Lecturer Reuben Zellman Creates Chorus for Trans, Nonbinary Singers

Friday, February 22, 2019
Photo of Reuben Zellman

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- The symposium grew out of New Voices Bay Area, an amateur chorus founded in September under the auspices of the Community Music Center. Led by Reuben Zellman, himself a nonbinary choral director and rabbi, the program is meant to offer a musical outlet for any singers who self-identify as transgender, intersex or genderqueer.

“The reason we started this,” he says, “was because it was clear there really wasn’t a space for people from our community to sing in an environment that was specifically designed to be supportive of them.

“I teach Music at SF State, and there were more and more transgender and nonconforming students who were interested in auditioning for one of the University’s choruses, but they had a lot of trepidation.”

And not all the trepidation was musical.

“We’re accustomed to having men on one side and women on the other, wearing gendered costumes,” Zellman says. “I have worked with many singers who dropped out of high school choir because they weren’t comfortable wearing what they had to wear — it had nothing to do with singing at all.”