(by Tara Figurski, staff writer – December 05, 2011)
The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus (CGMC) will kick off the holiday with its 22nd annual Joy Concert, performing both traditional and contemporary songs.

Two members of the Westgate community are involved with the performance. Resident Rick Brandel is a past board member and will perform with the choir and Alan Jazak is on the board of trustees for the chorus.

“It is a special point of pride for Westgate that we have two members who are so active in our community involved in the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus,” said Mari Ann Futty, Westgate Neighborhood Association president. “It is so wonderful when you see the connection of people who care about the community, people who are talented and so involved in such a high profile organization.”

Brandel said he is a founding member and a singer with the chorus since its inception in 1990, the same year the first holiday concert was performed.

“When I first joined I had been out of college for a number of years,” Brandel said. “I missed men’s choral singing. When I was at Ohio State University I sang in the choir and chorus. When I heard that there was a gay men’s chorus forming I thought it was a great opportunity to get back to singing and an opportunity to meet other gay men.”

Brandel said he had no idea that 20 years later the chorus would evolve into such an incredible, wonderful family.

“It is an opportunity for us to provide a great outreach to the gay and lesbian community in central Ohio,” Brandel said. “It is an opportunity to bring together the whole community.”

The Joy Concert features a diverse range of music, Brandel said. One of his favorite selections this year is “Do You Hear What I Hear,” a piece that has never been performed at the concert.

“It has always been a favorite of mine, even when I was a child,” he said. “I remember listening to it on a record, my family singing it.”

The concert is performed four times at two churches, including the King Avenue United Methodist Church, 299 King Ave. and at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 2480 W. Dublin Granville Road.

“It is a tradition to perform at King Avenue United Methodist Church,” said Dr. Timothy Sarsany, CGMC artistic director. “This is our 12th year there. It is a great program, with classic holiday music, traditional choral music plus some fun music as well.”

The CGMC began at King Avenue because the church opened its doors and is very open-minded, Sarsany said.

The Joy Concert is a great tradition, Sarsany said, adding a lot of people like to kick off their holiday season with the concert.

“We love to give back to the community that has given us so much,” he said. “We have a lot of talented guys. It is great to showcase our talent.”

The concert features 85 performers who come from all over central Ohio. Anyone who can hold pitch or sing is invited to perform with the group. Members can range from professionals to those who just love to sing.

Sarsany’s favorite music this year includes, “Sleigh Ride,” and “Eye on the Sparrow.” The group will also perform three songs for its younger audience, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “The Chimney Song” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

Performances at the King Avenue location will be Dec. 9 at 8 a.m., Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. The shows at Dublin Granville Road will be Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.

Tickets are available at www.CGMC.com or by calling 228-CGMC for $15 in advance or $20 at the door.

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