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May 19, 2004

An experimental bridge of cooperation between a Catholic school and a gay choral group collapsed Thursday when Rosarian Academy canceled two concerts scheduled for this weekend by the Voices of Pride Gay Men's Chorus of the Palm Beaches. The academy had allowed the 30-man chorus, formed last year, to use the school's music room since October for rehearsals. Members had sold more than 500 tickets for their debut performances Friday night and tonight in the Machlin Memorial Theatre on Rosarian's North Flagler Drive campus. Each side claimed Friday that the other had violated their contract and was responsible for the cancellation.

Carey O'Donnell, public relations spokeswoman for Rosarian, said Pilecki agreed to change material that Sanders found objectionable when she attended a rehearsal six weeks ago. O'Donnell would not say what the material was. "He gave her repeated assurances that it would be modified or deleted," she said. "He totally understood her objections." The principal attended the Wednesday night dress rehearsal and found the material hadn't been changed, O'Donnell said. "She gave him the choice of modifying the show as previously agreed or canceling, and he said cancel," O'Donnell said.

Pilecki couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but attorney Trent Steele said it was "absolutely not true" that Pilecki called off the concerts. "They absolutely were not given any options by Sister Corinne," Steele said. "She told them in no uncertain terms the event was canceled." He said the show contained no obscenities, vulgarities or nudity, or anything inappropriate. "To suggest that any of these numbers is of an 'adult' nature is akin to suggesting that the Carol Burnett show or the Milton Berle show was of an 'adult' nature," he said. "There is some humor on a subject that is quite timely and one that needs some discussion, but there is no intent to offend anyone. Sometimes comic relief is a good channel to open up communication."

The chorus sang at a recent West Palm Beach City Commission meeting, and Mayor Lois Frankel had proclaimed Friday and today Voices of Pride Days in honor of its planned debut. The group said it is looking for another venue and will honor tickets already sold. Frankel said she was disappointed and surprised by the concert controversy. "As a city, we are so proud of our diversity, which includes gender identity diversity," she said. "We heard this choir at our commission meeting, and they have beautiful voices. It was uplifting. I feel confident this group can find a different venue in this city for people to enjoy the choir." More

Posted by acapnews at May 19, 2004 8:06 AM

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