“Decorate your bedroom!”
Last month, I attended the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus’ annual Holiday Concert at Ted Mann Auditorium. Among other heartfelt and seasonal messages, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the TCGMC included interior decorating tips.
A cornerstone of the Twin Cities’ LGBT community, the TCGMC is now in its 34th season, with performances during Pride Weekend as well as its renowned Holiday event.
This was not my first time seeing the Chorus. Last year’s event simply dazzled and re-invented what I thought I knew about choral music.
You have to remember that I hadn’t even heard of such a thing as a gay men’s chorus, especially growing up in a small town. So you can imagine my delight upon hearing of such a thing, with immediate and fabulous images of…well…Gay Men Singing!
And oh, how they sing! Elegant and irreverent, regal and ridiculous, bold and beautiful, the Chorus seems to always strike a wonderful balance of stately, traditional choral music and fun, sometimes zany antics. Of particular note is OutLoud!, the small, 12-man sub-ensemble which brings a blast of goofy toe-tappers in their own special section of the program. Last year, their medley of “12 Days of Christmas,” which featured a spin on Toto’s “Africa”, made me cry tears of Gay Choral Man Joy.
Fortunately, I just so happen to be friends with Jeff Heine, the fantastic Executive Director of the TCGMC. Via e-mail, he spoke with me about his vision for the TCGMC, and it’s place in our community:
“Our vision is tied to our music: We transform lives of individuals and the communities we perform in front of, and we do this by providing exceptional music that hopefully educates and our audiences find essential. We hope that what we do celebrates inclusion and diversity and that our music will inspire our audiences to want a world that really does celebrate our differences.”
One of the biggest take-aways from a TCGMC event is there is nothing “gay,” “straight,” or “religious” about it. Indeed, it is a celebration of our community; bringing us together through laughter, joy, and beautiful music.
This year’s Holiday show featured a rendition of “Oseh Shalom,” sung in the traditional Hebrew lyrics. I asked Jeff how the TCGMC feels connected to the Jewish community in the Twin Cities:
“It is a connection that I would like to see continue to grow and nurture. One way we can build these relationships is through the music we sing. [The holiday season] is one obvious time where we all have a chance to connect on a more emotional level through our music. We sing “Oseh Shalom” to connect not only with the Jewish community; this is an opportunity for our singers and audience members who are not of Jewish faith to realize that it works the other way, too: If you can find some relevance in the story or text of the song, some connection to your own faith and belief system, that’s transformative.”
The Chorus was accompanied this year by the Copper Street Brass Band, perhaps a non-traditional pairing. But the result was delightful; Artistic Director Ben Riggs meshed beautifully the orchestral tones of the Chorus with the jazzy off-beat sensibility of a brass band.
My favorite number of this year’s program, however, had to be “Decorate Your Bedroom.” So much fun! Funny and (importantly) sensible recommendations were collectively made by the over 160 singers. It was one of those moments in the show where the Chorus let their hair down, and with hysterical dancing and stage work provided by OutLoud!.
To be sure, the Chorus is a treasure of our Twin Cities community. Whether it be their annual Holiday Shows, or their Pride performances, they are not to be missed, no matter your walk of life.
Be sure to check out the TCGMC this spring as they tour selected venues in southern MN, including shows in St. Peter on Friday, April 10th, and Marshall on Saturday, April 11th.
Much thanks to Mr. Heine and the cast and crew. Consider my bedroom decorated, you guys!
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