Dec. 16,1983 / Montrose Voice 17
Mark Janas Shapes Montrose's Boys in the Montrose Live
Chorus for Tonight's Christmas Concert
By Robert Hyde
The Montrose Singers are presenting their
annual Christmas concert this evening
(Dec. 16) at St. Stephen's Episcopal
Church, and since September, their new
director, Mark Janas, has been pulling
every string from his professional background to whip the group of volunteers
into what he calls a "really spiffy organization."
Tonight, he sincerely hopes that the
community will appreciates endeavors
"^'whori hT brings his rflfc gay chorus
" together for the music so cherished during
Accompanied by piano, organ and
brass, the chorus will enter the church
singing a processional especially
arranged by Janas inspired by his love for
Gregorian chants which have been haunting music lovers since the Middle Ages.
Although the piece is the traditional "Oh
Come All Ye Faithful," Janas directs his
own personal interpretation, which is
based heavily on his classical training.
Also joining the chorus will be soloist
Stella Zambalis, a mezzo soprano recently
involved with the Metropolitan Opera.
On a more accessible level, the traditional favorites will be sung, as well, and
there will be comedy numbers designed
especially for this performance. The concert's finale will be a sing-along to wrap up
Afterwards, members of the community
are invited for waisal, good cheer and a
chance to get to know the boys in the chorus, as well as Janas himself.
When Janas first joined the group in
September, after being invited to do so by
Montrose Singers president Clark Moore,
it was only a group of 12 gay men who
simply wanted to pour their hearts out in
song—many of them had had no professional training. Today the group consists
of 30 members, all intent on being one of
the best choral groups in the country.
Under Janas' direction, they might just
"My plans for the group are to see it
increase in number and ability," Janas
said in a recent interview, mentioning
that he would eventually like to see the
chorus increase to 48 excellent singers.
"And I'm always amazed at how much
better they're reading music and how everything is coming faster."
To some, Janas might seem a bit
arrogant—or temperamental—as "they"
say in the art world. But his charm is disarming, and his arrogance might just be a
little justified—he's worked with Leonard
Bernstein, has a master's degree in conducting from Rice University and has
toured Europe twice with his baton in
hand. Furthermore, his chorus members
sincerely appreciate him.
"I don't think I'm temperamental at all,"
he Baid, smiling and looking a bit amazed
that he even had that reputation. "I
always try to keep (the chorus) excited at
rehearsal. If I think they need to be
cheered up, I'll try to joke with them. If I
think they're acting like kids and need a
little discipline, I throw a little tantrum
every once in a while. They understand
what I'm trying to do, I think."
Then Janas set back and took a closer
look at himself, perhaps thinking that
some of the criticism might be justified.
"I'm too much of a perfectionist for my
own good," he said. "Being a perfectionist
gets me in trouble lots of times. Sometimes
I plan beyond the scope of the group
involved—sometimes my own scope.
That's something that an artist always
has to watch out for. Planning for something you can accomplish in more time
than you have is always something I
"I've always been too much of an optimist. I also know it takes optimism to grow.
You have to believe that something can be
better and much better. If you aim at a
five, you might get a three or four. If you
aim at 10, you might get that five. That's a
rule of life."
Go to the concert this evening and see
what the boys in the community have
come up with. I have a feeling that we'll be
in for a special treat. And I know they've
certainly worked very hard at it.
Diversity Players, th'a^grbup'who broTight
you Noel Cowaed's Private Lives and
entertained packed houses for several
weeks at the new room at the Pink Elephant, is holding auditions for its next
production, the more serious Boys in the
Auditions for the play will be held this
weekend on Saturday from 3-6 and on Sunday from 1-3 at the Pink Elephant, 1218
Leeland. One final audition is scheduled
for next Wednesday from 6-*
For more information, contact Joe
Watts at 266-1111 or 522-2204 (evenings).
Montrose Singers' Mark Janas
NYC Gay Men's Chorus Scores
with Christmas Album
By Robert Hyde
It's not Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole—
and it's miles away from Elvis Presley—
but if you get in a reverent mood this
holiday season, you might want to pick up
the New York City Gay Men's Chorus
Christmas album, A Festival of Song.
Not only is the album a major contribution to the gay community—it's the first
recording by a gay chorus on a major label
(Pro-Arte)—but the selections are performed well enough to stand as a comparison for our local groups. Under the
direction of Gary Miller, the 150-men chorus displays all of the attributes that
packed New York's Carnegie Hall several
times, as well as Lincoln Center.
Most of the album is sung a cappela,
that is to say, without instrumental
accompaniment, and this approach to
most of the selections allows the chorus to
display their musical talents and challenges them to the maximum, since a cappela is extremely difficult, especially when
In Bruckner's Ave Maria, the voice
balancing is perfect, and the chorus performs it as if it were written for them.
"La Virgen lava panales" is another
fine piece which offers a nice solo effort on
this traditional Spanish carol.
Michael Praetorius' "Lo, How a Rose
E'er Blooming," a very inspirational piece
and nicely done, demands repeated listenings.
Also the differences in the men's voices
emerge in Gabrieli's "Jubilate Deo."
The highpoint of the album is Thompson's interpretation of Robert Frost's
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" from his "Frostiana." This selection
opens and closes nicely with piano, and
displays the chorus' best use of vocal texture. I could almost see the snow falling
softly in a New England wood.
The chorus does have problems, however, which make the album fall short of
The baritones are a bit heavy on
Vaughan Williams' "God rest you merry
Sweelinck's "Hodie Christus natus est"
needs to be lighter—it's not the joyful piece
it should be.
And Thompson's "Alleluia" is monotonous to the extreme. Imagine listening to
the same word for five minutes and 59
The voices are also too heavy on Susa's
"The Chanticleer's Carol," although the
trumpets and trombones in this piece are a
NYC Gay Men's Chorus taking a break from their May recording of their
nice change from the a cappella of most of
the works. Unfortunately, the instruments are too loud, and it's difficult to hear
Otherwise, Kountz' "The Sleigh" captures all the spirit of Russian Volga boatmen desperate to catch the last sleigh into
Moscow, and you can almost see the lum
berjacks in the traditional "O Tannen-
baum," which is sung first in German,
then in English.
For the most part, appreciators of interesting classical music should enjoy the
album. It's also a nice professional boost
for the gay community and a recording
event of which it can be proud.
MCCR Choir to Present Cantata
The MCCR Choir will present their
annual Christmas Cantata Sunday night,
Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the church at 1919
Decatur and extends an invitation to the
everyone in the community to come and
enjoy traditional Christmas music.
This year's Christmas festival will feature Christmas spirituals, a Christmas
medley, 'Twas on a Cold and Wintry
Night" and "Symphony to the Savior."
These selections offer many favorite carols and a few new ones. Choir members
will also be featured in solo works
throughout the concert.
"We found this music to be enjoyable
and challenging," said John Kirkland,
director. "The use of new and traditional
Christmas carols is the reason."
He stated that the concert represents
many hours of choir members' personal
dedication, and that the group of musicians is an asset to the entire gay community.