Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir (circa 2000)

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Jonathon Welch

Formed in January 1991, the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir has a current membership of around two hundred people who perform everything from medieval motets and Elizabethan madrigals to choral arrangements of jazz, blues, folk and pop songs, as well as music of special relevance to gay and lesbian people. The Choir represents a group of singers and administrators from all walks of life who are dedicated to producing memorable performances.

The Choir regularly performs for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, the AIDS Trust of Australia, the AIDS Council of NSW and numerous community organisations. The Choir’s community fundraising efforts have raised $46,000 for the AIDS Trust.

The Choir has also been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including First Prize in the Australian National Open Choral Championships in 1992 and First Prize in the GIO Australia Open Choral Awards, part of the McDonald’s City of Sydney Performing Arts Challenge, in 1999. The Choir has also been the subject of a documentary Something to Sing About after the concert (and CD) which inspired it was broadcast around the world. This documentary won the prestigious Rouben Mamoulian Award at the 1995 Sydney Film Festival and was nominated for an international human rights award. The Choir’s second CD, Never Turning Back (1997), features a selection of their most outstanding concert performances.

In addition to its own local and national concert appearances, the Choir toured Europe in 1998 with performances in London, Paris and Brighton, culminating in the Gay Games Cultural Festival in Amsterdam. Sydney Gay & Lesbian Choir has performed with many top billing artists such as Julian Clary, Geraldine Turner, Judy Connelli, Bob Downe, Nancye Hayes, Jeanie Little, Peter Cousens, Max Cullen, Angela Toohey, David Campbell, Linda Nagle and Paul Capsis; and featured in the opening of Fox Studios Australia with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

In 1999 the Choir performed Faure Requiem as part of the concert From the Sublime to the Iniquitous, under the musical direction of Roland Peelman of the Song Company; and Let’s Misbehave! and Showstoppers under the new direction of Johnathon Welch. Earlier in 2000, the Choir performed You Can’t Stop the Music at the City Recital Hall in Sydney and in Melbourne with the Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus to celebrate its Tenth Anniversary.