OpEd: GMCSF Sparks Up Hard Rock

Photo via the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, Facebook.

With pop artist Jordin Sparks lighting the fire, the Gay Mens Chorus of South Florida held its fourth consecutive Christmas concert at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, its first in the dynamic, newly opened hotel Sunday evening. 

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the popular chorus now features over one hundred participants, and they were enthusiastically received by an appreciative audience.
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The spacious new venue is an acoustical marvel, easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing. Designed by Scéno Plus, the Hard Rock’s new auditorium is a 225,000 square-foot facility, equipped with state-of-the-art in-house sound and lighting, multiple 30’x17’ HD viewing screens and mobile-stage technology.

“We are beyond thrilled to have had the chance to do our ‘Holidays’ show at the new Hard Rock Live,” remarked Mark Kent, the Executive Director of the GMCSF.

Artistic director Harold Dioquino assembled and performed some of the chorus’s most festive pieces of the past decade, including a well received ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ 

It was a joyous concert, with lots of laughter and levity, but touches of love and loss.

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From sing-alongs and tap dancers bobbing up and down on the stage, the Yuletide spirit was gaily celebrated. Every emotion had a “shot,” even showcasing a touch of “Hamilton” rap and Broadway salutes. 

“That’s ingenious,” said the very loud person sitting next to me. But it truly was. 

From carols to jingle bells, the chorus stirred special moments and precious memories, pausing to acknowledge in song and speech the scourge of early stage Alzheimer’s and other diseases impacting our LGBT community. This year the chorus paid homage to Ed Patterson, who has championed the cause of Alzheimer’s, living with his diagnosis. He was honored with the chorus’s 2019 community service award, accepting with his husband David by his side. 

The mood turned even more sober and somber when the audience participated in one of the evening’s final numbers, holding up candles during a rendition of Silent Night. 

Sparks, who is known for winning American Idol season 6,  returned to the stage to deliver a riveting performance of ‘Oh, Holy Night,’ partnering with the cast of the full chorus. It received a standing ovation. 

“We are dedicated and devoted to social change and making an impact,” says Michael Valdez, the president of GMCSF. “We are committed to living our mission. Open minds change hearts.”

The chorus has grown exponentially, in ten years becoming the largest gay men’s chorus in the Southeast. Nearly 2,000 people attended Sunday’s concert.

Its executive director is Mark Kent, and it was a busy weekend for him and the chorus. The night before they had performed a sold out and memorable show for over 600 people at the Sunshine Cathedral. 

They have a busy schedule ahead of them next year as well, with shows planned during the Fanfest at next month’s Super Bowl in Miami, a concert during the Pride of Americas celebration this spring on the Fort Lauderdale beach, and a ‘Homecoming’ anniversary presentation scheduled at Fort Lauderdale’s Amaturo Theater in June.

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