We have interviewed Robert (Bob) Englert who joined the Albany Gay Men's Chorus during our last concert cycle which started in August 2018. Bob is a part of our growing Baritone section of the chorus and recently performed in two concerts including our December 2018 winter concert that attracted more than 400 patrons, “Everything Possible.”
What made you join the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus?
I have been living in the Albany area for over 30 years, and I always heard about the Albany Gay Men Chorus. I never considered joining the chorus due to my various commitments, one of them being a member of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church and its Choir. Retirement carved more free time in my schedule and attending the Albany Gay Men's Chorus First Friday concert motivated me to join the chorus. I believe it is an excellent way to be an active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Albany and the City of Albany community at large. It is also a unique way to meet new people, and it is different from the other choir I am a part of as AGMC is all male voices. During the First Friday concert, I expressed my interest in joining the Albany Gay Men's Chorus to one of the members. Later, I was contacted to attend the Meet and Greet event and join the chorus.
How was your audition experience?
I would not even consider it a formal audition, it is more of a friendly voice placement. During the welcoming Meet and Greet event, where I had the opportunity to meet the chorus members and the chorus director Ben April. He had me sing some scales to check my vocal range, and I was placed in the Baritone section. At church, I sing in the Bass section, but when there are divisi parts, I take the Baritone line; however, singing “all Baritone all the time” in the Albany Gay Men's Chorus is pushing me to improve my listening and sight reading skills. I consider that as a good challenge and an opportunity to grow.
How was your winter concert experience?
I believe it went very well. I am experienced in singing in front of audiences; therefore nerves were not an issue for me as a new member. On the other hand, I did not expect to sing in front of 400 people! This concert was significantly larger than the First Friday AGMC Concert I attended. I think a growing audience base shows how our community is growing to be supportive and accepting of LGBTQ+ people.
How does the Albany Gay Men's Chorus Contribute to the LGBTQ+ community, and the Albany community at large?
Other than supporting charitable causes and other community organizations by donating a portion of our concert proceeds, the AGMC is a great bridge and a window for people to view the diversity of the gay community and support it. It is also a unique opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community to know who their supporters are. An example of that is all of the concert program advertisers. There were advertisers that provided a bit of happy surprise, and this showed me how the community can come together to support a cause.
What would you say to someone who is not sure about joining the chorus?
What have you got to lose?