When Jonathon Welch was asked about his time as musical director of the Sydney Gay And Lesbian Choir, he said extraordinary. It’s a fair assessment -“ the last five years have seen a number of breakthrough performances for the choir, and Welch has relished every moment.

I’ve done over a hundred performances which have included Mythologia with the Sydney Dance Company and Gay Games last year conducting the opening ceremonies, Welch said. I think I’ve done three recordings with them, which have included Mythologia, our own recording of Secret Love which is a complete CD and the fabulous recording for the Gay Games with k.d. lang. [We hosted] the first Australasian choral festival, called Camp Music, and I’ve also been overseas twice on behalf of the choir to North America -¦ so basically the choir’s changed my life.

Nevertheless, Welch said it was time to go. A professional singer of the last 20 years, Welch is a member of Tenor Australis and has started up two new choirs of his own: Popkidz and the Australian Pop Choir. I just needed to focus back on my personal life and my own career, Welch said. The new musical director will be announced in November.

It is a little sad for me to leave, because it is like a big family, he said. And at times we have our moments, like every family does, and you don’t always agree with people’s opinions and politics and, being a GLBT-type organisation, people are there for different reasons, I suppose. Mine was primarily music.

It was to get the best out of them musically and to show the community at large that it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can still make beautiful music together, which transcends all those bounds and barriers and expectations, I think, Welch said. They’re a wonderful representation of the community and I hope the community is as proud of them as I am.

He’s leaving on a high, with two firsts: the choir’s inaugural performance at the Sydney Conservatorium’s Verbrugghen Hall and their first pairing with the Sydney University Musical Choir. The groups will perform a series of British-themed hits, ranging from Land Of Hope And Glory to choral music by Elgar and Rutter.

We’re going to showcase the diversity we’ve been able to build up over the last five years, Welch added. We’ll be doing things like the Ascot Gavotte from My Fair Lady in black and white, with hats of course and gloves -¦ and finishing with The Rhythm Of Life with -˜choralography’, which is movement, something the choir didn’t have when I came to them five years ago -¦ It’ll be a really fun concert.

Hope And Gloria will be held for two performances only at the Verbrugghen Hall at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on Saturday 20 September at 7: 30pm and Sunday 21 September at 2pm. Phone 9563 6103 for bookings.

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