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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Gay men’s chorus serenades Grinnell

This past Sunday evening, Grinnell College welcomed the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus to Herrick Chapel.

The program was sponsored by the Grinnell United Church of Christ, the Center for Religion, Spirituality and Social Justice (CRSSJ) and the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC).

Founded in 1985, the chorus was originally named the Des Moines Men’s Chorus. In 2001, the chorus was given its current name and crafted a new mission statement.

As Deanna Shorb, Dean of Religious Life, stated at the beginning of the program, the chorus is dedicated to “promoting harmony among all, while promoting a positive image of gay people through outstanding musicianship, creative programming and community outreach.”

The chorus delivered this message successfully by performing songs that appealed to the audience of students, faculty and community members.

The two-hour event was comprised of songs from multiple regions of the world, including the Northern Ireland, British Isles, Estonia, South Africa and the United States. Led by conductor and artistic director Dr. Rebecca Gruber, multiple messages of vigor and courage were apparent in the program. Each song conveyed a sense of community and demonstrated the power found in solidarity.

Gruber demonstrated the significance of “community outreach” through audience participation and educated the audience about??? For two songs of the program, “We Shall Not Give Up the Fight” and “Carry On!” the audience was able to become a part of the chorus and sing along. According to Gruber, these songs—from South Africa and Northern Ireland, respectively—were sung during times of hardship, giving these populations the hope and willpower to push through to a time of peace.

The chorus’s performance also involved a “feel good” section, in which nine of the choir’s members, known as HarMeny, sang rock and jazz classics, such as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Feeling Good” and “We Belong.” This small ensemble was created in 2008 to compensate for the lack of country, jazz, show tunes and pop music.

By the end of the concert, the audience had been exposed to a variety of music through participation in the program and learned about the history of a select few countries.

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