The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus will launch its first-ever concerts dedicated to mental health in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque on April 1-3.
The Santa Fe shows will take place at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. The chorus also will perform two shows in its National Hispanic Cultural Center debut.
“We’ve been trying to get into that hall for awhile,” said Jerry Matthews, NMGMC vice president. “Acoustically, it’s a great space.”
The 45 singers will perform a three-movement suite for tenor/bass choirs called “You Are Enough” by the New York-based composer Aron Accurso.
“Inside the Storm,” the first movement, “is a cappella and filled with lyrics and harmonies that create a sense of questioning and discomfort,” according to Accurso’s notes. The second, “A Thought Storm,” is tumultuous, like an onslaught of negative thoughts, with spoken dialogue, aleatoric (chance) singing, piano accompaniment and lyrics that begin with a negative bent, gradually transforming into more positive thoughts. The final movement “You Are Enough” boasts a modern musical theater quality expressing inspiration and empowerment.
The pandemic provided its own inspiration.
“We talked about it with all of us coming out of all the restrictions, people experiencing isolation and people being cut off from their contacts,” Matthews said. “And you read people are drinking more.”
“So often, mental health is a topic that is ignored,” artistic director Aaron Howe said. “We wanted to explore music that looks to help shake that stigma and allow our audience (and chorus members) to face some of their concerns and fears.”
In addition to the suite, the chorus also will sing songs from popular musicals such as “Dear Evan Hansen” (“Waving Through a Window,” “Disappear, “You Will Be Found”), “Jagged Little Pill: The Musical,” “Next to Normal,” and “Into the Woods.” Additionally, the singers will perform an arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” They will open the concert with an unusual pairing of a popular Green Day song and Pachelbel’s Canon.
“We’ve done a lot of outreach to mental health organizations to do partnerships,” Matthews said.
Those partnerships include the Enhancement Center, Talking Circles Therapy and Wellness, and the Albuquerque Police Department’s Ambassador Program.