Gay Men’s Choruses Unite in Europe (Tour Notes 1998-1999)

This article was originally published in our 1998-1999 Tour Notes.
Two of North America’s most esteemed men’s choruses – the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus (director, Gary Miller) and the Seattle Men’s Chorus (director, Dennis Coleman) – traveled together on a two-week tour of Europe which included participation in the Amsterdam Gay Games.

The combined group of 156 people started in Barcelona where, instead of relaxing on the first evening, several singers headed for the television studios to participate in a live broadcast of Spain’s leading late-night show. This appearance helped swell almost to capacity the audience for their concert the following evening at the Palau de la Musica, Barcelona’s premier concert hall.
A day on Stiges beach was followed by all the challenges of an overnight train to Paris, the next stop on the tour. The group undertook enthusiastically the impossible task of discovering all that Paris has to offer in just two days, and in turn offered a surprised group of fellow tourists on a Paris-by-night boat cruise a beautiful rendition of We Shall Overcome.
A day on the bus took the group to Amsterdam and four very full days of activity. The determination of the participants to achieve their own goals and objectives enabled them to overcome the inevitable practical frustrations inherent in being part of such a huge event as the Gay Games, and the collegial spirit that developed throughout the tour was impressive to see. Both groups performed in Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw as part of the Gay Games Cultural Festival and in the starkly beautiful Beurs van Berlage in an independent concert. This was New York’s second appearance in this hall, and it was immediately apparent to all why Miller had been enthusiastic about returning.
London was the last stop on the itinerary, reached by Le Shuttle under the English Channel. The limited time here was u sed to the full by the group, and culminated in an emotional evening of music and farewells. The concert, a benefit for the Terrence Higgins Trust in Westminster’s Methodist Central Hall, was not only the last performance of the tour but also Gary Miller’s last appearance with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus after 18 years. A very teary series of encores lead to a tribute-laden farewell dinner, a fitting way indeed to close a four-year project which had resulted in a musical, spiritual and emotional odyssey for many of the participants.