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MUSIC Lakeside Pride unveils new agenda at inaugural gala
by Vern Hester

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On March 9, the Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles unveiled a bold new agenda at its inaugural gala.

The event, titled "Take the Stage," was held on the stage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and featured musical interludes by the Ensembles' Brass Quintet, Strayhorns Jazz Combo and Latin Band, as well as guest speakers, a raffle, dancing, a giving wall, hors d'oeuvres and a full buffet dinner. The event also featured the introduction of the incoming chair of the board of directors and the presentation of the first Lakeside Pride Spotlight Award. Modesto Tico Valle, CEO of Center on Halsted, was the recipient of the award.

After an opening cocktail reception and performance by the Brass Quintet, outgoing Board Chair Bradley Fritz welcomed the throng and introduced seventh-grader Molly Pinta. Pinta, after attending Aurora's Inaugural Pride Parade, was inspired to come out to her family and take the initiative to spearhead the first gay pride parade and festival in her hometown of Buffalo Grove. Pinta—who attended the gala with her family—energetically spoke about initiating fundraisers and hosting events toward the parade. The Lakeside Pride Marching Band is slated to perform at the event June 2.

Next up was Brandon Strawn, the resources officer for the Ensemble, who spoke about the joy of discovering Lakeside Pride via Google and joining as a musician ( he has been a member of the Symphonic Band, Jazz Orchestra, the Marching Band, the Brass Quintet, the Wilde Cabaret, the Strayhorns Jazz Combo, the Trombone Choir and the Queer as Polka group ) before serving on the board of directors. Strawn related how, when he was hit with several devastating personal setbacks, he was able to overcome them through his involvement and support of the ensembles.

Fritz later returned to the stage to present Valle with his award. Valle spoke about his love for music of every kind and his recognition of Lakeside Pride's mission to inspire and influence not only the LGBTQ community, but other communities at large. Fritz then introduced Vice Chair Melissa Terrell as the incoming board chair after unveiling Lakeside Pride's new initiatives, which include expanding its youth outreach program with performances by the Chamber Ensembles in schools across Chicago.

Along with plans for the next season—which include performing in new neighborhoods and bringing programming to a wider and more diversified audience—Lakeside Pride will continue to pursue joint initiatives with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, the Artemis Singers, ResonaTe transgender choir and Windy City Performing Arts. Chief among upcoming plans is a new partnership with the London Gay Symphony Winds, who Lakeside Pride will host this summer and reciprocate by performing in London in 2020.

The night ended with the announcement of winners for the raffle and a rousing performance by the Latin Band that filled the dance floor for a rowdy finish.

Event sponsors included Alto Realty, Sidetrack Chicago, Center on Halsted, Shimmy Braun with Guaranteed Rate, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Aloft Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile, Studio TK, and KOVAL Distillery. Upcoming events for Lakeside Pride's 50th anniversary honoring the Stonewall Riots include "New York, New York," on April 6 ( Symphonic Band performance ); "Fiesta da Baile," on May 5 ( Latin Band performance ); and "Stonewall: Love and Liberation," ( Jazz Orchestra performance ) on June 1.

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