June 4, 2013 – Pride. Milk. The two words are inextricably linked in the gay-rights movement. Much of what we would consider the best of “out” gay culture – community choruses, bands, sports leagues and more – can directly trace their roots to icon Harvey Milk.
To commemorate Milk’s legacy and message of openness and inclusion, the AGMC is proud to be among a partnership of several LGBT organizations across the country presenting the premiere of a newly commissioned work titled “I Am Harvey Milk” in “Singing Out Proud: From ABBA to Gaga” Friday and Saturday, June 28-29 closing out Atlanta Pride’s™ Stonewall Month.
The piece will be the opening act of the AGMC’s summer concert, sponsored by Emory University’s Hope Clinic and presented in three performances at Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the Emory campus in Decatur.
“Harvey brought a spirit of openness and ‘rightness’ to being gay that was infectious, and strongly influenced millions of gay men and women since his short but active life,” said Kevin Robison, AGMC artistic director. “He always affirmed that hatred or distrust of gays was because of a lack of knowledge, and that by coming out – to our friends, family and co-workers, often in groups of like-minded gay men and women such as choruses and bands – society would come to recognize that they did have people they loved and valued in their lives, and the gay-rights movement would blossom…one person at a time.”
Unfortunately, Milk’s message of gay rights was threatening to the status quo, including former city supervisor Dan White, who was given a light sentence for the assassinations of Milk and Moscone. The fledgling San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus made an unplanned first performance at a memorial vigil and launched a movement that soon included the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and thousands of other fellowship- and community service-oriented LGBTQ organizations.
“There’s a reason Harvey has been called ‘the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the U.S.’ – a ‘visionary’ who was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009,” Robison noted. “We are incredibly proud to celebrate his life, his service and his message with this very special event.”
In both acts of the summer concert, Robison said that “the AGMC is set to rock your world. No one could capture the essence of Harvey’s life and career without writing a full-fledged opera, but musical theatre composer Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party, The Addams Family and Broadway-bound Big Fish) gives us a stunning glimpse into the politician’s life and career in a new work comprising our first act that’s part oratorio, part musical theatre, highlighting pivotal moments in Harvey’s life and career.”
The AGMC will present the eastern U.S. premiere of “I Am Harvey Milk” two days after the world premiere in San Francisco. In Atlanta, Craig Waldrip will play the role of Harvey and will be joined by Melissa Arasi, soprano, and Sam Greene as Young Harvey.
The second act celebrates pop music of the past 35 years, some of which Harvey would have known – and all of which he would have loved. “These songs have held us steadfast during tough times, featuring the exhilarating performances of Cher, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross and others. There’s a big ‘wow’ factor in this convergence of history and gay iconic pop music, and the men of the AGMC are stoked to present this entertaining event as part of Stonewall Month,” Robison stated.
After the concert, the chorus will take a short break and invite audience members back for a panel discussion featuring Erik Milk, a board member of the Milk Foundation and great-nephew of Harvey; Jeffrey D. McIntyre, AGMC’s founding artistic director; a representative from The Hope Clinic of Emory University, and others. The discussion will focus on how we continue to live the legacy of Harvey Milk, how the struggle isn’t over, and what Harvey might say if he were with us today. This stimulating exchange is included in the ticket price for all audience members. Plans for Erik Milk to give a lecture with a Q&A are also in the works.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, plus a 2 p.m.matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $30; go to www.agmchorus.org.
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 chorus is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, Atlanta Magazine and Smirnoff Vodka; presenting sponsors are Macy’s and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP); principal sponsors, Ameriprise Financial, Brandon D Hunt Design, Dan Lax Media, Peachtree Battle Chiropractic and St. Mark United Methodist Church; sustaining sponsors, Administrivia, Briza, Nead Werx, 866 Rooftop and Radial Café; and media sponsors The Georgia Voice and Project Q Atlanta.
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 office at (404) 320-1030.