SAN DIEGO -- Gary Holt, who has been at the helm of what is now the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus (SDGMC) for many years, directed his final concerts this weekend at the group's "The Nutcracker (Men In Tights!)" shows.
On Wednesday, Holt posted the following statement to his Facebook account, which came as a shock to many community members and longtime chorus supporters:
"After many (many!) years as Artistic Director of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, this past weekend of holiday concerts were my final concerts with the chorus. I'm immensely proud of the work we've done, and I will always cherish the many friendships. No other major changes ... just a lot more time to devote to my law/CPA practice, and to socialize and spend time with those I love most. You know who you are!"
Holt said that his departure was voluntary and that he provided the organization's board of directors with 30 days' notice when submitting his resignation earlier this month. This included conducting the annual holiday show held this past weekend that the chorus had been rehearsing for since September.
Holt's history with San Diego's gay choral groups runs deep, including serving as the founding artistic director of the Gay Men's Chorus of San Diego, one of the two legacy choruses that merged in 2010 to create the larger SDGMC.
He was selected to serve as SDGMC's artistic director upon its formation in 2010 and lead the group through its first four years.
Holt is actively involved with and well-respected by his colleagues in the GALA Choruses, which is an international association serving the gay and lesbian choral movement with more than 170 member choruses worldwide. He has served on the board of directors of GALA and has lead many trainings and workshops to educate his chorus colleagues.
Holt has also worked for La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theatre, and is runs his own legal firm with offices in San Diego and Palm Springs.
News of Holt's resignation spread fast with many sending positive comments about his decades leading the organization's artistic side.
Barbara May: The chorus was oh so lucky to have you as long as they did.
Carin Scheinin: Congrats Gary! Wishing you all the best. What a loss for SDGMC.
Tony Sclafani: I'm really happy I got to be a part of the SDGMC under your leadership.
Peter Armado: Gary, I know it's been almost two years since I've been in the chorus ... But something I will always take with me and what I learned from you is that it is important to always do the best work, because that is what drives better art. Your leadership and encouragement helped me nail that audition that eventually opened up several amazing opportunities for me to share and strengthen my gifts. Thank you.
Michael Growe: Gary, you should be very proud of what you created and the rich legacy you are leaving behind. You will be missed. Best of luck to you in your next chapter!
Gary Thayer: It was an honor to sing under your direction, GH, not to mention all of those concert program edits! Haha. I'm happy to hear you'll finally get to enjoy more free time.
Steven Wells: You know how I feel about you. You are an inspiration. Above what you taught me about music, you taught me the importance of remembering times when chorus meant more than a place to meet friends. It was a church for the faithless. It was a hospital for the sick. It was treatment for the addicted. It was family for the lonely. It was asylum for the persecuted. Thank you for never letting us ignore where our community has been. Love you, Mr. Holt.
Bob Lehman, who currently serves on SDGMC's board as director of marketing and will take on the role of president in January, said that the board wishes Holt well in his future endeavors.
"We were honored to have Interim Mayor Todd Gloria present at this weekend's concerts in appreciation of Gary," Lehman said.
Gloria presented Holt with a city proclamation for his year's of service at the concert, along with commendations from the office of State Assemblymember Toni Atkins and Congresswoman Susan Davis.
SDGMC will begin auditions and rehearsals for the April 2014 concert in early January, and the board will soon commence a nationwide search for a new Artistic Director so someone is in place in time for the spring concert.
Additional information about SDGMC is HERE.
(Editor's note: Staff Writer Ben Cartwright was previously employed as SDGMC's Executive Director from May 2012 to June 2013.)