Sims, Jon Reed

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Sims, Jon Reed

Sims, Jon Reed, American conductor; b. Smith Center, Kans., May 6, 1947; d. (of AIDS) San Francisco, July 16, 1984. He studied piano and horn, and was drum major of his high school band, and later attended Wichita State Univ. (B.Mus. and B.A., 1969) and Ind. Univ. (M.Mus., 1972). He studied eurhythmies at the Dalcroze School in N.Y., arts administration at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Univ., dance in N.Y., Chicago, and San Francisco, and horn and composition (with Milhaud). He taught in Chicago (1972–74) and San Francisco (1974–78). In 1978 he founded the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps, which made its debut performance at the Gay Pride Day parade that same year. He then founded in rapid succession the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (Nov. 1978), the Golden Gate Performing Arts (an administrative organization, March 1979), Lambda Pro Musica, and the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men’s Community Chorus; directed the San Francisco Band & Corps until early 1982. Sims’s dream was to create a nationwide network of gay and lesbian instrumental and choral ensembles; the San Francisco chorus toured the U.S. in 1981, a public gesture that caused the founding of ensembles nationwide. Gay and lesbian choruses appeared in quick succession in Los Angeles Guly 12, 1979), Seattle (Nov. 1979), and Chicago. The first meeting of what was to become GALA (Gay and Lesbian Assn. [of choruses]; Chicago, June 1981) included directors and ensemble founders Jerry Carlson (Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus; later director of the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus; d. of AIDS, Nov. 1987), Dennis Coleman (Seattle Men’s Chorus), Richard Garrin (Chicago’s Windy City Gay Chorus), Dick Kramer (San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus), Gary Miller (N.Y.C. Gay Men’s Chorus), and Susan Schleef (Chicago’s Artemis Singers). The first West Coast conference of GALA included 9 choruses (1982); the first national conference, with 11 choruses (N.Y., 1983), was followed by conferences with 17 (Minneapolis, 1986) and 43 choruses (Seattle, 1989); in 1990 GALA boasted a membership of 88 choruses situated throughout North America and Europe. Most GALA choruses are made up of gay men, although there are a number of lesbian and mixed-voice ensembles; many additional lesbian groups are not GALA members. Following Sims’s example, gay and lesbian musical organizations have grown remarkably in number, size, and sophistication; they are important examples of communal expression in American gay and lesbian culture.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Sims, Jon Reed

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