1 min

Rites of Spring

The Ottawa Gay Men's Chorus are singing out loud

The Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus is preparing to usher in spring with its first concert of the 2004 season, which will also mark the start of music director Leith Chu’s second year with the chorus.

Chu says to expect some variety in the show.

The English title for the program is Notes From Abroad and the theme is music from around the world.

Two new pieces the chorus will tackle include a parody of Italian opera and a popish arrangement of Bach, originally arranged by the Swingle Singers.

One year into his tenure, Chu has very high praise for the group.

“When I came to this job I had never heard the choir sing before,” he confesses, “but I knew that it was a non-audition choir – some of the members read music, some don’t – but the levels they are able to achieve are just amazing.”

Chu’s last gig was directing an audition choir of university students, many of whom majored in music. Chu says he honestly thinks the chorus has done a better job with some of the pieces both groups performed.

Later this spring, the chorus will perform at a Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA) event in Montreal. It is the first time the GALA event will be held outside the United States.

“I love music and any occasion to make music is great for me,” says Gianluca Ragazzini, president of the chorus. Ragazzini joined the group in 1997 shortly after moving to Canada. He says he found the courage to come out at the chorus and met his husband there.

Ragazzini says the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus, which was founded in 1986, plays an important role both for individuals and for the larger gay and lesbian community.

“It’s a venue for people to be in an environment that is safe and friendly,” he says. “For the community, I think we are still in a situation where any positive artistic image – both within the community and to the community at large – is definitely a positive thing.”

The Chorus will also perform with mixed choir Tone Cluster and Schola Cantorosa, a gay men’s chorus from Hamburg, Germany, in June.