By Vic Gerami
Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) will celebrate its 40th anniversary by paying tribute to Stonewall 50 with a gala at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA.
The event is slated for Friday, August 16th and will include a red-carpet reception, dinner and concert by the over 500 singers, conducted by Interim Artistic Director Gavin Thrasher.
During the concert, GMCLA’s 270 members will be joined by members of New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and 23 other choruses from around the country to perform ‘Quiet No More’, commissioned to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
The remainder of the concert will feature great choral music from choral, musical theatre, and popular repertoire. Chrissy Metz, star of NBC’s This is Us and Shoshana Bean, star of Broadway’s Waitress, will join the chorus for a few songs.
GMCLA will also honor David Mixner, a leader in LGBTQ and civil rights for the past 60 years with its Lifetime Legend award for six decades of activism, service, and leadership.
In addition to his fight for gay rights, David Mixner is a Vietnam War era anti-war activist, a civil rights activist, an HIV/AIDS advocate, and a best-selling author of three books. David was once named by Newsweek the most powerful gay man in America due to his political activism and influence.
Lou Spisto, GMCLA’s Executive Director stated “as we celebrate a half century of activism- both GMCLA’s and the heroes of, and since, Stonewall, honoring David Mixner is so right. David is a pioneer, hero, and legend, in our community and many others for the past six decades.”
Mission: To create musical experiences that strengthen our role as a leader among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and performing arts organizations, enrich our member-artists, support LGBT youth, challenge homophobia, and expose new communities to our message of equality.
History: It was a hot July 12 evening in 1979. A small group of men opened the doors to a room at the Plummer Park Community Center in Los Angeles (now West Hollywood), waiting and wondering if anybody would show up. They had posted flyers around the neighborhood announcing the formation of a new gay chorus and this night was to be its first rehearsal. To their great surprise, 99 men appeared and a chorus was born. Within three months of that rehearsal, founding director Harold Kjellberg led the group through its first major event: the March on Washington, D.C. and the first national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) concert at the Washington Memorial.
While public understanding of gay life has evolved much since 1979, there is still fierce resistance to lasting change by opponents to LGBT equality. And the road to today has not always been easy. Through the height of the AIDS crisis, the Chorus lost over 150 members. Only a few original members remain. As a result, GMCLA has a deep history of service within the LGBT community, singing at countless memorials, making and commissioning music that helps the community to mourn, to celebrate, to dream, and to prepare for victory.
For over 40 years, the Chorus has built an international reputation for musical excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service to the Los Angeles community. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the last important links to a glorious tradition in music,” GMCLA has more than doubled in size to over 300 members, added professional and artistic staff, toured nationally and internationally, released fifteen CD’s, commissioned more than 300 new works and arrangements and appeared frequently on national television. The Chorus membership donates over 60,000 volunteer hours annually to make GMCLA’s mission of musical excellence and community partnership a reality.
For more information about GMCLA including tickets to the gala concert, please visit GMCLA.org