In celebration of 25 years of building community and making music, The Quire commissioned a song cycle, Songs of Our Pride, from the wonderfully talented Connor Warren Smith. This song cycle is a celebration of The Quire’s history, born from stories, photos, and videos from Members of The Quire.
While the original premier performance was delayed due to COVID-19, we immediately looked for an opportunity to share some of this milestone music with our audience. And thus was born: The Virtual Quire Project.
Under the fearless direction of Colleen McRoberts, the Virtual Quire Project brought together Members (and guests) of The Quire in a format that was new and challenging for us. We are truly proud to have been able to make music together during such a disconnected and uncertain time. We invited you to support our continued work as we enter the next 25 years, and make a donation to directly support the work we do.
Audra King, longtime Member of The Quire and active in the organization’s leadership, tells some of the story of how this work came about:
First, some background…
In the fall of 2012 Speak Theatre Arts, in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and The Gay Men’s Chorus of LA (GMCLA), premiered a musical project at the University of Iowa to examine what “better” might look like for our nation’s LGBTQ+ youth. Community member were invited to join the cast, and although it was solidly outside of my comfort zone, I decided to take the risk, as there were several other Member of The Quire also involved.
The whole experience was bigger and more impactful than anything I had encountered in the queer spaces of my life up until that point. At the heart of it all were some amazing people – one of them was Drew Tablak. We stayed in touch over the years, and I was delighted when he met the love of his life – Connor Smith.
Fast forward to February of 2019…
While at an inspiring GALA Leadership Symposium, along with then-Quire Director Gayle Hartwig and then-Treasurer David Roe, we had not set out to actively plan celebrations for The Quire’s upcoming 25th anniversary, but it was in the back of all our minds. While at the event, commissioning music was mentioned and it sparked a fire in us; we immediately put our heads together to review our combined resources to see if we could make this happen.
Connor was the first person that came to my mind – I hadn’t met him in person yet, but I knew that if he was available, he could do great things. Gayle and David agreed; we should meet with Connor to get more information to share with the rest of the Board.
We met, Connor listened, and he was almost immediately on board…
From there, I gathered stories – from Quire Members new and established – and it was like Connor lived them as he wrote. As a queer musician, he understood what each of us talked about. Although he told us it would likely take a few months, he had the first song (of an eventual quartet) – A Song of Life – for us to listen to within the the first month of rehearsals.
Every measure, every note – was breathtaking. He stirred up a depth of emotion in even the most jaded of us. It was nothing short of magic – and we are grateful for the gift he gave us.
Song: “A Song of Life”, from the song cycle “Songs of Our Pride”
Composer: Connor Warren Smith
To support the next 25 years of The Quire, and musical community we build, we invite you to make a donation to support our return to the stage for our Winter 2021 concert!