Singing Truth to Power

David Jobin to lead Washington's gay men's chorus

David Jobin was in tears as he watched the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington perform during President Barack Obama’s Inauguration festivities.

”That a gay chorus could be part of that – in some ways it went unnoticed, and I think that’s a great thing,” Jobin says, noting that there was little controversy with the chorus’s inclusion.

Now, a month later, the 46-year-old San Franciscan has been tasked with leading the chorus. GMCW is one of the nation’s largest, oldest and most respected gay chorale organizations, now in its 28th season, with well over 200 members. Jobin replaces Robert Johnson as GMCW’s executive director, and will work alongside longstanding artistic director Jeff Buhrman. Jobin takes over March 9.

Jobin hopes to build on the organization’s prestige and what he calls notable stability. He’ll also work to give it even more visibility, beyond the gay community.

”We couldn’t be happier,” says Michael E. Hill, chair of GMCW’s board of directors and a member of the organization’s search committee. ”David was the perfect choice. We’re interested in exploring ways to do more, and to make the Chorus a real heavy-hitter not just in Washington, but even nationally,” building on its role in Inauguration festivities.

The move marks a bit of a shift for Jobin, who has spent 20 years leading mainstream theater organizations, including Pittsburgh’s City Theatre Company and most recently San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. But Jobin is no newcomer to the gay chorale movement, having been a member of several gay choruses around the country. He also served on the board of gay choruses in Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley.

”Gay choruses are probably the most visible gay organization in any community,” Jobin says. ”I look at the gay chorale movement through a political lens. It’s a political statement just to hang a poster about a gay chorus performance.”

For Jobin, being part of San Francisco’s Gay Men’s Chorus during and after last year’s Proposition 8 debacle left an indelible impression. The chorus performed around the state most weekends leading up to Election Day, and continued to perform even after, especially in counties where majorities voted for the state’s successful anti-gay marriage measure.

”I saw just how powerful a tool a chorus can be, especially when you, pardon the pun, go beyond singing to the choir,” he says. ”I know the impact that we have as we spread the message of inclusiveness and acceptance through the power of music.”

Jobin plans to bring some of that activism to GMCW, in addition to maintaining the organization’s youthfulness and vitality. ”I’ve never seen such a young chorus,” Jobin says about GMCW, noting it is significantly younger than San Francisco’s.

On a more personal level, Jobin, originally from Ohio, is thrilled with the move.

”D.C. has always been one of my favorite places,” he says, adding that his partner is just as excited by the move, since his family lives in nearby Virginia. ”I’m certainly going to make D.C. my home.”