Saturday, May 16, 2009

Linus Lerner appointed Artistic Director for Bayou City Performing Arts

It is with great joy and a heavy heart that I announce our conductor, Linus Lerner, has accepted the position of Artistic Director for Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston, Texas. He will be the musical director for several groups that fall under the umbrella of the Bayou City Performing Arts organization: Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston, Bayou City Women’s Chorus, Bayou City Chorale and Bayou Rhythms. The organization also has a partnership with The Doctor’s Orchestra of Houston with whom he will also be working.

I announced at Reveille’s Spring concert “Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in Music” that after seven years as artistic director and two as executive director this would be Linus’s last concert with us. Linus had announced to our Board of Directors the week prior to the concert of his decision to leave Reveille in order to devote more time to his conducting duties with Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra and to focus on his international travels as guest conductor and voice coach. Linus leaves Reveille with an impressive record of achievement, outstanding choral performances, a new mission, and a new chorus name. Under his leadership Reveille recorded 4 CDs, and traveled 5 times to Mexico to raise money for HIV/AIDS and LGBT groups in Hermosillo, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City (first openly gay chorus to perform in that country). In 2005 he took us on a tour of his native Brazil to be the first openly gay chorus to perform in that country. In Sao Paulo Reveille opened the 2005 Gay Pride celebration and marched in the nation’s pride parade there that numbered 2.5 million people. In addition, he has elevated our musical sound and increased attendance at concerts so much so that an extra performance day had to be added to each concert.

It has been an amazing ride with Linus, that’s for sure. I had no illusions that we would have Linus with us forever. The truth is we have been fortunate to have had him for as long as we have. In his seven years with Reveille Linus radically changed the nature of this organization. He taught us how to sing, raising the bar of musicality for this group. Twice under his guidance we traveled to the GALA choral conferences (Montreal in 2004 and Miami in 2008) and twice we held our own against the larger big city choruses, wowing them with that Reveille sound we’ve become famous for. All thanks to Linus.

With Linus’s departure Reveille faces the challenge of maintaining all the gains we have made under his leadership. Taking his place as interim conductor will be chorus member Shawn Cullen. Shawn has sung with Reveille since 2004 and has functioned as assistant conductor under Linus for two years. He is Instrumental/Choral Conductor and an OMA Educator for the TUSD Schools, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona School of Music, and Assistant Conductor of Athletic Bands. Shawn told me recently he has big shoes to fill replacing Linus but he feels fortunate to have had the past four years to learn from Linus and what an amazing teacher he is. Our board of directors is currently putting together a committee to begin the search for a permanent replacement for Linus.

Linus told me his time with Reveille has been a fantastic learning experience for him. And that he is so proud of the achievements the chorus has made under his leadership. He hopes to stay in touch and follow our progress with pride. Linus will continue his duties as conductor of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra traveling between Houston and Tucson on a weekly basis. In addition, he intends to continue his international travels where he is often sought after as a voice instructor and guest conductor.

I think I’m still in denial about Linus leaving. We have one last performance with him at a special recital he’s putting together as a Reveille fundraiser at the end of May. Perhaps then it will finally sink in. The impact he has had on Reveille will be felt for many years to come. We know he will do for Houston what’s he’s done for Reveille and we wish him the best of luck.

Reveille will soon be on our summer break but I hope you’ll join us this fall for our many outreach performances and come see our holiday show the first weekend in December at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Until then have a great summer!

Jeffrey Bracker,

President, Reveille Men’s Chorus

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