May 11, 2012 — As Memorial Day and the Fourth of July approach, and perhaps particularly in an election year, our thoughts often turn to what makes this country great…Equality. Opportunity. Freedom. But such thoughts often remind us that for all that we’ve done to lead the world in these noble goals, more work remains.
To celebrate the roads Americans have traveled together — and the ones yet to come — the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is proud to have brought together the most powerful and best-loved music from the American songbook with the empowering messages of people as diverse as President Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and a drag queen at the Stonewall Riots in the riveting Red, White & YOU: United, We Stand. The concert will be presented in three special performances Friday and Saturday, June 15-16 in Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the Emory University campus in Decatur.
Presenting sponsors of the AGMC event are the League of Women Voters and the Emory Office of Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Trangender Life. Special guest stars are highly respected theatrical performers Courtenay Collins and Freddie Ashley.
“Since the issues of bullying — and of course marriage equality, endorsed just this week by President Obama — have captured the national stage, the chorus has been anxious to present a powerful work such as our 2009 Shaken Not Heard,” said Kevin Robison, AGMC artistic director. “But in poring over current and historical texts, we were reminded that the story isn’t just about us…it’s everyone’s story. That’s what true human rights and equality are all about. Until we are all treated equally, everyone’s civil liberty is at risk.”
What grew out of the AGMC creative team’s collaboration is an original work that not only celebrates the empowering, patriotic music of America, but marks the milestones and remaining challenges of the women’s movement, the civil rights movement and, of course, gay rights.
“Upon the United Nations International Human Rights Day just a few months ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke passionately about gay rights as an integral part of the larger issue of human rights,” Robison said. Among her remarks, Clinton stated:
“There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: ‘Be on the right side of history.’…[in gay rights], let us be on the right side of history.”
“In addition to Secretary Clinton’s speech, we’re also culling from other recent political speeches that have gone viral,” Robison noted. “We’ve contacted Washington Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh as well as Fort
Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. They’ve given permission to use quotes from their speeches as part of the material that Collins and Ashley will be reading from. On the heels of us receiving a personal note from Judy Shepard, whose book will be used as a similar source, both have agreed to send along their best wishes to the AGMC and our patrons as we continue to ‘fight for the right’.”
The AGMC artistic director continued that “To paraphrase one of the songs in Red, White & YOU, ‘how can we keep from singing?’ This is why the AGMC is still pertinent more than 30 years after it was formed — to present entertaining and thought-provoking performances that appeal to a diverse audience, create a positive image of the LGBTQ community, and promote equality for all persons.
“And it’s why the members of the chorus are ‘charged’ to present this concert which will live up to that mission, with an exciting and uplifting performance that is truly not to be missed.”
The chorus is extremely proud to have the League of Women Voters and the Emory University Office of LGBT Life as the presenting sponsors of Red, White & YOU. “Like the AGMC, they are non-partisan service organizations of the highest caliber, dedicated to improving the lives of each student and each citizen,” said Crystal Anderson, the chorus’ executive director. “We could not possibly ask for more-appropriate sponsors to enable us to present this moving concert to our community.”
In this election year, the AGMC was appropriately mindful of its role as a not-for-profit, non-political organization when developing the concert, Anderson noted. “Kevin and his team have captured a wide range of inspiring moments in history — from across the political spectrum, male and female, black and white. But what their remarks have in common is the inherent rightness of ensuring equal liberties for all.”
Songs as diverse as an Armed Forces medley, “It Gets Better,” “What Matters,” “Lean on Me” and “Why We Sing” will be woven together with dramatic readings brought to life by Courtenay Collins and Freddie Ashley.
Collins is well-known by Atlanta-area audiences, including those of the AGMC. A professional actress, singer and vocal coach, she toured both nationally and internationally as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera and Babette in Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. An artist with four CDs, Collins also starred on Broadway in the cult musical Eating Raoul and been in numerous off-Broadway and regional shows.
Ashley has been artistic director of Actor’s Express since July 2007, directing dozens of its acclaimed productions. Previously, he was literary manager of the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. Ashley has received the Elliot Hayes Award for Dramaturgy from the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and an Arts Encouragement Award from the Charles Loridans Foundation. He serves on the faculty of Kennesaw State University and holds degrees from Shorter College and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Tickets for Red, White & YOU: United, We Stand are now available online. Prices start at $25. Performances will be at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, with a 2 p.m. matinee added on Saturday. Location is Glenn Memorial Auditorium, 1652 N. Decatur Road on Emory University’s main campus.
For more information, contact the AGMC at (404) 320-1030 or email email@example.com.
Established in 1981 and today one of the world’s longest-running all-male choruses, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus presents entertaining and thought-provoking performances that appeal to a diverse audience, create a positive image of the LGBTQ community, and promote equality for all persons.
The chorus is a member of GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, and Chorus America, a 1,600-member non-profit organization that foster the chorus music experience in the U.S. The AGMC and Panache will perform as part of the 2012 GALA Choruses Festival July 7-11 in Denver.
The chorus is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts (GCA) through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The GCA also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts. Other support comes from the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and by Macy’s, PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP), the Emory University Office of LGBT Life, the League of Women Voters, St. Mark United Methodist Church, Dan Lax Media, Administrivia, The Zweifel Law Firm, and Peachtree Battle Chiropractic.
A complete listing of financial supporters — and how you can support the mission of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus — can be found on agmchorus.org. For more information on the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, see the website or call the chorus office at (404) 320-1030.