By GALA Expert
December 6, 2023
Posted on: April 18th, 2016 by David Hardy
Auckland, New Zealand—200 singers from eight LGBTIQ choirs from Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth) and New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton) came together for the Out and Loud festival in Auckland, New Zealand, hosted by Gay and Lesbian Singers Auckland (GALS).
This was the sixth gathering of LGBTI choruses from Australia and New Zealand since 2001, the fourth under the festival name, ‘Out and Loud’. Earlier Out and Loud festivals were in Melbourne in 2007, Auckland in 2010 and Hobart in 2013.
The festival was timed with Auckland’s Pride month of February and the weekend of the city’s annual Pride parade. 180 of the 200 Out and Loud festival singers and partners marched in the parade, invited by New Zealand’s AIDS Foundation to support its remembrance float. With such a large turnout by the Out and Loud singers, they were the largest contingent in the 2016 Pride parade.
Dr Kathleen McGuire was guest artistic director and led rehearsals and the performance of two massed choir songs – ‘There’s a place for us’ and a new choral fanfare for SATB and piano, ‘Singing Out and Loud’, with words by GALS Auckland and music by Kathleen McGuire.
GALS organised an extraordinarily rich and welcoming program, beginning with a traditional Maori greeting where they were sung into the cathedral where the group rehearsals were held. The festival singers participated in a workshop on the use of the poi by Maori poi expert, Chris Selwyn as well as three singing workshops: 1. Maori, Pasifika and Kiwi songs with Jeni Little; 2. Hitting the high notes – expanding your vocal range with Kathleen McGuire; and 3. Awesome Blend – sing it, don’t speak it with Nick Forbes. There were many opportunities created in the program, designed by festival coordinator, Jan Wuis and the GALS’ co-convenors, Heather McDowell and David Reeves, to mix with other singers, at dinners and lunches and at a final picnic on top of a hill in Auckland’s Domain.
Each of the eight choirs performed a short bracket at a public performance at the Western Springs College and a number also sang in outdoor performances at three city locations – Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Library and Bledisloe Lane Pocket Park. These performances were promoted widely as part of Auckland’s Pride month, and a way of sharing LGBTIQ stories with the wider public.
GALS was grateful for the financial contribution by GALA that helped considerably with such costs as engaging talented workshop leaders and the guest artistic director.
Festivals like this, whether in Taipei or Auckland or Denver or Dublin are important times to reconnect with other choir members. We come together in solidarity. Just days before the Out and Loud festival, the much loved and long-serving accompanist for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, Gareth Chan was tragically killed in a road accident. Before the final performance, Kathleen McGuire read out the lovely words penned by Robin Godfrey, passing on condolences from GALA Choruses. And during the concert, a number of the songs by individual choirs were dedicated to the memory of Gareth and the good times enjoyed in his company over many festivals. It was wonderful that the Sydney choir decided to still take part in the festival and it was important that the Out and Loud Festival choirs were there for and with their Sydney pals.
This was also the final performance and last Out and Loud Festival for outgoing GALS’ music director, Stephen Bowness and there was a lovely tribute to him at the end of the concert.
David Reeves, one of the two co-convenors of GALS, recorded his reflections of the festival shortly after it was over.
Pacific Pride Choir tour to Poland and Germany – July 2017
In July 2017, singers from the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir will form a large part of a touring choir to perform in Germany and Poland. This touring choir, the Pacific Pride Choir has been founded by the MD of the Sydney choir, Sarah Penicka-Smith and her wife Melanie Penicka-Smith. The attached flyer outlines the genesis of the Pacific Pride Choir and its first tour, to “contribute to the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQI people in countries (like Poland) where homosexuality is legalised but not fully recognised”. Its ambition mirrors the work of GALA and the External Relations Committee. Registration is open to other singers, including those from GALA choruses.