In a song the chorus sang Saturday evening at First United Church for about 100 people, the all-male group put a unique spin on “America the Beautiful.”
“From sea to shining sea, they tell you who to be,” they sang.
Saturday’s performance was the chorus’s send-off concert for the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses Festival 2012 in Denver.
The festival lasts four and a half days and will feature 130 choirs and 45 ensembles who will give 200 performances from choruses around the world.
Saturday evening also marked the chorus’s 10th anniversary since its inception in summer 2002.
The Bloomington-based group consists of 25 members who advocate acceptance and pride of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community through choral music in south-central Indiana.
The chorus, which is also a nonprofit, began rehearsing for the festival four months ago and will perform four songs, including “Back Home Again In Indiana,” as well as an
“I wanted to make sure that we had some kind of new stuff or some stuff that other people weren’t doing, and that was kind of important for me,” said Barry Magee, who has been the group’s artistic director since January 2003 and is also the assistant director for diversity education at Residential Programs and Services at IU.
At the festival, each chorus will receive 30 minutes on stage. Magee said he planned for the chorus to perform 23 minutes of music, with “Back Home Again In Indiana” as the last song.
The Quarryland Men’s Chorus is the only group that will represent Indiana in Denver.
Historically, gay men’s chorus groups started to form during the AIDS epidemic in the late 1970s to early 1980s, Magee said.
Kathleen Sideli, former president and current secretary for the Quarryland Men’s Chorus, knew two men who died of AIDS in the early 1990s.
Sideli, who is involved in gay rights groups and is the associate vice president at the Office of Overseas Study at IU, first heard the Quarryland Men’s Chorus sing 10 years ago.
“I was so struck by what a positive image they presented and so sorry that 20 years before, gay men couldn’t stand up and share their art like that,” she said.
Sideli said the chorus has accomplished its mission even through a lack of resources, such as minimal funding and human capital.
“I felt moved to lend my commitment as well as my board and leadership expertise developed through my professional life,” she said in an email.
Chorus member Doug Bauder has been singing with the Quarryland Men’s Chorus since it began.
He said members have used the chorus performances as a coming-out process to their parents. Bauder is also the office coordinator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services at IU.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to blow stereotypes out of the water,” he said.
Bauder said he thought the group would never make it to the GALA Festival.
“It’s just an opportunity to wave the Bloomington flag,” he said. “We’ve developed a really nice fan base, so it feels like we’re not only doing this for ourselves but for our community.”
Magee said not all group members are bisexual or gay.
“I think the words to the music and the music I choose, again, in a lot of ways respond to and reflect kind of this very open attitude,” he said. “It’s not just one perspective. It gives you all kinds of different life experiences in most of the music that we do.”
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