With words and music by Grammy and Tony nominee Andrew Lippa, the new oratorio “I Am Harvey Milk” will premiere as part of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) 35th Anniversary Celebration concert, “Harvey Milk 2013.” As a special two-night engagement, the event will take place at The Nourse Auditorium in San Francisco June 27 and 28.
“I and many other people feel this is some of the more powerful music any of us has ever learned,” Leif Backus, SFGMC member told 429Magazine.
“Because of the subject matter and because there are so many moments in the music where personal experience and subject matter become interchangeable… that brings forward really powerful emotions. I think that is the experience of every chorus member, and the emotions are a range of various things from ecstatic joy to deep-seated pain. It’s got it all. Over the course of that small amount of time, we hit it all and it’s wonderfully exhausting and sometimes incredibly cathartic and ultimately a really beautiful thing.”
Starring Lippa himself as Harvey Milk and Tony Award-winner Laura Benanti as Soprano soloist, the performance will wind through Harvey Milk’s life – from his childhood, to his climb to become the first openly gay man to hold public office in California, to his assassination.
A commemoration to the LGBT and American icon, “I Am Harvey Milk” blends choral work with theatrical aspects, offering an expressive celebration in this pivotal time.
“The SFGMC is all gay men. We’ve asked a local gay orchestra to do orchestration for it all…the composer’s a gay man. It was a big, very deliberate push to make this as in house as possible,” said Backus.
In addition to the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, “I Am Harvey Milk” was also commissioned by Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, Vancouver Men’s Chorus, and Heartland Men’s Chorus. The performance will be made available for choruses to perform it nationally following the San Francisco premiere.
Harvey Milk 2013 will also present the debut of “I am the Legacy.” It will highlight an array of performance pieces from local San Francisco Bay Area artists honoring the legacy of Harvey Milk.