The Amsterdam Gay Men’s Chorus is the largest gay men’s chorus in the Netherlands, aiming to create a friendly and accepting environment for gay men who love to sing and dance. We strive to be an active and engaged partner to the city of Amsterdam and its LGBTQ+ community, and we want to use our platform to challenge stereotypes and open our audiences’ eyes to diversity of all kinds. Our repertoire is fresh and fun, including everything from Adele to Mozart, and Beyoncé to Elton John.
Our chorus was founded in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength since then. Like Amsterdam, the city that we call home, we strive to be an open-minded and international chorus, welcoming members from the Netherlands and beyond. Our concerts and rehearsals are given in English (but always with a little Dutch flavor) and we love to welcome our diverse audiences to enjoy our music and dance, learn about queer history and discover more about what motivates us.
For us, like so many LGBTQ+ choruses around the world, it’s about so much more than singing and dance. Our members come from many different countries and backgrounds and we do everything we can to create a culture of acceptance of gay men in all their diversity – and to share that with Amsterdam’s diverse communities too.
In recent years our shows have got bigger and bigger. We enjoy the challenge of working together to put on a major show for our audiences – coordinating nearly 100 singers and dancers, musicians and technical crew. We perform in various combinations; choir, Nexus ensemble, solos and small groups and dancers – all under the musical direction of classically-trained Joost van Velzen.
Guided by our Artistic Board, our shows always come with a message and some valuable queer history. Recent show themes have included ‘Riot at the Circus’ (commemorating Stonewall), and ‘Badtime Stories’ (highlighting the challenging sides of growing up gay).
Performing at Amsterdam Pride is of course an annual highlight both in the city centre, and in taking Pride to our neighbourhoods. Though the Netherlands is world famous for its progressive attitude on equal rights, we know it’s not shared everywhere – even in our own city, and we believe that we have a responsibility to break stereotypes and help our audiences to understand that there is still much more progress to be made!
While the big shows always give us a rush of adrenaline, it’s our community outreach work that gives us a lot of pride. We’ve performed at the first Pride in Zaandam, a diverse, industrial town outside Amsterdam – to crowds of excited locals – and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we gathered and sang to one of Amsterdam’s oldest lesbian couples in the street, as they emerged from their house after months of isolation – a truly emotional moment.
This year in Bologna we look forward to bringing our various voices – and also various dancers too. Our energetic dancers are what make the choir a chorus – and under the direction of our Creative Director Maarten van Grootel, the group has gone from strength to strength, with impressive choreography that helps individual members to grow in strength and confidence.
Various Voices represents our first time singing and dancing overseas and we look forward to meeting other choruses from all over the world, seeing their performances and understanding what makes them tick. We are proud to be part of this global LGBTQ+ chorus community!
For us, this will be the first time that we will take our music and dance abroad. Amsterdam is a very international city and our own members come from nearly 30 countries, but Various Voices will be a great moment to discover the variety of voices, musical styles and diversity that exists in the global LGBTQ+ chorus movement. It will also be great for team building, ahead of our big ‘Gay Icons’ summer show which follows just days after our stay in Bologna!