BWW Exclusive: 2012 Denver GALA Choral Music Festival Features Stephen Schwartz
It was a gay ol' time here is Denver over past week as we played host to the GALA Choral Festival (July 7th through July 11th)!
More than 6,000 delegates and 155 choirs from 40 states and six countries gathered at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for all the festivities. GALA Choruses Festival 2012 is the largest GLBT performing arts event in the world. GALA Choruses is an internationally recognized advocacy organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) choruses. The group’s week-long gathering of singers, choirs and clinicians boasted a full schedule of performances, commissioned works, workshops and social events. Festival 2012 is estimated to bring nearly $10 million to the Denver region and reinforce a message of diversity and acceptance. On a fun "note" - the top three songs that were performed by multiple choruses were "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin, "Seize the Day" from Newsies and (of course) "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz!
The Denver GALA Festival 2012 kicked off the Opening Concerts featuring seven GALA member choruses from Colorado as well as a number of other local performing arts groups. The Colorado GALA choruses are Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Denver Women’s Chorus, Out Loud: The Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus, Resonance Women’s Chorus of Boulder, Sound Circle, Harmony, a Colorado chorale and Sine Nomine. The other local artists performing in the Opening Concerts include The Low Flying Knobs, Gary Grundei, Beth Quist, Rocky Mountain Singers, Sankofa/The Spirituals Project, Deborah Schmit-Lobis, and the Two Spirit Society of Denver. Mosaic Youth Chorus of Denver also performed during the Festival.
The Festival was comprised of a series of performances grouped in morning “coffee” concerts, afternoon concert blocks, evening Blockbusters and late-night ensemble performances. The evening Blockbusters included The Big Gay Sing: a sing-along evening of Broadway, pop, choreography and GLBT-themed favorites including a Big Gay Idol contest; Songs of the Soul: a sacred concert exploring the connections between spirituality, sexuality, and musical expression; Classical Masterworks Sing-Along: a chance to sing famous classical masterworks accompanied by the Colorado Symphony; Our Legacy=Our Song: a concert celebrating GALA’s GLBT history through stories, photographs, narration and with music commissioned by our choruses over our 30-year history. The festivities concluded with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC) performing with Tony and Grammy award winning composer Stephen Schwartz. His It Gets Better Project anthem "Testimony" is one the songs that was featured along with a "Godspell" Medley, "Forgiveness Embrace," and of course, "Defying Gravity".
SFGMC’s national tour in the spring of 1981 served as the catalyst for the formation of many of the gay and lesbian choruses that exist today. GALA Choruses was incorporated in 1983 and by 1988, the movement had advanced to the point where the first Festival gathering was possible. Held in New York City and themed “Come Out and Sing Together,” Festival I featured 11 choruses in performance. Eight Festivals later, GALA Choruses arrived in Denver with over 6,000 singers. (Festival makes its first return visit to a city, having held its 1992 Festival in Denver with 3,400 delegates.)
GALA Festival 2012 is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, with generous underwriting from the Gill Foundation, Coors Brewing Company, Kimpton Hotels, Macy’s, Barefoot Winery and ACFEA Tour Consultants. GALA Choruses, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3), not-for-profit organization serving the GLBT choral movement. The mission of GALA Choruses is to support GLBT choruses as we change our world through song. GALA Choruses is open to all GLBT and GLBT-allied choruses. Through workshops, festivals and ongoing networking and administrative support services, GALA Choruses fosters the continued artistic and organizational growth of its member choruses.
For more information this wonderful festival, photos, MP3s and more, please visit www.galachoruses.org.