Music lovers flocked to the Sunshine Cathedral on a wet and rainy Friday night for the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida’s first performance of the holiday season. The concert, titled “Heaven and Nature Sing,” included classical arrangements, holiday favorites and a splash of Broadway theatrics. All and all, Artistic Director Gordon Roberts was pleased with the new start.
“The guys are really getting better,” said Roberts, entering his fourth season as conductor. “We’re trying to bring this group into the mainstream. We want them to be able to stand on their music. There’s not a lot of gay schtick. We want to be known not as just a gay group — but as a great chorus.”
With 157 members, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida is one of the largest in the nation. The organization is led by several committees which look after various concerns and needs from wardrobe to ASL interpreters and, this year, has a half million dollar-operating budget.
“The stars have aligned for this,” said Roberts, noting the chorus recently received rave reviews and calls of “encore” at the Gusman Center in Miami.
For “Heaven and Nature Sing” the chorus performed numbers by Irving Berlin, Burt Bacharach, George Frideric Handel and a host of others. A 10-piece orchestra accompanied the sharply dressed men on opening night, which included solo numbers, audience sing-a-longs to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and a performance by crowd favorite, Tropical Wave Ensemble.
“Those guys are the hardest working guys we have,” said Roberts of Tropical Wave, a 16-member ensemble directed by his partner Harold Dioquino. Tropical Wave typically performs three to four times a week throughout South Florida.
“They fill a need,” Roberts said. “Because you can’t just take 150 gay men and put them anywhere.”
Roberts said talks are already underway for a return to the Gusman Center and expects the chorus to increase in membership.
“I can see us at 250 to 300 members,” he said.
There’s good news for prospective members as the chorus will hold two rehearsals, Jan. 7 and 14, at 6:45 p.m. at the Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 SW 9th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.
For more information, call 954-763-2266 or visit www.gmcsf.org
The chorus returns to Sunshine Cathedral for performances of “Heaven and Nature Sing” on Dec. 20-21 at 8 p.m.