The Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus came to life in November of 1982 when five friends - David Knoll, Bob Olsowski, Kent Peterson, Ken Setera and Nicholas Williams, - decided to pursue a dream, the dream of using music to create an acceptance of social diversity and to use the harmony of voice to create a harmony of the spirit.
LGBT choruses had been started in the mid-to-late ‘70s and early ‘80s in Philadelphia (1975 - the Anna Crusis Women’s Choir), New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Vancouver as a way to create community, to give LGBT issues a voice, and to make beautiful music
David Knoll had some friends in the newly formed Rochester Women’s Community
Chorus, and was inspired to start a
men’s chorus. He talked to Nicholas
Williams, whom he’d met through the Gay Alliance about his idea, and Nick agreed to participate, but not (yet) as director. When David met Kent Peterson, who had been one of the original members of the Madison Gay Men’s Chorus, the RGMC found its first conductor. An article was put in the Empty Closet, and flyers were hung around the Park/Monroe area of Rochester. The first rehearsal was held on November 18, 1982 in Kent’s living room.
Six months later, on Saturday, May 7, 1983, the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus performed their first concert, simply yet boldly called Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus in Concert, at Calvary Street St. Andrews Church. By then, the chorus consisted of eighteen singers: in addition to Knoll, Olsowski, Peterson, and Williams, they were joined by Lavern Doud, Steven Getz, Michael Holden, Steven Jarose, Chuck Kruppenbacher, David Merrill , Bill Metz, Pat Moran, Greg Partridge, John Rutkowksi, David Skinner, John Strawway, Chuck Telier, and Del Titus. These eighteen men, singing show tunes, spirituals, and light classical tunes, set the stage for the RGMC to have a long and vital history, as we continue to stand on the shoulders of these pioneers!
The Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus creates social change through excellence in the choral arts.
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 RGMC Staff
· Artistic Director
· Wilson Southerland, Interim Artistic Director
· Ben Meixell, Pianist
· Catherine "Cat" Hardesty, CT/OTC Sign Language Interpreter
· Jim Janssen, Business Manager
· Kennan Beckstrand, Marketing Director
· Lawrence Brewley, Media Coordinator
· Shane Allen, Graphic Designer
The RGMC Board of Directors
· Ted Smith, Chair
· Robert Caruso, Vice-Chair
· Robert Neale, Treasurer
· Mark Brewer, Secretary
· Sam Beach
· Daniel Reeder
· Larry Quinsland
· Jim Tavolaro
· James Janssen, Business Manager