Gay pride in Prague's Rudolfinum

Boston Gay Men's Chorus, photo:

The 150-member Boston Gay Men's Chorus is one of New England's largest and most successful choirs. It has broken ground in affirming the positive image of the gay community in the United States, and is now on a tour of Europe. After highly successful concerts in Berlin and then Wroclaw in Poland, the chorus is now in Prague, where they will be singing in one of city's great concert venues. In Catholic Poland their concert was preceded by noisy anti-gay protests, so when he met up with the chorus's executive director, Steven Smith, Radio Prague's David Vaughan asked how they had been received so far in the Czech capital.

Steven Smith
"Absolutely great. I mean people are so friendly, very positive about our being here. We knew coming to Prague would be a great experience for the chorus. It's stunningly gorgeous. I'd only seen Prague through pictures and it really is the storybook that everyone says it is."

But I gather that it's not pure coincidence that you're here in Prague just as the Czech parliament is discussing - I think for the third or fourth time - the possibility of introducing gay and lesbian marriage or registered partnership. Are you engaging in that debate here in the Czech Republic?

"Yes, certainly. We'll be singing several songs about that. As you may know, in Massachusetts a year ago this spring, gay and lesbian marriage became legal. More than 23 of our members have already married. Many have been in long-term relationships but finally got married. And we've been very active in the fight in the States. We're working with the group here in the Czech Republic, called Gay Initiative, and we're really glad to lend our voices of support to help people understand why gay and lesbian partnership and marriage is really great for gay and lesbian people and for society as a whole."

And you're going to be singing in one of the great Czech venues. It's the Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum, which is really the great concert venue of Prague. Are you nervous?

"I'm not nervous, but really excited. The whole tour began five years ago and the place we knew we wanted to go first was here to Prague to sing in the Rudolfinum. Certainly its reputation is international. So that really got the thing started. So it's the great finale to the trip."

And what are you going to be singing?

"As always, we sing a great variety of music, from classical to popular music. So you'll get that with us. There are Copland 'Old American Songs', we're doing a newly commissioned work about gay and lesbian marriage, called 'A More Perfect Union'. It wouldn't be us without some show tunes, a lot of Gershwin and music about gay and lesbian pride."