VOICES of Kentuckiana was started in 1994 to provide an opportunity for the LGBT community and their supporters to sing together in a united front. Since its formation, the nonprofit community chorus has performed in more than 80 cities throughout Kentucky and Indiana and has traveled to festivals near (Cincinnati) and far (Montreal).
This weekend, they’re championing for marriage equality — which the Supreme Court will begin hearing later this month — in their spring program “Marry Us … Today” at the Clifton Center.
VOICES’ new artistic director, Jeff Buhrman, put together the program to celebrate the universality of all relationships with happy tunes, sappy love songs and Broadway classics. Insider talked with Buhrman about the show and the historical significance the Supreme Court decision will bring to Americans who’ve fought decades for equality.
Buhrman moved to Louisville with his husband Roger six months ago from Washington, D.C., where he worked as the artistic director of the 250-member Gay Men’s Chorus. He says he’s excited to be working with VOICES but admits he was apprehensive moving to a state that does not recognize his marriage.
“It’s easy to forget how this can affect the lives of lesbians and gay men, and it’s heartbreaking to hear stories of longterm partners who do not have the rights that heterosexual couples have,” he explains. “From adoption to medical situations, gay people are second-class citizens. Living in places like D.C. allows us to feel safe. It is a strangely different feeling when you are not supported by the legal system in your state. The Supreme Court decision will affect the lives of thousands of men and women in an incredibly meaningful way.”
Making marriage equality the theme of the spring concert was a no-brainer for the inclusive VOICES. Buhrman points out that the fight for equal rights has been a struggle for more than 40 years, and that LGBT choruses throughout the country have helped share the stories, truths and human connections through music.
“While the lawyers and plaintiffs get ready to plead the gay marriage case to the Supreme Court, we want to do what we do best — to create change in the world, to change hearts and minds through our music,” he says.
“Marry Us … Today” will follow the trajectory of a typical romantic relationship — from the giddiness of a first date to making a lifelong commitment your partner. The songs range from Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” to Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” — and even the contemporary number “Come What May” from the film “Moulin Rouge.”
Buhrman says he hopes the community joins VOICES this weekend to celebrate equality and remember that love is love. He recalls a moment when this realization reached a former audience member.
“I remember a concert I directed with my previous chorus in D.C. There was a very tender duet in which two men expressed their love for one another. After the concert, I received a letter from a rabbi who was in the audience. He expressed he had never thought about the fact that the love between two men could be the same as the love between a man and a woman. His heart and mind were changed forever. That is what we hope to do at every VOICES concert.”
“Marry Us … Today” takes place Friday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 19, at 4 p.m. at the Clifton Center, 2117 Payne St. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors) and are available here or by calling 583-1013.