BY MAGGIE MARTON
In the summer of 2002, a group of men—inspired by the Gay And Lesbian Association (GALA) Choruses around the world—decided to create a gay men’s chorus here in Bloomington. They named it the Quarryland Men’s Chorus and opened its membership to gay and bisexual men and their “allies.”
According to Barry Magee, Quarryland’s artistic director, GALA Choruses came into being during the 1980s to support the gay community during the AIDS crisis. Today, there are more than 200 official GALA Choruses worldwide.
From the beginning, Quarryland’s mission has been to support the local gay community, says Jim Johnson, one of the group’s founding members. “But that doesn’t mean we’re all gay. Most of us are, but not all.”
The Quarryland Chorus is made up of 24 singers from all walks of life, from college freshmen to men in their 60s. Some have professional singing experience, others simply enjoy performing. Non-singing members help backstage and with administrative duties.
The chorus performs approximately ten times per year, including at the PRIDE LGBTQ Film Festival in January, a spring concert in May, and a December holiday show.
Quarryland is comfortable in a variety of musical forms, from carols to Bach and pop to choral standards. Performances include solos, instrumentals, small groups, and ensemble pieces.
“With all of that diversity of membership and the music we do and the diversity of experience, in other places it would just be a fiasco,” says Magee. “But because our chorus is so mission-driven, most everybody buys into it and they see that we are contributing to people’s lives.”
Last spring concert, was held at 4 pm Sunday, May 1, at First United Church (2420 E. 3rd St.), Quarryland dared to present a concert of Broadway musical hits.
“I jokingly talked about this in the past, but you would think, stereotypically, that gay choruses would do musicals,” says Magee. “We are actually doing all show tunes for the first time.”
For more information, visit quarryland.org.