Lecturer Reuben Zellman Creates New Voices Bay Area TIGQ Chorus

Thursday, August 02, 2018
Photo of Reuben Zellman

BAY AREA REPORTER -- “There is no textbook on choral conducting that even considers the possibility that singers don't fall into one of those [gender] categories,” Zellman, 39, told the Bay Area Reporter in a recent interview. “A lot, not all, but a lot of choruses still today tend to be quite strictly segregated by gender and are not a very comfortable environment for someone who is transgender, intersex or genderqueer.”

Zellman is a lecturer in the Music department at San Francisco State University, where he also directs the Treble Singers, formerly known as the Women’s Chorus. At the University, Zellman said he would often get students who were transgender males and females, or those who did not identify as women, who wanted to sing in the Women’s Chorus.

“A lot of trans and genderqueer singers are not ever approaching those ensembles because they don't have a place where they feel safe. It’s time to create a place they do,” he said.

And that’s exactly what Zellman did. He reached out to the Community Music Center and proposed his idea of creating a choir where people whose gender didn’t fit into traditional male or female roles could sing soprano, baritone or tenor regardless of their gender identity or transition status.

Photo by Hannah Anderson