Dominik K. Jakob
My name is Dominik K. Jakob, I am 51 years old, German national and live in Düsseldorf, Germany. I have been singing with Vielhomonie Rhein-Ruhr for 27 years. In my daytime job, I work in the Treasury Department of a multinational corporation. In my free time, I love to cook & entertain, ski, ride my bike, travel and enjoy the sunshine.
I was part of the group which designed LEGATO during 1996-1999 and created the organization in 1999 in Vienna. I used to be the auditor, have been continuously responsible for the financials of LEGATO since 2005, and have been a member of the board since 2009.
For the future I would like to continue diligently taking care of the financials of LEGATO and related needs, to help LEGATO grow as an organization and be there to support our member choirs.
I am asking for your support to re-elect me to the Board of LEGATO.
I have been involved with LEGATO since early 2005, leading initiatives to encourage choirs to bid for Various Voices Festivals.
I have served on the Board of LEGATO since Jan, 2019 and have taken an active and assertive role. From 2010 until 2017 I served as Board member and became the President of Gala Choruses.
I also work with the Global Alliance of LGBTQI+ Choirs Associations.
I was a founding Director of SingOut UK and Ireland, was Festival Director for Various Voices London and am Executive Chair of Fruitvox, involved with the Culture Olympiad culture Festival.
I have worked with London Pride Arts, Europride along with many other groups.
I ran my own events catering company for 30 years and today work as an Organisational Consultant for charities and non-profits and am a working Director of Integra Planner, the powerful organisational system for event planners, choir festivals and events, conferences and organisations.
I was awarded an MBE for services to music and LGBT community by HM the Queen in 2013. I live in Islington and Brighton with my husband Raphael.
I want LEGATO to be a force for change by actively supporting our member choirs, though leadership training, advocacy work for equal rights for all and building strong allies. To continue improve our diversity, representation and transparency in our activities, accountable and relevant to our stakeholders. Please allow me to continue to serve you and carry on doing work that I love.
Juancho Almenara Robles
Hi, my name is Juancho, short for Juan Francisco, I was born August 1970 in Caracas, Venezuela, from Spaniard parents, I've moved to Madrid, Spain in 2000.
Professionally I started as a lawyer but changed 20 years ago to become a graphic designer. I'm the one responsible for the new LEGATO image, videos, website and for keeping in order and update all our social networks.
I've been involved with LEGATO since 2018, after the participation of my choir in the Various Voices 2018 in Munich. I have served on the Board of LEGATO since Jan 2019 promoting the necessary changes in our visual image and social network structure.
I get along well with others and thrive on finding resolutions to problems. I am confident that these qualities together with my commitment to work are an asset to LEGATO.
A tea lover, especially the gongfu cha ceremony, vinyl toy collector, a true shinnichi (親日) or Japanophile I'm always in the search for the perfect ramen 🍜. If you want to get in touch DM on Instagram @atomic70
My name is Petra Pechaček, b. 1968, I am a Historian and work as a curator of cultural monuments. My wife and I live in a small community in the wine country close to Karlsruhe, South-West-Germany.
Since 2002 I am a member (second soprano) of Karlsruhe’s lesbian choir "Die WEIBrations". I have been serving on its steering committee for 16 years till January 2020.
During my time on the committee, I especially loved to organize the choir‘s participation in several events/concerts/performances (biannual Southern German Gay and Lesbian-Choir-Festivals; Various Voices London, Dublin, and Munich; 300th anniversary of the city of Karlsruhe; German TV-Show; concerts i.e. in Berlin, Cologne, Munich, and Karlsruhe).
I took very much pleasure in managing a joint performance with the Deep C Divas, Leeds, in Karlsruhe 2018. Besides this, I have been co-creating and co-writing several shows and a couple of song texts for Die WEIBrations.
One of my personal highlights was being part of the steering committee of "KREISCH“, the recent Gay and Lesbian-Choir-Festival in Karlsruhe 2019, with 400 participants of 17 choirs of South-Germany and Switzerland.
My main roles were the accreditation of the participating choirs, management, and realization of the evening concerts.
I love traveling, meeting with, and cooking for friends, music, movies, and museums.
I am offering to serve on the board of LEGATO for at least 2 years and can contribute:
interest to support the work and recognization of LGBTQ+ Choirs
16 years experience on a steering committee (Die WEIBrations – Lesbenchor Karlsruhe e.V.), thereof 2 years acting as treasurer
18 years of hands-on experience in organizing events, festivals, conferences in the cultural sector
organizational skills (in my "former life" I have been trained as a Hotel Clerk / Hotelfachfrau)
ability to effectively work in a team and keeping deadlines
a friendly, diplomatic and reliable personality
good humour 😊
I would be interested in:
assisting with the Administration of the member choirs and management of the database i.e. creating a survey and contacting all member choirs to ask about their aims and what they expect from LEGATO, so that LEGATO can even better serve the choirs
working in the field of Development, creating and supporting new projects for LEGATO and its members choirs, probably workshops for musical directors, treasurers, public, meetings besides the annual meeting and Various Voices
creating partnerships between choirs to help with networking
assisting the Secretary (taking minutes, preparing documents, etc.)
representing LEGATO on meetings/activities of member choirs
assisting the Various Voices teams of Legato and the hosting choir(s)
My name is Martin Kaufman. I am a gay man, a UK citizen born and living in London of Ashkenazi Jewish and Gaelic Irish heritage.
I have been involved in the London Gay Men’s Chorus since 1998, starting out as a Second Tenor, descending into the Baritones, and ending up in the Basses. There is nowhere else for me to go now.
In my time in the LGMC, I have been Vice-Chair, Chair of the Fundraising Committee, a frequent cabaret performer, and a concert soloist on a number of occasions.
I have traveled the world with the LGMC – around the UK and Ireland to the USA and Canada, to France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and all the way to Australia. I can genuinely say that the LGMC – and the choral community of which we are a part – has changed my life, including the privilege of meeting my 20-year-strong life partner, who also sings with the Chorus.
I have been a professional fundraiser for 30 years, including working for European clients and training and presenting at conferences in Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Montenegro, and Russia. I work as a fundraising consultant, mainly for educational and cultural non-profit organisations to help them realise their ambitions. One of my current clients is a major British choral organisation who are looking towards their post-COVID future.
I also am active as a volunteer in the fundraising world. I co-founded the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Cultural Sector Network, which has held the largest cultural fundraising conferences in Europe over the past few years. I now Chair the Steering Committee of the IoF RAISE Arts, Culture, Heritage programme which is helping drive connections between cultural fundraisers throughout England.
Outside my professional and singing life, I am an obsessive Londoner (undertaking the only singing guided tours of London), love visiting museum and gallery exhibitions, reading history, seeing operas and musical theatre, eating good food so long as I don’t have to cook, and delving ever deeper into my family history, especially through DNA research.
My Personal Manifesto
My primary focus would be in Fundraising: As someone with 30 years’ experience in professional fundraising, I would aim to bring my expertise and creativity to the challenge of securing additional funding and partnerships.
Although I have limited knowledge of European Union-related fundraising, I have considerable experience and networks inside European fundraising and could bring a fresh private-sector perspective to any existing or potential public-sector funding approaches. I would also aim to widen the understanding of fundraising within Legato as a whole, for example through providing training sessions to Members’ leadership groups in planning and making approaches to potential funders, donors, and sponsors.
A secondary focus would be in Broadening Reach: Ever since I first visited GALA in San Jose in 2000, I have been interested in broadening the reach of the LGBTQ choral community to regions and demographics that have had little or no contact with our world of singing. I have been to two GALA festivals, three Various Voices festivals, three Proud Voices, and predecessor festivals and have collaborated with other choirs in the UK and abroad with the LGMC. I would like to help Legato look further afield, in particular to Eastern and Southern Europe, and see what we could do to help support or even help kickstart choral activities.
Another focus would be on helping Legato connect more effectively to the Member organisations: I feel that links between Legato and my own choir, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, could be made stronger outside the periods up to and following the Various Voices Festivals, and I suspect that is the case with many Member organisations. A strong Legato would be made up of Member organisations with an active understanding of what we could offer their own members and what they could offer back to Legato. I would be interested to see how we could enhance those connections, in order to create a much more sustainable organisation.
These three areas are all linked together. Although my time as a Legato volunteer would need to be balanced with my other volunteer and singing commitments, I believe that strategic thinking, good planning, recruitment of additional volunteers and delegating work to them are the ways to succeed in these three areas, each of which can only be delivered as part of a team effort.
My name is Martin Gerrits, 50 years of age, German and living in Munich.
I’ve been singing with the Philhomoniker - Gay Men’s Chorus of Munich as Bariton since 2003 and since 2007 I’m the Chair of the Philhomoniker.
I was actively involved in the Munich management team of the last Various Voices Festival 2018 in a central position. It was a great success with 2.700 participants of almost 100 choirs from 21 countries.
I was elected to the board of Legato in 2009 and responsible for membership and communication in the three-member board team. I have strongly supported the current developments of Legato and I am very happy that we now have a seven-member board since the change in the statutes last year. This enables Legato to develop new strategies to better serve and support the member choirs. I have the honour to serve in this new team most recently as President and work in the two committees of supervising the Various Voices Festivals as well as memberships.
Professionally, I work as an architect in a medium-sized architecture office. And next to my engagement with my choir I like to cycle in my free time. I also like to travel to Spain regularly with my Spanish husband Carlos.
My name is Annette Zahl, 52 years of age, German, and living in in a small City in the north of Munich.
After 16 years living in Berlin I came back in 2017 to my hometown Munich and joined Melodiva - Lesbian Choir of Munich as a second Soprano. I’m managing the website and Facebook site for the choir and I am also active in the choreo group.
As I joined a VariousVoices Festival for the first time in 2018 I was really thrilled about the well organized and heartwarming festival. As a volunteer, I had the chance to look behind the scenes and so I wished to be part of the team who is organizing this.
Fortunately, my wish came true and I was elected to the board of Legato in 2019.
I am responsible with Juancho Almenara for graphic design matters, media, and creating the monthly newsletter. I was glad to be elected, as it was not planned at all. I appreciate being a member of the legato team build of enthusiastic, sympathetic, and professional people.
Professionally, I actually work as an IT-Specialist for a publishing agency based in Munich. Before that, I was self-employed and worked as a Grafik-Designer and as a project manager for several IT and publishing projects.
Next to my engagement to my choir, I am playing alto saxophone in a Munich brass band and as a contra point, I am playing also the harpsichord with small baroque ensembles. I also like to travel especially to cities by the see.
My name is Misza Czerniak*. I am 36 years old.
Born in Moscow and living in Warsaw since 2011. Trained as a linguist/programmer (MSc – Moscow 2005) and as a choral conductor (BA – Moscow 2003, MA – Poznan 2016). In 2014, I founded the first Polish choir for LGBTI persons and allies called Voces Gaudii (Latin for Voices of Joy, or Gay Voices), which I am still leading as its MD and board member.
I am a gay person with a background of migration, as well as being part of ethnic and religious minorities. But I am also a cis-gender white and (kind of) middle-class male. Navigating the spaces of privilege and discrimination has always been an interesting challenge for me. That’s why since 2012, I’ve been involved in LGBT activism – in Poland, Eastern Europe and globally.
My main area of focus has been the intersection of LGBTI rights and religion. Since 2013, I’ve been involved (as a volunteer, then for 5 years as a staff member and now as a board member) with the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, participating and leading its advocacy work (including open letters and dialogue attempts with leadership of churches, first-of-its-kind affirmative publications on LGBTI issues and the Orthodox Church, etc.).
Over the years, I’ve been dealing with numerous international political institutions, such as the European Commission, Council of Europe, UN OHCHR and special rapporteurs, etc., speaking on the issues of conversion therapy (from personal experience of 13 years of fighting with my homosexuality and being heterosexually married), freedom of religion for LGBTI people, abuse of religious arguments by right-wing forces, etc.
My choir, Voces Gaudii, was also founded first and foremost as an activists’ initiative, fighting for human rights in Poland with the language of music. In the 6 years of its existence, the choir has given almost 40 performances, all over Poland and in three cities in Germany, including the Various Voices festival in Munich.
Through my activism and personal background, I know very closely the situation of the LGBTI community in Eastern Europe, leading a lot of capacity-building initiatives for the movement: training sessions, summer schools, mentoring programmes, workshops, retreats, etc. I was also privately involved in drawing international attention to the crisis in Chechnya in 2017 (my social media publications on the situation were the very first texts covering it in English and getting hundreds of reposts).
Since 2019, I have been working for Ashoka, a large international NGO focusing on social innovations.
What I can and want to offer Legato as its board member
I would like to continue to bring to the leadership of Legato my perspective of an Eastern European – to constantly keep in mind the differences or even disparities existing in Europe in general and in our LGBTI choral community (both among the current and the potential members from that region). Among these challenges are political, financial, logistical, linguistic and other factors.
I also intend to continue being in contact with Eastern European choirs – not just my own, but also other choirs from Poland, Ukraine, Russia, etc. E.g. currently, my choir together with Pink Singers is planning a common project with the choir from St Petersburg called Obochina (Russian for roadside). I also hope to be of help for new choirs joining Legato, especially from the underprivileged contexts.
Having some experience of political lobbying in Brussels, Strasbourg, Geneva, etc., I would propose furthering the connections between Legato and other political actors – e.g. ILGA-Europe and EC agencies. Since joining the leadership of Legato in 2019, I tried to use several opportunities to raise awareness of the existence and special needs of LGBTI community cultural initiatives. E.g. in September 2019, I took part in the “High-level Conference on Advancing LGBTI equality in the EU: from 2020 and beyond” in Brussels, and contributed not only from my professional side of LGBTI/religion activism but also from under my musical hat, reiterating how important it is to support community-building and -nurturing efforts, especially through culture, in the times of right-wing backlash and shrinking spaces and funding.
I believe that this work can and should be furthered, as Legato has repeatedly acknowledged its huge potential as a large European LGBTI network that can and should go beyond its role of convener and facilitator of the movement and start raising its voice in political matters as well (e.g. in such cases as the drastic situation in Poland that could use all possible signs of international solidarity).
* I used to go under a different spelling of my first and last name, but for consistency purposes, I have switched to using sz/cz :) But you can still use the old one if you like.