Holcombe Waller.  Brittney Valdez
Holcombe Waller.  (Brittney Valdez)

Holcombe Waller Honors LGBTQ Community with 'Requiem Mass'

Holcombe Waller Honors LGBTQ Community with 'Requiem Mass'

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Grace Cathedral is known as the Bay Area's "cool church" (earlier this year, its pews were packed for a Beyoncé-themed mass). This week, the San Francisco institution continues to push boundaries with composer Holcombe Waller's Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Right, a choral work that honors those who've been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Co-presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Ghiberti Foundation, the piece features an all-abilities volunteer choir (which includes KQED's Chloe Veltman) and takes place Nov. 16 and 17 at 7:30pm. Waller, a composer, singer and performance artist who previously scored the film We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco, created the emotional work based on research into the gay rights movement from the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic ravaged the LGBTQ community, to today.

Grace Cathedral has long been a beacon of inclusivity; in 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon that called for racial equality and empathy with the Civil Rights movement. With people around the country—and world—still using Christianity as a pretext to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Right makes a powerful statement of solidarity and acceptance.