A Statement from GMCW

Dear Chorus Family,

In a year that has already seen so many new challenges for the life of our chorus community, we must now again confront the perennial resurgence of deadly police brutality in the news and the wanton display of vicious racism plainly visible for all to see. 

Yet again we must loudly proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter. The cruel and violent deaths recently of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Tony McDade in Tallahassee at the hands of white law enforcement officers have shocked, appalled, and enraged us. Last weekend, we also saw a white woman brazenly weaponize her privilege in Central Park against Christian Cooper, a Black gay man whose “threat” was bird watching. And in February, Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed and jogging, was shot down by two white men who were arrested two months later following the release of bystander video of the killing.

Dealing with the endless repetition of such deadly and violent acts brings on fatigue, helplessness, despair, and profound sorrow, which is so exhausting.

Rightly so, you have expressed your outrage and anger on social media, offered support for the Black community and other communities of color who continue to experience constant discrimination and loss of lives that look just like theirs. You attended public rallies and protests to show solidarity despite the risks, and contemplated what it means to be an ally or to use your privilege to effect change. We applaud your actions and hope all of us would do even more.

We want to build on your actions and the Chorus’s efforts on diversity and inclusion. GMCW recently signed on to an open letter from 100+ LGBTQ+ organizations condemning racist violence. Read the letter here and share it with your networks

This is the moment to listen to and support those in the Chorus who may be affected. This is the moment to use our voices and privilege as a chorus to act for change beyond the LGBTQ+ community.

This is the moment to show what social justice looks like in the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C.

Here are five things you can join the Chorus in doing this week:

  1. Get the facts: Learn more about the history of police brutality, protest and racism.

 

  1. Offer support to people of color (POC) and share GMCW’s commitment to social justice: Reach out to POC members, friends, and coworkers, particularly Black and African American ones, to offer care and support.  Do not underestimate the impact of a simple text, letter, phone call, or message to lift the spirit and build connections.

 

  1. Support Black-owned and Black-led local and national organizations: For more information and a list of organizations, reach out to DivInc committee co-chairs Jay Gilliam and Keygan Miller.

 

  1. Be open to having the conversations about race: Get the tools to talk about racial justice as an ally and have those hard conversations with your non-POC friends and family.  Here are resources on conversation ideas, as well as other resources such as books, films, and much more.

 

  1. Host an online group viewing of Let Freedom Sing: Get your friends and family together online to watch a special online broadcast of last season’s concert Let Freedom Sing later this week. Release date and time to be announced soon.

 

The issue of systemic racism extends far and deep in this country’s history. Its legacy can only be undone over time with sincerity, acknowledgement and reconciliation with our past, and unshakable persistence. As you contemplate a course of action, continue to protect yourselffrom the effects of Covid-19, which also remains with us. 

GMCW will always use music to rise up in spite of the ache and fight injustices everywhere. And we’ll do it a thousand times again until justice and dignity prevail.

 

Chris Thomson, Chair, Board of Directors

Jay Gilliam, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors

Justin Fyala, Executive Director

Thea Kano, Artistic Director

Mario Sengco, Membership President

Keygan Miller, Membership Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

 

Emmy winner Leslie Jordan to host Spring Affair

WASHINGTON, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) is thrilled to announce that Emmy Award-winner Leslie Jordan will be the guest host for this year’s black tie gala fundraiser, Spring Affair: Once Upon a Time…   

Leslie Jordan is perhaps best know for his Emmy Award-winning role as Beverly Leslie on NBC-TV’s Will & Grace, and for his comedic turn as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in the cult classic film Sordid Lives. Mr. Jordan is one of the most consistently recognizable faces in popular entertainment. After a brief career as a jockey, Jordan has enjoyed a career in the full spectrum of show business. Through it all, Leslie Jordan has remained constant, relevant and, above all, funny.

Mr. Jordan won the prestigious Emmy Award in 2006 for Will & Grace. He has enjoyed rapturous reviews for his original stage plays (My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, Stories I Can’t Tell Mama, and Fruit Fly), and his supporting performance in one of Hollywood’s most prestigious films, The Help. He’s been singled out with great notices for his off-Broadway musical theater debut in 2011 in Lucky Guy. His defining role as Brother Boy in the cult film sensation Sordid Lives evolved into a well-received prequel series on Logo TV, and a film sequel, A Very Sordid Wedding.

A celebrated author and star of his own HBO Special (Pink Carpet); Mr. Jordan remains consistently sought after as a television guest star (TV Land’s The Ex’es, Fox’s Raising Hope, Disney Channel’s Shake It Up!, ABC-TV’s The Neighbors among others.) He has enjoyed several star turns on FX-TV’s American Horror Story opposite Hollywood heavyweights Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson, and Francis Conroy. He has most recently starred in leading roles in Fox-TV’s The Cool Kids and the British TV series Living the Dream.

Leslie Jordan has conquered the international stage with sold-out runs in Mexico, Canada, and the UK, and remains an in-demand mainstay as a stage/TV/film performer, voice-over artist, fundraiser, spokesperson, equal rights activist, and all around Southern Baptist celebutante.

Joshua Sommerville joins GMCW as director of Seasons of Love

WASHINGTON, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) is thrilled to announce that Joshua Sommerville has joined the staff as assistant conductor, and director of their vocal ensemble, Seasons of Love.   

A native of Gaithersburg, MD, Joshua Sommerville is a singer, pianist, music director, and composer who graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Music. Mr. Sommerville started his music journey at the age of 5 cultivating his skills at the piano. He began a professional career as a musician/choir director/singer at the age of 14. 

Throughout his career, he has had the privilege of working with many esteemed artists such as the late Dr. Walter Turnbull  (Director of the Harlem Boys Choir), Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (Grammy Award-winning vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock), Stanley Thurston, Bill Colosimo, Dr. Karen Kennedy, Dr. Joyce Garrett, Patrick Lundy, Richard Odom, Dr. Stephen Holmes, Dr. Marco Merrick, Twinkie Clark, and many more.

He founded three semi-professional groups: His W.I.L. Community Choir, Unique Sounds of Love, and To Be Continued Youth Choir. Each group has been recognized and admired for their ability to sing multiple genres of music as well as their strong stage presence. He also created the acclaimed workshop, How Much Do You Love It?, that has traveled to Bermuda, Italy, Guatemala, Germany, and Africa.

Mr. Sommerville is the Minister of Music at Hall United Methodist Church of Glen Burnie. He also tours as music director for the world-renowned choreographer Rennie Harris, and actively music directs productions within the private and public school systems. He now joins GMCW as assistant conductor, and is very excited to also conduct their vocal ensemble, Seasons of Love.

“We are thrilled that Joshua is joining our artistic staff. He brings to the team an extensive knowledge of classical music and conducting, as well as improvisation and arranging, and he is equally at home at the podium and at the piano,” says Artistic Director Thea Kano.

MD Theatre Guide rave review for The Holiday Show

Washington, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC closes out 2019 with another show-stopping edition of The Holiday Show.

Critic Liz Ruth-Brinegar from MD Theatre Guide was there on opening night and gave the show a rave review saying The Holiday Show “is an exemplary display of the top-notch skill and artistry.”

Ms. Ruth-Brinegar also writes “It is evident that the chorus has worked hard to not only regroup but to push themselves harder than ever before with this year’s tightly packaged and crisply executed Holiday Show, and the ongoing raucous cheers from the audience after many numbers were evidence of the success of their efforts.”

She also writes, “The first and best detail that I noticed was how cohesive the concert was. From beginning to end, each number flowed into the next and complemented one another in musical styles. Rather than a jumble of random musical styles and selections, the chorus clearly approached this year’s concert as a team effort, with every smaller ensemble’s pieces fitting into the larger whole of the overall experience.”

To read the full review, click HERE.

 

Rave review for The Holiday Show from DC Metro Theater Arts

Washington, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC continued their 39th Season with their annual holiday spectacle appropriately titled, The Holiday Show.

Critic Jim Pearson from DC Metro Theater Arts gave a rave review of the show, calling the show, “…a wondrous special memory for this holiday season.”

Among Mr. Pearson’s many compliments about the show he wrote, “Each song creates its own mood through voice, action, and movement. Dance solos and group numbers are all exquisitely choreographed and executed, drawing upon a broad vocabulary of time, place, and culture.”

The Holiday Show features a tiramisu of Christmas standards, fresh songs, and irreverent takes and twists on audience favorites from the past and present. The GMCW and their guests will start your holidays with a mix of intimacy, power, delicacy, and grace – and balloons!”

To read the full review, click HERE.

Rave review from MD Theatre Guide for Small Ensembles Extravaganza

Washington, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC continued their 39th Season with a showcase of four of its ensemble groups in a concert appropriately titled, Small Ensembles Extravaganza.

The concert, which was held October 26 at Live at 10th & G, featured performances by Potomac Fever, GMCW’s tight harmony, a cappella ensemble; Rock Creek Singers, the Chorus’ chamber music ensemble; Seasons of Love, a gospel and inspiration music ensemble; and 17th Street Dance, a dance ensemble specializing in pieces set to Broadway, jazz, and contemporary music. Combined, these ensembles represent GMCW in over 100 outreach performances throughout the region.

Critic Liz Ruth-Brinegar from MD Theatre Guide gave a rave review of the show, stating, “What a wonderful way to end a concert filled with songs of love, support, and encouragement. Small Ensembles Extravaganza was a one-night event, so I highly recommend that you attend an upcoming concert by Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, such as The Holiday Show in December.”

Among Ms. Ruth-Brinegar’s many compliments about Rock Creek Singers, she wrote, “The pleading round ‘Would You Harbor Me?’ made excellent use of varied dynamics to increase the dramatic tension of the piece and the dissonant ending was haunting. The choir ended with a masterful rendition of ‘Elijah Rock’ which they held back for a very subdued beginning before unleashing into a full forte chorus which was a marvelous contrast. The intricate interplay of rhythms felt delightfully easy for the chorus and brought the audience to raucous applause.”

And of 17th Street Dance she wrote, “17th Street Dance took the stage next for a sublimely choreographed and executed chorus line rendition of ‘These Are the Good Times.’ I especially enjoyed when the dancers pulled together in a tight, elaborately composed group that seemed to glide across the stage.”

To read the full review, click HERE.

MD Theatre Guide review of Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Washington, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC kicked off their 39th Season with a cabaret show entitled Coulda Woulda Shoulda at City Winery on September 21, 2019. The show was a funny and bittersweet celebration of all the things we wish we’d done differently. Critic Liz Ruth-Brinegar from MD Theatre Guide gave a rave review of the cabaret, stating, “…nicely balanced with a good mix of song styles to keep the audience’s attention and energy was high.”

Ms. Ruth-Brinegar also wrote, “Singer Garrick Jordan brought the house down in Act One with his hauntingly soulful rendition of ‘I’m Ready for Love.’ Jordan, a classically trained opera singer, also boasts a Gospel music background as a former member of the Harlem Gospel Choir, evident in his impressive runs and vocal stylings.”

To read the full review, click HERE.

Rave review for Stonewall 50 from MD Theatre Guide

Washington, DC – The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC concluded its 2018-2019 Season with Stonewall 50, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and 50 years of Pride. The concert also included the premiere of a one-act musical entitled Quiet No More, commissioned by 20 LGBTQ choruses. The concert was presented on June 1 & 2, 2019 at the Lincoln Theatre. Critic Timothy David Copney from MD Theatre Guide gave a rave review of the production, stating “With magnificent voices, this assemblage bridged the generations covering a 50-year span with agility and grace and a display of unabashed, unapologetic, unquestionably superb entertainment.”

Mr. Copney also writes, “And for gay people everywhere, but especially those of us who were lucky enough to be in attendance, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC with their splendid performance of Stonewall 50 gave us all another reason to celebrate how far we’ve come.”

To read the full review, click HERE.