This spring I found myself engulfed in an even greater than usual whirlwind of spring concert activities. Amidst all the excitement (and a little trepidation!) of last minute memorization, double checking tricky rhythms, and a myriad of other performance preparations for my own Anna Crusis Women’s Choir’s 40th Anniversary concerts, I also had the responsibility to prepare remarks to honor two other GALA choruses on their special milestones. The Central PA Womyn’s Chorus celebrated its 20th anniversary the weekend before; The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus celebrated its 30th anniversary the weekend after. Back-to-back-to-back GALA weekends!
Anniversary concerts are typically nostalgic and touching. This year’s were even more so — sandwiched between Caitlyn Jenner’s empowering, straight-forward interview and the much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Amidst the typical chronicling of the challenges and victories along the way, each group had its unique stories to tell. The PA Womyn performed a clever, hilarious skit portraying the creation of their mission statement. After performing the poignant and hauntingly beautiful “Tyler’s Suite,” the NYC men alternated music and dialogue to illuminate the differences and similarities of day-to-day life experiences of Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. Anna Crusis performed a 70s anthem as relevant today as it was then, noting women’s continued struggles for the rights of choice and protection against rape and abuse; followed by a new commission celebrating how blessed we are to be women.
Each concert and each chorus unique, and yet so much alike. I was once again taken by the incredible talent and creativity of our member choruses. Taken by demonstrated commitment to the continued quest of compassion and justice for all; to excellence in musicianship and showmanship; to the community of singing and non-singing members. And always that magnificent power of music to touch us deeply and to highlight the common human struggles and triumphs which unite us. Whether it’s 20 voices in an intimate church or 200 voices in a grand hall, GALA choruses have the capacity to change the world—and we are!