Renaissance City Choir: Hope Through Music

Music has the power to unite, and to heal. In these trying times, it can be an important component of self-care. The Renaissance City Choir (RCC) has brought music to the Pittsburgh LGBTQ+ community for decades.

Photo by: John Colombo Photography, used with permission from the RCC

Founded in 1985, the choir is on a mission to build bridges within the queer community and beyond. “Our choir’s mission is to affirm and celebrate LGBTQ+ identity through the unifying power of music,” says RCC board president Morgan Hawkins Drain. “We often describe our choir as a ‘community that sings’” Drain continues, “For so many of our singers, Renaissance City Choir is a safe place. It’s where I can go each Tuesday to rebuild the hope that has splintered a bit with the past week’s news headlines. It’s where we can express and celebrate our identities without shame or fear.”

Choir members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, professions, and identities, and gather together to contribute something beautiful to Pittsburgh’s cultural landscape. They include LGBTQ+ folks and allies, and auditions are held a few times a year.

“People may start singing with the Renaissance City Choir because it is a safe and inclusive choir for all,” says Eric Berta, a tenor with the choir, “but people stay because it is so much more than that. Jeffry (Blake Johnson), the director, helps every member hold the vision that what the choir does is larger than what the choir is. Renaissance City Choir is always inspiring and personally affirming to every person who has any contact with the choir.”

In addition to two large annual concerts, the choir brings cheer and comfort to smaller community events, charity shows, and college campuses. “Whether it’s a rousing applause when we pass in the Pride Parade, or singing at vigils like the one for Pulse Nightclub attack, the Renaissance City Choir creates an experience that is almost always magical for everyone in Pittsburgh,” says Berta. More of that magic will be evident in 2017, with a Cabaret in March, featuring choreographed numbers and pop songs, as well as a Pride Concert in June made up of freedom songs from the struggle for civil rights in the United States and South Africa.

The Renaissance City Choir brings hope this holiday season by teaming up with the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra to present a special holiday concert for the whole family, which will feature holiday favorites with the Renaissance City Choir’s own special ‘twist’. The show includes the story of Hanukkah in musical form, familiar Christmas tunes, and selections from Bach’s Magnificat, which, according to the choir, “tells the story of the divine bringing a revolution of spirit, honoring the humble and meek,” a message that many of us need to hear right now.

The Holiday Concert will be held Saturday, December 10th in the sanctuary of East Liberty Presbyterian Church, and will be followed by a cookie reception.

Click here or call 1-800-838-3006 for tickets.

This article originally appeared on QueerPgh.com. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.