LA Gay Men’s Chorus gets another chief

LA Gay Men’s Chorus gets another chief


norman lebrecht

November 14, 2019

The troubled enterprise has turned to Ernest H. Harrison to put them back on the rails after accusations, resignations and defections.

Harrison is associate conductor of the National Children’s Chorus, conductor of Pasadena Conservatory’s Cantare Chamber Choir and assistant conductor at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.

LA Times reports: He will be the first permanent music director and conductor since Joe Nadeau left as the chorus’ music director in December. Gavin Thrasher, who served as interim music director, departed in August to lead the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.





  • John Borstlap says:

    A ‘gay male chorus’ sounds a bit like a ‘presbyterian string trio” or a ‘Roman Catholic toilet paper factory’ or a ‘flat earthers honkball club’. Two factors which have nothing to do with each other.

    That the inappropriate crossing of boundaries has also infiltrated in such chorusses, could be considered a sign of efficient integration of different amorous tastes within the whole of society – #theytoo.

    • Olassus says:

      Choral singing is largely about a bond people feel, and as a composer you ought to know this.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Yes, I know, that’s why choirs never sing serial music. People get together on the basis of shared interests, but why would music not be enough?

        But whenever I’m at my club at Pall Mall I feel there’s something missing although I don’t know what it is.

  • OM says:

    What gay has to do with singing in chorus? I could not get it why they have to declare their sex orientation just for the singing. And what is next – gay opera?

    • John Borstlap says:

      My LA fly on the wall tells me that there are three members of this choir who pretend to be gay because the singing and the comraderie are so good.

  • Jesus says:

    Such an amazona person! Greta choice

  • Patrick Gillot says:

    “Gay Men Chorus” do they sound different than an open to every men chorus? Why such a big story about Vienna Phil not admitting women for years and now having a chorus reserved for Gay Men?

  • Eric says:

    There is an historical reason why a gay men’s chorus exists. Interesting how it flushes out the homophobes in the comments. If there were an African-American men’s chorus or a Jewish men’s chorus no one would bitch.

    • Rich C. says:

      It is difficult for a gay man to make it in the classical music business? The next thing you’re gonna tell me is that it’s difficult for a Jew to make to as a comedian.

    • John Borstlap says:

      We know about the difficulties of the Torino Mandoline Orchestra where they had to accept males and refugees after protests that they were a female ensemble.

  • Bruce says:

    By way of explanation why such a thing as a gay men’s chorus might exist when choral singing and sexual orientation have nothing to do with each other: this is a paraphrase of a comment I wrote a couple of years ago when people were asking the same questions about a LGBT+ orchestra that was forming somewhere.

    I am gay and mixed-race. In my department at work, the population (10-12 people) is all white and all heterosexual except for me. They are mostly religious and mostly politically conservative. We all eat lunch together at a big table and the conversation ranges wherever it may. I have sat there pretending to look at my phone while people talk about how the gays are “ruining marriage for the rest of us” by requiring everyone to show approval for gay marriage, and how “black people need to stop resisting the police, then they wouldn’t get shot so much.” Not wanting to make waves as the only “different” person at the table and the new guy/ low person on the totem pole, I would sit there scrolling through Facebook or whatever, pretending not to notice all the heads bobbing up and down in unison.

    It’s not a “toxic” work environment. I’m not in the closet and don’t feel pressured to go back in there. I don’t feel singled out or intimidated, or like I don’t belong somehow. These are kind, caring people who I would trust implicitly with my health and safety. (In fact I have, when I’ve been a patient in this hospital and some of them helped take care of me.) When I was at home recovering from surgery, some of them visited and cooked me meals. These are good, Christian people.

    Nevertheless, when I leave work, I always feel a sense — however slight — of relief, and I look forward to being with people (at home, or at my other job) who are more like me. If I were going to join a chorus in my free time, I’d probably join a gay men’s chorus because I get enough of that “I am different” feeling at work. At the same time — since in my other life I’m a professional musician — I’d want the group to be good. I’d rather audition and not get in (and practice harder for next year) than be part of a bad choral group.


    I will note that the kind of lunch-table talk I described above has greatly decreased since Trump became president. Correlation does not equal causation, I know; I’m just noting the correlation.


    Anyway, sometimes a group founded as a leisure activity/ social club finds an audience and grows bigger and busier, until it needs a professionally trained leader and professional administrative staff. That’s when the “what does being gay have to do with anything” stuff starts.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Message from real life, thank you. These lunch table talks are disgusting in their ignorance… and quite surrealistic. Especially “how the gays are ‘ruining marriage for the rest of us’ by requiring everyone to show approval for gay marriage” is stuff for a hilarious spoof.

    • V. Lind says:

      Extremely well stated. Back in the 80s, when (at least in Canada) being known to be gay was still a disadvantage in many walks of life, a gay friend of mine — finding his way, beginning to come out to close friends — joined a gay bowling league, though he had little interest in the game before, and a gay choir, as he had always been interested in music. He did this to be among people with whom he did not need to pretend, and with whom he could possibly find the companionship that we, his female and heterosexual friends, could not provide.

      Things have mercifully changed a good bit in the intervening years, and when groups such as the LA chorus attain success and can be open about it, it seems to me only fair that they can now self-identify and proclaim their achievements.

      Maybe one day you will feel able to ask your colleagues how support for gay marriage affects heterosexual marriage? These people are not exactly fishing in the same stream. Some of them may be going along for the same reason you do — not to make waves.

      The race thing is more complicated. Attitudes have been entrenched longer and more deeply. And they are institutionalised, but raising the question of whether particular police departments have systemic racism in their DNA is a difficult one to argue. But anyone who buys into the notion that black citizens are asking for it is beyond redemption. The evidence is too great but as we frequently see in this forum, evidence is in a bad place right now with the “alternate fact” crowd at the helm.

      Good luck.

  • David Leibowitz says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am saddened (as always) at the usual homophobic, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and generally bigoted comments that flow so effortlessly from all the usual SD comment crew.

    I visit this site for the industry info that Norman posts and I promise myself, again and again: “Don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments.” But occasionally my eye strays down and I am always/never disappointed by the venomous hatred that spews out of these self-professed “music lovers” and “cultured” people.

    How can you profess to love an art form when it is clear that there is no love in your heart at all. If you have no idea why, historically and artistically, there are Gay Men’s choruses in many cities in the US and how they operate and who is invited to join, then do some freaking research.

    It’ll take you less time to find out why they are important and enriching, not only to the gay community but the entire community they serve, than to open your ill-informed mouth and pour forth hateful ignorance.

    Oh, and if you hide behind an alias to make your comments here, you are a coward.