Rochester Gay Men's Chorus History
The Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus came to life in November of 1982 when five friends decided to pursue a dream. The dream is using music to create an acceptance of social diversity and to use the harmony of voice to create a harmony of the spirit.
Nicholas Williams, Founding Member
Today, three decades later, the RGMC includes over forty voices raised in song. Thousands have enjoyed their outstanding musical talents. During this time the Chorus has changed in some respects, but our Vision Statement has always remained the same:
We the members of the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus unite proudly to seek a better world for ourselves, our community, and for our nation by sowing the seeds of harmony through the universal language of music.
• We sing for ourselves to make glorious music with friends who experience the world as we do and who share our joy in standing together.
• We sing for our sisters and brothers in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to embody pride, family, and a sense of home.
• We sing for our friends and supporters who join with us to overcome ignorance and prejudice.
• We sing for those unknown and unseen, awakening to who they are, in closets of oppression, or in search of community, that they may see our faces and hear our joy and know that the night is not forever, and that there are friends and brothers to light their way and to welcome them home.
The Rochester Gay Men's Chorus has had the great honor of working with many conductors throughout the years including founding member Nicholas Williams, who served as director off and on between 1983–2007, as well as Kent Peterson, Dr. bruce d. mcclung, Dr. Stanley Malinowski, Dr. Theodore F. Ashizawa, Robert S. Parsons, Lee Wright, and current Artistic Director, Dr. Robert Strauss.
Members of the RGMC have represented the Rochester community at every choral festival of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA), in an exciting array of cities including New York City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle, Tampa, San Jose, and Montreal, Canada. In 2016, the Chorus attended the Gala Festival in Denver, Colorado, and we are now looking forward to GALA 2020 in Minneapolis.
Over the years, the RGMC has held performances for much of the Rochester community in such diverse locations as the Hochstein School of Music, the Eisenhart Auditorium, the Monroe Community College Theater, the First Baptist Church of Rochester, the Nazareth College Auditorium, School of the Arts, the Chamber of Commerce, the Image Out Film Festival, Marriage Equality of Downtown Rochester, the 2011 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at MCC, The College at Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, and the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. Exchange concerts have taken place with choruses in Buffalo, Syracuse, Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Karlsruhe, Germany.
The RGMC has shared not only its voice with the Rochester community, but its time as well. Volunteer activities include staffing telephones for WXXI TV membership drives, collecting food for the AIDS Rochester food cupboard, and donating the poinsettia plants used to decorate the hall during concerts to people living with HIV and AIDS. The chorus also belongs to the Greater Rochester Choral Consortium and the Arts and Cultural Council of Monroe County. Thirty years of growth have produced an innovative website, our Keynotes newsletter and High Notes e-newsletter, annual fundraisers like the spring dinner show and fall "Spagaytti" Dinner, and the recording and sale of our Voices from the Heart and Joyful and Triumphant CDs.