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GALS - Gay and Lesbian Singers [AI Text]

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Girls. Um, the gay and lesbian singers started 20 years ago. It's our 20th anniversary this year and started really as a as an event or or as a as a, um, group of people which got together to actually support Michael Peretti in his, um uh, pride event. Um, II. I think it's grown from that, um into into a group of people really, who are are celebrating gay and lesbian people and, uh, in Auckland and also, [00:00:30] um, I guess in new in New Zealand and internationally too. So Michael's event back in 1992 what was that? Part of that was the hero, a performance that he choreographed and designed and everything. And, um, the choir sang some songs as part of that. Had there ever been like a gay and lesbian choir in New Zealand before that point? Not that we're aware of. No. And for a long time, we were the only gay and lesbian choir in in in New Zealand, right until last [00:01:00] year or last year. Are there still members in the choir that sang in the original thing with Michael? There are There are two or three, so they're pretty still what members And, um, you know, it's it's good to have people who've been travelling the journey with us for the whole time. Um, you know, certainly. They're somewhat vocal in terms of actually trying to direct the choir now, so it's fantastic. So I think, you know, um, my role as a chairman really is to is to steer girls forward for the [00:01:30] next 20 years. And, um, you know, we've been thinking about renewal and relevance in terms of that. So, um, us, Um, being able to engage in an audience for the next 20 years is something which is really important to me. And when I took over the role, um, three months or so ago from Kerry Stevens, Um, you know, it really was a challenge that carry carry put to the choir around, you know, being relevant and and and thinking about what we're trying to do into the future. How did you both get involved? [00:02:00] Uh, a friend of mine was part of the choir that I joined about 13 years ago, and she knew that I liked singing. Um, even though I wasn't involved in any musical activity at the time, and she said, Why don't you come along? So I came to one of their performances at Elah Cafe and thought, Yeah, I can do this. So I don't read music, But the choir is really welcoming for people of all ages and all abilities, So Yeah, [00:02:30] and I, um I first, um, got to know girls as part of the, um, the gay Games in Cologne in 2010. And, um, they were the only choir who had made the journey to Europe from, um, Down Under and were really well received. And, um, just really got to, um, to to appreciate just what what you can do for for an organisation of, of of, you know, essentially volunteers and, um came back and and decided [00:03:00] I'd put my hat into the ring. Has that been a big thing for girls in terms of, um, going out to events like the gay games in Cologne? Is that has that been right the way through the history of of the girls? Yes. Um, they went to Amsterdam. I'm not sure what year that was. That was before I joined. And, um, went to the gay games in Sydney or Yeah, and the out games as well, because of the split and so on. Certainly been involved in quite [00:03:30] a few international events like that and not the whole choir. And in some cases, in some cases, the whole choir went. In some cases, it was small groups of people from the choir who represented the choir internationally. So when you saw them perform in Cologne, what What did you think? I just felt that that it was a very professional, Um, a very professional event, um, put together the very thought thoughtfully. And, um, some of [00:04:00] the songs were uniquely New Zealand songs. So it was just, I suppose, a a AAA way of actually feeling at home away, away from home. Um, so that probably works on a number of levels, you know, in in a group of of, of people who are gay and lesbian and celebrating gay and lesbian life and culture and sport. You know, it's fantastic to be part of that. So with the repertoire, is there much, uh, New Zealand content? What? How how does that work? We have a very good relationship with, [00:04:30] um, David Hamilton, who's a New Zealand composer, and he We have asked him to, um, put some music together for some words that we wanted or he has chosen a poem and then put it to music for us. Um, we also have sung a lot of Maori songs, and we worked with several times [00:05:00] and she wrote a song for us, which we performed several times. So we do try and sing quite a lot of quite a lot of New Zealand music. And I think you know, one of the things for me that that that reinforces that, um, going back to the, um the, um out games in Cologne a couple of years ago in the fact that you know, the the the the songs that were, um, uniquely Maori or uniquely um, you know, I think they really [00:05:30] did resonate with the with the international audience. And And I think, you know, you know, underpins the fact that, you know, we are a very unique culture down down in New Zealand. And perhaps sometimes we forget about that in terms of, um uh, us being a gay and lesbian, you know, choir in as part of a very unique culture in in on an in an international sense. Yeah, it's also, I think, quite significant that you're commissioning people to write music or set music to words. [00:06:00] And do you see that? It's quite an important thing that actually you're actually creating, um, material around like either events or whatever. I mean, you you're actually creating stuff? Absolutely, Absolutely. Yes. And, um, we're hoping to do the same for our 20th anniversary as well. Create a new piece of music and it goes out in the world as, um being commit, having been commissioned by girls. Yeah, I have to say, you know, personally for me when I opened [00:06:30] David's, um, work and, um and we, we we we sing that, you know, he's he's, uh, commissioned or we've commissioned and he's composed a piece of work for us for our next concert. When you read at the at the top of that, there's a There's a dedication to to to us as as as a group of people that that, you know, does make me feel very proud and and you know, I. I feel very special around that, and, you know, that's probably a little bit of history, isn't it really that that you know, will will be, um, will be [00:07:00] there and and and available for others in the future. So if I was starting out as a new bee and wanted to come into the choir What? What? What would the process be? How would I go about that? Um, you'd contact our, um, membership person, and they would invite you to a rehearsal, and you'd be paired up with a buddy. And, um, you'd you'd have a voice test to see whether which of the four parts you your voice sits in and where you'd be most comfortable singing. [00:07:30] And some people preferred us to come along and listen to a rehearsal and, um, rather than launch in straight away. And we're happy with that. And also, some people, like I did come to a performance before actually, um, coming to a rehearsal for somebody that's never sung before. Like, how did you feel kind of going into that environment? Yeah, I felt really comfortable. And I suppose you know, there's always an element of, um Well, you know how How will how will this, um, turn out? But I think [00:08:00] you know, gas is such a supportive organisation. And a great bunch of people that that, you know, I didn't feel particularly, um, particularly concerned about that. So I think anybody who's got an interest in in singing or, um, you know, performance, um should, um, should come along and try us out. I find it really uplifting. I really enjoy Tuesday night rehearsals in particular. Um, I do sometimes find it a bit hard to get to sleep that night because I'm so buoyed up. Yeah, it's it's really uplifting. [00:08:30] I find, I guess because I love singing. And, um, I'm not a solo performer, so I really enjoy singing with others and I. I also find that, you know, the the combination of the different voices, the four voices working together. Um and, um, you know, we're often over 40 people. Um, you know, you can make an incredible sound with with that many people really quite powerful. So the makeup of say that that [00:09:00] group of 40 can, uh, can you describe the kind of people that are coming along and singing? We have a various, um, age ranges from, um probably from about, um, early twenties. Through to, um to our oldest, um member who would be, you know, close to close to 80. So, you know, it's, um it's a it's a wide range of ages. And, um yeah, but I think the common thread for me is is that everybody's always [00:09:30] very interested about supporting other people who are coming along. Yeah, and certainly as an executive, we we we do take that very seriously about making sure that people feel supported because, you know, to to some extent, you know, people join the choir not only because of the singing, but they also want it as an affirmation of them and their sexuality. Um, which they can obviously get from being part of girls that they can't get from being part of another choir. Um, and there are a large number of of choirs in [00:10:00] Auckland. So we, um we we certainly know that there's a lot of competition for people out there. So is gals open to straight people? Yes, we We have a couple of straight people at the moment, and we have had throughout the girls history, and, um, I'm not sure why people choose to come along, but we you know, we support them and and they are part of the social group just as much as everybody else. Yeah, so, as a newbie going to the first rehearsal. If I can't read music, [00:10:30] how does how does that work when you're trying to learn new new material? II. I think it does take a little bit of time to actually, you know, get up to speed. I think reflecting on my journey. It probably took me a couple of weeks to actually feel confident to actually sing out. Um, but, uh, you always feel the power of those people around you in terms of actually guiding you and and finding your voice amongst a group of people who are who are, um, put put together. [00:11:00] Um, I think it's a really supportive, um, environment. Um, and very quickly, I think, then you get to the point of being able to read music well enough to actually participate as part of a group. You know, it probably takes, you know, um, two or three weeks to actually understand, you know, the basics and, um, and, you know, build build from that point. Yeah. And, um, another thing is, in the past, we've, um What we [00:11:30] found is that the choir is really good at at schmaltzy and show kind of tunes. And for example, even though it may not be overtly queer A gay and lesbian choir singing If I loved you, which is just so full of longing and desire and so on, um can be read as a gay song by the audience. Yeah. What are some other examples of songs that you would class as gay and lesbian? Um, sometimes we do change [00:12:00] the lyrics. And, um, there's a song that the men, uh, the men sang, for example, I feel pretty, um, we do sing some overtly gay and lesbian repertoire. Um, email me. Your queer love is one that we're saying from an American composer. We we're quite adept at changing the words to actually reflect them, You know, our interpretation of them, But, um but, yeah, part of part of being [00:12:30] who we are is is actually is actually celebrating the music in the context of of, of a group of gay and lesbian people. It's an interesting idea, isn't it? About how far you kind of push the the the kind of gay lesbian side of things, you know, whether it's actually in the music or whether it's just because it's a group of gay and lesbian people performing and there is a tension there. Um, some members want it to be a lot more. So again, there's been oriented in terms of the repertoire. [00:13:00] Um, and some members, you know, their elderly parents attend and they don't necessarily feel so comfortable with that. I guess it also influences you in terms of what kind of concerts you do and where you do those, um, we started out fairly early on performing at places like the Auckland College of Education, as it was then called in their one of their music rooms. Um, more lately, we've been performing at [00:13:30] Auckland Grammar, which is kind of ironic. Um, they don't have, For example, they don't have a student gay group in that school. Um, we've also performed in Grey Community Centre, Freemans Bay Community Centre, the town hall. We had a major performance there for out in loud, which was a festival that we held for Australasian Gay and Lesbian Choir. And I think, um, if we look back over the last [00:14:00] 20 years, we, um, as part of our sort of community choir focus. We've actually also sang at, um, community events and civil unions and and and things like that and I, I think you certainly, um, as we look to the future, my, my, my desire and belief is that we'll perhaps get back to doing more of that work as well. So to be, you know, out in the community. And and actually that that part of the community choir point as well as the other big concerts that we actually [00:14:30] do and, um, II, I know. Certainly, um, Steven, the musical director, is very keen that we actually, um, step up as a choir and and do more. Um, the the I guess the question is, Well, you know, what do we do and what don't we do? Because, um, because there's a there's there's a lot of, um, there's a lot of things we could do. We just need to choose to do it. Have you ever surveyed your kind of, uh, singers and actually asked why they came to the choir? [00:15:00] Yeah, I think that would be an interesting reflection. I mean, my view would be that some some people come because they sense a community and and and feel want to be part of something special. And I think, you know, we do reflect on the fact that that that because we're non auditioned, you know, we do have to be very mindful of the fact that that people join girls for for a number of reasons, one of which may be that they want to create beautiful music. But the actual, um, the actual part of being part of something special because, you know, it's a it's [00:15:30] a community and we speak to community and we're part of the community. I think it's also very important. Yeah, but we should definitely do that. Catherine, we should try and do that in our 20th year. You mentioned schools before, and I'm wondering, how easy is it to get kind of younger people involved in something like this? That's something we've been pondering, actually, because it hasn't been easy. Um, we are attempting to link up with Rainbow youth. You know, when we look forward, 20 [00:16:00] years and what girls will be in 20 years? Um, you know, my personal view is that we do need to get better connected with youth and and, um thinking about? Well, what would engage and and and and make? Um, you know, the more youthful members of the community actually feel part of girls. My sense around that is is that, um Gen Y are often very, um, cause focused. And so perhaps there's an element of actually thinking about. Well, how could we make girls a more cause focused [00:16:30] organisation as opposed to just an organisation? Um, like, what would be an example? Well, I think maybe that speaks back to the the the the genesis of Of of girls, You know, 20 years ago about being part of, you know, very, um, significant events or or being part of things which are clearly, um, stamped around around, you know, celebrating gay and lesbian queer life. And and, you know, um, maybe we need to think more about that because, um, because I think [00:17:00] that might be one way of actually, um, you know, better engaging to to to to, um, to more youthful, um, people, you know, certainly from from my perspective, II, I would love to, um, to to to have the the journey for girls be about reducing the, um reducing the the the age profile and and and being more connected to, um to youth, Um, particularly in, you know, Auckland and definitely in New Zealand. Um, certainly. I mean, [00:17:30] uh, the next concert that we're singing in June, we're actually singing for, um, uh, gay and Lesbian Auckland and the communities, the the the the the community groups that are out there. Um and it's been quite an interesting, um, revelation for me personally when we we look at, um, some of the organisations and and and see that, in fact, you know, those organisations that were alive 20 years ago are perhaps not as active. Um, Now, um so certainly, you know, our concert in June. We really need we really want to. [00:18:00] And we really need to celebrate all of the other groups that that are around in Auckland. Um, so that's why we're calling it out in the city. And, um and, um, you know, we really want to celebrate that fact. Also, I think that a lot of people would still be members of gas if we didn't actually do performances. I think it is really important to do performances because you're always working towards something and, um that you have a goal and and [00:18:30] you are seeking to improve your sound and and performance and so on. But I think there are a lot of people who still would, if we didn't perform, would still really enjoy the singing and the social side of it. I think for me, it's, um it's It's a combination of actually hearing the sound and feeling part of really something special. So I know I can say that both from being an audience member, looking at girls and and and hearing and seeing them, Um, you know, I, [00:19:00] I, um I I get a kick actually about showing my mother who actually is in England, you know, the the the the clips, the video clips which are on YouTube, which we post and and and hear her feedback around that, um, I guess it makes me feel proud. And And and you know that that that, um, I can do something which makes gives other people pleasure. So I think that, for me is is the you know, the key thing. Yeah, I As I said before, I really enjoy the singing and [00:19:30] the as Ashley said, the com combination of the voices and sometimes during rehearsal when, um, a certain part is asked to repeat something or do some learn something and I'm in the In The Sopranos and I think, oh, they're singing that How amazing, you know, And then when it all comes together, it just sounds so great you mentioned before about the, uh, out and Loud [00:20:00] Music Festival. Can you tell me what? What was that? And and and what was your part in it? It started as from my understanding from, um, an Australasian connection that was made a few years ago. And there was one. There was a festival held in Sydney, and then and there was one held in Melbourne. And, um, gas was asked to also be [00:20:30] the organisers and have one in Auckland. And so choirs from Cairns, Perth, all the Australian Australasian choirs and, um the Yeah, So G actually organised that festival, and it was over the weekend, had workshops that was held at a UT. And then we had a major performance in the town hall. So I mean, I think you know, um, for me, that speaks to the fact that we [00:21:00] we we are part of an Australasian community of, Of, of gay and lesbian choirs. And you know, certainly when we look across the other side of the Tasman, we We see, um, people like, um, Sydney. Um, again, there's been choir and and And, you know, perhaps that gives us inspiration in terms of the fact that that we're, you know, 40 to 50 people there up at the 200 level people. And and, you know, you can do a huge amount more when you've got 200 people than you can with 50. I mean, we we're probably at [00:21:30] the largest size we've ever been as a choir in our 20th year. Um, so to me, that speaks to the fact that we must be doing something right. And if we look across the other side of the Tasman, we can we can see people, perhaps who we can aspire to in in the future? Certainly. Um, Stephen, the musical director is, um is of the view that that you know, if we can If we can move and and and and have girls be doing, uh, work in the intensity that that SGLC are doing, then you know, we really will have achieved something fantastically special. [00:22:00] What was it like singing in that kind of mass environment when you've got the town hall? Pretty much full. Pretty scary. But it was marvellous. Um, and also, that was maybe the second or third time that the refurbished organ was used and we had a piece that was composed specifically for that. And, um, that was just wonderful. And, um, we also had Karen grills a guest conductor who you know that the level of professionalism for the mass [00:22:30] choirs was just amazing. Do you think there's a difference between being part of a gay and lesbian choir and being part of just a straight choir? I don't know. A few of us went down to one year to a coral festival for a whole lot of choirs throughout New Zealand. And we were, um, you know, we really enjoyed being sort of within a whole lot of other choirs. Some [00:23:00] of them were a bit sort of taken aback at us. Um, you know, this was a few years ago. Um, but most of them were pretty welcoming when you say Well, just hadn't maybe hadn't come across gay and lesbian people. before. Perhaps. Yeah, I think I think, um, my sense would be, um that we're a little bit more fun and a little bit more. Um, [00:23:30] III, I think a little bit more welcoming, perhaps than II I would imagine most most, um, most straight choirs would be. I mean, we we are really thoughtful about about welcoming anybody who comes along and and, you know, I guess as an executive, we we reflect on the fact that that people may want to join girls, not because just the fact that they want to sing but because they want to be part of something and identify has been, you know, part of something, um, in the gay and lesbian community. [00:24:00] And and so we really work hard to support people who, um, you know, are excited and committed and and and want to learn, um, and and are starting perhaps in their in their singing journey. And I guess when we say, like, gay and lesbian, we probably should be saying queer, because transgender and intersex and any other, um, sexuality are also part of the choir as well. Which kind of leads on to the the the the kind of final [00:24:30] kind of questions in terms of like, where is the choir going? And I guess in terms of even like, terminology, is there discussion within the choir about, you know, kind of like going from, like gals to not sure what the acronym would be. But, um, some people felt a bit uncomfortable at calling, um, the next concert, Um, or having the word queer and as part of the subtitle, Um and, um, I noticed, [00:25:00] when I put it in, put an ad for it in the lesbian newsletter. They actually changed it to DL BT I And the first time they put it in, they didn't the second time. We haven't actually talked recently about changing the name of girls. Some straight people do. Some We sang at a concert, um, as part of the A garden festival or something a few years ago. And some, um, people came up. Do the men mind [00:25:30] being called girls, you know, um, yeah, we haven't really thought recently about changing the name. Yeah, I. I mean, II, I think, um, it's an interesting question, Gareth and I think we we we we probably do need to think about Well, you know, um, the world of GL BT you know, is moving forward. And, you know, are we speaking to that world and and And how well connected are we speaking to that world? And I mean my sense, I guess, to build what Catherine [00:26:00] said is is that we've been doing a pretty good job. Um um, but you can always, um you can always do more, can't you? Yeah. I don't have any problem being called gals either. Catherine.

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AI Text:September 2023
URL:https://www.pridenz.com/ait_gay_and_lesbian_singers.html