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The GALA 2004 Festival

My first year in the Boston Gay Men's Chorus
Has been filled with life-changing events.
My first time at the every-4-years GALA Festival
Was eight days of life-changing events.
It was a blur of delicious food,
(Montreal's famous cooking)
And inspiring music --
Modern, classical, Gospel and all.
Some numbers: It was the biggest GALA Festival ever:
        5700 attendees,
        164 performing groups,
        And I saw more than 70 of them.
I kept notes in the voluminous program book
To have some hope of remembering and associating
Particular bits of brilliance
With the right group.
I went to some parties.
I made some new friends.
But it was the music
That made so many amazing moments.
The first amazing moment:
The Festival's opening performance slot was given
To Chicago in the small room
And Boston in the big one!
Our thirty minute set seemed to flash by in seconds.
The house went wild.
For the rest of the week, strangers would walk up to us and rave.
I couldn't believe that I was part of so well regarded a group.
The amazing moments kept on coming:
One performance included a ballet.
Maybe I'll fly out to Minneapolis for the complete version.
Choreography and excellence from Ohio.
Remarkable singing from Turtle Creek and Seattle.
Various and sundry pieces
Commissioned specifically for this Festival.
A chorus assembled from attendees
Joined Gospel choruses at Notre Dame Cathedral,
A place every bit as beautiful
Visually and acoustically as they say.
Lily Tomlin performed one evening
And afterwards met a hundred or so of us at a VIP banquet.
She generously spent a few moments with every one of us.
When I shook her hand, I was speechless.
The most amazing moment?
The best of the best?
It was the single youth chorus in attendance.
A high school gay/straight group called Diverse Harmony.
Beautiful singing and heartfelt stories.
Everybody in the house cried.
    A spoken introduction inventorying hurtful phrases,
    Then a call to activism.
    A story from a girl about her brother's diary
    And his struggle to come out to her.
    Brother and sister, gay and straight now singing together.
    For the finale their parents or chaperones joined them on stage.
I waited 20 years for my mom to attend my gay chorale debut.
How far we have come for kids to be joined on stage by their moms
While they sing for and about gay people!
As it was said when my chorus sang
Earlier in the year with a high school chorus,
"The youth shall lead the way."
And so they did!
The seventh GALA Festival,
July 2004 in Montreal:
Eight days of amazing, life changing moments.

20 July 2004

by Bill Cattey