Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers and to any of you who may be new to my blog. This I will be writing about our experiences at the GALA Choruses Festival IX which was held in Denver from July 7 to 11, 2012. There were changes to this Festival. It was shortened from 7 days to 5 days, it featured the introduction of Morning Coffee Concerts and Evening Blockbuster Concerts. Festival was held at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which has three major concert halls, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Buell Theatre, Boettcher Concert Hall and two smaller ones, the Stage Theatre and the Chambers Grant Salon where the Late Night Ensembles performances took place.
There were 6,000 singers representing 155 choruses and small ensembles and 5 youth choruses at this Festival and we took over downtown Denver. At the opening concert on Saturday, July 7, we were treated to the music of our Colorado choruses, the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Denver Women's Chorus, Harmony: a Colorado Chorale, Out Loud: the Colorado Springs Men's Chorus, Sine Nomine, Resonance Women's Chorus and Sound Circle and friends. This was held in Boettcher which is a theatre in the round. The concert began and ended with Zimbabwean marimba music performed by The Low Flying Knobs. In between were the performances by all of the Colorado choruses in a great mix of music. This concert was performed twice, first at 7:30 pm and again at 9:00 pm in order for all delegates to have an opportunity to attend. Also on this night was the Ensemble Festival featuring the small groups of several choruses. These took place in the Ellie and the Stage Theatre.
At this Festival LGCSF was joined by the Chorus of Lick-Wilmerding High School of San Francisco. Our artistic director, William Sauerland, was also the choral teacher at Lick. Sunday morning, July 8, we had our tech rehearsal onstage at the Ellie to prepare for us for our performance on Monday, July 9. We opened the afternoon block at 12:30 pm and performed the GALA Premiere of "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" composed for us by Jack Curtis Dubowsky with words by Harvey Milk from his letters and speeches from his archives and the Scott Smith Collection. We also performed June Bonacich's "If Gays Ruled the World." We were the first chorus to have a high school perform with a queer chorus at Festival. As with all Festival performances we received a standing ovation but I like to think there was a little extra for the high school kids who sang with us. It was certainly a highlight in my chorus life. Then we went on to listen to as many other choruses as we could fit into the rest of our time in Denver.
Let me talk about the morning Coffee Concerts which were new at this Festival. These were one hour concerts performed by choruses who had performed them during the past twelve months leading to Festival. These were all fully costumed and choreographed shows and they ranged from Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC performing "Alexander's House" to "When I Knew" by Heartland Men's Chorus. Also the Portland Gay Men's Chorus presented "The Young Person's Guide to the Gay Men's Chorus" and MUSE - Cincinnati Women's Choir presented ""#Tweet2Roar: MUSE Celebrates 29." One of the Coffee Concerts that we really enjoyed was "Von Trapped" by Men Alive with their take on "The Sound of Music" and this was very gay.
Also new were the evening Blockbuster Concerts which started with "Songs of the Soul" which was a sacred concert exploring the connections between spirituality, sexuality, and musical expression. Then came "Our Legacy = Our Song" which celebrated GALA's LGBT history through stories, photos, narration and music commissioned by our choruses. There were Men's Chorus, Women's Chorus and Mixed Chorus Singin' in the Round concerts, a Classical Masterworks Sing-Along and the Big Gay Sing in which everyone, those onstage and those in the audience sang along to the music and the lyrics were shown on the big screen so it was like the biggest karaoke ever. So gay and so fun. And then there was the fabulous Youth Invasion concert featuring the five youth choruses who were there - Diverse Harmony, Dreams of Hope, Mosaic Youth Chorus, PerformOUTKC and the Youth Pride Chorus. We in the audience laughed, cried, cheered, and gave standing ovations to each song and each chorus. We were so proud of these kids and we all realized these wonderful young singers are the future of GALA.
And then we came to the Closing Festivities on the evening of Wednesday, July 11 which was a celebration of music, stories, photos and video to wrap up Festival 2012. The program also included the launch of a virtual choral project called "Global Queer Quire" which featured virtual performances by LGBT choruses from across the world. We all sang "Born This Way" along with the Global Queer Quire and that was a special moment of feeling connected to all of the wonderful, talented singers that make up our GALA Choruses world. And then it was on to the closing party "Red Hot" presented by SFGMC, Heartland Men's Chorus, GMCW, Turtle Creek Chorale, Anna Crusis, Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus, NYCGMC and Denver Gay Men's Chorus. This was a great way to end our time together and party and dance with old friends and the new ones we made during our time in Denver. If anyone who was there has any photos you can share with us please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again GALA lived up to its mission to empower LGBT choruses as we change our world through song. I love the four values that were included in the program book - We are Catalysts, We are Harmonizers, We are Listeners and We are Leaders. I know we will sing together sometime in the future and it will be a magical and spiritual event that will change our lives. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Sending you all my love.
In harmony always, Michael Lucero