Until recently, the only men's choruses aroung were spawned by men's colleges, and their distinctive repertoire was heard in the countryside primarily during spring vacation, the college chorus touring season. Most men's colleges have now gone coed, however, and their glee clubs have become full-blown choral societies of mixed voices.
The male choral vacuum has been filled, however, by the burgeoning gay men's chorus movement. In San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington and other cities, these choruses have sprung up over the past several years and are traveling widely, promoting themselves energetically and singing enthusiastically to large and appreciative audiences.
Yesterday the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, 150 strong, brought a program of romantic music to the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall. Pieces with political overtones, Ron Nelson's "Behold the Man" and Cole Porter's "I Need a Primitive Man," brought the loudest cheers from an audience that half-filled the hall, but there was a good deal of solid musicianship and technical skill to enjoy also in this performance.
The distinctive characteristic of men's choral sound is the luscious sonorities that result when deep voices sing in tune and in balance. This chorus lavished glowing sonorities on opera choruses from Beethoven's "Fidelio," Wagner's "Tannhauser" and the Berlioz "Damnation of Faust," and gave a convincing reading of Randall Thompson's "The Testament of Freedom."