Founded in 1978, The Los Angeles Gay Freedom Band (GFBLA) has seen its share of tumult. It began as a marching band called The Great American Yankee Band, “GAY,” as printed on their bass drum. They snuck their way into parades that wouldn’t have otherwise welcomed them, sometimes facing backlash.
Artistic Director Joseph Vranas shares, “There were a few anecdotes about possibly some big brick throwing or some insults thrown towards the band as they played in the parades.”
But, as the saying goes, the band played on, even after they lost 90% of their company in the early days of the AIDS crisis.
Now after more than 40 years of making music, GFBLA’s group of volunteer and amateur musicians are focusing a new program of music on causes important to them. On Sunday, November 13, they will be playing original songs around the themes of climate change, civil rights, gender equality, and more. There will also be a pre-show discussion with the audience and musicians.
Vranas says the theme is that of a watchman, holding a light in the night. “We're shining a light on these different causes. In our program, we highlight different organizations that support these causes. And we'll discuss what the composers are achieving in their music, and how these representations are manifesting in the pieces.”