Courtesy os Jason Bockis
Since its formation in 1990, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus has been contributing to the city’s diverse artistic community while simultaneously promoting the social acceptance of homosexuality.
“Just because of the mere fact that our name is the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, its intrinsic,” said Rick Brandel, a tenor singer who has been in the group since it first formed. “We are somewhat political in that respect, and I like to think that over the past 22 years, our chorus has become a very recognized and respectable music entity in the arts community here in Columbus and central Ohio.”
The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus will be celebrating the holiday season with its presentation of “Joy! Home is Where the Hearth Is,” at the King Avenue United Methodist Church at 8 p.m. Friday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church.
The chorus, which features 85 singers, will be performing holiday classics as well as more contemporary songs.
“The first half of the concert is a lot of serious music, and then the second half we’ll be doing some pop songs,” said Jason Bockis, who has sung with the chorus since 1998. “We’ll be doing some silly Christmas songs, some of the ones that they play on the radio.”
Bockis said attendees can expect to hear songs such as “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Sleigh Ride,” and “His Eye is on The Sparrow.”
He also said that the chorus will be honoring the Jewish community by singing a song called “El Yivneh Hagalil.”
Bockis explained that there will also be a few songs which will feature the talents of subgroups within the chorus.
Vox, the 18-member select chorus group, which is the only auditioned part of the chorus, will be performing four select songs.
The chorus’ small sacred ensemble, called the Illuminati, will be performing four songs on their own as well. The Illuminati performs once a month at different churches around central Ohio.
“What we strive to do with the Illuminati is just a way to help break down barriers through our singing,” Brandel said.
The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus has been gaining more recognition over the years.
When the group first formed, it only had about 20 members, and every concert it performed was held at Ohio State’s Weigel Hall.
Now, the group’s size has more than quadrupled. It also performs at more professional venues, including the newly renovated Lincoln Theatre.
The chorus also now has more than 200 subscribing members, which are people who have purchased tickets to every concert.
The chorus is also a repeat participant in the Gay And Lesbian Association Festival. The GALA Festival is held in a different city once every four years. Next year’s festival will take place in Denver, Colo.
The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus was invited to sing for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a visit she made to Columbus to support former Gov. Ted Strickland.
“Now we’ve progressed to the point that I think we’re really respected in central Ohio as a quasi-professional men’s chorus,” Brandel said.
However, Bockis said that there is still a need for improvement when it comes to society’s acceptance of homosexuality.
“At a certain point, what we’re working for is that (homosexuality) is not going to be an issue anymore,” Bockis said. “Maybe we could just become the Columbus Men’s Chorus or something like that. But at this point, there are still social changes that need to happen in the world, and that’s an importance of why I think we need to be in the community.”
Brandel discussed this vision of the chorus as well, referencing the chorus’ slogan of “Voices Raised, Lives Changed.”
“Through our singing, we hope to change perceptions and change the lives of many of those who hear us,” Brandel said.
Tickets to “Joy! Home is Where the Hearth Is” can be purchased in advance online at cgmc.com for $15 or at the door for $20.