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The Voices of the Austin Gay Men’s Chorus Echo with a Profound Mission

Local choir aims to change minds, transform lives, and build community

2023-05-06 AGMC

Five-year Austin Gay Men’s Chorus member Marlon Johnson is clearly moved as composer Karl Logue shares the origins of the group, a sobering reminder of the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community during the AIDS epidemic.

In April 1989, the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt was nearing its final display at the Texas Capitol, honoring those affected by HIV/AIDS. Among the notable events was a musical performance by the Turtle Creek choir, which prompted Logue and a few others, including David Weigel and Don Kennedy, to start their own hometown chorus. Their first rehearsal took place that September with 16 members.

Austin Gay Men’s Chorus (Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro)

A community of support for its members

Amidst the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, the group (under its original name of Capital City Men’s Chorus), provided a supportive community for its members, offering solace amidst the widespread disease. Logue acknowledges the tragedies faced by LGBTQ+ choruses during this period, highlighting the collective mission of survival and mutual support amidst staggering death tolls. Several of their first performances were at funerals of loved ones. Through their music and camaraderie, the chorus served as a beacon of resilience during one of the darkest chapters in LGBTQ+ history.

“The unspoken mission was ‘Survive this. Support each other, and we’ll get through it together,’” says Logue.

From those somber beginnings to its current status as the longest-operating men’s chorus in central Texas with 150 members, the AGMC has remained steadfast in its mission to change minds, transform lives, and build community through the power of music.

At the heart of the chorus is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Daniel Arredondo, artistic director since 2018, emphasizes membership is open to anyone who can sing tenor bass, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Austin Gay Men’s Chorus performs. (Photo by Suzanne Cordeiro)

The ACMC’s repertoire spans a diverse range of genres

“Our organization welcomes anyone who can match those pitches, regardless of how they identify,” says Arredondo. The chorus’s repertoire spans a diverse range of genres, from classical to contemporary, reflecting its commitment to cultural diversity, and the ethos of inclusivity encompasses non-singing participants, creating a vibrant and supportive community.

In addition to its regular concerts, the AGMC has garnered acclaim for its collaborations with renowned artists and organizations. From sharing the stage with Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Rose Taylor, to performing at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and the inauguration of Governor Ann Richards, the chorus has solidified its place as a cultural institution. Arredondo proudly mentions the chorus’s selection by the American Choral Directors Association as a testament to its musical excellence and dedication. Johnson considers performing at Austin Independent School District’s Pride events to be a particular high note.

Photo courtesy of AGMC

“Being invited back feels like a significant achievement for us, especially considering the challenges surrounding Pride events in schools,” explains Johnson. “It’s an honor to know they value our ongoing relationship, despite the increasing intensity of these conversations.”

Where everyone is welcome

Beyond accolades and performances, the true essence of the AGMC lies in its unwavering commitment to building a supportive community. As Logue aptly summarizes, “Our purpose is so much bigger than us. I’ve seen the chorus do its work and seen its work for the community.” Whether it’s providing a safe space for LGBTQ+ individuals to express themselves through music or advocating for social justice, the AGMC continues to embody the spirit of resilience, solidarity, and hope.

Photo courtesy of AGMC

For those considering joining the chorus, Arredondo extends a warm invitation, emphasizing that “everyone is welcome.” Johnson echoes this sentiment, assuring newcomers that there’s “always an empty chair waiting for you.” With open arms and harmonious voices, the AGMC continues to sing not just for themselves, but for a better, more inclusive world — one note at a time.

Learn more and take note of upcoming performances at

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