The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida (GMCSF) and their new Artistic Director Gabe Salazar are celebrating the spring season with a concert of jazz favorites and the launch of a new Youth Pride Chorus.
On March 25, Salazar will lead the 125-voice chorus in “Driven by Jazz” at the Parker in Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s going to be a totally different experience from any concert this group has ever done,” Salazar hinted. “The stage will be set up like a nightclub and the guys will be sitting at tables. There will also be an emcee for the concert who is the maitre d’ of the ‘club’.”
The full chorus, along with smaller ensembles and soloists, will perform both classic and contemporary jazz standards and selections from the “Great American Songbook.” Gershwin’s “Summertime,” Frank Sinatra’s signature “Come Fly with Me” and Michael Bublé’s recent rendition of “Don’t Save the Last Dance” are among the toe-tapping tunes on the program.
The following week on March 30, Salazar and his GMCSF are planning the orientation meeting for the Youth Pride Chorus of South Florida, a new ensemble to open to high school-aged singers of any gender identity and sexual orientation to make music together.
“We want to create a place where young people feel safe and welcome and able to express themselves,” Salazar explained. “This is the perfect time – especially with the Florida [“Don’t Say Gay”] legislation – to spotlight these youth and who they are.”
Already eight students have registered to participate and Salazar would eventually like to see 20 to 40 singers with the group, noting “it will take time to get the word out and build a reputation.” The South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble followed a similar concept with an honor band for high school students a decade ago and that program has grown to more than 100 students each year.
“Obviously, I want to do music that connects with the youth, message pieces that they want to sing,” Salazar. “I’ll be meeting with them to get their input. It’s a more of a fun endeavor, but I think the music will also resonate with our audiences.”
Twice-monthly rehearsals are planned to begin on April 2 and he anticipates the Youth Pride Chorus will be ready to take the stage at the GMCSF Pride Month concerts in June at the Sunshine Cathedral. Volunteers from the chorus have already been underway with preparations for the first rehearsals, an advisory board has been formed and the organization has been incorporated to aid fundraising.
Salazar’s debut performances with the GMCSF in December were interrupted by the COVID-19 omicron variant, but he’s ready to make music again.
“I’m having the best time,” he said. “It’s so much fun to dream up concepts from the Youth Pride Chorus to the jazz concert and see them come to life so quickly. We have such great volunteers and staff and singers who are just willing to do anything for the chorus. I’m so excited.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida presents “Driven by Jazz” on March 25 at the Parker, 707 N.E. 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $36.50 at ParkerPlayhouse.com. For more information about the Youth Pride Chorus of South Florida, go to GMCSF.org/Youth-Pride-Chorus.