Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Holiday Concert
Milton became artistic director in 2018. Having loved choral music for as long as he can remember, he sang with the Men’s Glee Club at the University of Michigan, one of the oldest male choirs in the country. . “It was a period of training for me as a person and as a musician,” he says. Moving to Atlanta to join the choir suited him perfectly. “It was the right combination of concentrated musical work and joyful exuberance. We were going to create special things together.
It was special, but not without challenges. “Our message of love and acceptance is good for everyone, even those who need to change their mind,” Milton said. Both choirs have received threats of violence. Homophobia still exists a lot. “We do not bow down to those who hate and fear people who are different from them.”
They go on stage. They spread love. “I honestly believe,” says Milton, “that singing together in a band is one of the most meaningful things you can do in life.”
All the better in ruby vests with fun puppets nearby. Milton promises big celebrations with the upcoming holiday shows. On December 3 and 4, the men’s choir’s annual “Don We Now Our Gay Apparel” concert will take place at St. Philip’s Cathedral in Buckhead. It has been a tradition there for 25 years. On December 18, at Morningside Presbyterian Church, the women’s choir will perform “Remembrance and Joy,” a concert dedicated to those lives lost over the past two years due to COVID-19 and social injustice. The highlight of the evening will be the interpretation of the moving Requiem by Gabriel Faure.
Last season, during the pandemic, the concerts were completely virtual. Milton is happy this season has passed. “We created some very meaningful works of art and our audience was there for us, but it wasn’t the same,” he says.
He wants to reconnect with their existing audience while trying to go beyond the local LGBTQ + community. “We want to widen the circle,” he says. He wants to expand for who they play and who they play with. He wants to “continue to dig into our mission to inspire dialogue and promote social equity through our musical excellence.”
That said, Milton already has his eyes set on the next 40 years. “Live music is vital, for performers and audiences alike,” he says. “I know I’m a better, more empathetic, and understanding human because I make music with other people.”
The organization continues to grow, evolve and prosper. The circle widens as they sing full-throated and brilliant ruby.
Jonathan Shipley is a Hapeville-based freelance writer. His writings have appeared in publications such as the Los Angeles Times, National Parks Magazine, and the Earth Island Journal.
Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus 40th Anniversary Holiday Concert
8 p.m. on December 3; 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. December 4. $ 35- $ 60; free for children under 12. St. Philip’s Cathedral, 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta.
Atlanta Women’s Choir: “Remembrance and Joy”
2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on December 18. $ 20- $ 25; free for children under 12. Morningside Presbyterian Church, 1411 N. Morningside Drive NE, Atlanta.
Tickets for all shows available on Voicesofnote.org.
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