Provided by Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus
Founded in 1983, SVGMC was first called the Liedermann Chorus of San Jose. A group of ten men sang the first full-length concert under the direction of Robert B. Welton on June 16, 1984 as part of San Jose’s Gay Pride Celebration. In 1985, we changed our name to the Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus, embracing and more openly identifying ourselves as a singing group made up of out, gay, and proud men. SVGMC has had nine Artistic Directors since our formation; starting in 2010, our most current Artistic Director is Shawn Reifschneider.
The Rainbow Women’s Chorus (RWC) was founded in 1996 as an outreach project of SVGMC. San Jose didn’t have a women’s Chorus at that time and SVGMC initiated, helped develop, and support RWC; their first performance was as a guest at an SVGMC concert.
SVGMC has had 37 seasons since our creation, presenting over 109 concerts to date at a wide variety of venues including the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, the Montgomery Theater, and most recently University of Santa Clara Performance Center. Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus has also made numerous appearances throughout Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area, including performances at Silicon Valley, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco Pride events and festivals.
Singing at nearly every City of San José annual Pride flag-raising ceremony, SVGMC is also honored to have sung the national anthem at several sporting events (including the San Francisco Giants), and was the first LGBTQ+ organization to do so at the San Jose Earthquakes’ and San Jose Giants’ games. Thus far, participation in corporate events include Pride celebrations at Adobe, Oracle, and Apple. And SVGMC is proud to have performed at the 1995 Lambda Youth Gay Prom—the first high school prom held in the Bay Area (Hayward, CA).
Since 1989, SVGMC has represented Silicon Valley at quadrennial GALA Chorus Festivals—an international festival taking place every four years and attended by over 150 participating LGBTQ+ choruses from around the world—and co-hosted the festival in 2000 with the Rainbow Women’s Chorus in San Jose.
Since its founding, SVGMC has sought to promote cultural diversity while also making a difference in the LGBTQ+ and broader Silicon Valley communities. Some milestones in SVGMC’s outreach efforts and leadership in the community includes work with the Gay Straight Alliance and their anti-bullying program, and participation in Giving Tree holiday concerts and food drives for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley.
SVGMC has also supported community groups to foster LGBTQ+ suicide prevention. Inspired by the It Gets Better campaign created to support a safe haven for LGBTQ+ youth, the organization’s Artistic Director, Shawn Reifschneider, produced an “It Gets Better” video in association with the Bill Wilson Center, Outlet in Mountain View, and Unity Care, Inc. of San Jose.
SVGMC has received many awards and recognitions for our outreach to the community. Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus is the proud recipient of a Human Relations Award from Santa Clara County and a Commendation from the City of San Jose. SVGMC has also been recognized for outreach to gay-straight alliances and the LGBTQ Youth Space in San Jose. Additionally, SVGMC has received two recognition awards from the California Assembly and Senate for their contributions to the LGBTQ+ community.
Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus currently maintains a membership of 50 singers and we prides ourselves in welcoming gay and transgender men from all over the Bay Area. Ethnic minorities comprise over one-third of our membership, and our Assistant Director and Board President are Black Americans. SVGMC continues to uphold our mission to inspire our diverse community through musical excellence and collective pride.