Orlando Gay Chorus is restructuring and reaching out

By : Deanndra Meno
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The Orlando Gay Chorus wants the community to know they’re here, they’re queer and they’re ready to sing.

At their “We Are Family” concert May 14, the OGC hosted a reception after the show at the Plaza LIVE, where Artistic Director and Conductor James Rode extended an invitation to the LGBT organization representatives in attendance: The Orlando Gay Chorus is available to perform at events and fundraisers.

Watermark spoke to Rode before the show and he said they’d like to reach out to all of the local LGBT groups.

“We’re putting ourselves out there to say,‘please get in touch with us,’” Rode says. “You don’t have to pay for something that is a fundraiser for your not for profit.”

In addition to reaching out, OCG is reaching in to make some changes, as well.

“This year the OGC voted to change the structure of the chorus to mirror big time arts groups around the country,” Rode says. “We’re expanding our board to include new community members.

The board previously was taken from the chorus, and now we’re looking for community members with business experience to serve on our board of directors.”

Rode is going into his second year as director and the chorus celebrated its 25 year anniversary last year.

“It’s just gotten so big. [Restructuring is] kind of the next step,” he says. “We can stay at community chorus level or try to take a step to be more semi-professional. It helps with grants and funding, and we want to be a better community member for our gay and lesbian organizations in town.”

OGC’s other outreach effort is a new education program. Rode says they’ve invited all of Orange County’s Gay-Straight Alliance chapters to participate, and there are two presentations. One is an “It Gets Better” type of presentation where Chorus members will share their personal coming out stories and discuss them with youth. The other is a songwriting workshop that is still in development, Rode says.

“We’re trying to put together a lesson plan,” he says. “We want to encourage kids to put their thoughts into words, put them into music, then do a follow-up with how to write music.”

Rode says the workshops will be run by Linda Knutson, a songwriter and member of OGC.

After performances at Orlando Fringe Festival and Gay Days, the next OGC concert is “A Lotta Night Music,” June 11 at Orlando Museum of Art. It features ensembles and chorus members performing their favorite songs from a variety of genres, plus a preview of songs from OGC’s upcoming GALA 2016 performance July 2.

For tickets or to contact Orlando Gay Chorus, visit OrlandoGayChorus.org.

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