The Artistic Director of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, Dr. Stan Hill, is getting ready to retire. Tonight and tomorrow mark the last performances he'll direct here in the Twin Cities; he'll direct the chorus for the last time at the GALA Festival in Denver, Colorado.
In advance of his departure Dr. Hill was kind enough to answer a few questions about his career and the work of gay choruses in general.
1. Why are you retiring now?
Because I will be 66 in August, because I have had twelve wonderful years here in MN and because I am a California kid and my family is there.
2. Before leading the TCGMC, you spent 11 years with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Why are GALA choruses important? Put differently, what can they offer that other choruses can't?
If we don't tell our story, who will? The legacy of the GALA Choral Movement is not only that when they sing a specific text, such as a gay men's chorus singing "the Man I Love," it takes on an entirely new meaning, but also that we can tell our own story by commissioning new music that tells our story.
3. Looking back, how have GALA concerts and their audiences changed over the years?
It has helped thousands become aware of gay men as almost anything other than the stereotypes with which society has painted us. The audiences here in the MidWest honestly appreciate choral music because of the rich choral traditions of St. Olaf, Luther, and other. And so a choral concert attracts choral music lovers. But when they attend a TCGMC concert, they leave with a greater appreciation of the GLBT community having shared our loves, our thoughts and our passions.
4. I understand that while you were in San Francisco, you had to deal with the loss of many chorus members due to AIDS... now you're retiring just as Minnesota takes up the Gay Marriage Amendment. Any thoughts on how the quality of life for gay men has changed (or not) over the course of your career?
There is no question that being gay does not have the onus that it did when I was a teenager in the 50s and 60s. However, we have a long way to go. As long as hate and prejudice, and attitudes of "otherness" still exist, the chorus has a job to do.
5. Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add or think I should know?
My retiring is merely the turning of a page in the rich and wonderful story of TCGMC. It is my hope that our wonderful audience and the thousands of supporters over the years will continue to support TCGMC. I think the chorus is the best face of the gay community and with that support it can continue to grow and develop into one of the most dynamic and positive components of our society as a whole.
(Photo of Dr. Stan Hill by Paul Nixdorf)
Musician Brother Ali was among 13 protesters arrested in South Minneapolis last night.
Brother Ali's act of civil disobedience was part of his ongoing advocacy of the Occupy Homes movement.
Hennepin County Jail photo
The Current's Andrea Swensson reports Ali's act of civil disobedience was part of an ongoing occupation of a foreclosed home in South Minneapolis, and occurred as over 125 people rallied in support of a family fighting against a bank error to keep their home:
It's not the first time Ali has spoken out about the Occupy Homes movement and shown support for the Cruz family fighting to keep their residence at 4044 Cedar Ave. When Ali was in our studios recently for an interview with Barb Abney, he touched on why this issue has become so important to him.
"When the Occupy movement sparked off, I think a lot of people -- myself included -- had lost a whole lot of faith in the electoral process and electoral politics," he said. "And I started realizing that it's going to take something more on behalf of the people, there's going to have to be a movement to actually disrupt things, to actually disrupt some of these corporate injustices that are happening to people, to our real neighbors."
Read the full story here.
This weekend the Minneapolis Institute of Arts presents "Rembrandt in America," an exhibition that examines the life and career of the 17th century Dutch artist.
Rembrandt painted this self-portrait after he went bankrupt.
Image courtesy of the MIA
MPR's Euan Kerr reports the exhibition also addresses the confusion over which paintings are actually his work.
There are 30 portraits, self-portraits, historical and mythological depictions, all from the brush of the master himself. All of them come from U.S. museums or private collections, hence the name for the exhibit, "Rembrandt in America."
The other 20 pictures exhibited also come from US collections and were once credited to Rembrandt, but no longer. The confusion stems from the workshop system where artists would teach apprentices to paint in their style. Some became so good it can be unclear which were the work of the master and which were by the student. And that, [MIA Director Kaywin] Feldman says, is the other important part of the exhibition.
"It's absolutely a fascinating story," she said, "Because in 1968, the Dutch government formed something called the Rembrandt Research Project which was intended to figure out exactly which pictures were by Rembrandt, because at the turn of the last century it was thought there were close to a thousand works by Rembrandt. We are now closer to 300 and declining rapidly."
Back in the 1930's a survey identified 175 Rembrandts in US collections. Scholars now believe the actual number is just a third of that. Even with the Research Project there is still disagreement over many pieces, and the MIA staff hope visitors will make up their own minds.
You can read the full story here.