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"Taking over a city and filling it with song."

That's the mission of the quadrennial GALA Choruses Festival, the world's largest gathering of LGBTQ singers and choirs. This week, that city will be Minneapolis. Or at least the southern end of its downtown.

"My first festival was in 1996, and we took over the city of Tampa," Jane Ramseyer Miller said last week from her south Minneapolis home. "And you could just see around you all these LGBTQ people, because they were wearing their delegate badges. Not only did you feel that you had this community of queer people with you, but you were all choral nerds."

Ramseyer Miller has been artistic director of GALA Choruses since 2010, and has held the same position with all of the Twin Cities major LGBTQ choirs, most notably 27 years heading One Voice Mixed Chorus. She was getting prepared for this choral takeover of Minneapolis when COVID-19 struck in 2020, canceling the festival.

But now it's on, with 7,000 singers and 122 choirs expected to converge upon the city and perform over 50 concerts in five days, all of them open to the public. There will be free concerts at Peavey Plaza outside Orchestra Hall Wednesday through Sunday and ticketed concerts inside the hall and at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium, Central Lutheran Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

"On Wednesday at Peavey Plaza [at 5 p.m.], we're doing a huge singalong," Ramseyer Miller said. "Just calling people into a circle together. We're going to hum together, acknowledge the land that we're standing on, and sing two songs as a choir of 7,000."

Among those 7,000 will be members of choirs from several countries, including China, Ukraine, Taiwan, Finland, Estonia and Mexico. Most will be performing at the "Harmonies of the Sphere" concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday at Orchestra Hall.

"In today's political climate, it can be scary to be a queer person," Ramseyer Miller said. "Because it feels like rights, in general, are being taken away. And people are feeling very vulnerable. So, to have a festival like this, where 7,000 people descend on a city and sing together, is incredibly healing."

Each day of the festival, there will be two coffee concerts in the morning and an afternoon filled with half-hour concerts by multiple choirs. The evenings are saved for "blockbuster" concerts, on which multiple choirs collaborate on a particular theme. The first (6:30 and 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at Orchestra Hall) is called "Mni Sota Confluence" and features three local ensembles — the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, Calliope Women's Chorus and One Voice Mixed Chorus.

"I'm really looking forward to one of the concerts called 'The Peace of Wild Things' [7:15 p.m. Thursday at Central Lutheran Church], which explores the environment and climate change," Ramseyer Miller said. "And 'Banned' [9 p.m. Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium] explores things that legislatures have banned. The choirs will perform songs about banned books and banned drag queens and banned genders."

The festival's most festive event might be Friday evening's Choral Carnival, which will feature free 45-minute concerts at each of the venues, and…

"There's a queer beer choir," Ramseyer Miller said. "Cantus is doing a concert. There's the 'Trans Fusion Cabaret,' an opportunity for trans performers to really own the event, share their stories and their songs. You can go to a healing bowls session. You can have your tarot cards read. There will be a drumming circle in the green plaza at the Convention Center. We'd love the public to come."

And all the concerts are available via livestream, with a festival pass available for $35. A detailed schedule is available at galachoruses.org.

GALA Choruses Festival

With: Over 50 concerts, featuring 122 choirs and 7,000 singers.

When: Wednesday through Sunday.

Where: Peavey Plaza, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis Convention Center, Central Lutheran Church and Westminster Hall.

Tickets: Free-$35, available at 612-371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org

Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at wordhub@yahoo.com.