By KJ Philp, May 2015 Issue. Meet the other winners here.
With 15 Echo Readers’ Choice Awards to its name, the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus holds the top position for most awards to date among 2015 winners.
Echo caught up with Jon Short, Board of Directors vice chair, following the April 9 awards ceremony and here’s what he had to say:
Echo: Tell our readers a little bit about Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus.
Short: We currently have about 85 singing members. We have two large events coming up: Our small ensemble, Canyon Echoes, will be performing “A Tribute to Boy Bands” at the Galvin Playhouse May 16 and 17 and our full chorus will be performing our end-of-season finale, “True Colors,” at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix June 20. Tickets for these events can be found at phoenixmenschorus.org.
Echo: What would you say to someone reading this who wants to become involved with the chorus, but doesn’t know where to start?
Short: Come audition! Take a chance! Our chorus is about community, building new friendships, making beautiful music, [performing] fantastic shows, and making a positive impact on the LGBT community. We’re also always looking for talented, business-savvy individuals to join our Board of Directors (email email@example.com for more information), and our volunteer corps is always looking for people to assist. We are always in need to quality artists of all kinds. We are a chorus, but truly we are a multidisciplinary arts organization incorporating dance, song, visuals, audio, video, photography and many other art-forms into our shows.
Echo: Echo turns 26 this year and you’re celebrating your 24th anniversary this year; how much has changed since those early days?
Short: Quite a bit – from its humble beginnings in 1990, we’ve transitioned from a recital chorus to a full show chorus, and more than quadrupled in size. We now do full chorus shows, including last season the full Broadway production of Hairspray. Most importantly, we’ve affirmed our mission and role within the LGBT community to truly work every day to unite, inspire, educate, and entertain our audience and partners as a voice of the LGBT community.
Echo: Tell us a little bit about your relationship to Grand Canyon Performing Arts, Canyon Echoes and Omaggio Youth Chorus.
Short: Grand Canyon Performing Arts is the umbrella organization we created to manage the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus, Canyon Echoes, Omaggio Youth Chorus and the Philharmonic Ensemble. We were growing so rapidly both in membership and artistic excellence that we needed a central organizing body to keep on top of everything. Canyon Echoes is a small group of 16 singers selected by Artistic Director Marc Gaston from within the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus who commit to hundreds of additional hours of rehearsals and performances and act as ambassadors for the organization as a whole, and have most recently performed the musical Hairspray in its entirety. The Omaggio Youth Chorus is the newest arm of our organization, serving LGBT youth and their allies ages 14 to 18. Founded in 2012, the Omaggio Youth Chorus is led by Marc Gaston as well with their own mission statement and founding principles. They perform alongside the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus at all their season concerts.
Echo: What new and exciting things can we expect to see from PMMC between now and the 2016 Echo Readers’ Choice Awards?
Short: We’re gear up for our 2016 GALA festival participation in Denver, so we’ll be performing just about everywhere we can. It’s also our 25th anniversary, and we hope to bring back chorus alumni from across the state and beyond to perform with us. We’re also hoping to increase the size of the Omaggio Youth Chorus.
Echo: With all these upcoming events, what’s the best way to stay up to date with Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus?
Short: Visit us at phoenixmenschorus.org, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on our facebook page.
Echo: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Short: Stay true to your mission. The Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus strives to be a voice of the LGBT community, and we need to stay true to that every day.
Echo: What’s the best advice you have to give?
Short: Audition! Come sing with us! We will hold auditions again starting in August and interested singers should sign up for auditions at any time through our website by emailing Marc Gaston directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Echo: Here’s a fun one: Tell us about your earliest Echo memory.
Short: I moved to Phoenix in 2009 and had a hard time learning about the LGBT community beyond the bar scene. One day I was eating a burrito and it exploded in my hands and onto a magazine that was left on the table – Echo. After hosing myself off, I took a look and was overjoyed to see that there was an information source for our community all around.
Echo: Where can you be spotted when you’re not performing?
Short: Look for us everywhere next year. Our 25th anniversary is next year, and to celebrate we’re going to commit to performing 25 acts of community service, including donating performance time and volunteer hours to local deserving organizations.
Echo: Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Shoutouts you’d like to make?
Short: In the past year, we’ve had the support of many organizations (Stacy’s @ Melrose, Kobalt, Right Toyota, ION AZ, Nicole Shaffer/StateFarm to name a few) who have committed to us to help us make our mission possible, but two organizations deserve special mention: first, Joe Gesullo and the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce have gone above and beyond to help us accomplish our goals; second, Echo Magazine itself has given us the exposure and opportunity we need to reach our community, and they’ve been quite patient when we go right up to the deadline with submissions!