The boys are fabulous, they sing well and the choir they belong to has been part of Ottawa’s queer community for the past 25 years. On Saturday, May 28, the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus will celebrate the occasion with their annual spring concert at the First Baptist Church in downtown Ottawa.
Gordon Johnston founded the choir in 1986. He was inspired by a Vancouver community choir and wanted to build a safe space in Ottawa for gay men who shared a similar passion. Throughout the years the choir has transformed from a social gathering place to a choir with a strong repertoire and a formidable musical presence.
Richard Cliff has been a member of the choir for the past four years. He talks about the choir’s upcoming performance.
“We’re really ready. I don’t know if we have ever been this prepared,” says Cliff, adding that the concert will showcase the choir’s growing level of musical ability. “I have seen a progression over these past four years of difficulty – this year the program is all about rhythm and it’s really difficult.”
For Cliff, the concert will be a bittersweet experience. For the first time he will sing a solo, in a piece called “Insalata Italiana.” The piece has the German translation of Parody of an Opera Scene, it is a light hearted and intended to be sung with gusto and a little bit of tongue-in-cheek.
Cliff is obviously looking forward to singing the solo piece, but it will also be the last time he will sing with the choir.
“I am really enjoying the opportunity… while I am sad to let it go, I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to do it at all,” he says. “It’s kind of nice to go out with this big giant parody of something that I love.”
On Saturday night the mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, will be in the audience. While Watson is a supporter of the choir – he attended their last concert in December – he will also be there on official city business. Watson is scheduled to present a City of Ottawa Proclamation to the musical director and president of the choir proclaiming May 28, 2011, to be the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus day.