There's no audition necessary to be a part of Harmony: A Colorado Chorale's all-inclusive chorus. "That is part of our mission -- to make sure everyone feels welcome," says William Loper, artistic director for the chorale. At 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, December 8, at Messiah Community Church, anyone who loves to sing is invited to celebrate the holiday season by joining a multi-generational chorus. Hosted by one of Denver's most notable queens, Nuclia Waste, the evening of non-denominational cheer will also feature drag performances and vocal help from 5280 A Capella.
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"We do everything from classical to the sublime to the ridiculous," says Loper, who has been with the group for a decade. A retired Jeffco teacher who found his way back to the classroom, Loper is also a former director of the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins.
"We're not trying to promote an agenda; with Harmony, it is a safe place for anyone to be who they are," says the director. In Loper's classroom, bullying is not tolerated -- and inclusion is also the goal of Harmony: A Colorado Chorale. The singing group is GLBTQ-focused, but allies are welcome and encouraged to join, and vocalists of any background are welcome.
When the non-profit chorale began in 1992, Colorado had just passed Amendment 2 -- essentially making it legal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation. "It just polarized people; I thought it was such a ludicrous amendment that it couldn't be passed -- and it was," says Loper. But the community pulled together to fight the measure (which was eventually declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court), and that same energy inspired the start of the singing group.
In the beginning, Harmony's membership pushed 150 members. Over the last twenty years, it has fluctuated in size -- currently, the group is more than sixty singers strong -- but the organization remains proactive and diverse. The youngest member of the group is 22 and the oldest 78, Loper says, and allies make up about 15 percent of Harmony.
The group does several seasonal family-friendly concerts a year -- usually around Christmas and PrideFest in the summer -- and Loper is proud to announce that there will be a brand-new, Martin Luther King-inspired production coming this February.
At Saturday's show, guests will enjoy a spirited holiday singalong of numbers handpicked by Harmony's music advisory committee. A little campy entertainment will spice things up, as Nuclia Waste picks two members of the singing group to receive drag makeovers. For more information on Harmony: A Colorado Choral's Big Gay Sing-In, visit the non-profit's website.
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