Gay Men's Chorus of L.A. is losing its executive director to San Francisco
By Deborah Vankin
Jul 05, 2016 | 3:10 PM
Christopher Verdugo, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, is engaged in something of an alphabet scramble: The leader of GMCLA is headed to the SFGMC — the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
After five years leading GMCLA, Verdugo will become executive director of the San Francisco chorus in September.
Verdugo called leading GMCLA “a profound experience.” But it was time for new adventures, he said.
“I’d been very affected by the events in Orlando, being both gay and Latino,” he said. “After an extraordinary ride with GMCLA, I was thinking: ‘What’s next?’ Life is short. I had adventures I wanted to try, and if not now, when?”
Verdugo joined GMCLA as a choral member in 2006. He transitioned to executive director in 2011. During his tenure, GMCLA — one of the country’s largest male choirs — grew its membership base to more than 250 people. Inspired by Dan Savage’s LGBT youth support project “It Gets Better,” Verdugo helped to spearhead GMCLA’s national “It Gets Better” tour in collaboration with Speak Theater Arts.
“It’s a brotherhood,” Verdugo said of GMCLA. “We see each other day in and day out, and we’ve co-created something special, this art, that we share with others.”
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is “the granddaddy of them all, the first gay choir to ever exist,” Verdugo said. “It holds a special place in the LGBT choral movement. It has a very rich history.”
Part of what excites Verdugo about the move is the San Francisco chorus’ vision for growth.
“It’s a vision both locally and globally,” he said. “They’re starting an arts education program, which is something we did in L.A. and that’s very near and dear to my heart. And their international programming is of great interest.”
Sept. 9 will be Verdugo’s last day with GMCLA, which is searching for a new executive director.