Vancouver Men's Chorus

Vancouver Men's Chorus. Amateur 80-voice male choir founded as a non-profit society in 1981 and led by Willi Zwozdesky. The first gay choral group in Canada, the Vancouver Men's Chorus has provided a social milieu for its members and has promoted a positive image of the gay community.

Vancouver Men's Chorus

Vancouver Men's Chorus. Amateur 80-voice male choir founded as a non-profit society in 1981 and led by Willi Zwozdesky. The first gay choral group in Canada, the Vancouver Men's Chorus has provided a social milieu for its members and has promoted a positive image of the gay community. The choir made its debut under Zwozdesky in 1982 at Centennial Theatre, and has subsequently held five to six concerts per year at various venues in Vancouver. Stephen Smith has been the choir's accompanist since 1990, and in 1998 he formed the subsidiary eight- to twelve-voice a cappella group Synergy. In 2001 Michael Harper was appointed resident choreographer of the Vancouver Men's Chorus dance ensemble.

Performances and Repertoire
With a focus on both entertainment and social awareness, the Vancouver Men's Chorus has regularly participated in variety shows and benefit concerts, particularly those in support of AIDS research. In 1982 the chorus was a founding member of GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses), an umbrella organization for more than 100 groups internationally. The chorus has appeared in concerts and festivals in Victoria, BC; Seattle; San Francisco; and Minneapolis, and in 1991 toured Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Washington, DC. Among others, it has collaborated with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Elektra Women's Choir, and Chor Leoni Men's Choir, as well as with vocalists Kiri Te Kanawa and Marni Nixon.

Although the choir's early repertoire conformed to Classical and Romantic choral traditions, in recent years it has concentrated largely on Zwozdesky's arrangements and on popular idioms such as gospel, jazz, folk, swing, and cabaret. The Vancouver Men's Chorus has also commissioned works by Canadian composers Michael Conway Baker (Street Scenes - a three-movement suite in jazz style, 1985); Anita Perry (Three Songs for Men's Chorus, 1987); Ramona Luengen (Poem of the Deep Song, 1989, and Agape, 2002); Eleanor Daley (The Stars are with the Voyager, 2002); and Rupert Lang (Affirmation, 2002).

A finalist in CBC's National Competition for Amateur Choirs in 1994, the Vancouver Men's Chorus has been broadcast on CBC radio, and can be heard on the recordings Signature (1992, SA92157); Making Spirits Bright (1994, SA95450); Elements (2002); and Encore (2006).


Further Reading

  • Wohlberg, Tara. "First the music, then the g-word: the oldest gay choir in Canada celebrates. . ." Globe and Mail, 30 May 2002

    Cribdon, Guy. "Vancouver Men's Chorus 25th Anniversary," British Columbia Choral FederationNewsletter, vol 28, no 1, Summer 2006