally, Charlie has worked extensively as a choral conductor and jazz educator, performing, speaking and giving clinics in Australia, New Zealand and the Far East, as well as the US and the UK.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
At the 2013 'Out and Loud' Festival in Hobart Tasmania, Charlie worked with an all-Australia LGBT chorus conducted them in two sell-out concerts.
He also made a guest appearance in 2013 for OUP at the Maryborough Music Educators conference, running a chorus of elementary school teachers that Summer.
In 2002, he directed the London Gay Men's Chorus at the Sydney Opera House later that year, and at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC in 2005. For more on NYCGMC, see the dedicated page on Charlie's website here, or click here.
Charlie did a series of jazz workshop tours from 1999 to 2002 in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Charlie was Music Director of the open-air ‘Big Gay Sing Trafalgar Square’ for the 2012 London Olympics.
Charlie is currently an active Practitioner member of the Association of British Choral Directors, for whom he has done several clinics and presentations over the years, most recently in Leeds in August 2012.
ACROSS THE US
At the 2012 GALA Festival of LGBTQ choirs, Charlie conducted a chorus of 300 in ‘Big Gay Sing Denver’, to a sell-out audience of over 5000.
Recent workshops have included multiple appearances at GALA conferences, and day-long events guesting for choirs in the US, including the Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte, and work with the children of the Brooklyn Waldorf School in Bedford Stuyvesant, NY.
THE FAR EAST
Charlie did several clinic tours of Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore in the early 2000s, working with large groups of up to 150 piano, woodwind and brass teachers, and designing 3 day courses that enabled them to improvise, play and later teach jazz to their beginner students.
After 'Jazz Piano from Scratch', 'Popular Voiceworks' (OUP), came out in January 2008, co-written with director, writer and singer Steve Milloy, and won the MRA award for ‘Best Pop Music Publication’ of 2008. 'Popular Voiceworks 2' was launched in August 2012.
He has also written a number of sets of arrangements for Faber’s acclaimed 'Choral Basics' series, including ‘Glee Volume 1’ (A selection of songs from Glee), ‘Voc ‘n’ Roll’ (songs sung by a cappella group ‘The Baseballs’), ‘Frankly Speaking’ (Frank Sinatra songs), ‘All that Jazz’ (a selection from Kander and Ebb’s ‘Chicago’), and ‘Disco classics 1 and 2’. Arrangements of his have been performed by choirs and choruses across the UK and US, including San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Seattle Men’s Chorus, Turtle Creek Chorale, Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus, Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte.