Sacra/Profana’s Concert ‘A Space to Belong’ Will Premiere Cory Hibbs’ LGBT Cantata

Sacra/Profana Music Director Juan Carlos Acosta will lead the chorus in the première of Cory Hibbs’ cantata All We Need—Meditations on Queer Being June 1, 2024, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. Although it is not rare for a choral organization to perform a new work, Sacra/Profana has been involved in the actual creation of Hibbs’ composition.

Cory Hibbs [photo (c.) Dominick Aznovour]

Acosta, a longtime friend of Hibbs since they were music majors at San Diego State University, collaborated with him to develop the idea of a choral work centered around the LGBT experience, and once Hibbs turned these ideas into a musical score, in four separate workshops along the way Sacra/Profana tested the movements and gave him helpful feedback.

“Sacra/Profana” had performed several of Hibbs’ works over the years, but we were eager to be involved in something on a larger scale,” Acosta explained.

“I wanted to stretch my scope as a composer,” said Hibbs, “and one route was to start with a subject that only I could create. And about a year and a half ago when the state of Florida passed its ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law and other laws were being passed to restrict the lives of trans individuals, I decided the work had to be about finding safe spaces to live as a part of the LGBT community.

“So I started thinking about the most common aspect that gay people have: coming out and coming to grip with that reckoning of a person’s idea of self and how others will see themselves.”

Hibbs found himself reliving a traumatic experience that occurred when he was in the sixth grade. “At age twelve I was constantly bullied by my school mates, and I was called names that at the time I did not understand, but the derision in their voices told me I was being taunted.”

At one point he remembers an older boy spat on his back during a bullying session, and that became event one of the cantata’s 21 movements: “He spat on my back!”

Devising programs based topical themes is nothing new for Sacra/Profana. “We have presented concerts centered around topics such as immigration, environmental issues, and the Black American experience, but not about the LGBTQ community,” said Acosta. “Members of that community sing in Sacra/Profana, and many members felt that engaging this topic was long overdue.

“We are eager to perform this new choral work at St. Paul’s Cathedral because it has such wonderful acoustics for choral music. And equally because the Cathedral has given so much support in the past to the LGBTQ community that singing this work on June 1—the first day of Pride month and the start of Pride festivals around the city—could not be more appropriate.”

Hibbs added that to complement the musical performance, an art exhibition will be set up in the west end of the cathedral adjacent to the main entrance.

“Since we are singing about safe spaces, the installation will be as blanket fort made with found objects. It will be interactive, and people will be able tented into it and explore it before and after the performance,” Hibbs added.

Cory Hibbs’ cantata ‘All We Need–Meditations on Queer Being’ will be premiered by Sacra/Profana on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.


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