This season is almost overwhelming to me. Just as we are about to launch our spring concert series, we receive wonderful news about chorus patron and former board member Harry Knox (who spoke at our clergy event on March 31) as well as an exciting development in our summer concert plans.
If you know Harry, or at least who he is, you know that he is a remarkable man who is doing wonderful work for the gay community in his role as Director of the Religion and Faith Programs for the HRC. Harry has been an avid supporter of AGMC and has been particularly supportive of our spring concert event, Shaken, Not Heard.
Just after speaking at AGMC’s dialogue for clergy, Harry was appointed to President Obama’s 25-member advisory council that’s part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama established the office in February with a broader mission than the one overseen by President Bush. Obama said the new office, which he created by executive order, would reach out to organizations “no matter their religious or political beliefs.”
Some Catholics are calling our friend Harry a bigot. If being critical of a pope that doesn’t see condoms as a viable preventative of HIV means you’re a bigot, then I suppose he is. Some have said they’d rather not see the president even have the council if it means that people like Harry are going to be on it. Well, of course they wouldn’t. They would rather continue to see the government caught up in right-wing conservative religious beliefs that undermine the rights of not only LGBT’s, but people from all walks of life.
AGMC is proud of the efforts that Harry continues to support and are thrilled that our new president has seen the benefits of having a diverse group of leaders on this council. Harry, we congratulate you and wish you the best!
In other news, AGMC has just learned that our summer concert, Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn will be an official event in the 2009 National Black Arts Festival. Go to our homepage to read more about this event, which will feature special guests Donzaleigh Abernathy and Larry Strayhorn, nephew to the late composer. Billy was the driving force behind the music of Duke Ellington (did you know that a gay man wrote “Take the A-Train”?) and was a staunch supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement.
AGMC is proud to be counted among the many great events that the National Black Arts Festival sponsors. With their support and that of Macy’s, the official sponsor of Lush Life, AGMC is poised to finish this season on a grand note.
What on earth will we do next season? Well, here’s a sneak peak: Our annual holiday concert at the Cathedral of St. Philip (featuring some special guests that we are currently working to secure); a spring concert tour of Alabama and Georgia, benefitting LGBT organizations on college campuses; and…drum roll…a tribute to the music of the Beatles. We’ve been fortunate to have been given clearance by Hal Leonard to create this tribute that will feature many Beatles tunes exactly as they were originally scored.
It’s a very exciting time in the life of AGMC and while this economy might be getting some organizations down, we are vibrant, alive, and moving forward in ways I would have never thought possible when I came on board two years ago.
As Billy Strayhorn often said, “Ever up and onward!”