World’s Largest LGBTQ+ Choral Event Comes to Minneapolis

GALA Choruses Festival features a diverse lineup of ticketed concerts and free programming for locals to enjoy July 10-14

The world’s largest LGBTQ+ choral event is back for the first time in eight years—and downtown Minneapolis is the stage. GALA Choruses Festival 2024 is taking place July 10-14, with an expected 7,000 singers from around the globe coming to town for five days of music and community. 

GALA Choruses, the nonprofit behind the event, is a leading figure in the LGBTQ+ choral movement with a history spanning over 40 years. “Back in the ’70s and into the ’80s, people were looking for support and community,” says Jane Ramseyer Miller, artistic director of GALA Choruses. “For many of these individuals, choirs became family, if they had been kicked out of their family. They became church and synagogue if they had been kicked out of those spaces. They have become chosen family for people.” 

GALA Choruses Festival
GALA Choruses Festival

Photo by Josh Gold

Minneapolis is home to three GALA Choruses member choirs—One Voice Mixed Chorus, Calliope Women’s Chorus, and the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus—and the city was supposed to host the festival back in 2020, but the pandemic put a hold on the event. Ramseyer Miller says the festival’s return will bring together local LGBTQ+ community members, allies, musicians, and artists for a true community-building experience. “There are Indigenous artists and communities that are joining us, there are local bands that will be performing, and we have local artists that will be presenting their work,” she says. “So, there are really fun ways that we’re engaging the Twin Cities community.” 

Over the five-day festival, attendees will find a diverse range of ticketed and free programming at venues throughout downtown Minneapolis, including Orchestra Hall, Peavey Plaza, the Minneapolis Convention Center, and others. The event will showcase singers from around the world, welcoming choirs from China, Estonia, Finland, Ukraine, and Taiwan. 

The festival will showcase many new commissions, or original pieces of music. “Traditional published music often doesn’t tell our story. It’s not our voice,” Ramseyer Miller explains. “We’re often commissioning LGBTQ+ poets to tell our story, and then finding a composer to write music to that particular poem.” 

The stories and themes conveyed in the festival’s commissioned works often address the current political and social climate. “There’s a saying we have within GALA Choruses: ‘When a gala chorus sings, we’re committing a political act,’” says Ramseyer Miller. On Saturday evening, the “Banned” concert at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium will explore many things that legislatures have banned or placed legal restrictions on in the United States—from drag queens and nonbinary people to books and women’s bodies. 

GALA Choruses Festival 2016 in Denver, Colorado
GALA Choruses Festival 2016 in Denver, Colorado

Photo by Josh Gold

The full festival schedule and tickets for single concerts are available online through GALA Choruses’ website. To enjoy the festival from your own home, streaming passes are also available for purchase. 

As for the free programming, here are a few of Ramseyer Miller’s recommendations to check out: 

Minnesota Mosaic at Peavey Plaza — Wednesday, July 10 (noon-10 p.m.) 

Bands and performers from across the Twin Cities will take the Peavey Plaza stage outside Orchestra Hall for a day of free music, along with food trucks and interactive art displays. Attendees are welcome to join thousands of singers for the festival’s opening ceremony, the “Rise Up Singing” sing-along, starting at 5 p.m. 

Peavey Plaza Evening Stage Performances— Daily (7-10 p.m.) 

Outdoor concerts in Peavey Plaza will be free and open to the public each evening of the festival. The lineup includes international LGBTQ+ choruses, youth choruses, local choirs, and GALA ensembles. 

Choral Carnival — July 12 (7-10 p.m.) 

This free event spotlights the greater Twin Cities arts community, with rotating performances at venues across downtown Minneapolis. Find everything from a Queer Beer Choir and a women’s drum circle to a sound healing session.

As Managing Editor of Minnesota Monthly, Macy strives to capture the Spirit of Minnesota through impactful storytelling and engaging content. Obsessed with all things entertainment and pop culture, her editorial background encompasses a wide variety of arts and lifestyle coverage—from interviewing local musicians and Broadway actors to exploring that trend you can’t stop hearing about. With her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the Twin Cities, Macy is passionate about the people, places, and ideas driving Minnesota’s culture. You can often find her cuddling her two cats, seeing a local band, or crossing movies off her ever-growing watchlist (yes, she’s on Letterboxd).