BY DAN COLEMAN
According to family folklore, a 3-year-old Gerry Sousa climbed atop a table at his father’s company picnic and led everyone in an impromptu choral sing-along. Fifty-five years later, a grown Sousa, who has devoted his life to directing musical movements as a choral conductor and as a champion of the arts, still has that spark.
Sousa’s musical education has taken him from the tobacco roads of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the cozy Bloomington confines of Indiana University where he received his doctorate. Following teaching stints at Dartmouth College and The University of New Orleans, the early 1980’s computer boom and a fascination with creating educational software led him back to Bloomington. In 1989 he became the music director of the Bloomington Chamber Singers.
“For me it’s been a real privilege because I’ve been able to do some of the real great music in the repertoire with outstanding forces,” Sousa says. “I love to communicate an understanding of what is our human condition and that comes from looking at how the great composers took great writings and applied their own genius to express art in a way that words sometimes can’t express.” Under Sousa’s direction, the Bloomington chorus of 70 amateur singers has brought to life works from masters including Bach, Haydn, and Mozart.
Each year the Bloomington Chamber Singers perform a fall and spring concert in addition to a series of Messiah sing-alongs during the holidays. The opportunity to share these works with performers and crowds alike has been the driving force behind Sousa’s love affair with choral conducting.
Sousa’s admiration for artistic expression has also led to his role as an advocate for local artists, first as president of the Bloomington Area Arts Council and now as one of the proponents of the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington.
Still in its infancy, the Arts Alliance is aiming to be what Sousa describes as “an advocacy group that will represent the collective needs of the arts community,” working to meld those needs with the interests of the larger Bloomington community.