Austin Gay Men’s Chorus Sings for Gen Z and Queer Community

Concert looks to keep Austin young and queer’d

In a 2021 Gallup poll, about 21% of adults in Generation Z identified on the LGBT spectrum.

Both queer adults and youth in Gen Z face unique issues and Austin Gay Men’s Chorus aims to address those through the world premiere performance of @QueerZ in the first half of their Keep Austin Queer’d show Sat.-Sun., May 14-15.

The Austin Gay Men's Chorus rehearses at First Baptist Church of Austin (Photo by Leo Collas)

What started as a song-cycle commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus from young composer Julian Hornik soon became funded by a consortium of LGBTQIA choruses, including AGMC. The @QueerZ songs explore the different experiences of growing up queer as a Gen Z kid, with young love, heart break, and gay extracurriculars as some of the many thematic notes in the lyrics. AGMC Artistic Director Daniel Arredondo says the work highlights the current youth experience, which is difficult in both different and familiar ways to the chorus’ own queer childhoods. Rehearsing the songs together after many pandemic months apart brought out an array of overpowering emotions for the chorus. In particular, Arredondo recalls their rehearsal of “Inside Voice,” which is a song from the perspective of a young trans person being told to quiet themselves. “We just related to [the song],” he says, “and being able to sing that, [to] emote that in a song together, and knowing that, in some regard, we all have experienced that – it was just really powerful.”

AGMC’s performance of @QueerZ will also include video and photos of actual queer youth, collected in participation with Out Youth and ChrysalisQ, a supportive community for LGBTQIA kids and their families. Arredondo has fond personal memories of Out Youth, it being a refuge for him away from the more conservative area of Kyle. He remembers arriving there and being able to acknowledge being gay for the first time. After coming out, “I was able to attend my first Pride parade and … be involved in that part of the community.” His hope for the concert is that it acts as a spearhead for “continuing collaboration for years to come” and that with each successive concert “we're connecting with, with part of the queer community.”

The second half of Keep Austin Queer’d will consist of reimagined renditions of AGMC favorites – whose titles will remain secret in order to preserve the aural surprise. Some of the songs, however, were performed virtually over the pandemic. Coming together to sing alongside each other has enhanced the musical experience for the chorus members, and Arredondo says that rehearsing in-person rather than in front of a laptop mic has been almost therapeutic. Emotional moments grow in their impact when shared in close quarters – and now Arredondo says they’re “on fire to continue our mission and to be there for our community.”

Austin Gay Men’s Chorus will perform Keep Austin Queer, including the world premiere of @QueerZ, at 8pm on Sat., May 14, and 4pm on Sun., May 15, at the First Baptist Church of Austin. Tickets can be purchased here.

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LGBTQ, Austin Gay Men's Chorus, Generation Z, Daniel Arredondo

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