GALA Choruses Festival IX, Denver, Colorado, July 7-11, 2012
Dear gentle readers, last week I said that this History Corner would be about our fall concert, Loving Repeating. Well I was mistaken. Our next appearance was in Denver at the GALA Choruses Festival IX. This was held at the Denver Performing Arts Center.
At this GALA, there were several changes to what had happened at previous Festivals. First, the Festival was shortened to five days, there were morning Coffee Concerts where choruses applied for this were given an hour to perform their latest shows. Also there were evening Blockbuster Concerts - Songs of the Soul, a sacred concert; Our Legacy = Our Song, a history of GALA Choruses through choral commissions; Women's Chorus and Mixed Chorus Singin' in the Round, at which we sang "You Are the New Day"; Men's Chorus Commission Sing-Along; Youth Invasion Concert, which featured the LGBTI choruses; Classical Masterworks Sing-Along; and the Big Gay Sing: Express Yourself! which ended with everyone in the theatre joining a virtual worldwide choir singing Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." Also at this GALA, there were 112 choruses, 48 small ensembles and 6,000 delegates which was the largest number of delegates attending this Festival.
Our chorus and the students from Lick-Wilmerding High School all traveled to Denver and sang on July 9 in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. We performed "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" and the world premiere of our own June Bonacich's wonderful song "If Gays Ruled the World." If only that were true the world would be ever so much more fabulous. This was the first time at a GALA Festival that a high school chorus had performed with an established GALA chorus and they were all thrilled to be part of this whole new experience.
One thing that I want to talk about that really stood out for me, beside our performance, was the Youth Invasion Concert mentioned above. This concert featured the youth choruses that were there. They were Diverse Harmony, Dreams of Hope, Mosaic Youth Chorus, Perform OUTKC, and the Youth Pride Chorus. All of us in the audience were in awe of these kids getting out on that big stage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and giving it their all for us. The performance that I will always remember was PerformOUTKC's performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It began with a single singer singing the first verse and she was at first shy and quiet but as she got going her voice became stronger and people in the audience sang along with her to help get her over her shaky start. Then the rest of that chorus came on and finished the song and the audience gave them a standing ovation.
One of the young ladies from Lick-Wilmerding wrote an essay to GALA Choruses to write about her experience at the Festival. She wrote about the Youth Invasion Concert and PerformOUTKC in particular and how amazed she felt when the audience spontaneously sang along to encourage the lone singer on stage. From what else I remember about her essay, she also wrote that she had gained a new understanding and respect for all of the youth chorus singers and the Lick-Wilmerding kids and the youth choruses had time to spend together at the Festival. Finally, she wrote that this time at Festival was a very real life changing experience for her.
So everyone get ready for the next GALA Festival to be held July 4-8, 2020 in Minneapolis. More on this to come from me in the near future.
Next week I will be writing about Loving Repeating, our fall concert from 2012.
Cheers, Michael Lucero