November 13, 2019 at 1:44 pm PST | by John Paul King
GMCLA appoints new Music Director

Ernest H. Harrison will lead GMCLA’s spring concert, “The California Sound,” on April 4-5, 2020. (Photo courtesy GMCLA)

GMCLA has named Ernest H. Harrison as their new Music Director and Conductor.

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, one of the country’s longest-running and largest LGBTQ arts organizations, announced Wednesday that Harrison, a conductor, singer, and educator had been selected after a months-long search.  He will make his Walt Disney Concert Hall debut on Saturday, July 18, 2020 when he conducts GMCLA’s Gala Concert, “Queen/Of the Night.”

Harrison is about to receive his Doctorate in Choral Conducting from the University of Southern California. He is Associate Conductor of the National Children’s Chorus Concerto Ensemble, Conductor for the Pasadena Conservatory of Music’s Cantare Chamber Choir, and Assistant Conductor at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.  He has taught undergraduate choral conducting for the choral department at USC, and currently teaches private voice lessons there, as well.

In a press release, GMCLA Executive Director Lou Spisto said, “I am delighted that Ernest Harrison is joining GMCLA as Music Director & Conductor. He’s an inspiring musician, conductor, and educator with a passion for reaching people through music who will help lead this great chorus of over 250 men and help us engage even more with this remarkable community.”

In the release, Harrison commented, “I am so excited to join this beloved organization and inspiring group of men who have given so much to so many for more than 40 years. From my earliest musical experiences, I have always believed that what we do as musicians saves lives, and the work that GMCLA does — on and off the stage — exemplifies that belief.”

The new Music Director is a native of Tuskegee, AL, where he began his music career singing gospel in church and listening to the spirituals of William Dawson, as sung by the famous Tuskegee Golden Voices. He received his master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri and bachelor’s degrees from both Tuskegee and Auburn Universities. He has worked with the Tuskegee University Gospel Ensemble, the jazz vocal a cappella ensemble Hitt Street Harmony at the University of Missouri, and the Apollo Men’s Chorus at USC.  Most recently, Harrison became a member of the international choral ensemble Conspirare, directed by Grammy-winning conductor and composer Craig Hella Johnson.

Spisto concluded the announcement by adding, “Ernest’s appointment is the capstone to a remarkable 40th anniversary year for GMCLA. In the past few months we performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall, and marched and sang in the Los Angeles and World Pride Celebrations. In August, we ended the fiscal year with a $385,000 surplus and we have reduced the debt by over 50 percent.  We are deeply grateful to our singing members, donors, subscribers, and all the institutions that have supported us this past year.

“As we begin Season 41 with Ernest aboard we are ready to begin the next exciting chapter for GMCLA.”



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