Memory #2: Quiet No More- A Celebration of Stonewall
Summer of 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the start of the GLBTQ movement for equality.
The Denver Women’s Chorus and the Denver Gay Men’s chorus came together with many other GLBTQ choruses from all over the United States to perform this commissioned work. We all performed it in May and June of 2019, culminating in a huge performance at Carnegie Hall in New York with singers from all over the country.
It was one of the most emotional and complex pieces we have worked on. Some of the elder singers had been around at the time of the riots in New York, some had actually been there. They shared the stories with us younger folks and we learned how hard it was back then. To have your love for another rules illegal because you two were the same gender. To have your very livelihood declared obscene and disgusting. To fight for your very right to exist.
Rehearsals brought a lot of emotions to the surface for many of us but the piece was so important to us all as we began to understand the words we were singing.
Once we got the 2 choruses together and the real work began, it became alive. The piece was amazing and we all knew this was something that comes along once in a lifetime.
I was also honored to be one of the narrators and had 3 speaking parts. The narrators helped to fill in the gaps between movements and spoke of the history of why we celebrate Pride month in June.
After our first full run-through, we all sat for a minute and reveled in the feeling that this was amazing and we couldn’t wait for the audience to hear it!
We performed it in several venues all over the city of Denver. Audiences were moved to tears, especially with the brilliant video portion of the piece. It showed pictures and videos from that time back in 1969.
Once we came off the stage and mingled with the audience members, we heard stories from so many of them. Telling us their stories of coming out, being hidden, being fired, being thrown out of families, and more. It was a sharing between performer and spectator unlike any I have ever had before.
It changed all who performed the piece; from the musicians to chorus. Even the stage crews were impacted. The ripple effect was magical and inspiring. I am so glad and proud of my part in the performance.
It will be hard to replace this #2 position.