By Greg Torres

The Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus (PSGMC) is back and ready to perform for its spectacular holiday show “Sparkle, Twinkle, Jingle!” at the Palm Springs Museum Annenberg Theater Friday, December 10, Saturday, December 11 and Sunday, December 12. The Chorus is proud to welcome its new artistic director Jerry R. Soria-Foust, who will premiere his talents in their annual fun-filled holiday show. We took a minute to get acquainted with the highly qualified and experienced new director. This is what he shared with us.

The Standard Magazine: When did you realize that music was going to be the path you would take in life?

Jerry Soria-Foust: The idea of pursuing music education dawned on me early in high school. But much, much earlier than that–as young as three or four–my sister and I put on music and dance performances in our kitchen. It dawned on me the other day when listening to an NPR story about Sondheim’s original Company cast album, that was the first time I heard and fell in love with musical theatre. In our little hometown library in rural Indiana, I would check out Broadway record albums (33’s) and take them home to listen to over and over, probably at the age of seven or eight. Company was the very first! Of course, I had no idea what any of it meant, but I knew I loved that Broadway sound. I was persuaded by my high school band director to audition for music school instead of going into marketing and communications, and 30 years later, when I went back to teaching after working in non-profit and for-profit arts education, that very director ended up being my colleague. We worked together on building a high-quality music program together at a high school in Indiana. So, in that way, I came back to my first love, and came back to directing music with the very person who convinced me that music was my calling.

TSM: Who are your inspirations?

JSF: Most importantly, my family. My husband Jorge and I have been through so many life changes, not the least of which was adopting two amazing boys in 2018. We also became grandfathers in 2020 when my stepdaughter had a beautiful little boy (I know I look way too young to be a grandfather!). I also look to my mom for so much–I still call her a few times a week to ask for advice, especially since we adopted the boys. She is the kind of wise, forgiving, nurturing parent I strive to be.  In terms of music, education and conducting, I mentioned my high school music teacher. Also, the founder of the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus and my college conducting teacher, Michael Hayden, whose energy, skills, artistic sensibilities, and positive outlook I try to emulate every time I get in front of my groups. Really, the best conductors try to take all of the things they have learned from all the people they encounter–teachers, idols, colleagues–and use little pieces of those experiences to become their own unique artistic leader. I hope that’s what I’m doing every day.

TSM: Who would be your ideal musical collaborator and why?

JSF: I’ve had the unbelievable privilege of working with a lot of notable performers and artists as a GALA Choruses director–I mean truly “pinch myself” experiences: Taylor Dayne, Sir Ian McKellan, Sharon McNight, Sharon Gless, Frenchie Davis, Nichelle Nichols…and now my pal Michele McConnell–who will go down in musical theatre history as one of the greats. A “fan-boy” moment was when I got to meet and work with a true idol and hero of mine in 2009, Greg Louganis. He was part of a piece I wrote for the San Diego Men’s Chorus celebrating 40 years of post-Stonewall gay San Diego. Definitely a highlight of my career (and life!).

 I really want to bring some new accomplished artists (like Michele) to Palm Springs in the coming years. Not necessarily to drive ticket sales, but to give these exceptional men the opportunity to work with some of the greatest–they deserve that experience.

TSM: What is the project you are most proud of in your career?

JSF: From 2011-2019, I started and ran an educational theatre program that grew into 1200 students a year, serving dozens of schools in Chicago. We added a professional theatre, and specialized in musical theatre for all-ages, and performed big musicals in a small, intimate blackbox space. I really stretched myself and accomplished so much, including becoming a very good graphic designer, gutting, and renovating a storefront, hiring, and training some of the best theatre artists in Chicago, and directing award-winning professional, all-ages shows that families truly loved.

I’m proud of the impact I’ve had there, as well as in other organizations and schools on young people–helping them fall in love and find success in the performing arts.

My dream job, however, is right here in Palm Springs–I love doing what I do with this exceptional group of men. I love our dual mission of musical excellence and social justice. The passion and talent these men are bringing to their rehearsals is every director’s dream.

TSM: What other career path would you have taken if you didn’t go the music route?

JSF: Well, in 8th grade I briefly was interested in mortuary science. Thank goodness that didn’t pan out. When I got accepted to Butler University, I was a marketing and communications major. A random fact is that I’m only a few classes away from a school administrator’s license, even completed the principal internship in my previous teaching position.

TSM: What can we look forward this year from the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus?

JSF: In the short-term, lots of sparkle, twinkle, and jingle–in our December concert at the Annenberg Theatre, where we will perform traditional and non-traditional holiday music, some fun choreography, elevated production elements, and guest artist Michele McConnell. Michele and I have been friends for 30 years, she is a true Broadway star, playing the role of Carlotta in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway longer than any other human alive–nearly 2300 performances! Michele will join us for a stunning rendition of ‘O, Holy Night’ and a wonderful medley of ‘Jingle Bells’ variations, where her soprano voice will knock everyone’s socks off!

The Spring show in April at the Annenberg is a collection of Pride- and equality-themed music from stage and screen…with songs from Billy Elliot, Rocketman, The Wizard of Oz, Sordid Lives, and so many more that will dazzle our beloved audience members! We have auditions for the Spring concert period on January 4, by appointment, and the show is in early April. Information is available at In the longer term, our artistic goals for this year have been to improve vocal production elements like vowels, placement, breath, and blend. We want to continue to increase and improve production elements, continue, and expand our foundational commitment to outreach and community visibility, and work toward the goal of becoming a world-class gay chorus. We are now among the largest in the country, with membership around 90 members, and climbing. Our board is committed to excellence, and we have a shared, optimistic view of the future, despite all of the challenges in the past two years.