Libertad is based on the poetry of Walt Whitman. How do his writings relate to the LGBT community today?
As a composer, I wanted to stress the themes of equality, politics, and how we treat each other, and those are all subjects that Whitman addresses. He wrote about being accused of seeking “to destroy institutions,” which echoes the way the LGBT community has been accused of destroying the institution of marriage. The singers and I were stunned by how relevant his poetry is more than 150 years later.
This concert also marks the first time that the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the Atlanta Women’s Chorus have performed together. Why now?
When we formed the women’s chorus in 2013, we discussed the possibility of performing together at some point. But we wanted the theme to be special. Our theme for this season is “Let Freedom Sing.” The And Justice for All concert is about struggle. It’s about minorities who have been marginalized around the globe and overcoming adversity. Both groups can relate to those themes. It just felt like the right time to join voices.
What was your reaction to hearing Libertad performed for the first time during rehearsals?
I started the rehearsal by saying, “This is surreal.” Getting to hear those words with the notes for the first time? It was thrilling.
On the calendar: The groups perform And Justice for All at the Peachtree Road United Methodist Church on March 18 and 19.
This article originally appeared in our March 2016 issue.