Columbus Gay Men’s Choir continues to shine through pandemic

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After working through the pandemic, still working on their music, the members of the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus have emerged on the other side with a stronger bond then ever.

What You Need To Know

  • The Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus had its first planned concert canceled by COVID-19 in March 2020
  • The group returned in in July 2020 to sing in a Columbus park
  • The group has continued through the pandemic
  • The chorus is singing Saturday, June 12 at Huntington Park

Ohio State University graduate Brayton Bollenbacher had just started as artistic director for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus in January 2020. 

The group rehearsed tunes from the band ABBA for a performance in March, but a day before the concert, the COVID-19 lockdown began. 

“The energy was all there, and all of a sudden you have this really devastating news for us as an organization, but the world,” said Bollenbacher. “So we went from being together, a hundred of us on stage, to all of a sudden like not seeing anybody.” 

Hoping to make the best of their 31st season, the chorus returned in July, with masks and social distancing, singing at a Columbus park. That was followed by a holiday show in December. 

All along, the chorus never experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 cases. 

“We are the only ones in the United States to have a full season that we put together,” Bollenbacher said. “Most people have done some of that virtual choir stuff, we’ve never done a virtual choir. For us, it was just too important for us to be together.” 

Archie Brennick is one of 85 members of the chorus preparing for the last gig of the season at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers. But in the age of COVID-19, it’s a different experience that will bring out the best in each singer. 

“We have a microphone for each person and we’re six feet apart. So the difference is huge,” said Brennick. “We’ll still be masked and we’re only singing into one microphone, and we’re farther apart from everyone around us, we tend to just be able to hear ourselves, which adds a layer of confidence that you have to have that you do know your part.” 

Well beyond the pop music, show tunes and traditional choral numbers, Bollenbacher wants folks to know the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus is a place where people can find acceptance, no matter their identity, age or background. 

“Columbus itself is a magical place,” Bollenbacher said. “It feels like, where people can go, to really experience what it’s like to be friends with somebody who has different beliefs than you do. And you don’t see that in a lot of cities and you don’t see that inn a lot of places left in the United States.”

The CGMC’s ABBA sing-along concert may be viewed Saturday, June 12 at 2 and 7 p.m. at Huntington Park. 

Click here to find more information about the group.

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