Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gay Men’s Chous of Los Angeles—Murfin’s Carols for Corona and Winter Holiday Music Festival

Christmas Wish by the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus featuring the Aftershock ensemble.

December 1 is World AIDS Day.  In honor of that we feature the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA), the oldest, largest, and most prestigious Gay Chorus in the United States.  It was formed in 1979 at Plummer Park Community Center in Los Angeles, with 99 members.  Its first public performance was at the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights that October and they also performed at n the first ever national LGBT concert at the Washington Memorial.

As GMCLA continued to grow throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s the AIDS crisis did not spare its members, the chorus suffered the loss of its musical director, Jerry Carlson, as well as over 20 other members by 1988. Ultimately, over 150 members were lost to the AIDS pandemic leaving only eight original members of the chorus as members now known as the “First Nighters.”

The Chorus has grown in size, gained professional artistic and administrative staff, toured nationally and internationally, released 16 CDs, and appeared with numerous stage, film, and television celebrities including Billy Porter, Lily Tomlin, Angela Lansbury, Bea Arthur, Jerry Herman, Melissa Manchester, Mary McDonnell, Stephen Schwartz, Liz Callaway, Lance Bass, Jennifer Holliday, LeAnn Rimes, and Christy Metz. The Chorus has appeared on several television broadcasts including the 85th Academy Awards, Access Hollywood, Will & Grace, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Mad TV, and a six-episode arc on Six Feet Under.

Members of the GMCLA doned ugly Christmas sweater in a holiday performance.

Back in 2011 I was honored and astonished when Chorus members commissioned an original choral setting from my poem Rainbows Are Not Enough as a retirement salute to their long-time music director. The poem was included in my 2004 Skinner House Books collection We Build Temples in the Heart.

GMCLA’s annual Holiday Spectacular concerts are highly awaited seasonal programs.  This year due to another plague, the Corona Virus, the annual holiday show will be shared virtually on Saturday, December 12.

Today’s selection, Christmas Wish was featured in the 2016 program and featured the Aftershock ensemble in an arrangement by Brad Stephenson and conducted by Gavin Thrasher.


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