Together we can provide community, harmony, opportunity respect, unity, and service to better the Las Vegas Metropolitan area. Or at least that is the mantra of the Las Vegas Men’s Chorus.
Led by artistic director Ryan Duff, the chorus performs three times a year at the Flamingo library. For over thirty years the chorus has been an important part of the Las Vegas community. Membership has ebbed and flowed with the times, but the group is currently thriving and growing under the leadership of the board of directors.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw small choruses across the country fold and dissolve. However, the Las Vegas Men’s Chorus persevered. This can be attributed to the dedication of its membership, the leadership of the board and most importantly, the sense of community this group inspires.
That sense of community is a large focus for the chorus. They welcome any member of the community that identifies as male with any level of experience. The current makeup of the chorus crosses all socioeconomic, age and race lines. They market themselves as a safe and happy place for everyone with no judgement and members range in age from 20 to 70.
The chorus creates a space safe for people to come and be whom they are. Whether it is coming out later in life or if someone is new to the city – the chorus aims to provide a place of belonging. It’s an alternative activity to brunch and the bars, as you can usually find them practicing on Sundays at The Center. That is not to say that they do not know how to have a good time or that singing is all they do; from pool parties during the summer, to volunteering at local events, these boys enjoy spending time with one another.
2022 is set to be a year of growth for the organization. “I’m ready to make us bigger,” says the Bernie Russell Board President. When Russell joined the chorus in 2018, there were 17 members, and through the pandemic, he had to get creative to keep the group alive. He utilized his time learning how to create promotional videos by watching YouTube and has posted several of the chorus on that platform. He and other board members, as well as his loving husband, Darren, made sure the chorus’ website was up to date and increased their social media presence. This has helped grow the chorus currently has over 40 members.
“I want a dance line and I have a dream of going to perform internationally,” said Russell. But he knows there is work to be done at home first. While wanting to promote love and positivity and model those things for younger men, he wants to challenge himself, the organization and the community as well. “Being surrounded by people who want me to be better pushes me forward,” said Russell.
A quarter of the current membership has been a part of the chorus for over ten years. And if singing is not your thing, or your gender identity is not the male binary, the chorus welcomes all identities as volunteers for their organization. Information is available on their website, https://lvmenschorus.org.