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The Culver City High School Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) hosted the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles on Friday, February 10. As part of their “Alive Music Project,” the GMCLA performed for over 500 students, including a dozen classes and nearly 200 AVPA students. The chorus performed several songs, including “Imagine” and “True Colors.” The presentation included personal stories from several members of the chorus, sharing their experiences as gay men, overcoming prejudice, and how much joy they get from singing.
Founded over 30 years ago, the GMCLA has used music to overcome prejudice. While every year over 85% of LGBT students in American schools experience physical or verbal abuse, the new FAIR Education Act of 2011 was passed in order to help combat bullying of LGBT students. The act supports the inclusion of LGBT individuals and their contributions to American history and modern life. One of the goals of the “Alive Music Project” (AMP) presentation is to stimulate discussions about Harvey Milk, the Stonewall Uprising, and Matthew Shepard, among other subjects.
The goal of the GMCLA is to show students, gay or straight, that they can find their own voice through music or whatever medium they choose by staying in school and treating each other with kindness and respect.
GMCLA Artistic Director Jason Armstrong also provided a master class with the AVPA Chamber Singers on February 9. He worked with the Chamber Signers on two selections, giving them feedback on their performance and providing great insights into singing and vocal production. The Chamber Singers also performed one song for the members of the GMCLA after the presentation on February 10.
“I’m very honored to have had the opportunity to host the GMCLA here at Culver City High School,” said Dr. Tony Spano, AVPA Music Director. “To have them perform for such a large number of students was truly inspiring. And to hear their individual stories made it all the more special.”
“It was just great to have Jason come work with us,” said Eric Mandzuch, senior and President of the AVPA Chamber Singers. “We learned a lot, and then to get to hear the chorus, well they were just amazing!”