A Brief History

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37 years of music worth coming out for

Now celebrating its 37th year, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) volunteer community chorus whose mission is Gay Men Building Community Through Music. Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus seeks to provide its members with rewarding musical experiences and to promote social exchange.  As an organization that celebrates diversity and uses music as a way to transform, educate and heal, the Chorus works towards the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through community outreach.

Recently, a member of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus wrote, “As a community, the Chorus serves a supportive and stabilizing role for its members…I know several members who, facing depression and other challenges over the years, have said, ‘The Chorus has saved my life.’”

Now in our 37th season, the goals of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus continue to be three-fold: 1) to achieve a high level of musical integrity; 2) to give voice and visibility to a cultural minority; and 3) to confront homophobia and intolerance and affect positive social change.

Homophobia remains a pervasive problem in our society, despite the gains made in social acceptance and equal rights. Many LGBT people continue to experience discrimination in their personal and professional lives. Young LGBT people struggle with social and self-acceptance, while their family and friends also struggle to accept them.

As an organization that celebrates diversity and uses music as a way to transform, educate and heal, TCGMC works towards the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through community outreach.

With over 150 singing members, TCGMC and its two small ensembles, the Chamber Singers and OutLoud!, produce and present a full concert season every year. The Chorus performs its concert series at Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis and is also featured at a number of other special appearances and outreach programs (schools, churches, universities, festivals) locally, throughout the Midwest and the nation.

TCGMC provides its members with rewarding musical performance experiences that celebrate diversity and use music as a way to transform, educate and heal. The Chorus promotes social justice and the elimination of homophobia and intolerance through our regular season of performances and community outreach performances across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Our strategic vision is to be a dynamic choral leader, changing lives through the performance of significant music.

Staff & Board

With a membership of 150 men, TCGMC is one of the largest LGBT arts organizations in Minnesota. Jeff Heine is the Chorus’ Executive Director and Ben Riggs recently finished his tenure as our  fifth Artistic Director to lead the organization’s artistic vision. Our next Artistic Director will join the organization in the fall of 2018. Jane Ramseyer Miller, Artistic Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus and GALA Choruses, will be our guest Artistic Director for the spring of 2018. Jerry Rubino, our small ensemble OutLoud! Director, will be our guest Artistic Director for our Pride show in June 2018.

The Board is made up of 50% singing membership and 50% non-singing individuals. Learn more about our staff & board.

Audience & Venues

Approximately 75% of the audience comes from the metro area, but through outreach performances, TCGMC performs for audiences in surrounding cities and states. Research has further shown that about 50% of the audience is LGBT . During its 37-year history, over 750 men have entertained over 200,000 audience members in the Twin Cities and around the country. Throughout the year, the Chorus performs in a variety of venues including their primary home, Ted Mann Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota, corporate offices, churches, parks and colleges. Weekly rehearsals are held at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Budget & Finances

Approximately 60% of the organization’s revenue coming from gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and government arts support programs, 35% from ticket sales and 5% from member dues.

CDs, Videos, and DVDs

The Chorus has produced multiple CDs and digital recordings: Hand in Hand (released in 1995), SING OUT!, featuring Ann Hampton Callaway (released in 1996), Sing We Joyously Noel (released in 1999), The Rainbow Connection (released in 2000), Angels (released in 2002), Metamorphosis (released in 2004), What Sweeter Music (released in 2004) Bang! Bang! The Music of Cher (released in 2005), The Great Southern US Sing-Out Tour and The 25th Anniversary Collection (both released in 2006) and LifeSongs Live! (recorded live and released in 2010).

The Chorus produced a new holiday CD in 2011, Sounds of the Season, a compilation of holiday favorites from Chorus holiday concerts from 2004 – 2010. The Chorus produced two recordings in 2012: Out of My Range (and Other Age-Related Performance Issues) and their first digital download, the live recording of Dr. Stan Hill’s final concert as Artistic Director of TCGMC, They Sang to Me.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Dr. Ben Riggs, the Chorus produced a holiday CD, Joy, in 2014, this is the wonder, a 25th anniversary holiday CD from Principal Accompanist Timothy De Prey, and Two Boys Kissing, a new commission for the Chorus’ 35th anniversary, written by composer Joshua Shank from the young adult novel by David Levithan.

Additionally, the Chorus, along with Emmy award-winning producers John Scagliotti and Dan Hunt and author Tomie dePaola produced a video that was broadcast nationally on PBS in the fall of 2001 and spring of 2002. Oliver Button is a STAR!. A documentary based on the Chorus’ performance of Oliver Button is a Sissy was further developed as a teaching tool for distribution to schools and families.

In 2008, TCGMC presented the world premiere of Through a Glass, Darkly, the Chorus’s commission about the dangers of meth addiction, which was filmed by TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) for broadcast and resulted in a DVD which was produced and is available for purchase.

Other Notable events in the history of the TCGMC include:

Since the very first concert in Heritage Hall at Minneapolis Public Library, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus has become an integral part of the Twin Cities cultural scene with its rich choral tradition.

Performances with Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, VocalEssence (Plymouth Music Series), Ballet of the Dolls, American composer Ned Rorem, and such noted gay and lesbian entertainers Harvey Fierstein, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michael Feinstein and Holly Near. In 2009, the Chorus commissioned a new work, I Want More Life with music by Michael Shaieb (Through a Glass, Darkly) and words from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Part II: Perestroika which was performed at the Guthrie Theater during its Kushner Celebration, honoring the work of award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner. This new work was performed at the Guthrie four times during the Kushner Celebration. TCGMC has premiered over 25 commissioned works and has performed at major gay and lesbian choral festivals in Montreal, Tampa, Denver, Seattle, San Jose and Minneapolis (for which the TCGMC served as host in 1986.) Regular appearances include Minnesota AIDS Walk, the Twin Cities Pride festival, and concerts at Como Pavillion.

The Chorus produces an annual gala event every year called Songs from the Heart, which is the Chorus’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

In 2003, the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus was honored with the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) Minnesota 2003 “Brian Coyle Leadership Award” for serving the community through outreach and putting a face on the GLBT community. TCGMC also received special recognition in 2003 from Lavender magazine for “Best Benefit/Fundraiser” for Songs from the Heart and in 2003 & 2004 for “Best GLBT Music Group.”

Capping off the 25th Anniversary season, the chorus embarked on the “Great Southern Sing-Out Tour” through 5 cities in 6 days in July of 2006. Kicking off the tour in Nashville’s prestigious Ryman Auditorium, the chorus became the first gay organization to perform on the historic stage. From Tennessee, three bus loads of chorines and supporters traveled to Birmingham (AL), Jackson (MS), Mobile (AL) and, finally, New Orleans (LA). Each performance was another wonderful and inspiring experience for everyone. The south will never be the same again – neither will the chorus.