The week prior to an opening performance is almost always stressful and hectic. There's a reason why it's called Hell Week. But for the Capital City Men's Chorus, which is currently prepping for their Gala Fall Fundraiser Benefit Concert, Hell Week seems to be a breezy walk in the park.
The fact that the roughly 60-person chorus invited me to one of their final rehearsals before the event shows just how prepared and confident they are. This group is polished, professional, hungry to be heard, and just as good as their counterparts in other cities such as Los Angeles and New York.
Lead by Artistic Director Dr. Jeffrey Jones-Ragona since 1995, the choir is a family, and that family atmosphere seems to support the function and mission of the choir. Dr. Jones-Ragona states, "The chorus's function is to support the gay community and to represent them positively. It's hard to demonize and tear something apart when it's beautiful."
With their proud, friendly approach, CCMC certainly achieves their mission. But despite the very serious mission of the group, the rehearsal room was filled with equal parts music and laughter. Dr. Jones-Ragona's often wicked sense of humor often finds its way into the song selections, such as the choir's rendition of "I'm Super, Thanks for Asking" that they performed a few years ago. "That song choice came from my twisted imagination," Jones-Ragona says with a chuckle and a smile. "We do plenty of things like that. We indulge in gay humor. 'I'm Super, Thanks for Asking' ain't gonna knock Mozart out of the spheres, but it really sums up everything we're about. 'We're Super, Thanks for Asking,' and we don't have any problems at all."
But the song selection doesn't end with frivolous comedic numbers. Dr. Jones-Ragona picks material that allows the group to soar and shine. "We don't just do music by gay composers," he says. "We do everything. My guys have sung Monteverdi and Mozart. Of course they've sung Broadway tunes. They've sung jazz. They've sung blues, and they do it very well. They want to do a good job, and they do."
Whatever the song, the chorus relishes every note. The result is a more professional, sophisticated, authentic, and un-auto-tuned version of GLEE. On the jazzy, sultry "Peel Me a Grape," the choir delights in playing with the sexy, suggestive lyrics. With "The Days of Wine and Roses," they offer a sweet, dreamy, romantic blend of voices. But "The Impossible Dream," featuring soloist Brett Barnes, and the Irish folk song "Parting Glass" are sure to be the highlights of their Benefit Concert. On both songs, the choir shows that they can be powerful, resilient, defiant, and courageous, turning the tunes into proud gay anthems that echo through the intimate Trinity United Methodist Church.
Indeed, this and any performance by CCMC are not to be missed.
Capital City Men's Chorus presents the Gala Fall Fundraiser Benefit Concert at Trinity United Methodist Church – 4001 Speedway, Austin, TX 78751 on Saturday, September 29th from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. Doors open at 6:30pm for a complimentary pre-show buffet and complementary beverages provided by local wineries. The evening's entertainment commences at 7:30pm.
General Admission Tickets are $45.00.
For tickets and information, go to ccmcaustin.org.