History

Led by Artistic Director Thea Kano, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC is in its 36th season with a mission that is dynamic and socially-relevant: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC sings to inspire equality and inclusion with musical performances and education promoting justice and dignity for all. GMCW has more than 250 singing members, four select ensembles, 100 support volunteers, more than 400 subscribers, 500 donors and an annual audience of more than 10,000 people.

The Chorus and its select ensembles have kept a very busy schedule in the 2016-2017 season, with more than 90 outreach performances in the region and almost 5,000 volunteer outreach hours. Recent outreach performances have included National Institutes of Health, Whitman Walker Health, SMYAL, DC Flag Football, Valley AIDS Network, Washington National Cathedral and the White House holiday tour. In May 2016, GMCW ensemble Potomac Fever traveled to Ukraine for an historic LGBT music and outreach tour. In July 2015, members of GMCW embarked on an historic first-ever tour by a gay chorus to Cuba. In June of 2012, Potomac Fever had the distinct honor of performing at a reception honoring rising LGBT leaders hosted by President Obama at The White House.

GMCW has performed for President and First Lady Obama, six consecutive years at Vice President and Dr. Biden’s residence, at the historic Carnegie Library in honor of longtime gay rights activist Dr. Frank Kameny, at the first LGBT Pride Month at the White House and as part of the concert We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, for the 56th Presidential Inaugural. In 1997, GMCW performed for President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration. During its 20th anniversary season, GMCW performed at Symphony Hall in Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York City. In December 2002, GMCW was honored to perform as part of the 25th annual Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. GMCW returned to the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2010 to honor Jerry Herman alongside Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury and Chita Rivera, among other Broadway luminaries.

GMCW’s 30th Anniversary Commission, Alexander’s House, was honored by winning the 2012 Washington Area Music Award (WAMMIE) for Best Classical Recording.  Our Potomac Fever/Rock Creek Singers recording Together Again won the 2014 WAMMIE for Best Choral Recording. The Chorus also took home a WAMMIE in 2010 for Best Choral Group. GMCW presents an annual season of five subscription concerts in Washington, DC, a fall cabaret fundraiser, a monthly piano bar open mic night at Cobalt and maintains a busy calendar of community outreach concerts for public and private events throughout the District and surrounding region, including programs for PFLAG and Food & Friends. GMCW sponsors several select outreach ensembles: Potomac Fever, a 15-voice close harmony group; Rock Creek Singers, a 30-voice chamber ensemble; Seasons of Love, an inspirational and gospel music group; and 17th Street Dance, a jazz dance ensemble.

Since 2001, the Chorus has maintained a robust youth outreach program, GenOUT, that offers on-school-time programs, as well as free tickets to high school students, parents and teachers. In 2015, GMCW launched the GenOUT Chorus, the first LGBTQ youth chorus in the District area. The Chorus made its debut at the May 2015 concert Born This Way and has grown to include over 25 students from 16 area schools. The GenOUT Chorus has performed around the DC area, in Denver, CO at the GALA Choruses Festival, and at the White House.

The Chorus demonstrates its commitment to community outreach projects by participating in the Whitman Walker Walk to End HIV, an annual toy drive to benefit Community and Family Life Services, holiday caroling at the National Institute of Health, and volunteering at Food & Friends. GMCW is a proud member of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA Choruses), Chorus America and the Cultural Alliance of Washington.

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