Two Philadelphia-based gay and lesbian choruses are lending their voices to the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall and the Gay Rights Movement.
ANNA Crusis Women’s Choir and the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus will perform the Philly premiere of “Quiet No More,” a choral-music suite co-commissioned by the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.
The celebration features 20 other LGBTQ choruses from across the country telling the story of the gay-rights movement through song, poetry, pictures and video.
Philly’s first taste of “Quiet No More” will be this weekend at the ANNA Crusis spring concerts, “Beyond Boundaries.” The chorus will debut the song “What If Truth Is All We Have?” All the other participating choruses will perform parts of “Quiet No More” in their home cities throughout June.
“ANNA’s spring concert is the first weekend in June, so we do have the opportunity to give a sneak peek to the Stonewall show because we are going to do one of the pieces in our regular concert,” said Miriam Davidson, ANNA artistic director. “The Stonewall Concert with [PGMC] is our Pride contribution.”
Each city curates its own program, said Joseph J. Buches, PGMC artistic director.
“We’re all doing the ‘Quiet No More’ piece but ANNA Crusis is doing a couple pieces. PGMC are doing their own pieces, and then we’re doing another joint piece to wrap it up,” he said. “Everybody is customizing their own concerts with the one main piece that was commissioned.”
ANNA Crusis and PGMC will align for a joint performance June 22 to commemorate Stonewall, and representatives from both choirs will travel to New York for a performance June 27 with members of the other participating choruses at Carnegie Hall.
Davidson and Buches said everyone is focused on telling the story of Stonewall and what younger generations can learn from it.
“If we had been sitting in a different period of time right now in regards to what is happening politically in the country, perhaps the composers might have taken a slightly different turn,” Davidson said. “But in telling the history, the history is the history. Telling the Stonewall story is a chance for people to think about their own lives.
“The riots were a time when people came together to change inequity. In listening to the retelling of this story, it gives people an opportunity to look at their own lives and go, OK, what inequities are we in now and how can we use this moment in time to change what is going on for us?”
PGMC performs mission-based concerts with messages and others that are lighthearted.
“This is focusing on the history of the Stonewall uprising and talking about where we have come as a community and where we need to go,” Buches said. “So, this one is definitely more message-driven. We have a lot of young people in our chorus and some of them don’t even know about the history of Stonewall and where we came from. It’s nice to talk about each moment and what was going on during that time period. As an educator, I felt really satisfied helping to educate and teach people to speak up. The message is still very strong.”
ANNA Crusis Women’s Choir performs its spring concert June 1-2 at the Kurtz Center for the Performing Arts at William Penn Charter School, 3000 W. School House Lane. ANNA Crusis and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus perform the Stonewall Celebration concert, 7 p.m. June 22 at International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut St. For more information, visit http://annacrusis.org or http://pgmc.org.