This video and corresponding article are part of ArtsWave’s web series, "Better Know Cincy's Arts," giving a closer look at the organizations that gifts to ArtsWave support. For more episodes, subscribe to our YouTube channel

Let’s play a game of ‘Guess. That. Arts Organization!’

This mystery organization is the oldest of its kind in the city and “promotes harmony.”  

Is it a choir? A group that has the community at heart? A vibrant mix of gay, bi, trans, and straight men united in their love for music and their commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion?

It’s all three!

The Cincinnati Men's Chorus (CMC) has been promoting harmony and inclusivity (and puns, apparently?) through music since 1991, making it the oldest LGBTQ+ arts organization in the city. The organization goes beyond singing though, creating a place of belonging for its members and a constructive dialogue between the gay community and the region at large.

Members of the chorus join for all sorts of reasons, but all have found life-changing community through their participation. “I was just coming out of the closet as the chorus was forming, so I like to tell people that my first step out of the closet was into the Men's Chorus," chorus member Tim Butz reminisces. "These are the best people in the world," he adds, underscoring the familial bonds formed within the group.

The transformative power of the performances is a cornerstone of the CMC experience. "Every time that we take the stage, we change a life," says Artistic Director Spencer Zembrodt. Spencer went on to recall an audience story of a trans child and his family attending a performance, illustrating just that. "It was a space in the city where the kid felt safe," Zembrodt shares, demonstrating how the chorus's work is so much more than just entertainment.

The members' camaraderie is palpable, especially during their pre-concert rituals. Their tradition of pinning new members with red ribbons and having “choir buddies” — a new member paired with a more senior member — reinforces the group’s tight-knit, supportive nature.

The Cincinnati Men’s Chorus receives annual operating support, which allows them the freedom to create shared concert experiences within the community, not only during Pride month but year-round. Further grants from ArtsWave Pride, which supports LGBTQ+ arts and programming, have been given as well.

The Cincinnati Men's Chorus acts as a beacon unity, using music to break down barriers and change lives. But, at the heart of it all, it’s a bunch of guys who get together every week from busy jobs, lives and family to sing their hearts out, becoming closer through every note.