Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus

Infobox musical artist
Name = Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus


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Background = classical_ensemble
Birth_name =
Alias = AGMC
Origin = flagicon|USA Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Instrument = 125 voices
Genre = Choral, Broadway, classical, jazz, popular
Occupation = Men's Chorus
Years_active = 1981-present
Associated_acts = Panache (small ensemble)
URL = [http://www.agmchorus.org www.agmchorus.org]
Current_members = Artistic Director
Kevin Robison
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Travis Barton
Executive Director
Brenda J. Pruitt
President
Chris Bess
Principal Accompanist
Jeff Herndon
Assistant Conductor
David Artadi
Vocal Coach
T. N. Retif

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus (AGMC) is a nonprofit performing arts organization based in Atlanta, Georgia. The AGMC's traditional concert season includes a Holiday Concert in early December, a Spring Concert in late March or early April, and a Pride Concert in late June.

The AGMC was founded in August 1981 by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, who served as its first Artistic Director. Auditions were held that month and the first rehearsal was held in September with a charter membership of 45 singers. By the time the newly formed AGMC gave its premier performance at First Metropolitan Community Church on North Highland Avenue on October 18, membership had increased to 48. More than 300 people attended. “We called that first show a ‘sneak preview,’” says McIntyre, “because we only had six rehearsals’ time to work up four songs.” Only six weeks later, the AGMC presented its first Holiday Concert, "Music of the Season", featuring ten decidedly Christmas songs, on November 29, 1981, at Grant Park United Methodist Church. Thus began the AGMC’s annual season of Holiday, Spring and Pride concerts that continues to this day. For over a quarter century, the AGMC has represented the gay and lesbian community as a voice for diversity and inclusiveness.

The AGMC was chartered in the State of Georgia as a domestic nonprofit organization on March 3, 1982, and was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service in December 1982. The AGMC joined the Gay And Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA Choruses), an international organization of gay, lesbian and mixed choruses, on September 2, 1984. GALA has more than 185 member choruses with 10,000+ active members in 11 countries and hosts an international choral festival every four years (every three years in the 1980s). The AGMC has attended all but the first two, including Seattle, Washington, in 1989; Denver, Colorado, in 1992; Tampa, Florida, in 1996; San Jose, California, in 2000; Montreal, Québec, in 2004 and Miami, Florida, in 2008.

In 1984, the AGMC was the first gay organization to have a float in WSB-TV’s annual Independence Day Salute 2 America Parade, and was included again in 1985. In 1994, the AGMC commissioned its first major work, "Memento mori: an AIDS requiem" by James Adler, which was world-premiered in 1996. In 1997 and again in 1998, the AGMC presented concerts at the historic Fabulous Fox Theatre in Midtown Atlanta.

The AGMC has performed joint concerts with several other GALA choruses, including the New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus [http://www.nogmc.com/] in the late 1980s, One Voice (Charlotte, North Carolina) [http://www.onevoicechorus.com/] in 1993, the Gateway Men’s Chorus (St. Louis, Missouri) [http://www.gatewaymenschorus.org/] in 1994, le Choeur International Gai de Paris (the International Gay Men’s Chorus of Paris, France) [http://www.melomen.com/melomen/accueil/accueil/index.php] in 1996, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. [http://www.gmcw.org/] , in 1999, Turtle Creek Chorale (Dallas, Texas) [http://www.turtlecreek.org/] in 2003, and several performances over the years with the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus (AFWC) [http://www.afwcchorus.org/] .

The AGMC has also performed joint concerts with several special guests, including the Derivative Duo (Seattle, Washington) in 1995, Dr. Maya Angelou in 1998, and the Atlanta Ballet in 1999. For many years, the AGMC was a regular performer in the annual Heartstrings fundraiser for AIDS [http://heartstrings.angiesarts.com/rainbow.html] , St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church’s annual Olde English Festival and, from 1996 to 1998, was also a featured performer at First Night Atlanta. The AGMC was the featured entertainment at the annual Southern Comfort Conference for the transgendered community for many years. In 2000, the AGMC presented a benefit concert for the Birmingham AIDS Network in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2001, the AGMC, AFWC and Atlanta Freedom Marching Band [http://www.atlantafreedombands.com/] hosted a benefit concert for the victims and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. In 2002, the AGMC performed at the post-inaugural reception for City of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the first time any GLBT organization had participated in such an event.

In 2001, a quartet from the AGMC performed the national anthem at an Atlanta Braves home game, and in 2002, the entire chorus returned to do the same. Mayor Shirley Franklin issued a proclamation declaring that day, June 5, 2002, as "Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus Day" in the City of Atlanta. The AGMC is the only openly gay performing arts organization to perform the national anthem at an Atlanta Braves game.

Mission, Diversity, Membership & Corporate Statements

* Mission Statement

The Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus exists to provide high-quality, professional performances as expressed through the time-honored tradition of male choral music in order to affirm the contributions and advance a positive image of the gay and lesbian communities within the community at large. The Chorus strives to provide a sense of inclusiveness, unity and pride in our audiences as well as in our membership. [http://www.agmchorus.org/about/]

* Diversity Statement

The Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus celebrates the human diversity found in our local and global communities. Our leadership and membership are committed to being cognizant of and sensitive to the diverse and overlapping communities of which we are composed and for whom we perform. We strive for our organization to be as sensitive to others as we would like others to be towards us. We will be receptive to hearing and responding to concerns related to diversity and cultural sensitivity in all Chorus activities.

* Membership Statement

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. Singing memberships are by audition and non-singing memberships are also available. All members are volunteers and pay dues to participate in Chorus activities. The AGMC is supported by member dues, ticket sales, donations, grants, in-kind services and other gifts.

* Corporate Statement

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is chartered in the State of Georgia as a domestic not-for-profit corporation and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization under Paragraph 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Accordingly, donations to the AGMC are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by federal law.

AGMC’s Artistic Directors

In its twenty-seven year history, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus has performed under the baton of seven talented individuals holding the title of Artistic Director (or equivalent). [http://www.agmchorus.org/about/previous_directors/]

Jeffrey D. McIntyre

* Founding Musical Director, August 1981–June 1984
* Director, August–December 1990
* Artistic Director, August 1991–December 1994
* Interim Artistic Director, April 2006–March 2007

Jeffrey D. McIntyre, a native Atlantan, is the founder of the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus. In addition to directing the AGMC for a total of six seasons over the span of thirteen years, he has worked extensively with several Atlanta theatre companies, including such productions as "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Godspell" and the Atlanta premiere of "Sweeney Todd".

After studying music at the University of Georgia, Mr. McIntyre returned to Atlanta to serve as organist and choirmaster for several churches in the Atlanta area. He has sung with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and the Choral Guild of Atlanta, and is currently serving as Minister of Music for the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta.

Neil Gregory

* Music Director, September 1984–February 1988

Neil Gregory (born Robert Neil Earwood), a native of Floyd County, attended Georgia State University, where he majored in Voice Performance and studied voice with Peter Harrower. In New York City, he performed as Pooh-Bah in an off-Broadway production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado", a role he also played in the PBS production of that show with the Southeastern Savoyards. He also played Judge Turpin in "Sweeney Todd", Captain Concoran in "H. M. S. Pinafore", Strephon in "Iolanthe", Louis in Holst's "The Wandering Scholar" and Simeon in DeBussy's "L'Enfant Prodigue". Mr. Gregory served as vocal coach for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus Carnegie Hall concert soloists.

Mr. Gregory was associated with Atlantis Productions, a national touring company, for whom he served as Music Director for shows including "An Irving Berlin Celebration: Say It with Music", "An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein" and "The Best of Broadway".

Mr. Gregory died of heart failure in May 1990 at the age of 40.

Richard D. Rechtin

* Artistic Director, March 1988–August 1990

Richard D. ("Rick") Rechtin of Dallas, Texas, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music from Southern Methodist University. During his college years, Mr. Rechtin sang with the noted A Capella Choir of NTSU under Frank McKinley and the University Choir of SMU under the direction of Lloy Pfautsch, in addition to regular solo recitals and opera theater performances. He studied voice with Thomas Hayward, a former Metropolitan Opera tenor.

Mr. Rechtin sang professionally as section leader and soloist for Dallas area churches and with the Dallas Opera in Verdi’s "Aida". Other operatic and musical roles included Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof", Sir Lancelot in "Camelot", Silvano in Verdi’s "A Masked Ball", Monostatos in "The Magic Flute" and Gastone in "La Traviata".

Mr. Rechtin passed away in 1993.

David A. Puckett

* Artistic Director, April 1995–March 1999

David A. Puckett holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Arts in Religion-Music from Asbury College and the Asbury Theological Seminary, respectively. Other graduate work included studies with Carl Orff prodigy Jos Wuytuk, Gil Lizzard at Florida State University and Robert Shaw at both the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and in Atlanta. Mr. Puckett is a published composer whose compositions include the commissioned choral and orchestral work "Te Deum", which was premiered in 1992. Performing to critical acclaim in many musical theatre productions across the country, Mr. Puckett has been in local productions at Onstage Atlanta, the Neighborhood Playhouse, Village Theatre of Roswell and the 14th Street Playhouse. Mr. Puckett also served as organist of Christ Covenant MCC in Decatur.

In March 1999, Mr. Puckett, who is nearly fluent in Chinese, accepted a job in China teaching music and English. Since then, he has opened an English language school with five campuses, published three English textbooks for Chinese students, directed and performed regularly on Chinese television and radio, including hosting a twenty-episode television series, and won a nationwide performing arts competition.

Gary W. Arnold

* Artistic Director, September 1999–June 2000
* Interim Artistic Director, April 1999–June 1999
* Principal Accompanist & Assistant Director, August 1993–August 1999

Gary W. Arnold holds a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee, and a Master of Church Music from Southern Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. An ordained minister, he has served as Minister of Music for churches in Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia. He was a member of and recorded with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus for several seasons. Rev. Arnold served as the Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist of the Atlanta Lyric Theater for three seasons and is a former Minister of Fine Arts at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown, where he served at the keyboards, on the conductor’s podium, and administered the programs of the McDowell Fine Arts Center. Rev. Arnold is also Music Assistant at Cannon Chapel, Candler Theological Seminary at Emory University.

Leslie J. Blackwell

* Artistic Director, September 2000–March 2006
* Interim Artistic Director, January–April 1995 and June–July 2000

Leslie J. Blackwell is the director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at Kennesaw State University, where she has taught since 1998. She earned her Associate in Music degree from Gordon College, her Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree from West Georgia College, her Master of Music degree from Georgia State University and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kentucky.

As a music educator, Dr. Blackwell has taught elementary and secondary music in the Griffin-Spalding County and Clayton County school systems and seven years at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City.

Dr. Blackwell previously served the AGMC as Interim Artistic Director for its 1995 Spring and GALA Festival 2000 concerts. Following six seasons as Artistic Director, the AGMC has presented more concerts under her baton than any other conductor.

Kevin Robison

* Artistic Director, August 2007–present

Kevin Robison joined the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus in the 2007-2008 concert season as its seventh Artistic Director. Formerly Assistant Conductor of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and Artistic Director of South Coast Chorale in Long Beach, California, Mr. Robison is the AGMC's first full-time artistic director. The Southern California resident previously served as Resident Director of Music for the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and on the faculties of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal-Poly Pomona, and Cal-State Fullerton. Mr. Robison has been actively involved with ensembles associated with GALA Choruses (the international association of gay and lesbian choruses) for six years, and has become one of its most sought-after composers and arrangers. He has received commissions from some of the leading men's choruses in the nation, including the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Seattle Men's Chorus, Turtle Creek Chorale of Dallas, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus. Mr. Robison's arrangements have been sung on stage by a number of prominent performers, including Malcolm Gets, Jenifer Lewis, Lily Tomlin, Joanna Gleason, Susan Egan and others. He has also collaborated on productions with Del Shores of "Sordid Lives" fame, Kate Clinton and Miss Coco Peru. Much of his music for male voices has been performed and/or recorded by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, including his tribute to the music of Kander and Ebb, "They Had it Coming", which received an OutMusic Award nomination for best new CD in 2005, and will receive its Atlanta premiere as part of the AGMC's 2007-2008 season. With roots in Alabama and Virginia, Robison is enjoying his return to the South.

Concert History

1st Concert Season: 1981–1982

* The AGMC’s very first public performance, called simply "Sneak Preview", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on October 18, 1981, at (First) Metropolitan Community Church in Virginia Highland.

* The 1981 Holiday Concert, "Music of the Season", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on November 29, 1981, at Grant Park United Methodist Church.

* The 1982 Spring Concert, "Southern Knights", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on May 15, 1982, at the Peachtree Playhouse.

2nd Concert Season: 1982–1983

* The 1982 Holiday Concert, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 4, 1982, at All Saints’ Episcopal Church.

* The 1983 Pride Concert, "United in Song!", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on June 18, 1983, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

3rd Concert Season: 1983–1984

* The 1983 Holiday Concert, "Fanfare for Christmas", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 10, 1983, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The 1984 Pride Concert, "A Grand Night for Singing", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre and a joint performance with the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus and the Atlanta Lambda Chorale, was presented on June 23 & 30, 1984, at the Dancers Collective.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Jeffrey D. McIntyre, performed in WSB-TV’s “Salute to America” parade in Atlanta on July 4, 1984, and was the first openly gay organization to do so.

4th Concert Season: 1984–1985

* The 1984 Holiday Concert, "Let Us Rejoice Together", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on December 15, 1984, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The 1985 Spring Concert, "Spring", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on April 12 & 14, 1985, at the Walter C. Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art.

* The 1985 Pride Concert, "Way Down South of Broadway", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on June 29, 1985, at the Academy Theater.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Neil Gregory, performed in WSB-TV’s “Salute to America” parade in Atlanta on July 4, 1985.

5th Concert Season: 1985–1986

* The 1985 Holiday Concert, "Celebrating the Season", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on December 14, 1985, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The 1986 Spring Concert, "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on April 19, 1986, at the Richard H. Rich Theatre of the Woodruff Arts Center.

* The 1986 Pride Concert, "The Best of AGMC", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on July 26, 1986, at the Academy Theater.

6th Concert Season: 1986–1987

* The 1986 Holiday Concert, "Throw Up the Sash", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on December 13, 1986, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The 1987 Spring Concert, "Red, White and Blues", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on April 25, 1987, at the Walter C. Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art.

* The 1987 Pride Concert, "...When You’re Having Fun", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on July 25, 1987, at the Walter C. Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art.

7th Concert Season: 1987–1988

* The 1987 Holiday Concert, "The Stockings Were Hung", directed by Neil Gregory, was presented on December 12, 1987, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The AGMC, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., presented "Brothers in Harmony", a joint performance under the direction Gary E. Keating, on February 20, 1988, at Victory Park Auditorium in North Miami Beach, Florida.

* The 1988 Pride Concert, "That’s Entertainment", directed by Richard D. Rechtin, was presented on July 30, 1988, at the Samuel Inman Middle School Auditorium.

8th Concert Season: 1988–1989

* The 1988 Holiday Concert, "A Special Holiday Concert", directed by Richard D. Rechtin, was presented on December 7, 1988, at Onstage Atlanta.

* The 1989 Spring Concert, "Heart Theme", directed by Richard D. Rechtin, was presented on February 18, 1989, at the Walter C. Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art.

* The 1989 Pride Concert, "Look to Your Dream", directed by Richard D. Rechtin, was presented on June 10, 1989, at the Walter C. Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Richard D. Rechtin, performed at GALA Festival III at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, in July 1989.

9th Concert Season: 1989–1990

* The 1989 Holiday Concert, "A Gift of Song", directed by Richard D. Rechtin, was presented on December 2, 1989, at the June Cofer Auditorium at Southside High School.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Richard D. Rechtin, presented "The Gayest Event of the Season" on December 16, 1989, at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

* The 1990 Pride Concert, "In Harmony and Unity", directed by Richard D. Rechtin and a joint performance with the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus, was presented on June 3, 1990, at the June Cofer Auditorium at Southside High School.

10th Concert Season: 1990–1991

* The 1990 Holiday Concert, "Carols, Toys & Sugarplum Fairies!", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 8, 1990, at the June Cofer Auditorium at Southside High School.

* The 1991 Spring Concert, "Spring Break", directed by Richard Ezell, was presented on April 6, 1991, at the June Cofer Auditorium at Southside High School.

11th Concert Season: 1991–1992

* The 1991 Holiday Concert, "Men on Christmas", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 15, 1991, at the 14th Street Playhouse.

* The 1992 Spring Concert, "WGAY Radio", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on March 29, 1992, at the 14th Street Playhouse.

* The 1992 Pride Concert, "Tenth Anniversary Pride Concert", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on June 14, 1992, at the Alliance Theatre of the Woodruff Arts Center.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Jeffrey D. McIntyre, performed at GALA Festival IV in Denver, Colorado, in the summer of 1992.

12th Concert Season: 1992–1993

* The 1992 Holiday Concert, "Home for the Holiday?", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 19, 1992, at Henry Grady High School.

* The 1993 Spring Concert, "Homecoming Hop", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on March 26, 1993, at Henry Grady High School.

* The 1993 Pride Concert, "Made in the USA: Homegrown Music", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre and a joint performance with One Voice from Charlotte, North Carolina, was presented on June 12, 1993, at Henry Grady High School.

13th Concert Season: 1993–1994

* The 1993 Holiday Concert, "Carols of Splendor", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 17 & 18, 1993, at the William R. Cannon Chapel at Emory University.

* The 1994 Spring Concert, "An Evening with... Lenny, George, Steve & Fats", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on March 25, 1994, at Henry Grady High School.

* The 1994 Pride Concert, "When We No Longer Touch", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre and a joint performance with the Gateway Men’s Chorus of St. Louis, Missouri, was presented on June 18, 1994, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

14th Concert Season: 1994–1995

* The 1994 Holiday Concert, "Christmas with Spirit", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 16 & 17, 1994, at the William R. Cannon Chapel at Emory University.

* The 1995 Spring Concert, "Songs from the Heart", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 8, 1995, at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory University.

* The 1995 Pride Concert, "WGAY Radio: Tune In Again!", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on June 24, 1995, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

15th Concert Season: 1995–1996

* The 1995 Holiday Concert, "Masters in This Hall", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on December 8 & 9, 1995, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

* The 1996 Spring Concert, "Memento mori: an AIDS requiem", featuring the world premiere of the AGMC’s first major commissioned work by James Adler, directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on April 13 & 14, 1996, at Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory University.

* The 1996 Pride Concert, "The Atlanta Flames", directed by David A. Puckett and a joint performance with Le Choeur International Gai de Paris, France, was presented on June 29, 1996, at the Atlanta Civic Center.

* The AGMC, under the direction of David A. Puckett, performed at GALA Festival V in Tampa, Florida, in July 1996.

16th Concert Season: 1996–1997

* The 1996 Holiday Concert, "Fa La La La La...", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on December 13 & 14, 1996, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 1997 Spring Concert, "United We Stand", directed by David A. Puckett and a joint performance with the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus, was presented on April 11 & 12, 1997, at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts.

* The AGMC, under the direction of David A. Puckett, recorded three songs in studio for Gerald L. Stacy’s CD, "In Remembrance of Love", in May 1997. The CD was released later that year.

* The 1997 Pride Concert, "Are We in Kansas Yet?", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on June 28, 1997, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

17th Concert Season: 1997–1998

* The 1997 Holiday Concert, "Carols, Revels and Holiday Cheer", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on December 11, 12 & 13, 1997, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip. "Carols, Revels and Holiday Cheer" was subsequently released as the AGMC’s first commercially available CD.

* The 1998 Spring Concert, "Songs of Freedom and Celebration with Maya Angelou", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on March 3 & 4, 1998, at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.

* The 1998 Pride Concert, "Decades of Divas", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on June 27, 1998, at the Atlanta Civic Center.

18th Concert Season: 1998–1999

* The 1998 Holiday Concert, "Simply... Peace", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on December 17, 18 & 19, 1998, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 1999 Spring Concert, "The Gay ’90s", directed by David A. Puckett, was presented on March 19 & 20, 1999, at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts.

* The 1999 Pride Concert, "S’wellegant Elegance", directed by Gary W. Arnold and a joint performance with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C., was presented on June 19, 1999, at the Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center.

19th Concert Season: 1999–2000

* The 1999 Holiday Concert, "A Family of Lights", directed by Gary W. Arnold, was presented on December 10 & 11, 1999, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2000 Spring Concert, "Cameras, Postcards & Places to Be", directed by Gary W. Arnold, was presented on March 25, 2000, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2000 Pride Concert, "Celluloid, Footlights & Videotape", directed by Gary W. Arnold, was presented on June 17, 2000, at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, performed at GALA Festival 2000 in San Jose, California, in July 2000.

20th Concert Season: 2000–2001

* The 2000 Holiday Concert, "Adeste Fideles", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 8 & 9, 2000, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2001 Spring Concert, "Passions", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on March 31, 2001, at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. "Passions" was subsequently released as the AGMC’s second commercially available CD.

* The 2001 Pride Concert, "Harmonic Convergence", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell and a joint performance with the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus, was presented on June 23, 2001, at the Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center.

* A quartet representing the AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, performed the national anthem before an Atlanta Braves home game at Turner Field on August 8, 2001.

21st Concert Season: 2001–2002

* The 2001 Holiday Concert, "An Evening at St. Philip’s", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 14 & 15, 2001, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, performed at the post-inaugural reception for newly elected Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin at the Atlanta Civic Center on January 7, 2002.

* The 2002 Spring Concert, "Of Men & Music", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 6, 2002, at Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, performed the national anthem before a home game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets at Turner Field on June 5, 2002.

* The 2002 Pride Concert, "WGAY Radio Theatre", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on June 22, 2002, at Earthlink Live.

22nd Concert Season: 2002–2003

* The 2002 Holiday Concert, "Spirit of Lights", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 12, 13 & 14, 2002, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, presented "Brothers in Song", a joint performance with Turtle Creek Chorale, on January 25, 2003, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2003 Spring Concert, "Livin’ La Dulce Vita", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 5, 2003, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2003 Pride Concert, "Babes in Boyland", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on June 20 & 21, 2003, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

23rd Concert Season: 2003–2004

* The 2003 Holiday Concert, "A Real Family Holiday", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 12 & 13, 2003, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip. "A Real Family Holiday" was subsequently released as the AGMC’s third commercially available CD.

* The 2004 Spring Concert, "Spirited Away", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 3, 2004, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2004 Pride Concert, "Reel Men", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on June 18 & 19, 2004, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The AGMC, under the direction of Leslie J. Blackwell, performed at the 2004 GALA Festival in Montreal, Québec, in July 2004.

24th Concert Season: 2004–2005

* The 2004 Holiday Concert, "Home for the Holidays", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 10 & 11, 2004, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2005 Spring Concert, "One World", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 2, 2005, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2005 Pride Concert, "Babes in Boyland 2", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on June 17 & 18, 2005, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

25th Concert Season: 2005–2006

* The 2005 Holiday Concert, "Candlelight at the Cathedral", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on December 9 & 10, 2005, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip. "Candlelight at the Cathedral" was subsequently released as the AGMC’s fourth commercially available CD.

* The 2006 Spring Concert, "The Best of Times", directed by Leslie J. Blackwell, was presented on April 1, 2006, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

* The 2006 Pride Concert, "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on June 16 & 17, 2006, at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech.

26th Concert Season: 2006–2007

* The 2006 Holiday Concert, "Wrapped in Light", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on December 8 & 9, 2006, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2007 Spring Concert, "Liberty: Songs of Protest and Awakening", directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, was presented on March 23 & 24, 2007, at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church.

* The 2007 Pride Concert, "Let's Misbehave!", directed by Robert Glor, was presented on June 16, 2007, at Presser Hall at Agnes Scott College.

27th Concert Season: 2007–2008

* The 2007 Holiday Concert, "Bells, Brass and Beyond", directed by Kevin Robison, was presented on December 7 & 8, 2007, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2008 Spring Concert, "Divas & Dilemmas: Opera OUR Way", directed by Kevin Robison, was presented on March 29, 2008, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

* The 2008 Summer Concert, "They Had It Coming: The Music of Kander & Ebb", directed by Kevin Robison, was presented June 27 & 28, 2008, at the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center.

* Eighty members of the AGMC, under the direction of Kevin Robison, performed in the Knight Concert Hall in Miami, Florida, on July 15, 2008, during the weeklong GALA Choruses Festival 8.

28th Concert Season: 2008–2009

* The 2008 Holiday Concert, "Holiday Inn--and Out!", to be directed by Kevin Robison, will be presented on December 7, 2008, at the Bailey Performance Center at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, and on December 12 & 13, 2008, at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip.

* The 2009 Spring Concert, "Shaken, Not Heard: Stories of Gay Men, Faith and Reconciliation", to be directed by Kevin Robison, will be presented in April 2009 at a performance venue to be announced.

* The 2009 Summer Concert, "Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn", to be directed by Kevin Robison, will be presented in July 2009 at a performance venue to be announced.

History of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus

1st Concert Season: 1981–1982

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus was formed in March 1981 by Jeffrey D. McIntyre, who was inspired by a recording of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and became the organization’s first Artistic Director. After a spring and summer of planning, auditions were held in August 1981, followed by their first concert in October with 48 singing members. That first concert, titled simply "Sneak Preview", opened with the number “Stouthearted Men” at the Metropolitan Community Church on North Highland Avenue.

In its October 22, 1981, issue, the local gay newspaper "Gazette" reported, “The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus is yet another example of the growing significance of the gay community in the Southeast, and is one of the most positive signs of a healthy and vital spirit amongst us. The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus promises to be one of the most exciting and important gay organizations ever to form in the city (their value as public relations and in helping to alter stereotypes of gay males is not to be minimized).” ["Gazette" Volume 2, Number 43, October 22-28, 1981.]

The reporter, Mike Jameson, had this to say about the upcoming Holiday Concert: “I don’t care if you have to postpone a date with the hottest number in the city or if you planned to wash your hair that evening, stop whatever it is you normally do and go see and hear this remarkable group! You want to know what ‘gay pride’ is all about? Let the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus tell you all about it.”

None of the men who sang at that first concert are still members of the Chorus. The AGMC’s most senior member, Dennis Nance, joined the following season for the 1982 Holiday Concert. In addition to Nance, current members of the AGMC who joined the Chorus during its first five seasons (in order of joining) include Ron Tuck, Al Whittington, Jerry Garrison, Neil Keener and Mikel Wilson. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 19, January 11, 2006]

Following the success of the AGMC’s debut concert in October 1981, there was great anticipation for their first Holiday Concert, just six weeks later. "Music of the Season" was performed on November 29 at Grant Park United Methodist Church on Boulevard Avenue. Under the direction of Jeffrey McIntyre and accompanied by Rob Cunningham, the Chorus provided a program of ten selections of mostly traditional carols.

To promote this concert and the one that would follow on December 20, the Chorus held a number of public performances. Previews at gay bars included a performance at P’s, the leather/Levi bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue. The Chorus performed at shopping centers as well, most notably Lenox Square. “The eager audience... filled the entire broad hall before the stage nearly as far as the eye could see, effectively cutting off passageways to those intent on getting to Rich’s or the other stores lining the hallway. It was nearly a mob scene of new fans for the Chorus,” reported Mike Jameson of "Gazette", covering the Lenox Square performance.

The gay community came out in force to support the Chorus and the organization was well-received by shoppers. "Gazette" quoted a Lenox Square security guard as saying the performance was the biggest crowd to gather at the mall for a staged eventl, ever. “We estimate there were well over 400—probably 500—Lenox Square customers being entertained here today,” said Lt. C. L. Johnson, the security guard.

Rehearsals for the Holiday Concerts were held at the First Metropolitan Community Church (FMCC) on North Highland Avenue and Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Atlanta. These early concerts and rehearsals began a longstanding association between the FMCC and the Chorus which continues today. The AGMC offices and rehearsal space have been located at FMCC’s Tullie Road location since 2000. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 20, January 18, 2006]

The AGMC membership grew to 64 members by the time rehearsals resumed in January 1982, following the successful Holiday Concerts. Artistic Director Jeffrey McIntyre returned with a new principal accompanist, Henry Batten. The first AGMC logo was created from the AGMC letters in a simple art deco style and made its first appearance in the program for the first Spring Concert, "Southern Knights", in May 1982.

The momentum going into the spring cycle was strong, but the Chorus experienced an early setback when the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church learned the Holiday Concert was performed at Grant Park UMC and rehearsals were being held at Trinity UMC. The Conference threatened to withhold funding from the local churches if any further support was provided to the AGMC. The AGMC held no activities at United Methodist churches until St. Mark UMC in Midtown welcomed the Chorus for rehearsals in the 1990s.

Despite this early setback, the members’ commitment to the Chorus remained steady, rehearsals continued at FMCC and benefit concerts were held throughout the city to support the fledgling organization. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 21, January 25, 2006]

As the Chorus prepared for its first Spring Concert in May 1982, it continued a series of benefit concerts to raise funds for the new organization. Also that spring, a dialogue about the Chorus and its mission emerged in the pages of the local gay newspaper, "Gazette". Rick Maher, a reporter, wrote that he was frustrated by the traditional music being performed at these benefit concerts. “I became sick listening to traditional music like ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic.’ I was left limp by the musical selection.” “Be daring!” he challenged.

Maher also suggested the AGMC “forget the straight audience” and focus exclusively on gay expressions and gay liberation. Two weeks later, "Gazette" printed a response to Maher’s piece with the headline, “Defending the Chorus.”

“I believe the AGMC as well as member of gay men’s choruses in other cites demonstrate plenty of ‘daring’ by simply taking the stage as a self-proclaimed group of gay men. Their pride is eloquent and understated. It comes from their voices and their hearts. They are pioneers, doing what few gay brothers and sisters could do: rejecting anonymity and spreading gay pride. Their common goal is to provide musical entertainment and by their presence they made a bold political statement,” the reader wrote. “These men volunteer their time and their energy. Their only reward is the reaction from the community and their audiences. When the response is negative, even if it is infrequent, it hurts even the toughest of us. How much more wonderful it would be to report on the magical bond that forms between the AGMC and their audiences, a bond that defies all limits of space, time, and sexual orientation,” the writer continued.

"Southern Nights", the premiere Spring Concert, was performed May 15, 1982, at the Peachtree Playhouse, now the home of nightclub Eleven50. The concert included selections such as “Brothers, Sing On!,” “The Last Words of David,” “Simple Gifts,” He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “One Voice” and “Vive L’Amour.” A note from Director Jeffrey McIntyre in the concert program stated simply, “We are Still Here.” [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 22, February 1, 2006]

2nd Concert Season: 1982–1983

In the fall of 1982, the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus entered its second season with rehearsals at Trinity United Methodist Church until permanent rehearsal space could be secured. Dennis Nance, currently the AGMC’s most senior singing member, joined and performed with the Chorus for the first time that December for the Holiday Concert.

Fifty-six members sang at the 1982 Holiday Concert, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year", at All Saints Episcopal Church under the direction of Artistic Director Jeffrey McIntyre. All Saints’ policy prohibited charging admission, but donations were accepted. Despite the success of this Holiday Concert, the AGMC has not returned to All Saints due to the need to charge admission. The Chorus has rehearsed there since that time on occasion, however.

Photos from that performance show the Chorus dressed in gray slacks, white shirts, navy vests and ties. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 23, February 8, 2006]

The Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus’ membership climbed to eighty after auditions in January 1983. Continued interest in choral music by gay men in Atlanta, along with acceptance and support of the community, encouraged the organization to expand its performance scope. Performances were held at the Atlanta Arts Festival, the Southeastern Conference of Lesbians and Gays, an AIDS awareness march and rally and the Dixie Bowling Tournament. The AGMC held a gala “Confederate Cotillion” benefit at the Atlanta Women’s Club instead of a traditional Spring Concert.

Rehearsals for the 1983 Pride Concert were held at The Moreland School on Euclid Avenue. The concert, "United in Song", was performed June 18 at St. Luke Episcopal Church on Peachtree Street with twelve instruments. The concert was directed by Jeffrey McIntyre and accompanied by Randal Gloves. AGMC Board of Directors President Ed Acre spoke to the audience.

A photograph of the AGMC entry in Atlanta’s 1983 Pride Parade show their members in blue jeans and burgundy t-shirts with the AGMC logo and holding white balloons. Two members led the group with a matching banner with the AGMC logo. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 24, February 15, 2006]

3rd Concert Season: 1983–1984

The 1983 Holiday Concert was performed at St. Luke Episcopal Church with Jeffrey McIntyre directing. A video of this concert includes a crowd-pleasing encore of “I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus.” Two longtime members of the AGMC took the stage at that concert: Rick Dent and Lee Hamel. Two other longtime AGMC members, Ron Tuck and Al Whittington, joined the Chorus in March 1984. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 25, February 22, 2006]

Most Atlantans are familiar with the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points. In 1984, it was known as the Dancers Collective Theatre, and was the location for the AGMC’s Pride Concert, "A Grand Night for Singing." The Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus [http://www.afwcchorus.org/] (AFWC) and the Atlanta Lambda Chorale (ALC) joined the AGMC for this concert in June 1984. In the concert program, Ron Tuck was given credit for the theme and Randy Thomas for graphic design. The AGMC had 50 members, with 38 singing in the Pride concert.

The AFWC was founded in 1981 with six members and had grown to 30 members by the time of this concert. The ALC was a mixed chorus of women and men performing under the banner “United in Harmony.” The AFWC celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007; the ALC no longer exists. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 26, March 1, 2006]

Wearing the “stars and stripes,” the AGMC became the first openly gay organization to participate in the nation’s largest Independence Day parade. As an entry in the 28th annual WSB-TV Salute 2 America Parade, the Chorus rolled down Peachtree Street on a float behind the U.S. Marine Corps. The float, 80% financed by supporting individuals and businesses, displayed the AGMC logo in burgundy and white. This historical first resulted from a meeting between WSB executives and local gay leaders regarding equality in the workplace. WSB executives also agreed to add sexual orientation to its written nondiscrimination policies. "Pulse", a gay magazine in Atlanta, featured the Chorus on the cover of its July 5, 1984, issue and said, "The Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus proved once again why they were invited to be a participant in WSB's Salute 2 America Parade on July 4th. On Saturday, June 23rd, they were billed as "A Grand Night for Singing" at Little Five Points Theatre and indeed it turned out to be just that. This talented group of singers continues to delight and entertain crowds wherever they appear. Under AGMC director, Jeff McIntyre, the chorus has rapidly grown into a very professional group which continues to receive high plaudits and respect from the entire community." ["On the Cover," "Pulse" Volume 1, Number 3, July 5, 1984.] Of the AGMC's presence in the parade, "The Atlanta Constitution" noted, "The Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus followed a float portraying George Washington leading his troops across the Potomac. The chorus prompted a few isolated murmurs of disapproval, which the singers greeted with a hearty rendition of 'My Country Tis of Thee.' [John Lancaster, "Atlanta's Fourth is fabulous," "The Atlanta Constitution", Thursday, July 5, 1984.] [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 27, March 8, 2006]

At the end of the 1983-1984 season, Jeffrey McIntyre stepped down from the position of AGMC Artistic Director to pursue other musical endeavors, such as singing in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, under the direction of Robert Shaw.

4th Concert Season: 1984–1985

AGMC General Manager Lee Hamel and accompanist Randell Glover joined the Chorus in welcoming Neil Gregory as Artistic Director for the 1984-1985 season. Rehearsals began that fall for the Holiday Concert, "Let Us Rejoice Together", with 86 members on the roster. Longtime Chorus member Jerry Garrison made his AGMC debut that season and met Al Whittington, which sparked what would become a 20+ year partnership that continues to this day. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 28, March 15, 2006]

The High Museum of Art is the backdrop for the Chorus photograph on the cover of the April 12 and 14, 1985, program titled "Spring". It was at this concert that the AGMC gave its first matinee performance on a Sunday afternoon in the museum’s Walter Hill Auditorium. Jerry Garrison joined Randall Glover as accompanist under the direction of new Artistic Director Neil Gregory. Mezzo-Soprano Martha Scott, who achieved acclaim for her portrayal of the title role in Menotti’s “The Medium” with the Atlanta Civic Opera in 1984, joined the AGMC as a special guest artist.

With a roster of members numbering more than 80, the official photograph of 25 singing members shows evidence of the impact of change in artistic leadership. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 29, March 22, 2006]

Today, the Campanile Building stands at the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets in Midtown. Before the Campanile, The Academy Theatre was located at this site and served as a venue for several AGMC concerts. The AGMC’s production of "Way Down South of Broadway" was performed at The Academy Theatre on June 29, 1985, for the Pride Concert.

In a concert program note, Artistic Director Neil Gregory states, “You see before you tonight a family of men who are bonded by their commitment to strive for a common goal, that being choral excellence. Their long rehearsal hours, their frustrations, their sacrifices, their sweat, their energy expended are all given voluntarily in order that we might experience together their elation at having reached yet another plateau toward absolute excellence in music.“ [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 30, March 29, 2006]

5th Concert Season: 1985–1986

A “winter” concert in December 1985, "Celebrating the Season", began the AGMC’s yearlong celebration of its fifth season, returning for the third year to perform at St. Luke Episcopal Church. With a roster of 27 singing members, the concert included works of Mendelssohn, Thompson, Handel, Purcell and Menotti, and featured a Hebrew folk song. Pat Richardson was president of the AGMC Board of Directors and Neil Gregory was Artistic Director. Longtime AGMC members Neil Keener, Mikel Wilson, Walter Kennedy and R. “Bob” Garner Salo all first sang with the Chorus at this concert.

The AGMC was invited to return to the stage of Rich’s at Lenox Square on December 20, 1985, six days after the concert. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 31, April 5, 2006]

The Richard Rich Auditorium at the Memorial Arts Center, now the Woodruff Arts Center, hosted the AGMC’s Spring Concert, "Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea." With only 22 members listed in the program, the Chorus sang selections of “sea-faring men”—songs of the ocean, captains, sailors, whaling, etc. This concert was the first to feature the graphic design of longtime member Bob Salo.

Returning to the Academy Theatre for the 1986 Pride Concert, the AGMC had just 18 members on stage for "The Best of AGMC". [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 32, April 12, 2006]

6th Concert Season: 1986–1987

With only 16 singing members, Artistic Director Neil Gregory led rehearsals for the 1986-1987 season in a new rehearsal space, Morningside Presbyterian Church. The church became home for the AGMC for many years.

The Holiday Concert that season, "Throw Up the Sash!", was performed at St. Luke Episcopal Church on December 13. This program included the following note from Gregory:

“This concert tonight is the result of 19 weeks of strenuous and diligent rehearsal by the Chorus. Comprised of 16 singers, each with his own reason and determination for being a member. This particular assemblage of singers is unique in that each of them has contributed much more than his share of effort, concentration, diligence and commitment. They have worked unceasingly in order to present this concert so that the Community will be proud of its brothers who sing. These ‘hand-picked’ singers who appear before you tonight share a common bond which is unattainable in any other endeavor.”

This was the lowest membership in the AGMC’s history. The dedicated members who kept the organization alive at this time were Bob Burk, Phillip Coulson, Sam Davis, Jerry Garrison, Neil Keener, Tim Mutti, Shawn O’Harra, Bob Phillips, Van Pinson, Michael Pratt, Kevin Quick, Rick Radzisze, Errol Statum, Kirk Tellier, Ron Tuck, Al Whittington, Mikel Wilson and accompanist Claud Shirley. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 34, April 19, 2006]

The 1986 Holiday Concert premiered Claud Shirley as the AGMC’s new accompanist. The concert program for "Red, White and Blues," the Spring Concert that season, noted, “Mr. Shirley is a singer, a native Atlantan born of native Atlantans, and a lifetime resident. His talents in various capacities have been witnessed on many occasions. Mr. Shirley is a teacher of the choir monks at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, GA, and principal accompanist for the AGMC.” The concert was held again at the Walter Hill Auditorium of the High Museum of Art. Neil Gregory, Artistic Director, led 21 voices performing American music of many genres by Copeland, Dorsey, Porter and Perkins.

The season ended with a concert of love, "When You’re Having Fun", on July 25, 1987, also at Walter Hill Auditorium. The program featured many kinds of love: the lovesick, first love, lovesickness, only love, puppy love, the other love, a mother’s love and a lover’s love. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 35, April 26, 2006]

7th Concert Season: 1987–1988

The double entendre in the title of the 1987 Winter Concert, "The Stockings Were Hung", may have led AGMC patrons to expect a gay-themed concert; in fact, the program for the December 12 performance was composed of many classical numbers, with nothing whimsical at all. The concert was performed by 20 members at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Artistic Director Neil Gregory wrote in the concert program, “...while the AGMC represents the gay community with pride and dignity, the individual members of the Chorus also represent themselves in the same manner. We are not forced to adopt stereotypes in as much as music has no sex, no biases, no limitations. Music allows us to express what we are—souls.”

Not only was the organization faced with disappointing membership numbers at this time, but it also endured the loss of many of its members to AIDS. The AGMC suffered through the deaths of ten of its members leading up to the 1987 Winter Concert alone. Of that period in the AGMC's history, longtime member Ron Tuck recently said, “Every time you turned around, the Chorus was attending or singing for another funeral.“ [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 36, May 3, 2006]

January of 1988 found the AGMC stepping out in a big way. A joint concert with the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida (now the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus [http://www.fortlauderdalegaymenschorus.org/] ) and the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C. [http://www.gmcw.org/] , was planned for February in Miami as a benefit for people living with AIDS. Before the concert, in early February, Artistic Director Neil Gregory resigned. But the show went on, with 18 AGMC members performing under the direction of the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida's Artistic Director Gary Keating on February 18, 1988. The combined choruses performed three numbers together: "Family" from "Dreamgirls", "Sing a Song with Me," and "The Testament of Freedom" with lyrics adapted from the writings of Thomas Jefferson and music by Randall Thomas.

In the AGMC newsletter "Frills & Thrills", longtime member Neil Keener reported the following in a story titled, “Wow! What a performance!”: “AGMC’s long-awaited winter getaway to the sunny region of Florida finally arrived. A myriad of sunburned faces stepped onto the boards of the North Miami Beach City Hall stage and musically captured hearts. Without the ‘Goliath’ efforts of Gary Keating, the perseverance of our own Jerry Garrison, Jim Peck and Bob Phillips, and the dedicated professionalism of each and every member of the AGMC, this incredible performance could NEVER have been attained. Kudos to all of you!“ [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 37, May 10, 2006]

Richard D. (Rick) Rechtin was hired in March as the AGMC's new Artistic Director. Longtime members Jerry Garrison became principal accompanist and Bill Paden served as his assistant. Four months later, the AGMC's 1988 Pride Concert, "That’s Entertainment", was presented on July 30, 1988, at the Samuel Inman Middle School Auditorium.

8th Concert Season: 1988–1989

Very few records have survived from the AGMC's eighth concert season. The 1988 Winter Concert was called, simply, "A Special Holiday Concert", and the 1989 Spring Concert was titled "Heart Theme", both of which were directed by Richard D. Rechtin. Longtime members recall that a concert or benefit was presented at First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta sometime that season, but there was apparently no printed program.

The AGMC's 1989 Pride Concert, "Look to Your Dreams", was presented on June 19 at the Walter Hill Auditorium at the High Museum of Art. The concert featured performers Carolyn Mobley and The Daughters of Jezebel with Sue Buchholz at the keyboard. An evening of traditional and classical music, the program focused on the dreams of individuals, organizations and communities celebrating gay and lesbian pride in 1989.

Less than three weeks after this concert, one of the AGMC’s own dreams became a reality. Twenty-one singing members, Artistic Director Richard D. Rechtin, principal accompanist Jerry Garrison and general manager Jim Peck traveled to Seattle, Washington, for the third GALA Choruses Festival.

The AGMC's dream for its ninth season, as written by President Jerry Garrison, was to include audience expansion, broader community support, increased membership and continued growth in musicianship. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 38, May 17, 2006]

9th Concert Season: 1989–1990

Under Mr. Rechtin’s artistic direction, 23 singing members presented the AGMC's 1989 Winter Concert, "A Gift of Song", on December 2 at the June Cofer Auditorium of Southside High School. Only the second half of the program included holiday music.

The Chorus closed out the decade on a high note, performing on the program of "The Gayest Event of the Season" on December 16 at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The AGMC sang excerpts from Chris Cinque’s "Growing Up Queer in America". [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 39, May 24, 2006]

The Southside High School auditorium stage hosted the first collaboration between the AGMC and the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Chorus [http://www.afwcchorus.org/] in June 1990 with two performances of that year’s Pride Concert, "In Harmony and Unity". AFWC Director Linda Vaughn joined returning AGMC Artistic Director Richard D. Rechtin for concerts performed by 23 members of the AGMC and 61 members of the women’s chorus. “Bonding between our groups will strengthen our entire community,” the concert program noted.

Just six days later, the AGMC was hosted by the Gay Men's Chorus of Asheville at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. Each chorus performed individually, followed by joint performances of "Georgia on My Mind" and "Men." This concert turned out to be Mr. Rechtin’s last as the AGMC's Artistic Director.

In the 1989-1990 season, the AGMC appeared at St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church’s Olde English Festival, a benefit concert for the Unitarian Universalist Metro Ministry for People with AIDS, and traveled to New Orleans, Miami, Seattle and Nashville. Composed entirely of volunteers, the AGMC was managed by an elected board of directors from its membership. The 1989-1990 budget of $11,000 was met through ticket sales, dues and donors. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 40, May 31, 2006]

10th Concert Season: 1990-1991

Still without a permanent Artistic Director at the beginning of its tenth season, the AGMC invited its founding director, Jeffrey D. McIntyre, to return and serve as interim conductor for the 1990 Holiday Concert, "Carols, Toys & Sugarplum Fairies!", presented at Southside High School. In his program notes, McIntyre said, “Though the Chorus has been larger in years past, I am convinced it has never sounded better. This is why I have scheduled exactly half of tonight’s concert with "a cappella" music. My hat is off to the two men who directed this Chorus since I left it in 1984. My thanks to the singers. As for me, I haven’t had such a wonderful time of the year since... well, 1984!"

The program also paid tribute and bid farewell to AGMC General Manager Jim Peck. His hard work, business skills and organizational skills were recognized in the “real world,” and in the summer of 1990, Peck was elected to the national board of GALA Choruses and given a golden career opportunity in Denver, Colorado. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 41, June 7, 2006]

Southside High School hosted the AGMC's 1991 Spring Concert, "Spring Break", on April 6, featuring the premiere of an original composition by accompanist Jerry Garrison titled "My Grandfather’s Tale." The piece reflected the Chorus’ desire to help remove the barriers in our communities and replace them with bridges. One of those bridges is to the hearing-impaired community. A solo by longtime member Al Whittington, the AGMC's resident sign language interpreter, was fitting and quite moving. The audience was invited to sing the last chorus: "For we need more bridges and fewer walls // We need more successes and fewer falls // We need peace among us and love all around // We need voices singing life’s joyous sound."

"Spring Break" was dedicated to two of America’s greatest composers: Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein. Several of their works were performed. Interim Director Richard Ezell, also a singing member, conducted the concert for Artistic Director Jeffrey D. McIntyre. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XIV No. 42, July 14, 2006]

On June 1, 1991, the AGMC performed at Southern Danceworks in Birmingham, Alabama, presented by Phoenix Rising Productions, with Robin Tyler, special guest Martina Bevis and the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus ensemble. An internationally known comedic activist, this was Tyler's first appearance in Birmingham since 1984 when she appeared during the Southeastern Conference of Lesbians and Gay Men. “Tyler has been on the forefront of activism for gay/lesbian rights since 1959 and continues to be a significant voice in the movement,” read the program. Bevis was emcee for the evening and had lived in Birmingham since 1984, traveling extensively around the country doing comedy. Bevis said, “I’m a large women with a large purse. I have everything in it but a hammer and a nail.”

Artistic Director Jeffrey D. McIntyre, along with accompanist Jerry Garrison, led the AGMC in eight selections which featured an arrangement by John Young of "Surfin’ USA." The back of the program included a "Love Letter to the Movement": “Our courage, our will to live, and our strength through the struggles, while still maintaining our humor and our ability to love, has made us extraordinary. Like the phoenix, against all odds, we have risen again and again.” [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 1, August 18, 2006]

11th Concert Season: 1991-1992

Preparations for the AGMC’s 10th anniversary season began a year beforehand, with hundreds of questions to be answered about how the milestone should be recognized. Returning Artistic and Founding Director Jeffrey D. McIntyre wrote, “Having been away from AGMC for several years, I wasn’t sure of the answers. After all, we ended the 1990-91 season with around ’20 singers.’ There were too many empty seats at concerts. The bank balance was too low.”

. People across the country had heard of the AGMC’s growth and their hard work and perseverence to become the voice Atlanta's gay and lesbian community. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 2, August 23, 2006]

The 14th Street Playhouse, once located at the corner of 14th and Peachtree Streets, hosted the AGMC’s 1991 Holiday Concert, "Men on Christmas", on December 15, directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre. Rehearsals were held at Morningside Presbyterian Church with 51 singing members. A highlight of the two-act program was longtime member Dennis Nance’s arrangement of “A Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas.”

The Playhouse also opened its curtains for the AGMC's 1992 Spring Concert, "WGAY Radio", on March 29, directed by Jeffrey D. McIntyre. His program note to the "studio audience" read, “We have asked ourselves what it would be like if we had an all-gay radio station with all of its programming intended for an all-gay audience sponsored by gay businesses?” The show featured four programs from a weekend broadcast beginning with Saturday evening. Love songs included up-front, out-proud dedications. Commercials from gay businesses—some real, some not—were featured along with a Sunday morning gospel program hosted by "Sister I. Nita Goodman" (a.k.a. longtime member Jerry Garrison) and her “Heavenly Hims.” Next, “a nickel in the juke box” for “oldies” featured special guests, the "Fabulous Supremes." The Sunday evening broadcast closed with “Our Gay Pride,” featuring the music of Holly Near, The Flirtations and local composer Patrick Hutchison.

To end its 10th anniversary season, the AGMC presented its 1992 Pride Concert, called, appropriately enough, "Tenth Anniversary Pride Concert", at the Alliance Theatre on June 14, with selections from the Chorus' first ten years. The program ended with an all-time favorite of the Chorus, “Somewhere Medley,” arranged by longtime member Jerry Garrison. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 3, August 30, 2006]

12th Concert Season: 1992-1993The AGMC presented its 1992 Holiday Concert, "Home for the Holiday?", at Midtown's Henry Grady High School Theatre on December 18 and 19. A well-received and often requested Nigerian Christmas song, "Betelehemu", was first performed by the AGMC at this concert, in addition to a variety of traditional classics and modern American favorites.

General Manager Larry Szuch wrote for the program: “No one ever said it would be SIMPLE! I have been the GM for the AGMC for the past six months. Now I confirm that statement, and it is UNDERSTATED. Each day is an exciting challenge. I love these guys! From board meetings to committee meetings, from signing contracts to signing purchase requests, from dealing with major crises to dealing with petty complaints, it’s all a part of my life and more. The reward? A successful performance, the applause, and you,” he continued. “Becoming a Chorus member is a huge commitment, not only musically, but timewise as well. Fortunately, I believe we have the cream of the crop, and we always welcome those who can be just as dedicated and committed,” he wrote.

The AGMC returned to the Henry Grady High School Theatre for its 1993 Spring Concert, "Homecoming Hop", on March 26 and 27, featuring teeny-bopper and Motown music from the late 1950s and early 1960s and other homecoming-themed hits such as "The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun," "Rock Around the Clock/At the Hop" and longtime member Jerry Garrison's "Follow Him Medley" and "Cry Medley." A video of “Royal Queen High,” featuring poodle skirts, bobbie socks and longtime member Bill Paden with teased-up hair, shows AGMC music composer and arranger John Young taking the crown as “Homecoming Queen” and slapping her runner-up with a bouquet of roses!

The AGMC presented its 1993 Pride Concert, "Made in the USA: Homegrown Music", at the Henry Grady High School Theatre on June 12 with One Voice, "the Gay, Lesbian and Gay-Affirmative Mixed Chorus" from Charlotte, North Carolina [http://www.onevoicechorus.com/] . Act One, including songs by Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland and Victor Young, was presented by One Voice under the direction of D. Jan McCoy. Act Two, including songs by Stephen Foster, Randall Thompson, Duke Ellington and Stephen Sondheim, was presented by the AGMC under the direction of Jeffrey D. McIntyre. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 4, September 6, 2006]

13th Concert Season: 1993-1994's "Choral Fanfare for Christmas" and James Adler's arrangement of "Carols of Splendour" (from The Oxford Book of Carols).

"An Evening with... Lenny, George, Steve and Fats" was the title of the Spring concert on March 25 and 26 at the Grady High School Auditorium. The program was made up of selections by Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim and Thomas "Fats" Waller. A video from the show captured a fine performance of "West Side Story"’s "Officer Krupke" by the late Ron Day, Ben Lewis, Dennis Nance and Steven Lyzenga, a major benefactor to the Chorus.

On June 18, 1994, the Gateway Men’s Chorus of St. Louis, Missouri, joined the AGMC for a performance of "When We No Longer Touch: A Cycle of Songs for Survival." The concert was held at the Georgia Tech Theatre for the Performing Arts under the direction of artistic directors Jeffrey McIntyre and James Nacy. Guest soloists were soprano Jeanne Brown and baritone Frank Miller.

Reviewing the program today, we find it to be a heavy reminder that HIV/AIDS is still very present in our organization, community, nation and world. The performance was dedicated to AGMC and Gateway members lost to AIDS. [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 5, September 13, 2006]

14th Concert Season: 1994-1995

The AGMC's 1994-1995 season proved to be a year filled with transitions: three different artistic directors stepped up to three different podiums on three different stages, and rehearsal space moved to Virginia- Highland Baptist Church.

The AGMC's 1994 Holiday Concert, "Christmas with Spirit", was performed on December 16 and 17 at Emory University’s Cannon Chapel under the baton of founding, and departing, Artistic Director Jeffrey McIntyre. Unfortunately, the time constraints of his new music store required him to leave his AGMC post. A commissioned work by E. Lee Cobb, "Gloria", was performed.

The AGMC's 1995 Spring Concert, "Songs from the Heart", was presented on April 8 at the Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory University, directed by Interim Artistic Director Leslie J. Blackwell. Ms. Blackwell came to the AGMC with recommendations from Chorus members and patrons familiar with her work as music director of St. Mark United Methodist Church, and holds the distinction of being the AGMC's first female artistic director. However, in a sobering reflection of the political climate of times, because Ms. Blackwell was simultaneously employed as a music teacher in the public school system and not "out" to the public, her name did not appear in any of the AGMC's marketing or advertising for this concert, nor was it published on the cover of the concert program. Ironically, five years later, in 2000, when the AGMC once again began seeking a new artistic director, Ms. Blackwell's name was on the preliminary short list of potential candidates. She eventually won the position and, having since moved from the public school system to the faculty of Kennesaw State University, she went on to serve as the AGMC's longest-tenured artistic director, from 2000 to 2006.

The AGMC's 1995 Pride Concert, "WGAY Radio: Tune In Again!", was presented at the Georgia Tech Center for the Arts under the direction of newly hired Artistic Director David A. Puckett. A sort of sequel to the popular 1992 Spring Concert, "WGAY Radio", the show was presented as a day-long radio broadcast and featured guest artists The Derivative Duo from Seattle, Washington, who illuminated both the comic and bittersweet sides of gay and lesbian life in their opera parodies. Sixty-six members performed in the radio show featuring "Swinging to the Oldies," "Toe-Tappin’ Country Gospel Hour," "Saturday Night at the Opera" and "Singing with Pride!" An eight-member Panache ensemble brought down the house with "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." [Adapted from “Did You Know?,” a series of articles about the history of the AGMC, published in "Homo Voce", Vol. XV No. 6, September 20, 2006]

Discography

* The AGMC recorded three tracks for Gerald L. Stacy’s CD, "In Remembrance of Love", in 1997, including "Commencement" by Shelly Jackson, "Prayer for the Children" by Kurt Bestor, and "Irish Blessing," arranged by Robert Seeley. "Prayer for the Children" was performed by the AGMC's small ensemble, Panache; David A. Puckett, Artistic Director. Recorded and produced by Allgood Productions, Atlanta, Georgia.

* "Carols, Revels and Holiday Cheer" (1998)—a live recording of the AGMC's 1997 Holiday Concert at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip; David A. Puckett, Artistic Director. Recorded and produced by DiverseCity Records, Austell, Georgia.

* "Passions" (2002)—a live recording of the AGMC's 2001 Spring Concert at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church; Leslie J. Blackwell, Artistic Director. Recorded and produced by Gil Moor & Bill Brown, Atlanta, Georgia.

* "A Real Family Holiday" (2004)—a studio recording of music from the AGMC's 2003 Holiday Concert; Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell, Artistic Director. Recorded by Allgood Productions, Atlanta, Georgia; produced by Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell.

* "Live at the Cathedral" (2004)—a live recording of the AGMC's 2004 Holiday Concert at The Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip; Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell, Artistic Director. Recorded and produced by Allgood Productions, Atlanta, Georgia.

References

External Links

* [http://www.galachoruses.org/ GALA Choruses]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk6kGbxOciM Biebl's "Ave Maria" from the AGMC's 2007 Holiday Concert "Bells, Brass & Beyond" (December 2007) on YouTube]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1_tlw3RFds "The Boar's Head Carol" from the AGMC's 2007 Holiday Concert "Bells, Brass & Beyond" (December 2007) on YouTube]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDhShXMVkXs& OutTV segment featuring "Stormy Weather" from the AGMC's 2000 Pride Concert, "Celluloid, Footlights & Videotape" (June 2000), on YouTube; David G. Lowe, soloist]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Yw0q3KkS4U& OutTV segment featuring "I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy" from the AGMC's 2000 Pride Concert, "Celluloid, Footlights & Videotape" (June 2000), on YouTube; Neil Keener, soloist]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYXS42v3yKo "Modern Girl" music video parody featuring members of the AGMC on YouTube; produced and directed by Michael McAllister]


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