The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington welcomes Thea Kano as its new artistic director.
By Patrick D. McCoy
For many performing groups, when the time comes for its leader to move on to the next assignment there are often feelings of anxiety and loss. The question of the hour becomes “What are we going to now?” Luckily, for The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, they did not have to look very far for their new artistic director. Thea Kano was selected as the chorus’ new artistic director after a unanimous decision by their board of directors. Kano had already been serving as the assistant conductor in the preparation of countless performances. Most recently, we witnessed her in action at the Church of Epiphany, conducting the chorus at its “Passion” concert back in March. It was there that we noticed her connection to the group, particularly with The Rock Creek Singers as she led them in the performance of African-American spirituals.
Washington Life caught up with Kano at a recent soirée held at the PNC Bank Rooftop downtown to celebrate the beginning of the new season and Kano’s recent appointment. Singers of the chorus, board members and Executive Director Chase Maggiano were on hand to offer congratulations. The newly minted music director was full of excitement as she chatted about her new post, and with a personable presence and engaging smile, Kano beamed as she talked about the music selections for the new year. She would not volunteer what was on the docket, but guaranteed that the audience would be on their feet after the first number.
In addition to her responsibilities with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Kano is also the Artistic Director of the New York City Master Chorale, which she founded in 2005. Kano joins an exciting pantheon of women at the helm of leadership in the Washington arts community. Right on the heels of Deborah F. Rutter’s appointment (read our profile) as the first female president at The Kennedy Center, Kano’s appointment is most welcomed and continues the shift of artistic diversity and equality on the Washington arts front. Similarly, Jenny Bilfield has made significant strides as the first woman president of Washington Performing Arts. Completing this arts sorority of sorts is executive director Debra Kraft, who leads Choral Arts into its 50th anniversary season, Dianne Peterson, executive director of The Washington Chorus, and Terri Allen, at the helm of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts in its 10th anniversary season.
Upcoming venues for Kano’s season with the chorus include performances at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Theatre and the Atlas Theatre, which will play host to the November 15th concert “Love Stinks” – a performance of songs from the American songbook, broadway, pop and more!
Recently named among the Forty Under 40 for his contributions to arts and humanities, Patrick D. McCoy received a B.M. in vocal performance from Virginia State University and a M.M. in church music from the Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Va. , where he serves on the alumni board of directors. He has contributed arts and culture pieces to CBS Washington, The Afro-American Newspaper and the newly published book, “In Spite of the Drawbacks” (Association of Black Women Historians), which includes his chapter on legendary soprano Leontyne Price. McCoy has interviewed some of the most acclaimed artists of our time, including Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Martina Arroyo, Denyce Graves, Eric Owens, Norman Scribner, Julian Wachner, Christine Brewer and Lawrence Brownlee. He is music director at Trinity Episcopal Church, DC. Listen to these interviews and others at Blog Talk Radio. Additionally, he is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America. McCoy may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @PatrickDMcCoy.