The largest community chorus in North America
Formed in 1979, the organization has grown to house both Seattle Men’s Chorus (SMC) and Seattle Women’s Chorus (SWC). Flying House Productions (FHP), the parent company for the Choruses, is the State of Washington’s largest and most influential choral organization and ranks third among the state’s music organizations in terms of budget, audience exposure, and ensemble size.
Flying House Productions is home to two of the largest community choruses in America: Seattle Men’s Chorus, founded in 1979, which is also the largest gay men’s chorus in the world with over 300 singing members; and Seattle Women’s Chorus, which made its premier on stage in 2002 and has quickly grown to over 200 singers. Combined the Choruses are larger than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Each Chorus currently has a small ensemble of 9 to 11 members each (Captain Smartypants and Sensible Shoes), which further the mission of the organization by performing throughout the Pacific Northwest as ambassadors for the larger Choruses.
Flying House Productions has a base of over 50 volunteers and associate members who support both Choruses. Full-scale choral productions combine the region’s leading professional talents with nationally-known guest artists to create events that expand the possibilities of choral performances and have enormous popular appeal. More than 25,000 people attend the five-concert series each season mostly using Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall, Playhouse at the Seattle Center, and Saint Mark’s Cathedral, with thousands more seeing each Chorus in other local performances every year.
Professional staff includes the executive director, marketing manager, development director, finance director, community relations manager, box office manager, public relations manager, graphic designer, accounting associate, development associate, company manager, marketing & outreach associate, grant writer, and assistant artistic director. The organization also works with several contractors on an ongoing basis, including Dennis Coleman, who has served as artistic director since 1981.
Flying House Productions cannot be considered as simply a local arts organization. In addition to the high level of performances it produces, Flying House Productions is also a “voice for acceptance” in the community and across the nation. It also plays an important national role as an organization that provides both musical leadership and administrative expertise, influencing dozens of other arts organizations throughout the country and around the world.
Our choral performances are full-scale productions that combine the region’s leading professional talents with nationally-known guest artists to create events that expand the possibilities of choral performances and have enormous popular appeal.
We present a five-concert series each season mostly using Benaroya Hall, McCaw Hall, Playhouse at the Seattle Center, and Saint Mark’s Cathedral.
Collaborations with major guest artists from a variety of performance media have included jazz great Diane Schuur, Metropolitan Opera star Tatiana Troyanos, dancer/choreographer Mark Morris, recording artist Marni Nixon, Michael Feinstein, comedian Leslie Jordan, nationally acclaimed a cappella group Chanticleer, Grammy Award winners Bobby McFerrin and Natalie Cole, openly gay country music star Chely Wright, Tony Award-winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, and 1993 Inaugural Poet Dr. Maya Angelou. Other talented performers include Megan Mullally, Kristin Chenoweth, Megan Hilty, Ana Gasteyer, Kathy Najimy, and many more.
An active commissioning program has included premieres from some of the leading composers in the world, including Gian Carlo Menotti, John Corigliano, Ned Rorem, Alice Parker, William Hawley, David Conte, Samuel Adler, and David Diamond. For the 1993-94 season, Seattle Men’s Chorus commissioned a one-act opera, Night Passage, by the Houston Grand Opera team Robert Moran and James Skofield; it was the first opera ever written for chorus without solos. Seattle Men’s Chorus performed Night Passage for the National Chorus America Conference where local music critics and the leaders of the nation’s most prestigious professional, symphonic, and community choruses proclaimed the opera and “Seattle Men’s Chorus’ outstanding performance” a critical success. In 1997, John Corigliano won a Grammy for Best Classical Album of the Year for First Symphony and companion choral piece Of Rage & Remembrance, which was commissioned by Seattle Men’s Chorus, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. It was first performed by Seattle Men’s Chorus in 1991.
More recently, Seattle Men’s Chorus commissioned For a Look or a Touch, with music by Jake Heggie and libretto by Gene Scheer. This production was performed in Seattle in April 2011, and will be taken on tour throughout Germany in June 2014. Seattle Women’s Chorus will commission a new show portraying the lives of all “Rosie the Riveters” in our country, to be performed in February 2014.
Regional & National Impact
Together with the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Men’s Chorus co-hosted the national Chorus America Conference in 1995 in Seattle. Seattle Men’s Chorus hosted a regional convention of Chorus America, the leading national service organization for choruses, in 1990. Artistic director Dennis Coleman served on the National Board of Chorus America for 7 years. Staff has conducted management workshops for community choruses from across the United States and Canada, covering such topics as administration, fundraising, marketing & public relations, ticket management, non-profit tax law, and volunteer management.
In 1993, Seattle Men’s Chorus and local PBS affiliate KCTS joined together for a second time to produce Swellegant Elegance, a celebration of the music of popular American composer Cole Porter. This Emmy award-winning program was seen in 78 major markets across the country and viewed by an estimated 2.5 million people. Seattle Men’s Chorus’ 1990 Radio Craze telecast on KCTS generated the most pledges and had the second highest ratings of any locally produced show in their history. One out of every six households in Western Washington and British Columbia was tuned in to the broadcast.
Statewide tours are a standard feature of both Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus performance seasons and have included performances in cities such as Bellingham, Bremerton, Coupeville, Everett, Olympia, Spokane, Tacoma, and Walla Walla.
National tours have included performances in some of the nation’s most prestigious halls including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Symphony Hall in Boston, Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and Boettcher Hall in Denver. More recently, in the summer of 2012 both Choruses toured performed in Denver during the GALA Choruses Festival.
Seattle Men’s Chorus has also toured internationally. In August, 1998, SMC traveled to Europe, where they performed in Barcelona, at the Gay Games’ closing ceremony and two other concerts in Amsterdam, and in London. In March of 2003 SMC traveled to New Zealand and Australia, performing in Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney, as well as marching in the 25th anniversary of Sydney’s internally renowned Gay Mardi Gras Parade. Seattle Men’s Chorus will tour throughout Germany in June of 2014, and will participate in the Pride Festival in Berlin.
Seattle Men’s Chorus’ first recording, Over the Rainbow!, was released in June, 1990. Snowbound! a collection of holiday favorites, was released in October 1991. Other recordings include Swellegant Elegance (1993), Holiday Traditions (1994), and Captured Live! (1995). In June, 1996, Seattle Men’s Chorus released a new recording - The Pink Album - with special guest artists Diane Schuur, Harvey Fierstein, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Holly Near. We Are Family, a romp through the ’70s was released in 1998, as was Soul Full (double CD), a salute to gospel and jazz traditions which includes the work of The Total Experience Gospel Choir, the Northwest Girlchoir, and Urban Rhythms. Bustin’ Out All Over (1998) is a salute to Rodgers & Hammerstein. Over The Rainbow! 2000 is a re-release of our original CD with Old Friend added to it. Seattle Men’s Chorus produced three new CD’s during 2001. Home features four of the most requested new songs, including Michael’s Letter to Mama. Fruit of the Month Club and Undercover features present and past Seattle Men’s Chorus ensembles, Captain Smartypants and Zipper, respectively. Joy, features Over the Skies of Yisrael, a piece commissioned for Seattle Men’s Chorus and performed in our 1999 and 2001 concerts. Silver Bells, released during the chorus’ 25th anniversary year, highlights some of the holiday favorites during that time period.
After only two full seasons, the Seattle Women’s Chorus released its debut CD, Winternight Journeys, in 2005. Seattle Women’s Chorus is currently in the process of producing a new CD, and much of the music from both Choruses will also soon be available on iTunes and Amazon.
Orders for Seattle Men’s Chorus and Seattle Women’s Chorus recordings have been received from almost every state in the country and from around the world. Get your copies in our music library.