Gary Keating is banking on a little T.L.C. to help spread the word about the South Florida Lambda Chorale.
He doesn’t mean tender loving care in this case. Keating’s philosophy is that event concert should give audiences a tear, a laugh and a chill.“I think that gives audience something to grab onto emotionally so they go on a wonderful ride along with the entertainers,” said Keating, who recently returned as the group’s artistic director.
After a five-year hiatus to pursue a doctoral degree in choral conducting, Keating officially returned to the South Florida Lambda Chorale in August. He is looking forward to attracting not only new members, but a new legion of fans. He plans to do that by broadening their musical repertoire away from the pop of the past few years.
“We are going to bring a broader perspective to that music. We’ll keep the pop certainly, but appeal to a wider audience and continue our mission that we’ve always had about singing for the entire community,” said Keating, a resident of Wilton Manors.
Founded by Keating in 1991, the South Florida Lambda Chorale is a mixed chorus of gay and straight men and women. By raising their voices together, the chorus seeks to improve cultural development in Broward County by promoting diversity, acceptance and mutual respect.
The chorale is made up of 30 men and women of all ages, who come from many different walks of life. In addition to providing a comfortable environment for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and gay-sensitive people to come together, it is also a chance to hone musical skills, such as vocal techniques, sight reading and appreciation of different styles of music. Potential members must audition, because there is tremendous pride in turning out a skilled performance.
“While we have a social mission in terms of letting people see what a percentage of the gay and lesbian community looks like and helpg dispel some myths, it is also vital for this chorus to have a very high musical quality level,” said Keating.
The South Florida Lambda Chorale performs two major concerts and one special event each year in addition to a number of fundraisers for local charities and community events. In July, it performed at the International GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses) Festival in Miami, a major festival held once every four years that draws 5,000 singers and 130 choruses from around the nation and the world.
Keating said a group such as the South Florida Lambda Chorale is a vital asset in a transient community such as ours. Not only does he feel it gives people something to latch onto because of the diversity of the members and music, but he also thinks the Chorale has the potential to change lives, especially in the gay and lesbian communities. Many times over the years, he says, he has seen members choose to be in the Chorale as a vehicle towards affirming their sexual identity.
“They may finally come out and are looking for a safe space to be part of an ensemble and be able to have sort of a musical mission,” he said.
Keating founded the first gay chorus in Florida in 1986. Originally known as the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, it is now known as the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. Five years later, he left that group and went on to create the South Florida Lambda Chorale.
Now back in charge, Keating is looking toward the future. He says in five years’ time, he’d like to see the Chorale expand to as many as 80 members, which it had in the past. He would also like to find new ways for more community outreach.
“I’d like to be able to do more performances for non-profits to help raise money and to be part of the in-school arts programs,” said Keating.
South Florida Lambda Chorale’s next concert – "Through the Eyes of a Child" – is scheduled for December 10 at 8 p.m. at the Sunshine Cathedral (MCC), 1480 S.W. 9th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $15 and are available through Chorale members or by calling 866-WE-SING-4-U (866-937-4644). For more information, visit www.lambdachorale.com.
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