GMCLA conductor Joe Nadeau led a lively and touching two-act program for GMCLA’s 35th Anniversary concert at Walt Disney Hall this past weekend to a nearly sold-out crowd. As Executive Director Christopher Verdugo delivered an inspirational and moving speech, he described the historical significance of the evening and paid tribute to the visionary men who first formed what would later be known as Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, now celebrating their 35th year.
The finale of Act One was a crescendo of two songs which included the Outside Voices Youth Choir who joined GMCLA onstage for “NEBULA OF ANGELS”, an original piece commissioned for the 35th Anniversary concert. An inter-generational collective of GMCLA’s past, present and future completed the first act with the song”NEVER EVER”. The PAST represented by GMCLA alumni joined GMCLA who represented the PRESENT, and the Outside Voices Youth Choir who ranged in age from 14 to 22 symbolized our FUTURE.
Cleve Jones, a long-time AIDS and LGBT Activist and friend of Harvey Milk introduced Act II – I AM HARVEY, in a touching tribute to this American Icon. Sixth-grader Quinn Morrissey went on to open with his angelic voice in “An Operatic Masterpiece.” This began a musical journey into the life of Harvey Milk, joined by the sublime Soprano of Alexandra Silba and composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa who portrayed Harvey Milk. Mr. Lippa wrote the original music and lyrics for this oratorio, which included actual words of Harvey Milk in the text. Audiences were visibly moved by such heart-warming songs as “Thank You Mrs. Rosenblat” and the bouncy, catchy underlying beat of “Friday Night in the Castro”.
In a historic first, I AM HARVEY MILK was sung by the 200+ members of GMCLA, along with 300 members from visiting gay men’s choruses from Dayton Ohio, Atlanta, Kansas City, Saint Louis, the Twin Cities and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. The whimsical, heartfelt and addictive set of songs transported us to the time and life of Harvey Milk in San Francisco in this powerhouse performance which ended with a standing ovation at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The show was produced by Academy-award winner Bruce Cohen, Bill Bowersock, Robb Nanus and Jessica Levinthal and stage-directed by Noah Himmelstein.
Here are a few images from the weekend’s performances. These and more can be found at the Concert’s gallery on our Facebook page.