HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
DECEMBER 12, 2003 19
out on the bayou
'Silver Bells' marks 25 years of music for Gay Men's Chorus
SILVER BELLS, continued from Page 15
added 120 members, but it has drastically
increased its audience.
"Our audience has gone from about 300
per concert cycle to about 1,800," he said.
"We've gone from wonderful, smaller
venues to making a real commitment to
recognized and valid concert venues." This
season, he said, most concerts will be presented either at the Wortham Center or at
the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
The last 25 years have seen Houston's
gay community devastated by AIDS and
harassed by discrimination and prejudice.
Through it all, the voices of the Gay Men's
Chorus of Houston have risen above the
strife to heal, uplift, move and delight all
those within hearing range.
To anyone who balks at the idea of
purchasing a ticket to a concert by a
group of predominately gay men, the
GMCH beckons, "We are your sons and
daughters, your coworkers and your
friends. Our songs are from the heart and
we present you one voice."
KNAPP SAID THE MISSION OF THE
Chorus is to achieve excellence in choral
music, to provide a nurturing environment
for members and offer a source of pride,
unity and support to the diverse communities that are Houston. He is confident that
the mission is being accomplished.
A member of the Gay and Lesbian
Association of Choruses (GALA) with
over 10,000 members worldwide, the
Chorus is one of the oldest in the country
and among the largest.
Knapp has brought an unmistakable
international pedigree to the GMCH,
whose performances shine with lively fan-
favored traditions that feature a wide
range of musical treasures.
Principal accompanist Beth McConnell
provides another bit of musical diversity
from having performed
throughout the United States.
McConnell has served as the
accompanist for the Houston
Symphony Chorus, choral
ensembles at University of
Houston, as well as local
churches and theaters.
If all that wasn't enough
cause for celebration, the chorus released its first CD in
years, a holiday offering entitled "Gratitude."
In the CD's liner notes,
Knapp says, "Gratitude is
the heartbeat of the chorus.
We are grateful each and
every time we are together,
grateful when we have the
privilege of singing for an
audience and deeply grateful
for the magic that has
changed the lives of so many
through the transforming
power of music."
A drunken Mrs. Claus, played by Kftty Kam, gets a ride home from designated driving members of the chorus during the
group's holiday production. (All photos by Dalton Dehart)
THE CD FEATURES MORE
than an hour of music from diverse holiday
traditions, that were recorded during the
past year at the Stude Concert Hall in the
Shepherd School of Music on the Rice
University campus, at the Bering
Memorial United Methodist Church and
the Resurrection Metropolitan
"This is so exciting," Knapp said. "We
printed 1,000 copies and sold 1,200. We've
ordered a second printing."
The 15 tracks feature a wide range of
Holiday themed songs, beginning with a
rousing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
and followed by "Carol of the Bells." Other
tracks include "It's the Most Wonderful
Time of the Year," "Over the Skies of
Yisrael," "Music of Hanukah," a gorgeous
rendition of the classic "Home," and fin
ishes with a 13-minute version of
The most unusual performance on the
CD is "The Twelve Days After Christmas."
With lyrics that include, "The first day
after Christmas my true love and I had a
fight. And so I chopped down the pear tree
and burned it just for spite."
This year's holiday concert features the
debut of the side-splitting "Forgotten
Carols of Other Lands," the gospel soul of
"Behold That Star!" and the rollicking new
favorite, "All I Want for Christmas is You."
The concert treats audiences to a visit
to Santa's workshop - as only GMCH can
present it, with a special musical appearance by Mrs. Claus, who has dipped a little
too deeply into the eggnog bowl.
Knapp said the 2003-2004 season has
proven that as the audience grows in size.
it also grows in a diversity of its own.
"From that diversity, we are really
trying to build those bridges to the
greater community," he said. "We want
to break those labels of just being a chorus of gay men."
•ft MORE INFO
•Silver Bells: Holidays in the City1
8 p.m. Dec. 12
3 p.m. Dec. 14
500 Texas Ave.
Decked out in tuxedos and evening attire, the chorus follows the lead of artistic director James Knapp as chorus girls' take it away.
Artistic director James Knapp and principal accompanist Betti McConnell bask in
audience applause along with members of the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston.