glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Choruses and Bands  
page: 1  2  3  

In 1982, at the first Gay Games in San Francisco, fourteen of the choruses met for the First West Coast Choral Festival. This meeting led to the establishment of the GALA Choruses Network that same year, with Jay Davidson of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus as its first President.

In addition to the choruses that belong to GALA, at least seventy other gay and lesbian choruses are in existence, including the members of the Sister Singers Network and a number of independent groups.

GALA Festivals

The first national GALA Festival, held in New York in 1983, was called COAST ("Come Out and Sing Together") and attracted twelve choruses with some 1,200 members. This event was followed by festivals in Minneapolis (1986), Seattle (1989), Denver (1992), Tampa (1996), and San Jose (2000). Each festival has shown a steady increase both in attendance and GALA membership.

In 2004 the GALA Festival will be held in Montreal. This will be the first festival to be hosted by a Canadian city.

Since 1995 GALA events have also included Small Ensemble Festivals, which showcase the numerous chamber and popular ensembles that have emerged from the larger choruses.

In addition to officially sponsored GALA festivals, member choruses are often involved in regional festivals, as well as guest appearances in each other's cities. For example, the New Orleans Gay Men's Chorus, founded in 1982 by Jerry Zachary, has in recent years scheduled joint concerts with choruses from Houston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Berlin.

In 2002 GALA included 170 choruses with a total of about 8,000 individual members. These gay male, lesbian, and mixed-voice groups are scattered throughout North America, Europe, and Oceania.

GALA Activities

One of the most important functions of the GALA choruses has been the commissioning of new work by significant, mainly gay or lesbian, composers. Composers commissioned by the GALA choruses have included Roger Bourland, David Conte, David Del Tredici, Janice Giteck, Libby Larsen, Holly Near, Ned Rorem, Robert Seeley, Conrad Susa, Gwyneth Walker, and Martin Wesley-Smith.

Many of these commissions have been subsequently published, some of them under the auspices of GALA. Often these works incorporate gay or lesbian issues and concerns, especially the creation of "family" within the community or, less often, specific political issues.

Performers who have appeared with GALA choruses include Maya Angelou, Natalie Cole, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Hadley, Marilyn Horne, Bobby McFerrin, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Mark Morris, Holly Near, Bernadette Peters, Roberta Peters, Diane Schuur, and Frederica von Stade.

GALA choruses have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and from numerous state and municipal sources, as well as from private supporters and ticket sales. More than 600,000 individuals purchase tickets to one or more GALA concerts per year. The combined audiences for GALA choruses--including community appearances and television and radio broadcasts--is said to be more than 5,000,000.


Although many of the choruses in the larger North American cities are large ensembles (30 or more singers), most of the European choruses are smaller groups, often oriented towards chamber or cabaret productions.

The repertoire for the lesbian and gay choruses includes the traditional popular and classical choral music for women's and men's, as well as mixed, voices, in addition to many new compositions written for the choruses, as well as new arrangements of popular and classical works.

Instrumental Ensembles

Although they have not resulted in quite so large a network, instrumental ensembles such as concert and marching bands and orchestras have appeared in many cities. Perhaps the most notable of these is the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic of San Francisco.

The Lesbian & Gay Bands of America (LGBA) held its first meeting in Chicago on October 3, 1982. In 2002, it comprised 25 ensembles, including bands in North America and Australia. LGBA celebrated its tenth anniversary at the Gay Games in San Francisco in 1992. An ensemble of LGBA members performed at the Clinton Inaugural in 1993. Another celebration is scheduled in Melbourne in 2002.


Programming concerts for lesbian and gay ensembles is a complex activity, since band and chorus music--especially that performed by same-sex choruses, with their limited pitch range--is not in itself a major attraction in the contemporary marketplace.

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3   next page>  
Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts
Popular Topics:


Williams, Tennessee
Williams, Tennessee

Literary Theory: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer

The Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance

Romantic Friendship: Female
Romantic Friendship: Female

Feminist Literary Theory

American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969
American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Erotica and Pornography
Erotica and Pornography

Mishima, Yukio
Mishima, Yukio

Sadomasochistic Literature

Beat Generation
Beat Generation




This Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.