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Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, in partnership with Youth For Understanding USA, to Conduct First-Ever Gay Chorus Visit to Cuba

YFUUSAblog

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, in partnership with Youth For Understanding USA, to Conduct First-Ever Gay Chorus Visit to Cuba

Historic concert tour will match GMCW’s mission to raise awareness and promote LGBTQ equality with YFU’s mission to advance intercultural understanding 

Washington, DC (April 22, 2015) -- The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) and Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) today announced they will partner to conduct a first-ever visit by a gay chorus to Cuba. The nine-day concert tour, to take place July 10-18, 2015, will seek to raise awareness of issues faced by LGBTQ communities. The tour will encompass five performances in and around Havana and will include public forums designed to open lines of communication about social policy and LGBTQ equality.

“We have an incredible opportunity to help make a difference in the perception of the US and of LGBTQ people with this historic visit,” said Chase Maggiano, executive director of the GMCW. “Thanks to our partnership with YFU, we will be able to meet the increasingly visible LGBTQ community in and around Havana and share our stories and learn new ones. As we know from our long history of concerts worldwide, person to person interaction can be a key driver of social change. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to help advance the dialogue by serving as cultural ambassadors.” 

The partnership between GMCW as a musical entity and YFU as an international educational entity gives this tour cultural sanction, where travel to Cuba is still limited to educational, religious, cultural, humanitarian and family purposes. Concerts in the tour will take place at prestigious locations in Cuba such as the Franciscan Monastery, and the group will meet with representatives from the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), a government-funded entity spearheaded by Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro. The tour is licensed through People to People Exchange, and operated in collaboration with Interplanner, the first and longest running provider of travel services between the US and Cuba.

Michael E. Hill, President & CEO of YFU, said the trip blends the two organizations’ missions perfectly.  “YFU is a catalyst for positive global change, and innovative programs like this provide the ultimate reality check to a worldview based on stereotypes, ” Hill said. “Cultural exchange reinforces our common humanity. We are thrilled to be making this historic journey with GMCW, which represents our first-ever adult excursion.“ 

On the tour, the chorus will have the opportunity to enjoy Cuba’s distinctive culture, with an itinerary focused on the arts, education, health, and schools, along with the island’s unique cuisine, music and architecture. The trip will offer many opportunities to meet with local business owners, artisans, lecturers, and everyday citizens. Representatives of the two GMCW traveling ensembles, Potomac Fever and Rock Creek Singers, will comprise the performance chorus for this tour. They will be joined by GMCW and YFU staff and guests. More information on the tour is available
at www.yfuusa.org/tours.

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About Youth For Understanding USA (YFU): For learners of all ages who want a life-changing cultural exchange experience, Youth For Understanding (YFU) offers a wide range of opportunities to see the world up close. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 70 different countries, is united by the belief that curiosity about the world expands cultural awareness and acceptance of other ways to live, which leads to broader perspective and greater understanding. YFU’s unique intercultural exchanges open minds and hearts, enable learning that transforms lives, change the way you see the world and help to overcome stereotypes.  Since 1951, YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services.

Mission: YFU advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. 

Website: yfuusa.org/tours

Media Contact: Alicia Kubert Smith, 202.774.5202, akubert@yfu.org

About the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW): Under the direction of Artistic Director Thea Kano, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC is in its 34th season with a mission that is dynamic and socially-relevant. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington delights audiences and champions gay equality with robust artistry, fun and surprise. GMCW has more than 220 singing members, two select vocal ensembles, 100 support volunteers, more than 400 subscribers, 500 donors and an annual audience of more than 10,000 people.

GMCW is honored to include in its history iconic venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the White House, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Lincoln Memorial, presidential inauguration celebrations, and more. GMCW features two select outreach vocal ensembles: Potomac Fever, a 14-voice close harmony group, and Rock Creek Singers, a 35-voice chamber ensemble.

Since 2001, GMCW has maintained a robust youth outreach program, GenOUT, that offers free tickets to high school students, parents and teachers, in addition to offering in-school outreach and empowerment programs. The Chorus demonstrates its commitment to community outreach projects by participating in the Whitman-Walker AIDS Walk, an annual toy drive to benefit Community Family Life Services, Christmas Eve caroling at the National Institutes of Health and volunteering at Food & Friends. GMCW is a proud member of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA Choruses) and Chorus America.

Mission: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington delights audiences and champions gay equality with robust artistry, fun, and surprise.

Website: gmcw.org

Media Contact: Ben Finzel, RENEWPR, 202.277.6286, ben@renewpr.com

Additional resources:

yfuusa.org and yfuusa.org/tours

gmcw.org

interplannercuba.com