‘GMCW Turns 40’ Celebrates Equality, Justice and Joy


GMCW celebrates 40 years is a cheerful and bittersweet investigation into the scope of the work of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Interspersed with photographs, press clippings and video footage of the choir singing, acting and dancing are interviews and recollections of some of its longtime members. Band members note that this organization has managed to maintain its existence during the AIDS crisis and the COVID pandemic, while using their singing as a weapon to fight for equality and justice.

‘GMCW turns 40.’ Screen capture courtesy of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.

Although not emphasized during the anniversary celebration, GMCW is the unique product of this city. Washington, D.C., as the capital of the United States of America, functions in the nation’s and world’s imagination as the place from which America’s constitutional and political stability and power originate and are maintained and protected. . What those who aren’t from DC don’t realize is that DC, more than just a symbol or brand, is also home to people.

One of the ways to tell that a place is actually a home for someone, and not just a symbol, is through the music that the people who live there produce and what that music says. The sound that comes from musicians such as Eva Cassidy, Chuck Brown and Sweet Honey in the Rock could only be produced by people who were committed to relocating to Washington, DC. The sounds these musicians have produced relentlessly promote the humanity of a population that continues to be treated as less than human and worthy of dignity.

When assessing its influence, GMCW must also be seen as an integral and essential part of this community and the DC musician movement. By focusing their voice on the humanity and dignity of gay men, as part of the wider community, GMCW has enabled gay people to hear their own voices in Washington, DC, and claim this city – and, by extension, the greatest nation – as home.

Over the course of 90 minutes, we are guided through a video album of GMCW memorabilia as well as special performances curated especially for this anniversary. There are selections from past concerts such as their signature song, “Make Them Hear You”, from Ragtime by Lynne Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The songwriting duo have composed a new song, “Harmony Is Never Too Late“, for this birthday party. It perfectly portrays the unwavering faith that GMCW members expressed as they spoke of the company’s “potential to change hearts and minds when we share our story and raise our voices in harmony for equality and justice.” for everyone”.

‘GMCW turns 40.’ Screen capture courtesy of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.

Perhaps such sincerity combined with the justness of the cause is irresistible. Anyway, I found myself becoming verklempt several times while watching this show. One of those moments was watching Rock Creek Singers, one of GMCW’s many offshoots, as they sang ‘Sure on This Shining Night’ in a performance, recorded during the pandemic, that went back and forth between the National Arboretum and the ubiquitous Zoom plazas we’ve all become so used to. Another moving moment was the chorus’ response to the seemingly relentless targeting and murder of black people by American police. The song “Heavy” was commissioned in the wake of these murders and performed in conjunction with a number of gay and lesbian choirs across the country. It’s a beautiful piece, a statement of grief and resilience and an example of GMCW’s dedication to using music to “stand up through pain and fight injustice everywhere”.

In GMCW celebrates 40 years we accompany the choir as it journeys from the stage – in performances of fully produced musical theater plays and in camp parodies and revues – to the streets – in pride marches, in education efforts and in the protests – testifying to the existence of homosexuals as members of the community at large.

‘GMCW turns 40.’ Screen capture courtesy of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC has been singing for 40 years, sharing the good vibes of the human voice with their audiences striving to bring them to agreement: recognition and celebration of our shared humanity. May they continue to do so long into the future.

Duration: approximately 90 minutes

GMCW celebrates 40 years airs from now until June 20, 2021. Tickets, starting at $25, are available in line.

Directed by Thea Kano
Associate conductor: C. Paul Hein
Deputy Chief: Joshua Sommerville
ASL interpretation: Jamie Sycamore
Art direction: Craig Cipollini

GMCW celebrates 40 years List of songs

Overture: Musical Highlights Through the Years

“Never Never” from NakedMan
Music and lyrics: Robert Seeley
Conductor: James Holloway (GMCW Music Director, 1989-1999)
Recorded live at Lisner Auditorium (1997)

“Of course in this shining night”
With the singers of Rock Creek
Music by Morten Laurdisen
Text by James Agee

“O Fortuna” by Carmina Burana
With special guest Gallim Dance
Music by Carl Orff
Text: Medieval Latin poem
From Carmine 35 (2017)
Recorded live at the Kennedy Center

“Rise up”
Music and lyrics by Cassandra Monique Batie and Jennifer Dicilveo
Arranged by Margaret Grottenthaler
Adapted for TTBB Choir by Thea Kano
Soloist: Jordan Peyer
Recorded live at St. Paul’s Chapel, New York (2019)

“America (my country is you)”
Music: John Bull (“God Save the Queen”)
Lyrics by Samuel Francis Smith
Soloists: Michael Caban, Ben Aparicio Coto, Robert Garcia and Adrian Gonzales
From born like this (2015)
Recorded live at the Lincoln Theater

“Waving Through a Window” from Dear Evan Hansen
With Potomac fever
Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Arranged by Robert T. Boaz
From And the Tony goes to… (2017)
Recorded live at the Lincoln Theater

Music by Steve Milloy
Text by McKenzie Coleman
Featuring GMCW with GALA Festival Chorus

“The climb”
With the seasons of love
Music and lyrics by Bruce Springstein
Arranged by Joshua Sommerville
Soloist: Joseph Levin-Manning

“Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Arranged by Jeff Funk
With a combined full choir, alumni and GenOUT youth choir

“Harmony is never too late”
Written for GMCW in honor of its 40th anniversary
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

“Walk it” from Purlie
Music by Gary Geld
Lyrics by Peter Udell
Arranged by Bruce Trinkley (Music Director of GMCW, 1983-1989)
Soloist: BJ Sobus
Piano: Jim Holloway (music director and assistant director of the GMCW, 1982-1985)
Bass: Mary Scott
Drums: Garuth Chalfont
Recorded live at Christ United Methodist Church (Bet Mishpachah service), Washington, D.C. (1984)

“Will you teach me?”
With GenOUT Youth Chorus
Music by Victor C. Johnson
Text: Anonymous

“Really brave”
True Colors: Music and Lyrics by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly
Brave: Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles
Arranged by Mac Huff
Adapted for the TTBB choir by Tim Sarsany
Soloists: Romm Gatongay and Jahtay Teh

“From now on” from The greatest showman
Music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Arranged by Roger Emerson
Soloist: Steven West


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