GALA Festival brings 6,000 singers to Denver
Musical activism found in Jack Dubosky’s Harvey Milk: A Cantata
July 6, 2012 | 12:00 am
(Updated: July 2, 2012 | 3:24 pm)
GALA Choruses is an internationally-recognized advocacy organization for LGBT choruses. This year’s festival brings five days of vocal performances, workshops and social events, with 6,000 singers and 155 choirs.
“We are exceptionally pleased that Festival 2012 Denver will be the largest of the nine festivals produced by GALA Choruses over the past 30 years,” said Joann Usher, President of the GALA Choruses Board of Directors. “Throughout our history, we have endeavored to change the world through song. This event confirms that the arts are truly a medium that supports change and fosters understanding in nearly every corner of society,” Usher said.
In the festival, composer Jack Dubosky will present Harvey Milk: A Cantata, a tailor-made musical act featuring the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco putting Milk’s own powerful words to song.
Striving to encompass Milk’s vision and power within his cantata, Dubosky received special permission to use some of the civil right leader’s never-before published texts within the arrangement. Combining powerful phrases within the texts with some of Milk’s more famous speeches and writings, Dubosky said that “the text of the piece is entirely by Harvey Milk; sung, or, in a few places, spoken, whispered or incanted.”
Containing five separate movements, the 20-minute Harvey Milk: A Cantata hopes to encapsulate Milk’s life through the musical talents of the LGCSF, starting with a call to action and ending with Milk’s hope to establish relationships within all communities. Dubosky says that it is this last message that is excruciatingly important, as “it’s a universal message, and illustrates beautifully Milk’s activism, and philosophy.”
One of the most unique aspects of the production is the fact that it was composed to not only highlight the words of Milk, but to also showcase who the LGCSF is as a chorus. “Because Harvey Milk was a San Francisco City Supervisor, and because he worked hard to join communities together and build bridges between groups, his words are especially suited for a mixed chorus,” Dubosky said. That’s fairly unique in the GALA choral movement, according to Dubosky, as many choruses are usually only composed of gay men or lesbian women.
Dubosky said the words of Milk fit perfectly within the GALA Festival’s philosophy because “GALA choruses contain a political and activist component, simply by virtue of being out LGBTQ choruses and singers.” Like the GALA Festival’s goal to reach a variety of people during its five days of music, Dubosky also hopes that his Harvey Milk: A Cantata will be sung by all sorts of choruses for years to come, once again accomplishing Milk’s vision to unite and connect everybody.
The GALA Choruses festival takes place every four years at various locations around the nation. This year’s festival will take place in downtown Denver from July 7 through July 11, and will feature more than 200 performances from 130 different choirs. The LGCSF will perform Harvey Milk: A Cantata at 12:30 p.m., July 9 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.