The Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus chimes in
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
It’s a fact: The popular boy bands New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys have partnered up and are preparing to hit the stage once again much to the excitement of shrieking fans across the globe.
But in Dayton, there’s a collaboration all of it’s very own happening and it comes to the city in the form of the Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus who will present “Let’s Hear It for the Boys – the Ultimate Boy Band Review” on June 4 at 8 p.m. at the Victoria Theatre.
“This is a performance that you won’t want to miss,” said Board President Allen Kimbrough. “Staged in a rock concert format, [audiences will] be taken on a fast-paced, high-energy, musical journey that will have them tapping and stomping their feet, clapping their hands to the rhythm of the beat, and, perhaps, singing along with the chorus.”
Arranged by nationally recognized composer David Maddux, the concert will include songs from various eras, ranging from the 1950s to contemporary bands and vocal artists. Audiences will enjoy music by Earth, Wind and Fire, Queen, the Bee Gees, the Village People, the Beatles and California Boys.
“It takes a highly accomplished artist to arrange pop music for choral singers,” said DGMC Artistic Director Jason Schuler. “The challenge is to keep the original integrity of the pop sound when arranging music for large, male-voiced choral groups. David Maddux has delivered a body of music that represents over 100 boy bands through the ages, covering over 200 classic to contemporary music charts.
“It simply would not be possible to take such a broad snapshot of the history of boy band artists by attempting to scan the available literature written for men’s vocal ranges.”
The concert is part of a national project where the DGMC has partnered with six other men’s choruses to perform Maddux’s work. The other vocal ensembles hail from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Charlotte and Minneapolis. Each of these chorus groups will produce the concert in local premiers within their own cities during the upcoming summer months.
“Jason continues to raise the bar for the DGMC, as he keeps the chorus reaching for new heights, with collaborative partnerships within the national gay choral movement,” Kimbrough said of Schuler. “His innovative programming brings vitality and enthusiasm from the DGMC singing membership. The chorus is truly enjoying the rehearsal process and we are all thrilled to be preparing for our first commissioned concert.”
Kimbrough said the DGMC performs three major performances each season, including the annual holiday “Celebrate” concert, but that the upcoming performance would be the group’s first “commissioned” concert, “one that has been specifically designed, arranged and produced for men’s voices.”
The DGMC was organized in 2003, and this will be the group’s fourth year of collaboration and partnership with the Victoria Theatre Association. The chorus now consists of 35 singing members, the largest group for any single concert in the DGMC’s eight-year history.
“This group of men – who range in age from mid-20s to mid-60s – has a highly diverse set of life experiences, yet we have bonded together through the creative process of ‘making music’ in a way that unifies and integrates our unique perspectives,” Kimbrough said. “The spirit of collaboration and partnership developed through commissioning the ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boys’ concert has produced tremendous artistic and organizational maturity within the DGMC.”
Kimbrough pointed out that the growing local support of the organization has also made this concert feel especially exciting. The DGMC received generous grants from the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District to produce the concert, and their loyal base of individual and corporate sponsorships continues to be an inspiring mainstay.
“Our community continues to offer the chorus the opportunity to have a strong presence in the Dayton region and we are grateful for their encouragement and support,” he said.
Chorus member Adam Coatney said that sort of patronage leaves him confident this collaboration will help contribute to the overarching success of GLBT choruses across the globe.
“[Collaborations like these] will shore up the network of support that already exists worldwide,” said Coatney, 33, of Dayton. “These kinds of tandem projects can lead to so much more, like online connections about the show through Facebook and YouTube and, when GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses) choruses convene for performance festivals, the choruses can share the common experience of working through the same show. It truly can create a spirit of unity that is unique and worthwhile.”
No doubt trumping any tricks those other boy groups (Backstreet who?) might have up their sleeves.
Tickets may be purchased through Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630), or any chorus member; $15.00 in advance, $20.00 at the door, children 7 and under are free.
Reach DCP freelance writer Caroline Shannon-Karasik at CarolineShannon-Karasik@DaytonCityPaper.com.