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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 7, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 31
Before 'Glee,' there was Diverse Harmony
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Before 'Glee,' there was Diverse Harmony

by Anthony Greer - SGN Contributing Writer

Just like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so is music to the ears of a listener.

In its thirteen two-concert seasons, the 58-member Diverse Harmony chorus has performed music that has opened the hearts and minds of communities while providing a safe environment for queer youth where they share their love of music and are accepted for who they are.

'Diverse Harmony is the nation's first queer-straight alliance youth chorus. It's primarily where you go to feel like you have a family, a community, and to make great music,' Jared Brayton Bollenbacher, Diverse Harmony's Artistic Director said. 'We're becoming a country that's more liberal and progressive, but our youth are still struggling to find safe spaces. I still think that there are a lot of youth who feel isolated for many reasons. By going to Diverse Harmony they're able to find a family system, but then also they're able to go and express their emotions through music and singing.'

There are two different groups in Diverse Harmony. There's the large chorus, which consists of youth ages 13-22, where everyone is accepted whether you can sing or not. The large chorus has a rolling admissions, so youth can go to any of the weekly rehearsals that they wish. Enrollment is free and their season starts up again on September 15. The second group, Diverse Harmony Spectrum, is an all a cappella group ages 18-29 and they have auditions on August 31.

Diverse Harmony has recently held two major events. During Pride, Spectrum performed their 'Turn Back the Dial' concert at the Broadway Performance Hall. The concert consisted of music from the '70s and '80s and was the second and final concert of their season.

Diverse Harmony also held their first ever summer camp, where the attendees spent a week learning and then performing an abridged version of Suessical the Musical.

'It was sort of like the movie Camp,' Bollenbacher explained. 'And it went great! We had 22 youth that completed the camp, and I think that they all had a really great time.'

Diverse Harmony's goal is to make the camp an annual event. In order to assist with that, the non-profit has recently hired on Chris Brown as their Development Director to help raise funds for the organization.

'Diverse Harmony is an organization that I wish was around when I was growing up,' Brown said. He added that it 'creates a safe space for queer and allied youth. Having worked in corporate America for the last 20 years, it's great to work now for Diverse Harmony and help make an impact on queer and allied youth through music and performance.'

Currently, Diverse Harmony is planning to raise funds in several smaller venues and house parties. In October, they are teaming up with the Latino Film Festival. They will also be performing at the Trans Day of Remembrance. In December, Spectrum will have their first concert of the season and, in February, the large chorus will be performing a murder mystery concert at Benaroya Hall.

'We're also doing GALA next summer, birthday parties, and a few other things, too,' Brown said. 'People can donate to Diverse Harmony and then have a performance at a house, a party, or for an event.'

With the help of Brown, Bollenbacher and the rest of the Diverse Harmony team plan to continue providing a weekly space where queer and allied youth can express themselves through music and the performing arts.

To donate to Diverse Harmony, see their events schedule, or to request an event with them, visit their website at www.DiverseHarmony.org.

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