Chase Maggiano, the new executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, says it won’t be hard to adapt to his new role.
A professional violinist — he toured with “South Pacific” and played for the GMCW production of “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” a few years ago — Maggiano says he’s perfectly happy on the managerial side of things now.
“I actually love what I do and think it really gives my type-A personality a chance to shine,” the 29-year-old McLean, Va., native says. “It also allows me to impact more people. When I’m playing my own little song, I only reach the people who happen to be in the concert hall that day. This gives me a broader reach.”
Maggiano grew up in the region, went to college at George Washington and worked in business development for a software marketing company for several years before going into arts education work. He spent a bit more than a year with Washington Performing Arts Society and is now succeeding David Jobin at the helm of the GMCW.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the GMCW family,” he says. “It’s an exciting time for the Chorus. We have an opportunity to harness our voices and family of supporters to bring more music and life to the D.C. community.”
The Chorus is just regrouping for its fall season. Visit gmcw.org for details on its various concerts, productions and ensemble and cabaret nights.
Maggiano recently moved to Logan Circle from the Hill and enjoys music, running, wine and time in the water in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out when I was 19 and I was fortunate to have a supportive family and close friends. I find it hardest to tell strangers — the receptionist at a hotel, the lady on the Metro who asks about your girlfriend, etc. — because you just never know what people’s perceptions of the gay community might be.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Aside from Batman and Robin? Dennis and Judy Shepard are true heroes. They have managed to turn a severe personal loss into a national message of compassion. Their mission of replacing hate with understanding goes way beyond the tragedy they suffered and speaks to people in all walks of life.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
This year’s best nightspot will be Town Danceboutique on Saturday, Nov. 9 for the Gay Men’s Chorus Home Cooked Cabaret. Since cabaret is my favorite art form, it’s going to be a hot show!
Describe your dream wedding.
Outdoors, surrounded by my family, friends and a string orchestra. The reception would be a giant party culminating in a cabaret by my amazing singer friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I told my dad recently that I never thought I would be a part of the gay movement, yet here I am running one of the largest choruses in the country whose mission is very much equality-driven. His response was, “We are all part of a movement called humanity.” I think it’s important to look outside of ourselves and see what issues we have in common with other communities instead of focusing on what makes us different.
What historical outcome would you change?
I would have picked winning lottery numbers last year.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I saw Adele at the 9:30 club just before she cancelled her U.S. tour. She was so authentic in her singing and so comfortable in her own shoes, and I have never seen an artist who compares.
On what do you insist?
Honesty with myself.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was a video of GMCW singing “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime at the 2012 GALA conference. We sang that song in front of SCOTUS this year when the DOMA decision dropped. “Ragtime” composer Stephen Flaherty saw it on YouTube and wrote us the most encouraging, heartfelt letter. That song is our anthem, and who knows, may become an anthem for equality everywhere.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“I can’t, I have rehearsal.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d probably go grocery shopping and rent a movie.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in goodness and I believe it exists in everyone. My personal religion is “love each other.”
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
The best way to make friends is to reach out your hand to those who don’t expect it.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all we do is sing show tunes and throw parties. Oh, wait.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Brokeback Mountain.” My whole family wanted to watch it together in the theaters and we all left in tears. That was a very affirming moment for me.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I am very much in love with my violin. It’s a French instrument from the 1860s.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I had understood that I had my whole life to be serious, and that my college years were for letting loose.
I grew up in Northern Virginia, and my family and friends are mostly here. There’s a comfort in that, and also an excitement in the burgeoning arts scene that has kept me here.