Some of the tenors in One Voice Mixed Chorus are women. Some of the sopranos are men, or used to be. And that would be beside the point, yet entirely the point, of the concert that the 125-member singing group will perform twice on Saturday at the Ordway.
“Gender Unchecked!” is a collection of songs that artistic director Jane Ramseyer Miller says are focused on “smashing the boxes” of gender stereotypes. With Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Olympic star Bruce Jenner, making the current cover of Vanity Fair after her transition to a woman, and other transgender names in the news like Laverne Cox of “Orange Is the New Black,” the theme couldn’t be more topical.
“It’s amazing timing,” said Miller, who has led the chorus for 20 years. “But this concert goes beyond that to address stereotypes more broadly. We all deal all the time with getting defined by gender — assumptions made by how we dress, how we spend our time, having to check a box that says male or female. Today a lot of people are living more in gray areas.”
Selections on the program range from the 1920s-composed “Masculine Women, Feminine Men” to more general identity-exploring songs like Harry Belafonte’s “Turn the World Around” and Eric Whitacre’s “I Hide Myself,” which takes its lyrics from the Emily Dickinson poem about the loneliness that comes from not feeling authentic. Also included are two songs by women composers who had to publish under men’s names in order to get their work produced, one of them Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix’s sister.
In the lobby, an interactive display will feature a “gender spectrum” where attendees can place butterfly Post-it notes, and a “Peanuts”-style “Lucy” booth where therapists will answer gender-related questions.
“This will be one of the more edgy performances the Ordway has seen,” Miller said. “We want it to be an integrated experience.”