ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus is presenting “Unbreakable” in honor of Pride.
The virtual show – and New Mexico premiere – will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 20 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26.
The work is written by Tony Award-nominated composer Andrew Lippa. Tickets are available at nmgmc.org.
“Unbreakable” presents a historical arc to the experiences of LGBTQ+ people over the last 12 decades, illuminated by stories drawn from real-life stories throughout LGBTQ+ history.
The stories include: Jane Addams, who in 1931 became the first American woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize and was an open lesbian activist; Lem Billings, JFK’s best friend, a closeted gay man seated at the side of the most powerful man on Earth; Sylvia Rivera, one of the activists at the heart of the Stonewall riots and transgender community; Bayard Rustin, gay social activist and close confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr.; and AIDS and its impact on a generation.
The work weaves these and many other stories together with themes of awareness and activism and seeks to illuminate some of the setbacks and progress in the LGBTQ+ community in the last century.
“After the wild success of ‘I Am Harvey Milk,’ renowned Broadway composer Andrew Lippa decided that he wanted to continue telling the stories of LGBT icons and heroes through the medium of chorus, orchestra, and soloists in an oratorio-style concert,” says Aaron Howe, artistic director of the N.M. Gay Men’s Chorus. “In this new work, audiences will once again get to experience a delightful and emotional education about the lives and experiences of these incredible people.”
Howe says the NMGMC will collaborate with a small orchestra, as well as some soloists to bring the stories to life on stage.
“We are honored to be the first chorus given the rights to present the entire concert virtually, so we are working with noted video producers 30 Second Street to create an amazing visual presentation that matches the power of the music and highlights these important stories,” Howe says.
Featured soloists include Lina Ramos, Dianna Hughes, Brian Seals and Bill Brooks backed by the 40-member N.M. Gay Men’s Chorus and a chamber orchestra.
The piece is commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, which premiered in June 2018.
Lippa says he wanted to tackle something larger with “Unbreakable” and show the evolution of gay rights since 1900.
“Taking my cue from playwright August Wilson who wrote a cycle of 10 plays, each representing a decade in 20th Century America, I was inspired to write ‘Unbreakable’ – a multi-movement work for men’s chorus, soloists and orchestra that chronicles, from 1900 to now the gay stories you might not know – the people who suffered and soared, the LGBTQ community and how we evolved, triumphed and yet, still face bakers who won’t bake for us, lawmakers who won’t make laws for us, conservative minds who won’t wake for us,” Lippa says.