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Wednesday 14 April 2010

On a lighter note, with two GALS

Posted in: Music, Events
By Kitten Power - 2nd April 2010

Rob Calder and Kurt Payne
Two men who are very different, yet not that different at all, seem to capture the heart of Auckland's Gay and Lesbian Singers (GALS).

Kurt Payne has been singing "probably forever", the natural performer says he has been involved in music, dancing, acting and playing instruments for his entire life. After spending time with professional choirs, he joined GALS in 2002 and is currently one of its younger members.

Rob Calder is the only foundation member of GALS, having been with the group since it began in 1992. He is currently the choir's oldest member and recalls it starting with one performance, where the members had so much fun they decide to keep it going.

"It's changed a lot. Got far more proficient I think and better. But it's always been a good crowd of people."

Calder says he definitely believes he has more fun in GALS than in any other choirs.

"For obvious reasons," he laughs. "A lot of banter goes on that wouldn't go on in other choirs."

GALS are hosting gay and lesbian choirs from New Zealand, Sydney and North America this Easter weekend for the Out and Loud Choral Festival. The series of events and workshops culminates in a grand public gala concert involving all the groups at 5pm on Easter Sunday at the Auckland Town Hall.

Each group will perform by itself and there are also three mass choir works. The finale is a new work by New Zealand composer David Hamilton, Me He Korokoro Tui, which was commissioned for the event by GALS and features the newly-refurbished Town Hall organ.

Both say the organ sounds amazing and are incredibly excited about the Sunday night concert. Calder believes it will be a smashing performance, "I think with 210 team voices who have all been putting a lot of effort into the songs we're going to be singing together – I think it will be really exciting."

Calder says even after his 18 years with the choir he still gets nervous ahead of big performances, in case he "squawks out a wrong note".

The GALS veteran says being in the choir involves work and practice but is very rewarding at major events, as well as when the choir is able to give back to its community. Calder says the group has sung at the weddings, birthdays and funerals of members and their families, something that is important. He fondly recalls singing at a wedding, when the entire group hid in an upper level Auckland's St Matthews in the City, then suddenly popped up and burst into song.

Payne is incredibly excited about this weekend, as his highlight of being in the group so far is a visit from the Seattle Men's Choir, which was also a weekend event and tied in with the Hero Party. He made friends who he still keeps in touch with. Payne has also made friends in choirs from Melbourne and Sydney.

"It's really good for meeting people. You're meeting people outside of the bars, which is really, really good. There are relationships which have come out of it."

Payne says there is an age range in the choir, but age doesn't seem to really matter.

"Everyone acts like they're younger than me," he jokes. "I feel like I'm the oldest sometimes. You know when you're having fun and everyone's laughing and singing – age has nothing to do with it."

Calder jokes the audition process for the choir is tough.

"It's very rigorous – you just have to come along."

There are no auditions for GALS and the only requirement is an ability to sing in tune.

Both men have massive amounts of praise for their volunteer musical directors, who sound as though they have worked their fingers to the bone to put the Out and Loud Choral Festival together.

Payne says they have been working on the event for over a year.

"You couldn't pay someone to do a better job than they've done. Cause there's the love and passion factor that you don't get from an events company."

Choir members and others will fill 97 volunteer jobs this weekend, with Calder helping in the kitchen "just to wear the cap and apron". In fact he says he is tempted to wear nothing but a cap and apron.

Kitten Power - 2nd April 2010

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