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Boston Gay Men's Chorus records

 Collection
Identifier: M201

Scope and Contents

The collection documents the adminstration and performances of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus (BGMC) from its formation in 1982, and is organized into two series.

Series 1: Administrative includes awards; Board of Directors and Artistic Committee records and meeting minutes; financial and fundraising records, particularly grant administration; newsletters for members and for supporters; sheet music of works performed by the chorus; and photographs of BGMC activities other than concerts, such as rehearsals and social events, as well as group portraits of members and photographs of BGMC staff.

Series 2: Performances documents concert appearances by BGMC. The bulk of the series relates to BGMC's annual season, consisting of a winter/holiday concert, a spring concert, and a summer Pride concert. These materials include audiovisual recordings, planning and production notes, venue booking and ticket sales, promotional materials and press coverage, and a near-complete run of programs from BGMC's major performances in the Boston area. Also included are materials related to one-off special appearances, concert tours outside the Boston area, and the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses' triennial GALA Festival. Of special interest are recordings of performances from the 1980s-2000s in a variety of audio formats and media.

Digitized materials from both series, as well as born digital items, are housed in the Northeastern University Digital Repository Service. Digitized materials include audiovisual recordings, photographs, and promotional materials such as brochures. Born digital materials consist of videos published by BGMC on their YouTube channel.

Dates

  • 1979-2020

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is mainly unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Historical Note

The Boston Gay Men's Chorus (BGMC) formed in 1982 with Josef Bevins as its first conductor, part of a wave of gay choruses established in the wake of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus's 1981 tour. BGMC's first concert was held in June 1982 at Arlington Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts. From its first season, the Chorus has offered a regular schedule of performances including a holiday concert in December, a spring concert in March or April, and a June concert as part of Pride festivities. BGMC has grown to 175 singing members and is considered one of the largest community-based choruses in New England.

BGMC's repertoire includes both classical and popular music, and the Chorus has commissioned and debuted new works such as "Hidden Legacies" and "Eos," and brought works commissioned by other gay choruses to audiences in New England. The Chorus began offering American Sign Language interpretation of concerts in 1989. Although BGMC recorded many of its concerts as early as 1982, the Chorus only released its first CD, "Visions: Words for the Future," in 1994.

In October 1983, BGMC partnered with the AIDS Action Committee for its first benefit concert; additional benefit concerts for HIV/AIDS and other causes, such as gay-straight alliances in local schools, followed. In 2004, BGMC visited the Massachusetts State House, meeting with representatives and distributing copies of their CD single "Marry Us" in support of marriage equality.

BGMC received nonprofit status in 1984 and was awarded their first City of Boston grant that year.

BGMC first performed outside Massachusetts in 1985 and subsequently performs throughout New England. Annual shows in Provincetown, Massachusetts began in 1984 with an appearance at Carnival Week in August; BGMC also performs a holiday program in Provincetown. The 15th anniversary concert in 1997 brought together six New England GLBT choruses, and BGMC has performed with local youth choruses for outreach and benefit concerts, as well as the 1996 holiday concert "Keepers of the Light." The Chorus also partnered with other gay and lesbian choruses for exchange concerts, which brought BGMC to other cities and other choruses to Boston. BGMC is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses and a regular participant in that organization's triennial GALA Festival.

In 2005, 120 members of BGMC embarked on the group's first international tour, visiting Central Europe. The Chorus celebrated Pride in Berlin, Germany, marching in the Christopher Street Day parade; held a joint concert with German gay chorus RosaCavaliere; and performed outdoors for a crowd of thousands at the Siegessäule monument. In Wroclaw, Poland, BGMC performed as scheduled despite protests and threats from an extreme right-wing group, garnering international attention. BGMC donated the proceeds from its Poland concert to a program for HIV-positive children, funding a year of operations. The Prague, Czech Republic performance was featured in a documentary profile aired on Czech television, raising money and awareness for domestic partnership legalization.

In 2015, BGMC toured the Middle East, with concerts in Istanbul, Turkey, and Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ein Gedi, Israel.
1982 June
First concert at Arlington Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts.
1983 October
First AIDS benefit concert for the AIDS Action Committee.
1984
BGMC receives nonprofit status and is awarded its first city grant.
1985
First concerts outside Massachusetts are held in Portland and Augusta, Maine.
1986
The Chorus appears at the second triennial Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses GALA Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1987
Boston Mayor Ray Flynn proclaims "Boston Gay Men's Chorus Day" for the organization's fifth anniversary.
1988
Exchange concerts with the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, with performances at the Orpheum in Boston and Avery Fisher Hall in New York.
1989
Faneuil Hall performance celebrates the signing of Massachusetts' Gay and Lesbian Rights Bill.
1989
LeWana Clark begins American Sign Language interpretation of BGMC concerts.
1990
The Chorus performs in "Heartstrings," an AIDS benefit, alongside Christopher Reeve and Marlo Thomas.
1991
Exchange concerts with Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C. and Denver Gay Men's Chorus.
1993
BGMC performs in San Francisco with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.
1994
First CD, "Visions: Words for the Future," released.
1995
The Chorus performs National Anthem at the opening of the Fleet Center.
1996
Holiday concert also includes the Treble Chorus of New England children's chorus.
1997
BGMC 15th Anniversary concert brings six New England LGBTQ choruses together at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.
1998
Music Director Reuben M. Reynolds III's debut concert with BGMC, NakedMan.
1999
The Chorus performs with the Boston Pops at the nationally broadcasted July 4th Esplanade concert.
2000
World premiere of "Eos," a work commissioned by BGMC.
2002
"Gloria!" holiday music CD wins Outmusic award.
2003
"The Visionaries" documentary series episode about BGMC airs on PBS stations nationwide.
2004
BGMC sings with Belmont High School Honors Choir to benefit the school's Gay Straight Alliance.
2005
Over 100 Chorus members embark on a European tour, celebrating Pride in Germany, performing in Poland despite protests and threats by an extreme right-wing group, and raising money and awareness for domestic partnership legalization in the Czech Republic.
2006
"Metamorphosis" benefit concert for PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
2007
BGMC celebrates 25th anniversary.
2012
Craig Coogan, former Executive Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Treasurer and founding board member of Vox Femina (Los Angeles, California), becomes BGMC's Executive Director.
2015
Middle East tour brings BGMC to Istanbul, Turkey and Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Ein Gedi, Israel.
2017
The Chorus celebrates 35th anniversary.
2018
BGMC tours South Africa in support of LGBTQ refugees.

Extent

35 cubic feet (36 boxes, 27 tubes)

264 compact discs

77 open reel audiotapes

40 audio cassettes

25 DVDs

24 digital audio tapes

8 video cassettes

2 Mini-DV

1 Hi-8

Language

English

Overview

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus was part of a wave of gay choruses established in the wake of the 1981 national tour of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Since then, the Chorus has grown to over 200 singing members and has toured Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa. It is one of the largest community-based choral groups in New England.

The collection documents the Chorus’s live performances through audio and video recordings, photographs, concert programs, posters and marketing materials, and planning and logistics files. Also included are studio recordings and materials pertaining to the Chorus’s membership in the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, which hosts the triennial GALA Festival for LGBTQ choruses. The collection also documents the Chorus’s advocacy work, internal administration, and fundraising efforts.

Arrangement

Organized into 2 series: 1. Administrative, 2. Performances.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The Archives and Special Collections does not have equipment for viewing Hi8 cassettes or for listening to open reel audiotapes or digital audio tapes.

Physical Location

111/5-6, 119/2/5, RS11/S3-S4

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Craig Coogan, Executive Director of the Boston Gay Men's Chorus, in multiple installments, 2013-2019.
Title
Finding aid for the Boston Gay Men's Chorus records
Author
Finding aid created by Dominique Medal
Date
September 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US