Denver, CO

Denver City Council honors retiring director of Gay Men's Chorus with proclamation

David Heitz
Photo byDenver 8

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus performed for the City Council Monday, singing a pop-inspired song that had council members swaying to the music.

Members of the Gay Men’s Chorus appeared at the council meeting to honor the retirement of their director, James Knapp. The council issued Knapp a proclamation sponsored by Robin Kniech.

“James Knapp is an international choral conductor, music educator and master vocal technician with a unique approach to activist choral singing who has taught choral workshops throughout the United States, Europe, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Singapore, and Thailand,” according to the proclamation. “James has been a passionate campaigner for stylistic diversity within choral singing and comes with 20 years of experience with the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses.”

The proclamation states that Knapp previously served as the artistic director of the 100-voice Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston and also the founding director of the Bayou City Women’s Chorus. Knapp also served as director of Out Loud, the Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus.

Knapp received a certificate of Congressional recognition “for artistic excellence to further the cause of social justice and was most recently awarded the Denver Mayor’s Arts and Culture Impact Award,” according to the proclamation.

From Carnegie Hall to Russia

Knapp has performed at Carnegie Hall as well as on concert tours in Britain, Europe and Russia, the proclamation states. His last program included Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Denver’s own 11th season winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Yvie Oddly.
James Knapp and a few Gay Men's Chorus of Denver members.Photo byDenver 8

The chorus named Knapp conductor laureate and artistic director emeritus. “James deserves a wonderful retirement with his partner, Jesse Field, a lifetime of cooking for friends and family, attending musicals and concerts, as well as extravagant sailing trips off his beloved coast of Maine,” according to the proclamation.

Chorus sings before camping ban

Kniech said the last time the Gay Men’s Chorus performed for council was before one of its most contentious meetings ever – the passage of the urban camping ban in 2012. She recalls people in attendance at the meeting expressing relief that it started with the Gay Men’s Chorus. She said bringing people together is “emblematic for what the choir stands for.”

City Council President Jamie Torres told Knapp the city “has a huge debt to pay for your leadership and what you brought to Denver.”

Knapp told Kniech she has offered “incredible support, concerts, emails, notes and showing up.” He said he moved to Denver from Boston “with a sense of adventure" and hasn't been disappointed.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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