At the Walt Disney Concert Hall, (WDCH) on July 8, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) presented back-to-back, inspirational concerts designed to explore the often-complicated relationship between the LGBTQ community and religion. Through stories and songs, members shared their personal struggles, in an effort to reconcile faith with identity, in a program titled “I Rise.”
Between songs, members of the chorus stepped forward and told of touching, often-heartbreaking experiences. The mixture of songs that followed ran the gamut from popular music to hymns and included Katy Perry’s “Rise,” Stephen Sondheim’s “You’ve got to Be Carefully Taught,” Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers’ “Children Will Listen,” Bobby McFerrin’s “The 23rd Psalm,” Max Janowski’s, Jewish hymn “Avinu Malkeinu,” Leonard Cohen’s “Halleluja,” and Robert Espindola and Robert Steeley’s, beautiful and moving “In My Mother’s Eyes,” which made this audience member cry.
In the second half of the performance, more than 500 members of Southern California choirs, representing a diversity of religions, joined in song during this first-of-its-kind choral concert including Vox Femina, the Selah Gospel Choir and two soloists: transgender singer Breanna Sinclaire and songwriter Holly Near. The glorious singing was designed to leave the audience with a greater acceptance for one another’s similarities and differences and a better understanding of themselves via a magical, musical and spiritual journey.