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GALS - Gay and Lesbian Singers

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride [00:00:05] girls and 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 as a as a group of people which got together to actually support Michael panettiere in his [00:00:21] pride event. I think it's grown from that into an entire group of people really who are celebrating gay and lesbian people in Auckland, and also, I guess, in New Zealand and internationally to so Michaels event back in 1992. What was that part of [00:00:42] it was the hero performance that he choreographed and designed and everything and the choir sang some songs as part of that [00:00:52] ever been like a gale has been in choir and New Zealand before that point. [00:00:56] Not that the earlier tonight. [00:00:58] And for a long time, we would young, the gay and lesbian choir in in in New Zealand, [00:01:03] until last year or [00:01:06] two last year, all these still members on the choir that singing the original sin? [00:01:11] There are there are two or three. [00:01:14] So that pretty Stonewall members? [00:01:17] Yeah, it's it's good to have people who've been traveling the journey with us for the whole time. 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, my role as a chairman really is to, is to stay girls forward for the next 20 years. And we've been thinking about renewal and relevance in terms of that. So us being able to engage an audience for the next 20 years is something which is really important to me. And when I took over the role, three months or so ago, from Carrie Stevens, and, you know, it really was a challenge that carrot carry put to the choir around, you know, being relevant and and thinking about what we're trying to do into the future. How did [00:02:03] you both get involved? [00:02:06] A friend of mine was part of the quietness, I joined about 15 years ago. And she knew that I liked singing, 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 lls cafe and thought, yeah, I can do this. I don't read music, but the cries for really welcoming for people of all ages and all the abilities. So yeah. [00:02:35] And I am, I first got to know girls as part of the young gay gangs in Cologne in 2010. And they were the only choir who had made the journey to Europe from down under and really well received. And just really got to, to appreciate just what what you can do for an organization of Yeah, essentially volunteers and came back and decided I put my hat into the ring. [00:03:07] Has it been a big thing for girls in terms of going out to events like for Gay Games in Cologne, as it as it been? right the way through the history of the girls? [00:03:17] If they went to Amsterdam, I'm not sure what year that was, it was before I joined. And [00:03:25] which the games in Sydney or Yeah, and the app games as well, because of the splash and so on. certainly been involved in quite a few international events like that. And not the whole choir, in some cases, in some cases. In some cases, it was small groups of people from the choir represented the choir internationally. [00:03:49] So when you saw the performant, Cologne, what what did you think, [00:03:52] I just felt that that it was a very professional, [00:03:58] very professional event, put together the very fourth thoughtfully, and some of the songs were uniquely unique, New Zealand songs. So it was just, I suppose a way of actually feeling at home away away from home. So that probably works on a number of levels, you know, in a group 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. [00:04:25] So with the repertoire is the much New Zealand content, how does that work, [00:04:32] we have a very good relationship with [00:04:35] David Hamilton is a New Zealand composer. And he, we have asked him to [00:04:44] put some music together for some words that we wanted, or he has chosen a poem and then put it to music for us. And we also have a lot of melody, songs, and we work with my inner enemy, talked several times. And she wrote a song for us, which we performed several times. So we do transcend quite a lot of [00:05:12] quite a lot of New Zealand music. And I think, you know, one of the things for me that that that reinforces that going back to the the games in Cologne a couple of years ago in the fact that you know, that the the songs that were uniquely Mario uniquely, Arturo. You know, I think they really did resonate with the, with the international audience. And I think, you know, your 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 [00:05:48] a spinner, gay and lesbian choir in it as part of a very unique culture in in on an Indian international sense. [00:05:57] It's also, I think, quite significant that you're committed people to write music or music to words. And do you see that as quite an important thing that actually you're actually creating material around like a province or whatever? I mean, you're actually creating this absolutely, [00:06:14] absolutely is and, and 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 [00:06:29] being committed having been commissioned by girls. [00:06:32] Yeah, I have to say, you know, personally, for me, when I opened David's work in them, and we sing that, you know, he's commissioned, or we've commissioned, and he's composed a piece of work for us for our next concert, when you read at the top of it is it is a dedication to, to us as a group of people that that, you know, does make me feel very proud. And I feel very special around this. And, you know, that's a little bit of history is it really, will, will be, will be there and available for others in the future. [00:07:08] So if I was starting out as a newbie and wanted to come into the choir, what what would the process be, like, go out there, [00:07:15] and contact our membership person, and they would invite you to a rehearsal, and you'd be paired up with a buddy. And you'd, you'd have a voice test to see whether which of the four Patsy's your voice sets in and we'd be most comfortable singing. And some people prepared us to come along and listen to rehearsal. And rather than Longton straightaway, and we happy with it, and also some people like I did come to a performance before actually coming to a rehearsal [00:07:50] for somebody that's never sung before. Like, how did you feel kind of going into that environment? [00:07:54] Yeah. Really comfortable? And I suppose you know, there's always an element of, well, how will How will this turn out? But I think you gals is such a supportive organization and a great bunch of people. That that No, I didn't feel particularly young, particularly concerned about that. So I think anybody who's got an interest in singing or performance, should, should come along and try us out. [00:08:22] I find it really uplifting. I really enjoy Tuesday night rehearsals in particular. And I do sometimes find that, that had to get to sleep that night, because I'm so Boyd up, yeah, it's, it's really uplifting, I find, I guess, because I love singing. And [00:08:39] I'm not a solo performer. So I really enjoy singing with others. [00:08:45] And I also find that, you know, the combination of the different voices, the four voices working together, and, you know, we're often over 40 people, you can make an incredible sound with with that many people really quite powerful. [00:09:02] So the makeup of say that that group of 40 Can, can you describe the kind of people that are coming on, and [00:09:10] we have various age ranges from probably from about early 20s? through to, to our oldest member who would be, you know, close to close to 80. So, you know, it's, it's, it's a wide range of ages. And, [00:09:30] yeah, but I think the common thread for me is, is that everybody's always very interested about supporting other people who are coming along. Yeah, and certainly, as an executive, we do take that very seriously about making sure that people feel supported. Because, you know, just 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 in their sexuality, which they can obviously get from being positive girls that they can can't get from being part of another call. And there are a large number of calls in Auckland. So we, we certainly know that there's a lot of competition for people out there. [00:10:10] So it was girls open to straight people. [00:10:12] Yes, we, we have a couple of straight people at the moment. And we have had through that, the girls history. And and 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. [00:10:31] So as a newbie, going to the first rehearsal, if I can't read music, how does how does that work? When you're trying to learn new new material, [00:10:38] I think it does take a little bit of time to actually, you know, get up to speed, I think reflecting on my journey probably took me a couple of weeks to actually feel confident to actually sing out. [00:10:51] But you always feel the power of those people around you in terms of actually guiding you and finding your voice amongst a group of people who are, who are put put together. [00:11:06] I think it's a really supportive environment. 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 me [00:11:19] two or three weeks to actually understand you know, the basics and, and you build build from that point. Yeah. [00:11:28] And another thing is in the past, with [00:11:34] what we found is that the choir is really good at schmaltzy and show kind of tunes. And, for example, even though it may not be overtly queer, gay and lesbian choir singing, if I love do it is just so full of longing and desire and so on, and can be read as a gay sung by the audience. [00:11:57] What are some other examples of songs that you would, is going to miss me? [00:12:03] Sometimes we do change the lyrics. And there's a song that the men, the men sang, for example, I feel pretty. And [00:12:13] we don't think some overtly gay and lesbian repertoire. [00:12:19] Email me or quayle others, one that we think from an American composer, [00:12:24] we were quite adept at changing the words to actually reflect them, you know, our interpretation of them. But But yeah, part of part of being who we are, is, is actually is actually celebrating the music in the context of, of a group of gay and lesbian people. [00:12:42] It's an interesting idea is not 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 families. [00:12:54] Yeah, yeah. And there is a tension there. And some members wanted to a lot more. So again, it's been oriented in terms of the repertoire. And some members, you know, their elderly parents at the end, and they don't necessarily feel so comfortable with it. [00:13:13] I guess that also influences you in terms of what kind of concerts you do. And we do those. And [00:13:21] this started out fairly early on performing at places like the Oakland college of education as a thing called, and they're one of their music, friends. And more lately, we've been performing it Auckland Grammar, which is kind of ironic. They don't have for example, they don't have a student, gay group in that school. And we've also performed in grayling Community Center, Freeman's Bay Community Center, the town hall, we had major performance here for afternoon lab, which was a festival that we held for relation, Ellis being quiet. [00:14:02] And I think if we look back over the last 20 years, we, as part of our sort of community choir, focus, we've actually also sang get community events and civil unions and things like that. And I think certainly, as we look to the future, my my desire and belief is that will perhaps get back to doing more of that work as well. So to beat you out in the community, and, and actually, that that part of the community quiet point, as well as the other big concerts that we actually do, and I know certainly am Stephen, the musical directors very keen that we actually step up as acquiring and do more. [00:14:45] That the I guess the question is, will you know, what do we do and what don't we do? Because? Because there's a there's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of things we could do. We just need to choose to do it. [00:14:58] Have you ever surveyed your kind of singers and actually asked why they came to the question? [00:15:05] Yeah, I think that would be an interesting reflection. I mean, my view would be that this some people come because they sent a community and feel want to be part of something special. And I think, you know, we do reflect on the fact that that because we're not audition, you know, we do have to be very mindful of the fact that people join gals for for a number of reasons, one of which may be that they want to create beautiful music, but the actual, the actual part of being part of something special, because it's 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. We should try and do that in our 20th. Year. [00:15:48] You mentioned schools before, and I'm wondering, How easy is it to get the kind of younger people involved in something like this? [00:15:54] thing? We've been pondering actually, because it hasn't been easy. And we are attempting to link up with rainbow youth? [00:16:03] Yeah, when we look forward 20 years and what girls will be in 20 years? Yeah, my personal view is that we do need to get better connected with youth and [00:16:14] thinking about what what would engage and, and and make you the more youthful members of the community actually feel part of gals are my sense around that is is that Gen Y are often very cause focused. And so perhaps there's an element of actually thinking about, well, how could we make girls a more cause focused organization as opposed to just an organization? Like, what would be an example? [00:16:40] Well, I think maybe that speaks back to the genesis of girls, you know, 20 years ago about being part of, you know, very significant events, or being part of things which are clearly stamped around around, you know, celebrating gay and lesbian, queer life. And, and, you know, [00:17:01] maybe we need to think more about that, because, because I think that might be one way of actually, you know, better engaging to two more youthful people, you know, certainly from, from my perspective, I would love to, to have the journey for girls be about reducing the reducing the the age profile and, and being more connected to, to youth, particularly in New York, London, definitely in New Zealand. [00:17:33] Certainly, I mean, the next concept that we're singing in June, we're actually singing for gay and lesbian Auckland, and the communities, the community groups that are out there. And it's been quite an interesting revelation. For me personally, when we we look at some of the organizations and see that, in fact, to those organizations that were alive 20 years ago, perhaps not as active now. So certainly your concert in June, we really need we really want to, we really need to celebrate all of the other groups that are around in Oakland. [00:18:10] So that's why we're calling it out in the city. [00:18:14] And we really want to celebrate that fact. [00:18:17] Also, I think that a lot of people would still be members of gals, if we didn't actually do performances, I think it is really important to do performances, because you're always working towards something, and [00:18:32] that you have a goal and, and you seeking to improve your sound 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 some [00:18:50] it's a combination of actually hearing the sound and feeling part of really something special. So I can say that both from being an audience member but looking at girls and hearing and seeing them [00:19:04] you know, I am I get a kick actually about showing my mother who actually is in England, you know, the the clips, the video clips, which are on YouTube, which we post and and to her feedback around that. [00:19:18] I guess it makes me feel proud. And you know, that [00:19:23] I can do something which makes Google gives other people pleasure. So I think that for me, is the key thing. [00:19:31] Yeah, as I said before, I really enjoyed the singing. And the eventually said, The combination of the voices, and sometimes during rehearsal, when a certain pad is asked to repeat something or base or learn something. And I'm in this in the sopranos, and I think are they sing in debt? How amazing you know? And then when it all comes together sensor great. [00:20:01] You mentioned before about the national loud music festival, can you tell me what what was that and what was your passion? [00:20:10] It started as from my understanding from an isolation connection that was made a few years ago, and there was when there was a festival held in Sydney. And then and there was one held in Melbourne. And girls was asked to also be the organizers and have fun and Auckland and acquires from kins. [00:20:41] All Israel in relation cries and [00:20:46] the homophone. Yes, yeah, so guys actually organized that festival, and it was over the weekend, had workshops was held at, and then we had a major performance and the term. [00:21:00] So I mean, I think, you know, for me, that speaks to the fact that we, we we are part of an Australian community of, of gay and lesbian choirs. And, you know, certainly when we look across the other side of the Tasman, we see people like Sydney and gain that's been current. And perhaps that gives us inspiration in terms of the fact that that we're fortunate to 50 people there, up at the 200 level people and you know, you can do a huge amount more when you've got 200 people than you can with 50. I mean, we were probably at the largest size we've ever been as a Korean our 20th year. 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 testament, we can we can see people perhaps who we can aspire to in, in the future. Certainly, Stephen, the musical director is some is a view that that you know, if we can if we can move and and have girls be doing work in attendance that s GLC are doing then, you know, we really want to achieve something fantastically special. [00:22:05] What was it like swimming in that kind of messed up environment when you've got the town hall pretty much for [00:22:10] the scary, but it was marvelous. And, 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 that was just wonderful. And we also had Karen grills, a guest conductor, who know that the level of professionalism for the mass choir was just amazing. [00:22:38] There's a difference between being part of a gay and lesbian choir and being part of just a straight quad. [00:22:45] I don't know, a few of us went down to Kearney went to Cairo festival for a whole lot of quest throughout New Zealand and we will, you know, [00:22:58] we really enjoyed being sort of it within a whole lot of other acquires. Some of them were a bit sort of taken aback at us. And you know, this was a few years ago. [00:23:12] But most of them are pretty welcoming. [00:23:16] When you say taken aback, well, doing [00:23:17] well just hadn't maybe hadn't come across gay and lesbian people before perhaps here [00:23:24] or there, I think cam my sense would be [00:23:28] that we're a little bit more fun. And a little bit more. [00:23:34] I think a little bit more welcoming, perhaps, that I would imagine most most, most strike wise would be I mean, 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 people may want to join gals, 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 in the gay and lesbian community. And, and so we really work hard to support people who, you know, are excited and committed and want to learn and a starting perhaps in their in their singing journey. [00:24:17] And I guess when we say like gay and lesbian, we probably should be saying queer because transgender and intersex and any other [00:24:27] sexuality are also part of the choir as well. [00:24:31] Which kind of leads on to the kind of final kind of questions in terms of like, Where's the choir going? And I guess in terms of even like terminology, is the discussion was in the choir about you know, kind of like going from gals to mature what the acronym would be, but [00:24:50] some people felt a bit uncomfortable at calling. The next concert [00:24:56] will happen to a queer and as part of the subtitle. [00:25:00] And [00:25:04] I noticed when I put it in, put an ad for it, and lesbian newsletter, they actually changed it to govt I. The first time I put it and 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 [00:25:25] as part of the [00:25:28] Garden Festival or something few years ago, and some people came up to the men find being called girls in. [00:25:40] Yeah, we haven't really thought recently about changing the name. Yeah, [00:25:44] I think it's an interesting question, Gareth. And I think we, we probably do need to think about, well, you know, the world of govt years moving forward, and you know, are we speaking to that world and how welcome connected are we speaking to that world and my sense, I guess, to build what Catherine said is, is that we've been doing a pretty good job. [00:26:09] But you can always, you can always do more here. Yeah. I don't have any problem being called gals, either.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It is not a transcript, it has not been checked by humans and will contain many errors. However it is useful for searching on keywords and themes.