The critically acclaimed, 130-voice Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida traditionally presents a concert during June, Pride month, but this year, the ensemble is taking a different approach.
Artistic director Harold Dioquino, who is completing his first full season as the chorus leader, wanted to offer “something more” and the result is a diverse program entitled, “Generation Out.”
“We wanted to create a musical experience that pays tribute to the many generations who came before us in the gay community,” Dioquino explained. “We’re not just going to be standing there singing songs. We have a message.”
Dioquino enlisted the assistance of chorus members David Simpson and Tony Puma beginning in January to develop a script for the concert that would weave together a wide variety of popular songs into a tribute to both the past and the future.
“You can imagine how our storyline evolved since January … it’s like writing a Broadway show,” he said of their discussions about the changes over of the years. “Starting with the idea that every coming out story has a song and that those songs and eras vary widely for our audience and singers, we’ve put together a program of popular music that pays tribute to great songs that span the decades, yet tie us together as one proud community,” Dioquino said.
The program opens with “A Musical” from the smash Broadway hit, “Something Rotten,” a tongue-in-cheek number with plenty of references to gays in musical theater.
The chorus will also sing the iconic Connie Francis single, “Where the Boys Are,” the theme song for the ‘60s movie filmed in Fort Lauderdale, and “Backwoods Barbie,” Dolly Parton’s touching ballad about identity and bullying.
Because of the unique challenges of performing in a large hall like the Parker Playhouse, Dioquino also programmed a number of smaller ensembles to address themes of acceptance and love. A trio will be featured in Adele’s “Someone Like You,” and the chorus will sing Cher’s “Believe” and “Not My Father’s Son” from “Kinky Boots.”
Marvin Hamlisch’s “One Song” is an anthem for unity while the Village People’s disco-era hit “YMCA” speaks to the underground culture of the gay community in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
“Gay people couldn’t express who they were on the outside, but once they’re inside [the YMCA], they can be themselves,” Dioquino said.
At the concert, Cameron Glass, a local music student, will lead the chorus as the first recipient of the Stephen Kaplan Young Conductors Program Scholarship. Glass participated in the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble’s Youth Pride Band this season and was recommended for the honor. He will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Dioquino said the chorus plans to continue the program to encourage talented young musicians.
While there is much LGBT history to be acknowledged and this program achieves that goal, Dioquino’s concern is to continue to “be in the present mind,” promoting acceptance, inclusion and, most importantly, love.
He pointed out, “Our mission is ultimately to change hearts and minds through music.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida performs “Generation Out” at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 24 at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $36.50 - $46.50 at GMCSF.org.