Raised Voices: Gateway Men’s Chorus Performs “We Will Rise”

Soloist Terrell Thompson. Image courtesy of Michael Franzoni/ProPhotoSTL.

Over its 30-year history, the Gateway Men’s Chorus has performed plenty of light-hearted tunes, but at their concerts this weekend, they’ll be trying something different: the 55-member chorus will use song to reckon with harsh truths.

The show “We Will Rise” has music that touches on transgender rights, suicide, mental illness, and other issues. Perhaps the emotional core of the program is a pair of works that will highlight “systemic oppression and violence against minorities.”

The chorus will perform the entirety of “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed,” an orchestral piece that’s structured like Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ” but highlights the final utterances of black men killed by police (including Ferguson’s Mike Brown).

In addition, the chorus will sing “Glory” by John Legend and Common, with longtime chorus member Terrell Thompson taking the solo. Outside the performance space, audience members can visit tables set up by non-profit groups to get info and have discussions.

“The idea is to not really ‘lecture’ the audience through song,” says operations director Michael Franzoni, “but rather to start conversations.”

“We Will Rise,” the Gateway Men’s Chorus, $25, Fri., March 16, and Sat., March 17, both shows at 8 p.m., Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Blvd., 314-287-5669, www.gmcstl.org

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