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Interviews with members of The Glamaphones and co

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride [00:00:05] Hi, I'm Pat McIntosh in producer for the Game of Thrones Wellington's gay choir. And we're at St. Andrews today for one of our will Arabic concert for the year, which is the celebrating the 30 years of homosexual law reform. It's something that we've we've wanted to do since last year with our programming to really get on board. So many things happening around and Wellington and this year with the render community and so the suggestion was put forward with our programming is to do something really special and celebrate. So that's why we're all here today and we've completely rainbow dance and Andres [00:00:49] Can you describe the house and hundreds of swimming [00:00:52] um, we've got rainbow helium balloons, we've got the Wellington's large gay flag draped across the organ. With we've got, it's just looking so so rainbow, I don't think I've ever seen anything it reflects a rainbow is this. And we've seen up some large scale projection was the first time we've ever done it this way we've mapped into the actual the century of the church. So it's quite a big project with the IV to get this happening like this. [00:01:23] Yeah, and so what images are going to be displayed and to the church. [00:01:27] So we apply for a grant through the Willington culture arts fund. And they gave us some funding to actually work with logins to pull out all the images that people hadn't seen before and posters, and the input there under the AV. So we've got we've got images that you've seen on pride in the David Hanley, he's given us permission to use them. And, but but I also wanted to bring out stuff that's just sitting in the archives that again, so that's all being used to have, all throughout the songs, we've got all this different, different imagery all coming up through it. So [00:02:02] it's quite exciting. So it must be quite a huge research effort to actually go and track all those images down. [00:02:08] Yeah, I've seen a few a few afternoons at the with Roger. And, and, and it's been fun. I think the thing that really blew me away was the script books at the it was all the newspaper articles from Dominion post, and just just you can't help but just sit there and start reading. [00:02:25] I just can't believe [00:02:27] just the enormity of emotion with the the homosexual reform. And in the months that it was going through and looking at the script boxes, where you really actually it really hurts you of what you know, all the news, it was just constantly in the news, both sides. So you're quite emotional thing to do to research it all. And then pull it all out. And then of course, deciding what to port with what tracks and what songs and things. But hugely important, I think and we've got a lot of stuff now that's actually been digitize that have got that name can be put up onto the web. So sweet, quite [00:03:04] well. And can you talk a wee bit about the songs that are going to be sung today? What was the program like? [00:03:09] Well, the big, the big thing when we were programming was we decided that to ask Gareth to work the limit phones, he'd never worked with us before. And I'd worked with them on theater productions. So and Rachel also when when she was at the NZ, so so the idea was to get a commission from Gareth, that that captured what it was like back then there was sort of a big discussion what what we're going to use, and we decided, you know, he said, we need to get fun, some lyrics, whether it's a poem, or something that he could write the music to. So then Roger helped, helped us find it was giving us gay poetry books. And we were sort of looking through them all. And we came across one from Brent coats, called naming ourselves that really struck us, and also one from Phillips. And so during these days, so we sort of took them to Gareth, and he looked at them and was inspired. He also I showed him the actually the five minute video that you'd made with the photographs. And you that really got him got him into a place to write, write this piece. And it's really, it's, you know, this big discussion, do we write this big celebration and some guy and some others, actually, I think everyone we be quietly surprised and taken with what he's come up with. It's because it was hard. It was hard for everybody. And I think Gareth really captured that and the pace. So it's really beautiful. So tonight is the world premiere? Yes, tonight is the world premiere. And we've got Gareth who's just flown back from Taiwan this afternoon. And he'll be with us. And we've got some MPs coming in the special. Can you [00:04:55] just describe the dilemma phones, how many voices and where did that come from? [00:05:00] glamour phones, we've got about 50 to 60 members. And it's started as the home of phones with just the main and then in 2011 singing at the Asia Pacific out games, they decided to ask the one to join. And that's just grown from strength to strength. So it's a really strong rainbow choir. And I think that's because there's a lot of it's about community, it's about friendship, we've got these lots of different ages. It's not additional audition. So that's quite a big thing. You know, you don't you think you're joining a choir, and you go with I can pass that audition? Well, it's not an it's more about the community. You don't have to be able to read music. And we just have lots of fun. And the sort of the whole sort of come on board the last couple of years from a theater background. So I've sort of tried to bring those skills in and, and get to see them more glad and claim where they are dilemma phoning. And so the production values of sort of each time we come out we sort of raise them up about minutes on it's all just just about sharing the love really. [00:06:09] Yeah. And finally what what's this concert tonight mean to you? [00:06:14] It's been it's been [00:06:17] quite an emotional thing because I wasn't I wasn't out there. And I was just about I was just about I came out probably for for are actually ran away overseas with my girlfriend. So but I only just after a couple of months after the dough passing and made that decision but still didn't come out with anybody till about five years after that. So it's been quite emotional. I think it's to be able to pull everything out from the GaNS and for people to see that as, as, as something that I've always wanted to do. And I think that's great and too tired and with the gramophones. Let's just musics a beautiful way to do Mr. Jim to put the imagery but music, I think it's just, it's something that I just love doing. So it's been? Yeah, I don't know how to explain it. Gareth. It's just it's been it's Yeah, taking my heart. So and we get to take this to Parliament. So there's going to be on the sixth of July, will be singing the three songs, one of them will be Gareth, and will be number two songs it was saying. And we'll have the images projected under the Grand Hall. So that was something from me being a little bit of a gorilla political person. I wanted to put put the protesters that protested back at Parliament and I wanted to I actually wanted approach, project them at the front of Parliament. But you know, that wasn't going to happen. So I've sort of snuck in the in the back door, and we're going to put them in the Grand Hall on the ceiling. So that's sort of quite a lovely full circle, I think, to bring them back, the laws passed. And all those playgrounds that you guys wrote years ago, again, end up back in Parliament, on the ceiling, so quite like [00:08:03] that. [00:08:06] But [00:08:07] yeah, [00:08:08] I love the singing. I mean, I love coming together with gay and lesbian people and saying there's something pretty wonderful about that. It's a lovely thing to be doing on a Thursday night. And in doing it, you know, these performances every now and again. How long have you been involved with this choir, I was a member of the homophone. So when it first got started, I think right from the beginning. So, gosh, I'm trying to work out what that would be five years ago, I think now six years ago. And so what drew you to the choir, and I, we, my partner, and I used to live in the United States, and we were part of a Gay Men's chorus and Tucson, Arizona. And that was, you know, fabulous thing to know, it's really adjust as we move back, hey, Michelle dice, and group other people like Mac berry got the hunger funds together. And so it was really nice way of getting back into Wellington, having been away for so long. What does tonight's performance mean to you? Well, I mean, of course, it's the 30 year anniversary of the homosexual Law Reform Act. So that is a wonderful, of course, it's wrong sort of shell shocked as a result of what happened in Orlando, Florida, as well. And it's a reminder about not being complacent about physical safety. And of course, the, the deaths are enormously tragic and just horrific. But it's part of a monthly event. It's just a reminder, it's part of a syndrome of anti gay, lesbian, queer people movements around the world. So in the past couple of years, for example, there had been 200 bills introduced into legislatures around the United States trying to reduce the right so if gay, lesbian, transgender people. So unfortunately, we still live in a culture where there is hatred, and then take those and lots to celebrate lots to be enormously positive about. But it is reminder that that our personal safety is jeopardized. One of my friends, Stella Duffy was actually interviewed on Radio New Zealand. This morning, she's got a wonderful blog where she talks about Phoenix hang up again, which is no part of what we do. [00:10:32] I've been working with the gramophone for just over a year. Now, this is my third concert series. I have a long history of conducting orchestras and even the old classical choir. But this is really my first foray into the community and gay choir world. And I just happened to take a rehearsal one night and and I loved it so much, it was so much fun, that when the job came up, I really thought I had absolutely no choice. But to apply for it. I thought, only I could get that job, really didn't think I would. But we clicked and I did get the job. And the rest is history. It's just been an amazing year of getting to know these great, great people and making some wonderful music. [00:11:07] So what are the differences between acquire and the community choir, [00:11:13] a community choir is pretty much open to anyone. So there's no requirements in terms of ability, whether you can or can't read music, whether you've got any background in music at all, you just turn up and have a sing. And whether you're brilliant or terrible, that makes absolutely no difference. There's a place for everyone in a community choir, [00:11:30] how was that like to conduct [00:11:32] challenging and fun an equal measure, you really have to think very hard about how you paste rehearsals, make sure that you're not letting anyone phase out either because it's too hard or because it's too easy. We have some very capable musicians in this choir and some people who don't read music at all, but who have a great musical soul. And I have to make sure that our rehearsal works for all of those different people. So that can be quite challenging and quite tiring. But at the same time, it means that you get a really honest music response from people. And that's just the best feeling in the world that they go straight to the heart of the piece. They understand the emotion of it. And that's what they give you without any musical preconceptions. [00:12:11] And so being a rainbow choir, does it change the kind of repertoire or influence the repertoire that you sing? [00:12:16] Yes, it does. To an extent, I think that's something I'm really learning and coming to terms with as I as I grow with the choir, there's a balance between making sure that the music that you pick reflects the choir and what the choir means. And a lot of that, obviously, is about sexual identity and, but also about freedom of expression, and community and family and belonging. And those things all go together. At the same time. I want to give them musical challenges and opportunities to sing types of music that they wouldn't necessarily come across. That's one of the reasons I think they gave me the job was that I had a classical background and could bring a different flavor of music. So I really work hard to try to make sure that the choir gets a bit of a bit of gas anthem, a bit of splendor and a bit of drag if they want, but also some genuinely alternative music types, whether it's folk music, world music, classical music, and then balance that across the program. [00:13:15] So can you talk about tonight's program? Why is tonight's program special? [00:13:20] This is a really important concept for choir it's marking 30 years since the homosexual Laura format came into force. It was a massive moment in New Zealand history for the people of New Zealand, whether they're part of the gay community or not. And we're really thrilled and honored that we could program our concerts this year to coincide with that anniversary. So there's a lot of music in the program that relates to 1986, whether it's Cyndi Lauper or Crowded House, so there's a lot of memory of the time there are also pieces that are a little bit more broadly about gay rights in New Zealand. So for instance, with singing poker carry honor, which of course is a hugely well known loved QE Classic, but it was impromptu sang in an impromptu fashion in the house of parliament when the marriage equality legislation was passed a couple of years ago. And then possibly Most importantly, we're seeing a new work by Gareth far, which we've commissioned, especially for this occasion, which is a marking the celebration and also commemorating some of the more difficult times that the gay community has gone through in its effort to obtain equal rights. [00:14:27] Can you tell me a bit more about Gatsby's [00:14:29] gas pieces? Absolutely amazing. I think we're really lucky that he's taken the approach he has, I think Gareth is a composer who's really known for quite large, complex, often, bombastic, quite striking music, a lot of ethnic influence in his music. And he's taken a completely different approach to this song. He's dug into his own personal history, and his memories of what it was like being a kid in 1996. And a lot of it is about memories of not being happy of being in darker times, are feeling persecuted. And he's taken those feelings into this piece and created something which is incredibly heartfelt, quite painful. There's a part of it is almost quite scary. You sit in the audience, and you can feel what he was feeling all those years ago. But he's picked a couple of great poems one by Philip Patterson and one by Brent Coots, who are both gay poets from New Zealand. And their words are full of similar feelings, feelings of pain of fear, and then also a reclamation of identity, which is very important. And Gareth, just combine those words with his great sense of melody and of structure to create a piece that is pretty unique. I think we're incredibly lucky to have got this from him. [00:15:45] On a personal level, what does tonight mean for you? [00:15:49] Oh, gosh, [00:15:50] I'm a little nervous. This is a really major event for the choir. It's the first five concerts that we're doing culminating in a performance in Parliament, marking the home sexual Law Reform Act. And for me, it's it's about communicating the choirs personality and identity and in the role of a leader of, of this amazing group of people. So I'm nervous that I can that I do the best job that I can for them, and that I reflect everything that they want to say about the meaning of this incredible event from New Zealand in terms of New Zealand history in the gay communities history. But also, I just love working with this choir. And I really just want to get out there and have some fun and see them sing. And hopefully they can put all of their nervousness aside, and just come out and have a great time. And there's nothing like the feeling of standing in front of this choir. And suddenly, they will start dancing. And they put a smile on their face. And just this immense joy and passion and love comes from the choir. And hopefully, the message that we send away at the end of tonight's concert, is that yes, there have been times and yes, there continue to be dark times for many people around the world and in New Zealand. But the best thing that we can do is love each other and show that love in as many different ways as we can. And if we send that message tonight, then I'll be a very happy person. [00:17:11] My name is Kathy Teague. I got involved in the choir through friends. Actually, I was new to Wellington and other people who'd lived here a long time told me that the choir existed. [00:17:22] When I was Kate, I was asked to join [00:17:25] the choir. Hi, I'm Laura Greenfield, originally from London, and I joined this choir when I arrived here, because that's it. I was in a choir in London. So I wanted to I wanted to replicate my life in London a little bit. So that's why I've joined [00:17:44] so what is it about the Game of Thrones what what kind of draws you to this one? [00:17:50] Well, I like minded people really and singing I love singing. I mean, it's it's just, it's a fun, it's a fun group to be part of really. It's a very woman and creative people. [00:18:06] Um, it's a sense of community. But also because there's no requirement to audition, you can just be part of the choir. And if you're somebody like myself, who doesn't read music, I can sing and enjoy myself and be with like minded people and not have the pressure of of having to try and do something I can [00:18:23] say without reading music waters up like to learn a new piece a white Garrett's piece tonight. [00:18:28] She also practices a great Thursday nights, a great practice for us, but also because the sound files available to us. So I think it's the it's inclusiveness of this choir, which is really its best feature. I mean, not only as our musical director very inclusive of all the different ways that people learn to sing and express themselves, but the actual structure of it enables people to those people who do read music. Well, and those people who don't, but still joined together to say. [00:18:58] So tonight's performance, so honoring the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform, what does tonight's performance mean for you? [00:19:06] Oh, well, I remember when the when the law went through, [00:19:09] I was just out of school. And it was it was really [00:19:15] different time. I think you see them society has changed since the [00:19:21] Well, uh, was it mean, I wasn't here 30 years ago, but I still can appreciate what happened and the struggles that people went through, and how euphoric It must have been when it all happened. But you know, just like, I think this this concert tonight is going to be incredibly emotional. You know, this time last week, we didn't have the Atlanta massacre hadn't happened. And I think just, it just shows like a law reform, fantastic. But still hatred around the world. still a long way to go. And, yeah, so really, don't go back to square one. But just think, celebrate, but also remember that that it's not as easy for many, many other people and loads of other countries in the world. [00:20:07] Although I'm actually a kiwi by booth, I was living in London at the time that the law reforming through, but it still feels really important. And it still feels very much recognizing the fact that that New Zealand has recognized the right to be who you are. But once again, just very conscious of what's happened in the recent history and the fact that there is that choice to be yourself here. But yeah, really conscious that other places in the world just don't have that. And, yeah, I'm anticipating that it'll be quite emotional for the audience, as well as those of us who are singing. [00:20:45] What does being a part of the claim of funds mean to you? [00:20:48] That's a huge part of my life. And for me, it's a place where I've been able to find my voice I hadn't signed on acquire since I was really young, it Intermediate School. So it's allowed me to find my voice. But more than that, it's become a place that, for me is a huge part of my community. And somewhere I come each week for friendship, and support when I enjoy the social aspects of the choir as well. But it's it's much more than just acquire. It's a huge, supportive aspect of my life as well. [00:21:22] What's so special about a rainbow choir? [00:21:26] I think in a rainbow choir, you can be who you want to be without any fear of judgment. And Nobody. Nobody judges you for who you are. You just are who you are. You can be who you want to be. And nobody cares. We were just all who we are. Really? [00:21:44] What's your favorite piece that you perform? [00:21:46] Oh, Jeepers, that's a really hard question. [00:21:50] I'm really enjoying this time singing songs that reflect countries all around the world where homosexuality is a crime. We're, you know, people can receive the death sentence for being homosexual. And so singing the Arabic song that we're singing, and as in Babel and song hoses take me to church from just written about Russia, I just I, it makes me realize what a lucky country we were in. I mean, we I feel blessed to live here rather than and some of those other places where life could be quite difficult and very different. [00:22:27] Because tonight's performance means you [00:22:31] tonight's performance, I guess. [00:22:34] It's part of that whole thing, realizing that, [00:22:40] you know, we are lucky to be where we are that we are in a country that still amazes me that it's only 30 years since homosexual law reform. And, you know, I can imagine what it was like growing up. I'm certainly older than Susie, but I can't imagine what it was like growing up in the generation before me how difficult that must have been for people. And I feel like there's a part of this concert that acknowledges that and the struggle that lots of people had had to go through to get to where we are today. [00:23:10] Well, if you notice in Andrews, down down at the far end, where the author is they've got the place dictum rainbow flags and balloons and beautiful purple lights and blue lights on the ceiling. So the place is quite atmospheric and looking very festive. [00:23:26] The offer that some of the images that are going to be shown tonight from Megan's [00:23:30] is will pack within leggings looking for material for this concert. And she was very interested in images, actually the project on the ceiling and on the walls, etc. So she's found posters, and newspaper clippings and photos and that sort of thing. So she took a lot of images of that. So I'm looking forward to see what she's chosen. And the other thing she was looking for was for poems from the gay and lesbian community in New Zealand, from gay poets, lesbian poets. And so she took away some of those and two of them she's chosen VL been passed on to Gareth, whose turn them into words for his music. [00:24:05] So other Mini is being gay, transgender, Rainbow parks, please seemed [00:24:10] to me they were more than I thought they were. And we just have, I just picked what I could find the New Zealand material on our shelves, and there are about half a dozen to 19 volumes. And it was a matter of just going through those and seeing what was there were a lot of overseas parents, so But of course, she's wanting New Zealand. So that was much more appropriate. So that's to do with law reform and the whole changes in society that we've gone through over the last 30 years now. This is part of that reflection and part of [00:24:40] the celebration. So reflecting on your personal experiences, what does [00:24:44] tonight mean to you? I think it's it's sort of it's not as it's not, as always, we've done 30 years now, I think it's sort of more like saying, okay, we're marriage equality has gone through to whitelist of lot, what's left is to do, and also sort of how can we improve our community and make it more responsive and reflective and support one another, just like what happened in Orlando, you know, these, these things can happen all over the place, and they still do, and no doubt will continue in the future. But we need to be around to support one another and respond and perhaps make it easier for young people to come out and to be comfortable in their sexuality and to new relationships. So [00:25:27] you know, that's our tasks for [00:25:29] the future. [00:25:31] The church has been transformed into a concert venue tonight, simply by using the iconic image of the rainbow from clever lighting, and the warmth in friendship that our friends and families are sharing as they come to prepare for our concert tomorrow. [00:25:51] It's a very special night. Yeah, [00:25:53] yeah, it is. We're a group of people who love to sing, and to inquire and we're also from gay and lesbian transgender community. And that makes the bond that we share as singers as special. We're a bit different than the standard soprano, alto, tenor bass choir, and that we have a [00:26:21] woman who's singing the tenor section and [00:26:25] other other combinations, just where people feel comfortable within the vocal range. And the type of music we sing is often quite varied as well. [00:26:34] So what drew you to the choir? [00:26:36] I've always loved to have a sing. I'm one of the ones in the choir, I don't read music, I'm going to follow music, but I don't read music. And I works attraction stabilized a button ahead a bit more free time. And it's a great way to meet people and to, you know, enjoy something you do. So Thursday night, we rehearse here in Wellington. And we do two concert seasons, you know, two times a year, so, but it's a great way of living off some steam and enjoying and good singalong. Yeah, [00:27:11] so tonight is marking the 30th anniversary from the sexual lower form and 86. Yep. How far have we come? [00:27:17] Well, interestingly, when the legislation came in, I was one of the people who my employment army officer and I had an exemption under the legislation at that time. So when I enlisted in 1988, the Defence Force had an exemption around the employment homosexuals even at that time, um, however, it's an exemption they've never chosen to exercise. And so they just follow the spirit of the law, even though their legal hidden exemption related to the enlistment of, of gays and lesbians. So it's even special I'm feel privileged to work in a defense force that is a very get gay, gay, safe place. And it's great to see these days, openly gay people turning up and wanting to be recruited into a defense force. [00:28:09] What does tonight mean for you personally? [00:28:12] Well, concerts important about [00:28:17] after the [00:28:20] spontaneous coming together for candlelight vigil on Monday night after the Orlando tragedy, the rehearsal on Thursday was very special. And the whole spirit of what we are marking and celebrating is really important, because we can in New Zealand, there are places where that clearly isn't the case. There's still hatred and bigotry. And so the choir feel very strongly that this is also a concert mark of respect for those people, you know, to military colleagues were killed in that, in that tragedy. And, yeah, it's here to here to mark that, personally, I think is something I will be thinking about as I think. [00:29:09] So, Gareth, your piece tonight, tell me about it. [00:29:12] It's the most two fantastic ponds that were written in the 80s. And it's the first time I've ever written a piece about this particular topic of the homosexual Law Reform or, in fact, anything politically gay, overtly. And it's such an exciting thing to be asked to do on such a momentous occasion. [00:29:35] So how did you start? How did you start the process? [00:29:37] Well, I've written quite a lot of vocal music over the last 10 years or so. And I'm, it's now my favorite thing to do, because the journey is set out for you that and also the structure, which is kind of one of the most difficult things for, for composer as well for this composer anyway. And it's so exciting to be able to work with somebody else's ideas, and then try and add a musical dimension to it without trying to upstage the words. So it's that it's that constant balance between, you know, honoring the words, and in this case, they're, they're astonishing words, and having my personality be in there. [00:30:18] So how hard was it for you to work on something so kind of personal? Because I mean, you grew up through this time and the specifics you? [00:30:26] Yeah, I guess, I guess, my immediate reaction was that I knew that this is a celebration night. And I know the sort of songs that that this fabulous choir, love to do and will be doing tonight. And I thought that that my job would be to, I don't know, kind of cover the darker elements and the more somber element that it just so that we don't forget how difficult things were, and in fact, still, in so many countries, and here as well, and it's, you know, we're not out on the fire yet. [00:30:59] So, so why tonight significant for you? [00:31:02] Well, I have lived my entire adult life adult out life since that moment of homosexual law reform. So I feel very lucky. And I you know, that's, that's part of my inspiration for doing it. And tonight. Yeah, I just, again, I feel lucky. And I know that that even 10 years before people 10 years younger than older than me, had a much rougher time of it. So it's it's the most amazing thing to know that we've been sort of groundbreaking in this area. This country has been groundbreaking for 30 years. Whoo.

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