In September of 1981, forty-five charter members of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus met for their first rehearsal under the baton of founding Artistic Director Jeffrey McIntyre. The passion and vision that those men had for the group was strong, and 29 years later, that vision remains. On December 10 & 11, the AGMC will present the first concert of its 30th season, and I am honored to be at the helm.
In October of 1981, a local gay newspaper reported, “The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is yet another example of the growing significance of the gay community in the Southeast, and is one of the most positive signs of a healthy and vital spirit amongst us.”
I believe this statement to be as true today as it was three decades ago.
The AGMC was the first gay men’s chorus I had ever heard of. At the time, my choral director at the University of North Alabama was telling a group of students about attending a convention at which the AGMC performed. One of the other students asked, “Gay men’s chorus? Does that mean that they’re all…gay?” While everyone else snickered, I was thinking, “Hmmmm….” A couple of years later, that same director brought me to Atlanta for a choral convention, where I heard the Young Singers of Callanwolde for the first time. I wasn’t aware of it, but two wheels had been set into motion that were destined for convergence.
In the early 90’s, when I was auditioning for graduate schools, I visited the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where I met fine faculty and a great group of students who were thrilled to be part of the program. One of those students had grown up singing with the Young Singers of Callanwolde. That training had landed her in one of the top graduate programs in the country. She had no idea, however, that she would soon return to Atlanta to become the Young Singers’ next music director. And I had no idea that we would one day be collaborating.
I made a different choice for graduate school, and neither of us recall having met that weekend. But several months ago, when Paige Mathis and I sat down to plan our collaboration, the convergences were revealed. I had a full-circle moment.
Holiday Lights is also a full-circle one for the AGMC. We’re bringing you music that has meant a great deal to the chorus and our patrons over the years, music from animated television classics that many of us grew up with, new music being heard for the first time, and timeless holiday classics.
We’re lighting up the holidays in a way that befits 30 years of music with a mission. We hope that you and your family find as much joy in the performances as we have experienced preparing it.
What’s more, Paige and I are thrilled to be bringing two of Atlanta’s longest-running choruses together for the first time. We hope you’ll be joining us!