A Flood of Hope


As the visibility of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) people grows in our society, more and more LGBTQ teens are finding the courage to come out of the closet.

Tragically, as many as 25% of these teens are rejected by their families, and many end up homeless on the streets. Homeless LGBTQ teens are more likely than straight homeless teens to be subjected to violence on the streets, and in the homeless shelter system. They suffer from inordinate rates of mental illness, trauma, HIV infection and substance abuse.

AliLogoThe Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBTQ youth in New York City. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Ali Forney drop-in program, they were faced with an unprecedented challenge: How would they provide for the hundreds of homeless LGBTQ youths who turned to them for help while trying to survive on the streets? How would they raise the funds to replace what was lost and move into a new home?

What happened next seems like a miracle. The LGBT Community Center quickly offered the AFC space to continue drop-in services. And as news of the loss spread quickly, a great many people reached out to help, generously sending donations, and creating fundraising events.

On March 2, Windy City Performing Arts is proud to present ‘A Flood of Hope,’ a Hurricane Sandy Relief concert benefiting the Ali Forney Center in New York City for homeless LGBTQ youth that was destroyed in last fall’s devastating storm on the east coast. Under the direction of new Artistic Director, Paul Caldwell, Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria (Windy City Women’s Chorus) will renew your spirits with a concert of hope, survival, and support filled with emotionally moving songs about wind, sea, and rain.

As this very special concert acknowledges a catastrophic event that thousands of people have yet to recover from, the members of WCPA wish to show their support here in Chicago, through the gift of music, to some of the most vulnerable and innocent victims affected by nature’s fury — homeless LGBTQ youth. A Flood of Hope is dedicated to them to show our love and hope for a brighter day.

Anna-Rose Li-Epstein

Photo by Anna-Rose Li-Epstein

In WCPA’s first concert, one of the selections audiences will hear include Joan Szymko’s “It Takes a Village,” an adaptation of the West African proverb, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” and sung by the combined voices of Aria and Windy City Gay Chorus. Composer Joan Szymko embodies the cultural concept behind the saying — that it is truly ALL the individual parts linked and working together that create and support the whole.

“Requiem” by Eliza Gilkyson, arranged by Craig Hella Johnson, was written after the devastating Asian tsunami in 2004 as a call to compassion and a song of comfort. The work resurged in popularity after Hurricane Katrina.

Reminding us that as individuals, our actions can make the world a better place, Aria’s performance of “I Am Only One” by African American composer Adolphus Hailstork is a song dedicated to the people who make up the New York City Police and Fire Departments. “Weep No More” by David Childs is a song of solace based on an excerpt from a poem by John Keats.

Also on the program is “Prayer of the Children,” by Kurt Bestor, who wrote this song while serving as a missionary in Serbia during the 1970s during the Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian ethnic conflicts. The song captured the sensations that the children struggling to live in that difficult time might have been feeling. It’s a deeply moving and emotional song sung by Windy City Gay Chorus.

Dúlamán by Irish composer Michael McGlynn is an exercise in vocal fireworks, capturing the spirit of people, in an effort to combat the erosion of the land, forced to carry seaweed from the shorelines along the barren coast of West Ireland to use for planting. The text is one that would have been sung while gathering the seaweed.

Rounding out the concert is “Grace Fell Like the Rain” by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory. Composed as part of a project to raise funds for arts organizations in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, “Grace Fell Like the Rain” chronicles the grass-roots efforts that sustained the city when governmental and institutional aid lagged. The choral works of Caldwell and Ivory (including “Go Where I Send Thee,” “Hope for Resolution,” “John the Revelator,” and “Ain’t No Grave Can Hold My Body Down”) have been telecast on PBS and A&E, and performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Sydney Opera House, and throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Legendary guitarist Steve Vai recently collaborated with Caldwell and Ivory to create a choral-rock fusion song, “Book of the Seven Seals.” The work appears on Vai’s latest CD, “The Story of Light.”

Artistic Director Paul Caldwell, a significant conductor and composer in his own right, is thrilled to be able to share this work with Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria. He will also be conducting this year in Europe and Carnegie Hall, leading concerts comprised entirely of music he has composed.

FloodFlyer“A Flood of Hope” featuring Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria will be performed Saturday, March 2, at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster Ave. in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. General admission tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at and will also be available at the door. Discounted tickets for Seniors ($15) or Students and Children ($10) are available only at the box office.

Finally, if you’re interested in singing with one of our choruses, auditions will be held on Saturday, March 9 at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, 1650 W. Foster. For more information or to schedule an audition, send an email to

Windy City Performing Arts (WCPA) was incorporated in 1983 as the independent not-for-profit umbrella organization for Windy City Gay Chorus and Aria (Windy City Women’s Chorus). Windy City Performing Arts celebrates diversity, honors creativity, and cultivates pride through the transformative power of music and the arts as Chicago’s Premier LGBTQA Choral Arts Organization.

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About Val

Valency was born in San Francisco to hippie parents, but is a Chicago girl through and through. Ten years of Catholic school helped her develop a finely-tuned bullshit detector, as well as a love of all sorts of Catholic kitsch. Valency isn't fond of labels. She is, however, fond of embracing her many paradoxes, and walking the fine lines between religion and politics, with an eye turned toward postmodern religion, feminist theology, and challenging patriarchy from inside religious institutions. She lives on the northside with her two daughters and two female cats, and is always looking for more ways increase the estrogen in her household.


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