Opus-Q shows a range of seriousness, silliness

By Miko Sloper
Thursday July 12, 2001

Gay and lesbian chorus sings music for social causes 


The premiere concert series of the men’s chorus Opus-Q will feature a wide array of musical styles, each handled with appropriate shifts of singing technique and tone.  

This well-trained and finely honed chorus presents great delights for any music fan.  

Their voices blend impeccably, meshing consonants cleanly to clearly express the songs’ texts while richly resonating vowels in service of the lush harmonies. The singers control dynamics keenly, rising and falling as a unit when that is called for, and clearly delineating contrapuntal lines when that is appropriate. These boys can sing! 

The most moving number, “For Brandon Teena” by Timothy Snyder, reflects on the post mortem fate of a woman brutally murdered for posing as a man. The story was the basis for the film “Boys Don’t Cry.” 

The homophonic passages unfold with dramatic urgency which is boldly shattered by an occasional stab of polyphony. The thick dissonant chords create a mood which is at once electrifying and chilling. Bring a handkerchief: you’ll need it. 

This overwhelmingly sad piece is thankfully flanked by silliness. Aaron Copland’s “I Bought Me a Cat” features singers in sodbusters’ straw hats strolling through the audience singing a cumulative rustic refrain which is sure to delight children of all ages. The pop classic tune “Up, Up and Away” concludes the first half on a bouncy note. This programming works well both to highlight and dispel the emotional charge of Snyder’s composition. 

The chorus shows it has mastered the Masters by presenting a piece each from Handel and Bach. This is not merely tokenism, for these pieces add a sense of breadth and create a serious context for some of the other lighter works. The chorus sings a snappy tune from the Estonian composer Alo Ritsling. So what if you can’t understand Estonian? You will be amused anyway.  

The concert also includes two of Copland’s arrangements of early American hymns, two songs from Leonard Bernstein (one of which features the chorus whistling a catchy tune), a well-known round and a romantic ballad Bing Crosby recorded during the ’40s.  

The evening concludes with the uplifting song “Something Inside So Strong” from the South African composer Labi Sassri. This incredible variety of songs offers something for everyone. 

The Opus-Q chorus is the newest member of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA) which includes over 190 groups worldwide. They are also the newest group of singers performing this segment of the vocal repertory in this area. They are a welcome addition to the East Bay’s thriving music scene. The director J.R. Foust understands that a little bit of staging and thoughtful programming can go a long way in creating an experience which is more than just a vocal concert. Yet the music is still the basic reason to go to a chorus concert. Foust draws high levels of musicality from his singers. Opus-Q makes beautiful and touching music. 


Opus-Q:The East Bay Men’s Chorale – ‘Something Inside So Strong.’ 

University Lutheran Chapel at Haste Street & College Avenue. 

8:07 pm on Thursday & Friday, July 12 & 13. 

$11, $9 for members of other GALA Choruses.