Author Explores Queer Choral Musicking as a Social Practice with a Purpose


Why choruses? Author Julia "Jules" Balen seeks to answer that question in the book "Queerly Joyful Noise," which examines how choral singing can be both personally transformative and politically impactful.

Balen points to Chorus America, the largest umbrella choral organization in the U.S., which estimates that "42.6 million people in the U.S. sing in more than 270,000 choruses today."

Her intention with this book, as she writes in the introduction, is "not so much to tell individuals stories, though I certainly do that. Rather, these stories help me sketch a larger picture of queer choral musicking as a social practice with a purpose."

A proud member of numerous queer choruses, Balen draws from years of firsthand observations, archival research, and extensive interviews to reveal how queer chorus members feel shared vulnerability, collective strength, and even moments of ecstasy when performing.

As they blend their different voices to create something beautiful, LGBTIQ singers stand together and make themselves heard. Comparing queer choral performances to the uses of group singing within the civil rights and labor movements, Balen maps the relationship between different forms of oppression and strategic musical forms of resistance. She also explores the potential this queer communal space creates for mobilizing progressive social action. She does this in three parts: "Finding Our Voices," "Queer Organizing for Social Change" and "Communal Erotics and Social Justice."

A "Queerly Joyful Noise" serves as a testament to the power of music, intimately depicting how participation in a queer chorus is more than a pastime, but a meaningful form of protest through celebration.

Holiday Concerts By LGBTQ Choruses

Prism Men's Chorus

"Winter 2017, A Broadway Holiday; Glitz & Glam"

7:30 p.m. Dec. 2

Club Venetian

29310 John R, Madison Hts.

LansSINGout Gay Men's Chorus


7:30 p.m. Dec. 2

3 p.m. Dec. 3

First Presbyterian Church

510 W. Ottawa St. in Lansing

Sing Out Detroit, Mixed LGBT Chorus

"Chill Out"

3 p.m. Dec. 10

Ferndale High School

881 Pinecrest Dr., Ferndale

Detroit Together Men's Chorus

"Put A Little Love In Your Heart"

7:30 p.m. Dec. 16

St. James Catholic Church

240 Pearson, Ferndale

Out Loud Chorus Winter Concert

8 p.m. Jan. 19, 2018

Towsley Auditorium in the Morris Lawrence Building at Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron River Dr., Ann Arbor

The book is available for purchase online for around $24.
  • Latest News

Enter To Win

Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more

Special Section: World AIDS Day
Rising Above

Activist Cleve Jones has lived an extraordinary life, filled with world-changing friends and figureheads from Harvey Milk to Dustin Lance Black.

View More World AIDS Day
This Week's Issue

Download or view this week's print issue today!