Friday, November 16, 2001

Five Local GLBT Music Groups Combine For “In Remembrance” Concert

(Article published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #169, November 16, 2001)

Over 250 performers from five Twin Cities queer music groups recently collaborated in an unprecedented combined concert. Titled “In Remembrance,” it was billed as “a response from the GLBT Performing Arts Community to the events of September 11, 2001.” The concert was presented in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 11, two months to the day after the attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. No admission was charged, but donations were accepted to benefit GLBT victims of the Sept. 11 attacks as well as the women and children of Afghanistan.

The weather that afternoon was perfect—it was hard to believe it was mid-November. The warm sun streamed through the stained-glass windows of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, which donated the use of its building for the concert so that all funds collected could be donated to the concert’s beneficiaries. The concert was performed in the church’s acoustically-excellent sanctuary, while the rest of the building functioned as rehearsal space for the five performing arts groups. While pride was very much in evidence, the dominant theme of the afternoon was compassion, reaching out to help people who were suffering.

After opening remarks by special guest speakers Rabbi Stacy Offner of Shir Tikvah Congregation and Reverend Anita Hill of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, the Minnesota Freedom Band performed “The Star Spangled Banner” in honor of those who died in the attacks. Conductor Beth Smith poignantly noted that people of many nationalities were victims on Sept. 11 but that there was “not enough time to play all 80 national anthems.” The band then played “Imagine” by John Lennon, inviting the audience to sing along.

The Calliope Women’s Chorus was the second group to perform. Guest-conducted by Jane Ramseyer Miller, they sang “Love Will Guide Us” (“On the road from greed to giving/Love will guide us/Through the dark night”) and a charming wordless rendition, pure sound and pure harmony, of the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

One Voice Mixed Chorus, conducted by Camilla J. Horne, sang a musical setting of the Latin words dona nobis pacem (“Grant us peace”) entitled “Song for World Peace.” This was followed by “In Remembrance” from Eleanor Daley’s Requiem, a musical setting of the anonymously-authored poem “Do not stand at my grave and weep.”

The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, conducted by Dr. Stan Hill, opened their segment of the program very appropriately with their signature song, “Walk Hand In Hand With Me” (“Walk hand in hand with me/That is our destiny”), and followed that with a powerful rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

The final group to perform was the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra (according to Dr. Stan Hill, “the only GLBT orchestra in the world”). Honorary Guest Conductor Mary Bussman led the group in a performance of Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” that was narrated by the orchestra’s conductor-emeritus, James Touchi-Peters.

Then, completely filling the front of the church and lining both sides of the sanctuary as well, all five groups combined in stirring renditions of “Freedom is Coming,” a traditional South African freedom song conducted by Jane Ramseyer Miller, and “Let There Be Peace On Earth,” conducted by Jackie Dubbe.

All proceeds from the concert (over $3,500) were divided equally among three beneficiaries:

• The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Disaster Relief Fund, established by the Stonewall Community Foundation ( to help GLBT New Yorkers directly impacted by the World Trade Center disaster.

• Help the Afghan Children, Inc. (HTACI,, a U.S.-based, grassroots, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to helping Afghan children.

• Revoluntionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA,, an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights and social justice in Afghanistan.

This event marked the first time that all five of these Twin Cities GLBT performing arts groups have given a joint concert. (The Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra has never been part of the annual Festival of Pride concert performed at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.) A sixth local group, the Rainbow Family Children’s Chorus, supported the idea of the concert but does not have autumn rehearsals and therefore could not participate.

A concert involving five performing arts groups made up of a total of 250 performers presents a formidable logistics challenge. That it happened at all is noteworthy, but that it started on time and went very smoothly, with seamless transitions from one performing group to another, is almost unheard of. One big factor in the success of the concert was the Queer Music Consortium, which provides a structure of monthly meetings for communication and cooperation between representatives from the various local GLBT music-performance groups. According to Dr. Hill, “This type of cooperation is unique to the Twin Cities, and it says a lot about the cohesion of this community.”

Audience reaction to the concert was overwhelmingly enthusiastic—one audience member said, as he left the church, “They should do this more than once a year—and it shouldn’t take a tragedy to pull it all together!”

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