The Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles (GMCLA), under the direction of Executive Director and Producer Lou Spisto and Musical Director and Conductor Ernest H. Harrison, continued to be acclaimed for his artistic excellence while remaining deeply rooted in service to the Los Angeles community and beyond. beyond by promoting civil rights, tolerance and acceptance through music. Founded in 1979 during the emergence of the gay rights movement, GMCLA spread its message of love and acceptance with concerts around the world and raised its collective voice in the fight for equality, justice society, the AIDS crisis, the fight for marriage equality, and for anyone seeking to find their own voice.
The band’s long-awaited next event, The Queen of the Nightfeaturing the greatest hits of legendary critically acclaimed rock band Queen, mixed with energetic opera and dance numbers performed by the Chorus, live, in person at UCLA Royce Hall on Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2 p.m. To learn more about the production, I spoke with Lou Spisto, GMCLA Executive Director and Producer (pictured) on the creation of this special event concert.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, Lou. Tell me more about what audiences will experience during QUEEN of the night.
This show – which is delayed for more than two years – is a rock extravaganza mixed with opera and energetic dance performed by the Chorus featuring the greatest hits of the incredible group Queen. Approximately 150 of our members/singers will perform iconic songs and anthems such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody to Love and We Will Rock You. These classics are, arguably, some of the best pop/rock ever written and the Chorus brings them to life as only we can. The show features four production dance numbers including I want to break free which was originally banned on MTV! There are also some wonderful operatic arias, including Freddie Mercury’s over-the-top homage to the world of opera, Barcelona, to complete this mixture of rock and opera.
GMCLA Music Director and Bandleader Ernest H. Harrison conducts the choir, with choreography by Janet Roston. How were the soloists and featured dancers selected for each number?
Janet auditioned the Chorus members and selected a group from that process. We always have a good number of singers dancing as well and GMCLA has included production dance numbers that have been fully costumed for many years. Our choir soloists are auditioned and selected by our Music Director and Conductor Ernest H. Harrison. Brian Justin Crum (pictured) and Alaysha Fox are our guest artists and they were chosen by you.
What are Brian and Alaysha going to do?
Alaysha Fox (pictured), one of LA Opera’s rising stars, will sing opera classics like Wagner’s Tannhäuser’s Dich, teure Hallé to Broadway favorites such as Porgy and Bess’ Summertime. And Brian, who shot to fame after his performance on America’s Got Talent, will perform Queen hits like Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now and more.
Given the shutdown of live shows for the past two years, how has GMCLA managed to stay active during this time?
During the pandemic, GMCLA presented a full virtual season of concerts, special events and school programs reaching thousands of longtime and new fans. From Los Angeles and Ireland to Brazil and New Zealand, GMCLA’s streaming concerts have been incredibly well received.
Tell me about the grants and community support given to GMCLA.
Season 43 of GMCLA is supported by a major grant from the LA Arts Recovery Fund. Additional support for GMCLA is provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and WeHo Arts, City of West Hollywood.
(Pictured: The Chorus and GMCLA Music Director and Conductor at A Holiday Homecoming (Royce Hall at UCLA – December 2021)
What’s next for GMCLA?
GMCLA Season 43 ends with a milestone event, TAKING FLIGHT, on August 13 and 14, 2022, with a GMCLA co-commission and Los Angeles premiere, Songs of the Phoenix. This major new work was curated by Grammy and Tony nominated composer Andrew Lippa (I Am Harvey Milk) and written by 13 diverse and talented songwriters and composers, including legends Stephen Schwartz and Stephen Sondheim. The Choir also performs complementary music from the world of musical theater and contemporary composers. Songs of the Phoenix celebrates the beauty of combat – it’s about the heart, the return of laughter, the light and the lifting of voices. Special guest artists and single ticket sales will be announced at a later date.
(Photo : The Chorus and GMCLA’s Music Director & Conductor at A Holiday Homecoming (UCLA’s Royce Hall – December 2021)
Thank you very much Lou! I can’t wait to be in the audience for QUEEN of the night This weekend.
Performances are Saturday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3 at 2:00 p.m. at Royce Hall at UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Tickets are available at GMCLA.org from $30. Intermission refreshments will be on sale on Royce Hall’s beautiful West Terrace. For detailed information about the venues, go to RoyceHall.org/visit. All photos provided by GMCLA.
All patrons attending a performance at Royce Hall at UCLA will be required to provide proof of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination (primary round of vaccination and booster, if eligible for the booster) or provide proof of a negative laboratory PCR test within 48 hours or a negative laboratory antigen test within 24 hours of entering the site. A medical grade surgical mask or high quality respirator must be worn at all times.
(Photo : Lou Spisto at the 2019 GMCLA Gala with Chrissy Metz and Diane Warren)
GMCLA’s free ticket program has provided access to concerts for thousands of low-income families over the decades, and research-based education programs have served more than 70,000 young people throughout the Los Angeles area . In 2019, GMCLA performed at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl (with Hugh Jackman) and in February 2020, GMCLA’s performance at the Film Independent Spirit Awards had over 7 million views.
For more information on GMCLA, visit: