Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Michael Robert Patch is forming a chorus called Choral Spectrum. In this Q5, he talks about why the chorus is aimed at love, acceptance, support, community and fun.

Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Michael Robert Patch is forming a chorus called Choral Spectrum. In this Q5, he talks about why the chorus is aimed at love, acceptance, support, community and fun.

Michael, what is the Choral Spectrum that you are in the process of forming? What types of music will you be singing?
Unlike a “gay men’s chorus or gay women’s chorus,” Choral Spectrum is a choir that accepts men and women. It serves the LGBTQIA community.  All people are welcome, including straight allies.  Just as we accept all people, we will be performing all types of music, from classical to pop and spiritual to secular.  Whatever the music selections are, the overall performances will be uplifting and fun.  

What has been your experience as an artistic director and conductor?
I was the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus.  I was the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kansas City Women’s Chorus.  I was the Director of Choral and Vocal Music at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska.  I was the Interim Director of Choral Music at San Francisco State University.  And this fall I will be the Guest Choral Director at Avila University, in KCMO.  

Can anyone in the Leavenworth/Lansing/Fort Leavenworth area audition for the choir? Do all singers have to audition to participate in the choir? What will the auditions determine? When and where will they be?
Anyone can participate in Choral Spectrum.  
Though it is an LGBTQIA organization, we also hope that straight allies will participate as well.  
All singers do need to audition.  
We use auditions to determine the singers’ vocal abilities and what section of the choir they should sing in.  
It is also a great way for me to hear and get to know voices one-on-one, outside the group rehearsal setting.  
Auditions will be at Avila University,  Wednesday, Aug. 15, 5 -8 p.m.,  Thursday, Aug. 16, 5 -8 p.m., and Friday, Aug. 17, 4 -7 p.m. 
People can sign up for an audition time by going to michaelpatchmusic.com/choralspectrum

Can you tell us about the high point of your career when you directed the chorus during a nationally televised ceremony in which excommunicated LGBTQ clergy were reinstated to the Lutheran Church?
One needs to first understand what the choral environment is like in the Bay Area of California.  
There are possibly a dozen well known LGBT choirs, all within 50 miles of one another.  
The highest profile LGBT choir is the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.  
All of these organizations try to stay out of each other’s way.  
It is kind of territorial.  Normally, Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus would never(or rarely) perform in San Francisco.  
But, this event invited OEBGMC to perform, not the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
It was a real honor to be selected and invited to participate over SFGMC.  The event itself was very special.  
For decades, the Lutheran Church expelled clergy for being gay.  
These people were stripped of the livelihood and mission- driven work that they spent the majority of their lives pursuing.  When the Lutheran Church came to its senses, they decided to reinstate these excommunicated clergy.  
It was a beautiful ceremony.  
Many lives changed that day.  
Many people were once again able to practice their faith as LGBT people.  OEBGMC sang music about uplifting all people, and about making a change for the better.  
This was a direct reflection of what happened on that evening.

Why is using musical performances such an important way to engage, enlighten and enhance communities?
LGBT choirs came from a need for social activism.  
Many of those same issues still persist today.  
LGBT choirs are also a place of community.  
They are a place where people can be who they truly are.
In some ways, the music is secondary to the power that is ignited when people of like minds come together for a cause.  The music is the vehicle for that power.  
We can use music to touch people in meaningful ways.  
And, the stories we tell through song can help to guide the audience to learn and grow while also being entertained.

— Rimsie McConiga