Sydney Gay and Lesbian ChoirThe iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir (SGLC) will perform their final concert for the year, Wish You Were Here – Songs of Celebration and Reflection, at Riverside Theatres

This unique celebration for Christmas features an eclectic repertoire of choral works highlighting the importance of thoughtfulness and remembering of those who will not be with us this season.

The concert includes Christmas classics from the likes of Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo, Kim Andre Arnesen, Benjamin Britten and more.

In true SGLC style, the second half of the concert will take a tongue-in-cheek and irreverent look at the music of the silly season with a selection of non-traditional and twisted carols including SGLC’s original version of The 12 Days After Christmas and Atheists Don’t Have No Songs. These hilariously fun renditions will have audiences giggling as they tap their toes!

SGLC Music Director Adam Majsay is excited to share the program with audiences and says, “The choir continuously raises the bar, performing challenging and exciting music which shows that though we’re a non-auditioned choir, we’re able to maintain the highest musical standards. What’s great about SGLC is that we do this all within a culture of fun and inclusivity – all are welcome to come along and sing, and have a great time doing it!”

SGLC has been breaking out into song and breaking down barriers with its uplifting and inclusive approach to choral music since its inception in 1991. As one of Australia’s most popular community choirs with over 80 active singing members, it welcomes singers without audition and regardless of their sexuality, gender identity or music experience.

We sat down with Adam Majsay, the musical director:

Can you tell us a bit of the history of the choir?

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir is almost thirty years old. The choir began with an open letter published in Sydney Star Observer in 1991, by one of our long-time members, Rob Holland, asking if there was anyone interested in starting a LGBT choir in Sydney. I think he’d recently returned from the US where each city seemed to have its own queer choir, and he thought it was about time Sydney had one of its own. The choir had its first performance at the Mars Hill Cafe in Parramatta in 1991, with the tagline ‘Something to Sing About’, reflecting on the experience of being part of the queer community during the heart of the AIDS crisis. That motto has been a driver for much of the choir’s outreach for the past three decades.

Early on, SGLC was at the vanguard of facilitating progress in acceptance of LGBT people amongst the wider community. A significant moment was when the choir toured to Wagga Wagga to compete in a national competition for choirs. The organisers of the event were keen to have SGLC change its name to the Darlinghurst Singers, rather than being so overt and visible as a lesbian and gay choir. The choir refused, and performed as Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir. They also won the competition! That has been a pretty proud moment for the choir – and speaks volumes of the power of standing strong in your identity and not compromising your sense of self to make others comfortable. Those values hold true today.

What, in your mind, makes this choir so special and such an enduring institution within the LGBTQI community?

I think what makes the choir so special is that it represents such a wide-cross section of the LGBTQI+ community. It’s an accepting and inclusive space where quite strong, long-lasting friendships are formed. It’s also a lot of fun, and gives people a chance to express themselves, all the while being able to participate in amazing performance opportunities and to be visible as an LGBTQI+ group. The choir offers a means to highlight LGBTQI+ issues in a non-threatening and non-confrontational way and create stronger links with the straight community. I love that we have members who don’t identify as being on the LGBTQI+ spectrum, but as allies for our community, simply want to be a part of our welcoming choir family.

Why have you titled the concert “Wish You Were Here”?

It might be through estrangement from family, through the loss of loved ones, or simply the tyranny of distance, but the absence of a friend or family member is often felt the strongest at times like Christmas. Wish You Were Here captures the reality that, as so much attention is given at this time of year to celebrating, gathering together as families, or groups of friends, sharing in meals, celebrating the year that’s gone, many people are unable to be with those they love.

What are some of the highlights from Wish You Were Here?

Wish You Were Here features an eclectic mix of choral works that highlight the importance of reflection and remembering those who will not be with us this season. The concert includes Christmas classics from the likes of Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo, Kim Andre Arnesen, Benjamin Britten and more. In true SGLC style, the second half of the concert takes a tongue-in-cheek and irreverent look at the music of the silly season with a selection of non-traditional and twisted carols including some really fun songs in The 12 Days After Christmas and Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.

What can audiences expect from this, the final show for 2019?

Audiences will be moved to both laughter and tears in our final program for the year. Beyond the fine storytelling that characterises SGLC performances, the choir is truly an excellent musical ensemble. As a non-auditioned choir, SGLC welcomes every person who would like sing in an inclusive, diverse, queer-friendly choir – regardless of musical skill or experience. Our audiences feel that welcoming atmosphere emanating from the choir in all of our performances. But, what our audiences also come away with is a real appreciation for SGLC as a top quality, professionally-minded musical ensemble, with high musical standards and a commitment to performance excellence.

What does the choir have planned for next year?

Our 2020 program is still a little hush-hush, but rest assured, we’ll be taking our audiences on a journey from the dancefloor to the concert hall, and from the Sydney CBD to the bush and back!

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