To say Gabe Salazar’s tenure got off to an unusual start is an understatement.
He was selected following a national search during some of the darkest days of the pandemic, when singing was viewed as a risky activity that encouraged the spread of the COVID virus. And then his first big performance in December 2021 at Hard Rock Live with the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida (GMCSF) was canceled after several members tested positive.
A full season into his tenure and the disruptions of the pandemic forgotten, the young conductor is confident about the future of the 150-voice ensemble, which merged this year with the former Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus.
“My approach to any new job is to go in and not rock the boat too quickly,” he said. “I did a lot of listening and observing, and now a year later, they trust me and my vision … it’s been a whirlwind in the best kind of way, fun and exciting.”
Before finally arriving in Fort Lauderdale, the Texas native completed his education at universities in Arizona and Tennessee, sang with the Chicago Symphony chorus, taught at the college level in California and then headed to Orlando to teach in the schools there for a couple of years.
After making the move here, he joined GMCSF to network and hopefully find a job teaching in South Florida. Then the artistic director position with the chorus opened up after just a few months.
“I fell in love with the guys right away … and ended up getting the job I thought I’d never get,” Salazar said.