Darrell Sampson came to D.C., he says, on “a fluke” but one thing that kept him here was the city’s appreciation for classical music. The baritone, a fan of all choral music but especially that written before 1750, has found several outlets — he sings with the National Master Chorale, the Woodley Ensemble and Chantry, a group that specializes in this era.
The 16-member Chantry, under the direction of David Taylor, is having the second concert of its 10th season Saturday at St. Mary Mother of God Church (727 5th St., N.W.) at 8 p.m. “Three Kings: Masterpieces for the Magi” will feature motets by Victoria, Lassus, Palestrina, Dufay, Handel, Poulenc and others. Tickets are $27 and are available here. Several of the singers, including Sampson, are gay.
So what’s the appeal of such ancient music? Sampson, a school counselor who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, says he discovered his passion for it in an early music survey class.
“I remember hearing the Gloria from the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina and I almost burst into tears,” he says. “It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. There’s nothing really that can describe what that was like.”
The 35-year-old Decatur, Ill., native also loves “Glee,” Jane Austen novels (he found the zombie mashups “surreal”), hiking and yoga.
He lives in Arlington and he and boyfriend Josh Israel are looking for a place together. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out since I was 21. Ironically, my father was the hardest to tell, but he was prepared for it and knew ahead of time. I thought it would come as no great surprise when I told my mother, and yet she was completely shocked.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Any gay man or woman who has come before me and survived the inevitable struggles that one undergoes —Stonewall, the AIDS epidemic, Liza in “Sex and the City 2.” I have had it easier because of those who came before me and young people coming out now will have had it easier because of my generation.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Nellie’s or Freddie’s in Arlington.
Describe your dream wedding.
My dream wedding would be an extremely small affair. Close friends and family would attend, perhaps outdoors in the fall. Poetry, writings done by friends. Being a musician, I would probably want to have a small consort of singers so one slight “frill.”
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Education. All our children deserve a quality education to prepare them to become productive citizens in the world. In my job I work with a wide variety of students and their families, from those who have every material advantage in the world to those who have very little and whose lives are constantly undergoing change. All of these students need assistance in some way … Children failing is rarely going to be the result of one party’s actions. Rather, we as a whole society are responsible for helping these students grow and achieve. The schools have a responsibility, the families have a responsibility, the neighborhoods have a responsibility and most of all we as a citizenry have a responsibility.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would welcome being able to change any situation in which a group of people was victimized or attempts made to eradicate them. History is full of these examples — the Holocaust, slavery in the United States and abroad, gay civil rights, Rwanda. What saddens me is that we continue to repeat these mistakes as a human race.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The “coming-out” episode of “Ellen.” Quickly followed by its cancellation and then quickly followed by the premiere of “Will & Grace.” It was a sign that things were changing rapidly for the better.
On what do you insist?
Kindness, respect and really listening to others. Think about it — we rarely truly “listen” to each other any more without interjecting and getting defensive.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Come hear some wonderful music from the early music ensemble Chantry! Saturday, January 22nd at 8 p.m. at St. Mary, Mother of God in Gallery Place, Chinatown.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict: My Eternal Search for Mr. Darcy.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Personally, nothing. I am happy the way I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
No comment. I like to remain open and neutral to all faiths and belief systems that come into my office.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Perseverance. Change has already come to pass, more is on the way.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
The chocolate pear tart at the Queen of Tarts bakery in Dublin, Ireland. I’m not kidding — I would.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Most stereotyping annoys me. There is a huge wealth of diversity in the LGBT community, as there is in any other.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Beautiful Thing.” Corny, schmaltzy, and I love it every time I watch it.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
De-friending on Facebook. It’s Facebook, people … really?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Winning the lottery. Who wouldn’t?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
It’s not always important that I be right.
I came out here to look around for work, for life, on a whim one summer — I had no idea what I was hoping for. Frank Albinder, the conductor of the Woodley Ensemble, hired me to sing a choral gig after I had been here a week, and I found myself singing Renaissance music in the National Cathedral not long after. I was hooked — it was what I had been searching for over five years. It is in those moments of creating incredible music that I know that I am home.