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Local Choruses Ring in the Holidays with Annual Show

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By Megan Wadding

Bayou City Performing Arts is presenting an annual holiday show, RING!, which is a collaboration of choruses, including the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston, Bayou City Women’s Chorus, Houston Heights Orchestra, and the Houston Bronze Ensemble.

Each ensemble will perform on its own, as well as multiple numbers alongside the other ensembles, according to Kenneth Clayborne, director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston.

The orchestra and hand-bells will be supplementing the choruses and will also perform on their own. “The combination of orchestra, hand-bells, organ, and choir always makes for an exciting concert,” says Clayborne.

Outside of community engagements where the choruses may be combined, the holiday show is the only time of year to see a full concert with both choruses singing, according to Clayborne.

Planning and practice for the holiday show begins in the early summer, with weekly rehearsals starting in September. “It would seem very difficult to start mentally preparing the choruses for holiday music during September and October in Houston, but the artistic staff is always very excited in choosing the music,” Clayborne says. “By the time rehearsals begin, curiosity and singing through the music for the first time will energize the chorus throughout the Houston heat.”

New member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston, Adam Turetsky, agrees with Clayborne. “While learning and practicing the holiday music, I start thinking about cool weather and holiday joy, and that makes me look forward to the holiday season even more,” he says. “[With] great music and a little comedy peppered in, [it] will be a fun show!”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston was originally organized out of Mary’s Bar in November of 1979 as carolers. The Bayou City Women’s Chorus was established in 2005 for both lesbian and straight women.

Each chorus, which has 35 members, will have its own special holiday show attire for the show.

However, Clayborne says to expect some surprises.

“I just couldn’t imagine a concert with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston that would not have a costume or two thrown in,” he says.

According to Clayborne the music will be a nice mix; it will span from the classic holiday songs to funny selections, and a bit of everything in between. “This concert is a mix of sacred and secular music,” says Clayborne. “We have also chosen a nice balance of traditional and funny selections incorporating a multicultural aspect with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa pieces featuring new and well-known composers. Having orchestra, chorus, and hand-bells, we chose to take advantage of the great music written for such a combination.”

Clayborne named classic compositions such as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” variations on “Jingle Bells,” and “Fa-La-La!,” among the song selections for this year’s show.

He added that there will be a special song centered on “peace, love, hope, and joy.” “I can’t think of a better time than right now in this world, in which we need these very things,” he says.

Grace Cannon, a member of the Bayou City Women’s Chorus for the past two years, is excited for the selection of songs this year. “We have a couple of really beautiful secular pieces that I’m looking forward to performing,” she says. “One of them allows the choir to improvise some parts, which I think is a great way to let us show off a little.”

Over 500 people were in attendance at the show last year, and Clayborne expects similar numbers this year. “We always take pride in providing an opportunity for the Houston LGBTQ community to come together during the holiday season,” Clayborne says. “The holidays can bring both happy and sad memories and emotions into our personal world, so we use the vessel of music to bridge our lives to come together as a family.”

What: Bayou City Performing Arts’ RING! Annual Holiday Concert
Location: Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, 2025 West 11th St.
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 3 p.m.
Tickets: For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.BCPAHouston.org. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $10 for children (12 years and under).

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