Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers,
I hope you are all doing well and starting to get out and enjoy some Pride activities this month. I know some of you went to Oracle Park last Friday night to watch “In the Heights” as part of SF Pride in conjunction with the SF Giants. I have been watching various virtual Pride concerts of our sibling GALA Choruses. You can see what is upcoming and ongoing on the GALA Choruses website. This week I want to share some of my memories of my first Pride concert as an audience member. I have included five photos, one of the 1980 Gay Musical Celebration program which was the first one for LGCSF or as we were known then the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Chorus. This concert was held at Grace Cathedral on June 27, 1980. The first Gay Musical Celebration was also held at Grace Cathedral 22, 1979 and featured the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Marching Band and the Great Organ of Grace Cathedral. The fact that these gay musical organizations enjoyed the privilege of performing in Grace Cathedral was a very great accomplishment for all of us.
The first time I saw the big three San Francisco musical organizations, SFGMC, LGCSF and the Gay Freedom Band perform was at the Gay Musical Celebration in June 1984. The title of that concert was Back in Grace and it was an eye opener for me to see and hear the talent of our community sing and play their hearts out for all of us in that audience. I had seen the Freedom Band marching in the Gay Pride parades a couple of previous years but to hear them in concert was a whole different thing. In the mid to late 1970s I would march with the contingent of people from Metropolitan Community Church when I was a member of the choir there. At the end of the performance of LGCSF, their director, Matt O’Grady, announced that auditions for the chorus would be held in August and anyone would be welcome to come and join the chorus. My partner at that time said why don’t you go do this since you love to sing and I did and here I am today writing about my memories and sharing them with all of you.
From those auspicious beginnings of the Gay Musical Celebrations taking place in Grace Cathedral and on through the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s the Pride Concerts have evolved into a showcase for all of the various choruses from the Greater Bay Area to perform for our San Francisco audiences. All of this collaboration has led to many great friendships and memories for all the singers who participated in these concerts. They were put together and produced by many volunteers throughout the years, including me, and working with the various persons who were part of that process made me feel proud of what I was doing to help make these concerts run as smoothly as possible. These Pride concerts took place in many various venues throughout San Francisco, including many churches, high school auditoriums, Civic Auditorium, Herbst Theatre, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts.
One thing I would like to say about our audiences - we always had very enthusiastic ones and they came from all over the Bay Area as well as many visitors from all over the U.S. and other countries who were here to take part in the whole San Francisco Gay Pride experience. To me this was and is the best example that music is the universal language, that it can break down barriers and really bring people together for a once in a lifetime experience. So to all of you at this time in June 2021 I want to wish all of you a happy and safe Pride month and get out and support these pioneering musical organizations, SFGMC, LGCSF and the Gay Freedom Band and go hear them in person when they are able to perform safely for you.
I am including five photos for you to enjoy. The one with the pink triangle with S.F. Pride was on a T-shirt that the chorus wore in a Pride concert. I also have photos of Pride T-shirts from 2003 - Harvey Milk “You gotta give them hope” - and the front and back of the T-shirt from 2009 with pink and purple stars on the front and the logo for that year on the back - “To Form a More Perfect Union.” The fifth one is of the cover from the 1980 Gay Musical Celebration in which LGCSF performed in their first Pride concert.
Sending all my love and harmony to you, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers,
I hope you are all well and maybe taking baby steps out into the world and starting to spend time in person with family and/or friends. I want to share what makes me feel proud today since we are in June and it is Gay Pride month and I thought I would share some of my memories and photos of chorus from different eras. As I was going through items from 1994 I came across a roster and as I read through each of the 100 names I could picture each of them. There were singers of course as well as staff and volunteers listed. Reading some of the names I felt sadness at reading the names of persons who left us too soon and one thing I do when we sing and go onstage is to carry the memories of these beautiful people with me and to honor them. I think that this might have been one the last paper rosters that was printed and handed out. The Leadsheet has always been around weekly, either in print or online, to keep the chorus up to date on what is happening. I do miss the ones that were in print because they always had wonderful graphics and they changed depending on who the editor was. There are two names on this roster who are still singing with us, Yolanda DeByle and Jesse Lanou so there is continuity within the chorus.
Since the time I joined the chorus in fall of 1984 I have sung and shared the stages, rehearsal halls, retreat spaces, cabarets, fundraisers, award shows, GALA Festivals, dinners for people with AIDS, memorial services, birthdays and other joyous celebrations with many hundreds of wonderful, beautiful, and extremely talented chorus members, artistic directors, accompanists and musicians. I have spent time in production meetings, building and painting sets, decorating sterile churches, artistic advisory meetings, membership meetings, and participated in many chorus board elections. The point I am trying to make is that I would not change anything I have done that is related to the chorus and trying my best to make it the best that it can be.
Another thing I came across in the 1994 folder is a certificate that the chorus received from the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park in August 1994 for our significant contribution we made to the creation and perpetual maintenance of the Grove. We also planted a tree in the Grove in memory of Don Killam who sang in the bass section and is now one of our Angels. I also danced with him onstage as the tenors and basses sang “Hermando’s Hideaway.”
Another thing that I am proud of is all of the wonderful music that the chorus has presented to our audiences, especially the music composed by living LGBTQ composers. This has always been the mission of the artistic directors of our chorus throughout the years. It has been an honor for me to rehearse, learn and perform the music that tells our story for our audiences.
The photos I have included is one from a retreat with Pat Parr, one of Dale, Lisa Vogt and Noam Szoke at GALA 2008 in Miami, one of a chorus birthday with Pat and our first AD, Robin Kay, in the back center and one of Deb Cohler arriving at GALA 2004 in Montreal. I have participated in seven GALA Festivals and they each have been different and it has always been exciting for me to see new choruses performing at Festival for the first time, especially the women’s, mixed and youth choruses who always bring tears to the eyes and a feeling of joy in our hearts to us seasoned singers. I will be back next week with more photos and memories of Pride concerts through the years. Take care of yourselves and hug your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy and if you are going out to eat or see friends that you are careful in what you do. This week I was inspired by an email from Kelly Sundin. Kelly wrote that they were doing archival research in their university's newsletters and came across an advertisement for LGCSF's "Music by Women Composers" concert from November of 1995. That was the year of LGCSF's Crystal Anniversary - 15th year - and we had a season brochure. Our three concerts for this year were "A Grand Night for Singing!" which celebrated the 100th birthdays of Lorenz Hart and Hammerstein in March. In June, we presented the 17th Annual Pride Concert and the concert I will concentrate on was "Music by Women Composers." We did two evenings with the first on November 3 at First Congregational Church in Oakland and November 4 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I have included four photos, one of a flyer for the concert, one of our season brochure cover and the other two are of the program cover and the program itself.
Our artistic director, Pat Parr, made it his mission to feature music by living women composers as well as music by gay men and lesbians to share with our audience the wonderful music these composers were writing. The women whose music we performed were Emma Lou Diemer, Gwyneth Walker, Felicia A. B. Sandler, Libby Larsen, Jane Marshall, Alice Parker, Ysaye M. Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Holly Near, Joan Hoffman, Crystal Juelson, and Naomi Judd. May I suggest that you research some of these women to learn more about them. I think it always helps to know more about the composers and their music you are singing.
The first half of this concert featured more serious music as we sang madrigals by Emma Lou Diemer, a song titled "I Will Be Earth" by Gwyneth Walker, a set of five songs titled "A Creeley Collection" by Libby Larsen, and a set of three songs by Alice Parker titled "Stars & Stones," among others. This was the first concert we produced that featured orchestral accompaniment with violins, cello, string bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon and percussion.
The second half of the concert featured more popular and fun songs. We sang "On Children" by Ysaye M. Barnwell, Joan Hoffman's "Chocolate Lover's Song," which had the audience and us wanting chocolate, as well as a beautiful arrangement of "Shenandoah" by Gwyneth Walker. We also performed "Change of Heart" by Holly Near, "Pulse" by Crystal Juelson and ended the concert with "Love Can Build a Bridge" by Naomi Judd which was the title of Naomi and Wynonna's 8th album which went to number 13 on the country charts and won a 1992 Grammy Award.
From what I remember as we rehearsed these songs and really learned this music and learned about the composers was a strong feel of accomplishment and pride that we were presenting this music to our audience who were very appreciative of what we performed.
If there are any other concerts or accomplishments that the chorus has done over our 40 years please let me know as I always like to hear from you and welcome any feedback. Our chorus has such a rich history and I will bring more to you next week. Take care of yourselves and send love and hugs to your friends and families.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my loyal readers. May 16th is the day to honor our LGBT elders so think of those who have come before us to pave the way to what we all enjoy today. This week I am writing about what the chorus was doing in Spring of 1982. At that time we were still part of Golden Gate Performing Arts and they had a full schedule of concerts from March through June. Our concert “Romance ’n Rhythm” was held on Saturday, March 27, at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. As a bit of history, in the program notes it said in part, “On January 23, 1980, thirty-four men and seven women met for the first time to form the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Chorus. Two years later, Robin Kay, artistic director of the chorus, stood on the stage of the Japan Center Theater and accepted the Cable Car Award for Outstanding Concert of 1981 on behalf of the Mixed Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. In that short span of time, the Mixed Chorus has become the largest mixed gay chorus in the country - an indication of the potential unity and strength among lesbians and gay men. And we’re only beginning.” One more thing about Robin - in June, 1981, she became the first lesbian conductor to perform at Louis M. Davies Symphony Hall in “A Gay Musical Celebration.” In December, she appeared as guest conductor of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus at Carnegie Hall.
For this concert we were 100 strong and the program consisted of the full chorus singing “Messa di Gloria” by Giacomo Puccini, “Missa: Papae Marcelli” by G. P. Da Palestrina. The Chamber Chorus was conducted by Gary Miller, guest conductor from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and performed “Hymn to St. Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten, “Fascinating Rhythm” by George and Ira Gershwin, “If It’s Magic” by Stevie Wonder and a Tribute to Louis Armstrong. So you can see there was the balance between the romance of the classical pieces and the rhythm of the popular music. Then our other small group, Vocal Minority, directed by Bill Ganz, sang four more romantic and rhythmic songs. The first was “All the Things You Are” by Jerome Kern, “Song to Celia” by P.D.Q. Bach, “I am the Monarch of the Sea” by Gilbert and Sullivan and finished with “The Rhythm of Life” by Cy Coleman.
I just want to share a little more about what Golden Gate Performing Arts did in the Spring of 1982. There was the premiere performance of the Falcon Dance Theater in a concert “Rites of Spring” on May 14 and 15 at the Nourse Auditorium. Yes there was a dance group as part of GGPA then. They were joined by the Barbary Coast Cloggers in this celebration of gay spirit in a diverse mosaic of dance styles.
The SF Gay Men’s Chorus performed “From Ops to Pops” on May 7 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University and May 9 at Davies Symphony Hall. They performed rousing opera chorus to familiar Cole Porter and Disney songs.
The small groups of LGCSF performed in “Love Songs” on May 16 at Albion Hall. Robin Kay conducted the Chamber Chorus in madrigals and music by Brahms and Bill Ganz led Vocal Minority in a program of American music.
And lastly on June 25 was the Fourth Annual Gay Musical Celebration at the Civic Auditorium (now Bill Graham Auditorium). We were onstage with SF Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps. Tickets for these concerts ranged from $5 to $16. What a bargain! This flyer also mentions that the Gay Musical Celebration is an event of the San Francisco Summer Festival. I have included two photos, one of the cover page from “Romance ’n Rhythm” and the other of the flyer for Spring 1982 so please enjoy.
See you next time with another look back at our shared history of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco as we all get ready to celebrate Pride next month.
In love and harmony,
Greetings to all of my faithful readers out there and for any mothers I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. This week I thought I would share some highlights from our Leadsheet in 1994 to give you a taste of what we were doing then. In our first Leadsheet of the year edited by "A Lesbian with a Sense of Humor," Karen McMickle, there was an item for a get together to welcome all the new members at the home of our Administrative Director, Phill Barber. There was also the first notice for our spring retreat to prepare for our spring concert "It's About Love." It was held on March 4-6 at Camp Lomamar in the Santa Cruz mountains. For the new members, retreats are where we "bond" with each other on a VERY personal basis, where we perfect the music, and where we learn the choreography for the upcoming concert. The cost for the retreat was $75 and Eve Benton was the retreat coordinator.
There was also information about our trip to Seattle to sing with the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus and the Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Choir on Saturday, April 16. We will be flying to Seattle and all the actual costs and registration forms for those going will be forthcoming. By the way this was a really fun weekend meeting and spending time with these singers and a great opportunity to perform for a new audience. Also in the calendar were the dates for our regular rehearsals, our retreat, our tech and dress rehearsals and for two Production Committee meetings in January and February. In the calendar in following Leadsheets there was notice for our gig with the Widow Norton's (Jose Sarria) visit to the gravesite of the Emperor Norton. Also included in the Leadsheets was our mission statement - "To provide education and affirmation regarding the positive contributions of lesbians and gay men through the universal language of music as reflected in our motto 'Together in Harmony.'"
In the next Leadsheet there was a column by Tim O'Bayley, the chair of the Production Committee, talking about our upcoming show "It's About Love" and what he and Pat Parr had envisioned for it. It took place at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason and would mark our fourth time in this venue. Publicity would include our new season brochure as well as posters and flyers, as well as paid ads in the local lesbigay press. We would be going minimalist with both set and costumes, with costume changes simplified. Paul Ellis is desigining the set along with Pat to be abstract, minimalist colorful and portable to go with us to Seattle. We will be selling ads for our program to help cover that cost and to make a little extra money for the chorus. One more thing that was included in these Leadsheets were the lyrics for the music that we would be singing in the upcoming concert. We also had rehearsal tapes to listen to that helped with our memorization of our music. Pat was also putting out the word for ideas for music for the Pride Concert.
AS of July 28 we had a new Leadsheet editor, Sam Pizalato. He asked that we return our vests which we wore in the Pride Concert to our Wardrobe Warden Mary Cantrell. Again it was time for our fall retreat to take place on the weekend of September-October 2. It would be at Camp Harmon in the Santa Cruz mountains and Eve Benton was once again the retreat coordinator. In the calendar Sam included the birthdays of members so we would know who to celebrate. There was also a performance schedule starting with the Mr. & Ms. Cheeks & Chaps fundraiser on August 19 at the Eagle, a tree planting for Don Killam at the AIDS Memorial Grove on August 20, the P-Flag Convention at the Hyatt Regency Ball Room on September 4, the retreat, our dress rehearsals at the venues in Oakland and San Francisco on October 19 and 20 and concerts on the 21 and 22, the Persons with AIDS Thanksgiving Day dinner on November 24, the Castro Tree Lighting on December 3, the Godfather Service Fund caroling on December 11 and the Persons with AIDS Christmas Eve dinner on December 24. So as you all can see we had a very busy year in 1994 and we all grew closer as we prepared for all of these performances and shared our love of music with our audiences.
Well my lovelies, that is all for this week so I hope you enjoy this blog and I will be bringing you something new next week. Take care of yourselves, hug your loved ones now that we can, please let me hear your feedback and your ideas about future History Corners.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings again to all my faithful readers and friends,
I hope you are all well and staying safe and getting vaccinated so we can all get back together and sing. This week I want to write about early 1998 when we were under the artistic direction of Trente Morant. We were preparing for our Spice It Up! concert with two dates on March 13 and 14 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. This was the beginning of our 18th Anniversary Theatre and Trente wanted to bring together several styles of music to this concert. We had three special guests, Jill Togawa of Purple Moon Dance Project, Jackeline Rago of Crosspulse and Jonnie Pekelny, who was a friend of Jill Tallmer. The chorus at this point was at 48 strong and three of our altos, Deb, Yolanda and Linda were on the roster and Deb was part of a solo ensemble who sang "Oughta Be a Woman" by Sweet Honey in the Rock. The chorus also sang another Sweet Honey in the Rock song "Breaths" which was arranged by Trente. He also wrote and arranged a "Gloria" for us, and arranged a song by Oscar Peterson, Jr., called "Afro Blue". Jill Togawa danced and choreographed for us "Una Like No a Like" and Jackeline gave us excerpts from her "Spiritual Procession", which were "Sangueos" and "Calypso" so we were all moving to these rhythms as we sang. This is just some of what we sang. In our rehearsals for this we really worked on learning not only the music and words and also the rhythms for the various songs. We had a really great out of town retreat weekend where we worked hard on all of this along with the memorization of everything so we would be ready for the concerts. These concerts were advertised in the Fort Mason March 1998 newsletter and we also had flyers that we distributed throughout the City.
In the Leadsheet that came out on March 26 after our concerts, Trente thanked all of us for a fun concert. He said there were many former members of the chorus in the audience who said they were pleasantly surprised. He said that we all did a very good job with all of Jackie Rago's compositions. The only sort of negative thing Trente mentioned was where was the audience? Even with all of our efforts and advertising we all agreed that we need to do more. So with our preparations for the upcoming 20th Pride Concert we had tickets to sell the first week of May. The mailing list will be worked on and flyers and information will be sent out the last week of May. Flyer and poster distribution will begin the first week of June and we will have all the information for Chorus members to sell ads in our program.
The point of all this I think is that we as a chorus have struggled to sell and get a full audience to our concerts on a consistent basis. And I am wondering going forward how will we be marketing our concerts to get our audiences back and to let them it is safe to be in our performance venues to hear us and of course for all of us to feel safe. Let's all think about this and work together to show that we are strong and ready to lead with love. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will have more on the glorious history of our Chorus.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucer
Greetings and hello to all of my faithful readers,
This week as I have gone through my archives from 1990 I thought I would write about three chorus-related events that occurred that year.
On December 28, there was "An Evening to Remember Bob Cramer". This was held in the City Hall Rotunda. Bob was the founder of the Cable Car Awards which began in 1974. A couple of weeks ago at rehearsal Calliope asked what the Cable Car Awards were and Jesse Lanou and I explained what they were. They were an annual awards show honoring accomplishments within San Francisco's lesbian/gay community. The show had been acknowledged and gained respect as the largest gay awards show anywhere. It started out in Bimbo's nightclub then moved to the Japan Center Theatre and then to the San Francisco Giftcenter. As Chair of the Awards Bob is credited by many for bringing together the emerging lesbian and gay men's communities. As the show was presented each year, he insisted that gay women be included in every area of planning, production, award judging and as recipients of the awards. Mayor Art Agnos, Supervisor Harry Britt, Jose Sarria, State Senator Milton Marks and Richard Hongisto were some of the dignitaries who participated. Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco sang "Hand in Hand" by our own Jesse Lanou. One more historical note is that Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow flag, did the building lighting and donated the flags. I included a photo of the cover of the program with a photo of Bob Cramer.
The second item I want to talk about is fundraising booklet of discount coupons from businesses that join with you in supporting community and AIDS-related organizations. The trio that put this together were known as MxIII, R. Guy McGinnis, Gary Menger and our own Rose Mary Mitchell. They did the outreach to the businesses in the booklet and they note that they had personally visited every business advertising in the book so they gave their three thumbs in recommending these businesses. All proceeds from this equally benefitted Project Open Hand, Gay Rescue Mission, the SF Band Foundation, the AIDS Emergency Fund and Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF. I included a photo of the cover and one of Guy, Gary and Rose Mary.
The third item to talk about is our inclusion in the Old First Concerts which were held at the Old First Church on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. The chorus was part of their Spring 1990 season. We sang on April 20 and presented our classical concert, Brahms and Bernstein, which was part of our 10th Anniversary season of making music and creating community. Under the direction of Pat Parr and with guest soprano, Teresa Cardinale, we present Brahms "Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103", "Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53" and Leonard Bernstein's "Gloria" from "Mass" and the "Chichester Psalms". This was challenging music for us but we were inspired by singing in this beautiful church. I have included two photos, one of us and one of the program. Please enjoy all of these photos and thank you for coming along on my journey through the history of our wonderful chorus. Please give me any feedback you have and let me know what you enjoy or anything you might want to learn more about. See you next week with more of our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and have gotten your vaccinations or are planning to get them. The more who do this the sooner we can be back together in person again.
This week I thought I would do something a little different, because I can, and write about some of what went on behind the scenes in 1992 which was a busy year for us.
The chorus was going to the GALA Choruses Festival IV in Denver in July, 1992. Jack Hamilton, who was the GALA liaison at that time, presented a memo on July 25, 1991, a year in advance, to all chorus members of what to expect at Festival. This included the cost of everything, including airfare, the GALA registration fee, food and lodging. Jack wrote that the cost to attend Festival would cost a minimum of $700 per person. He said that the chorus hoped to raise enough money to subsidize some of the cost for everyone, and most of the cost for people for whom paying $700 would be a hardship. We wanted as many people to go to Festival as possible, so it was important that everyone participate in fundraising activities. The breakdown of the projected costs were:
Air fare $350.00
GALA registration 65.00
The chorus had set up a savings plan to help members put away money in advance, and to make it easier for them to handle payments to airlines and hotels. We encouraged everyone who plans to go to put as much money in as soon as possible.
As far as travel and hotel arrangements went for this Festival, the chorus was planning to travel and fly together to Denver and stay in the same hotel. The chorus would be making the arrangements for all of us. The dates for the Festival were June 28 to July 5. The Festival Committee was asking all attending choruses to arrive on Saturday, June 27, to have a day to settle in before Festival began and to also participate in their Pride Parade. This is what we did as well as many other choruses to the great joy of the people all along the parade route which ended at the park in front of the Colorado Capitol building. This was a great way for us to begin our week at Festival and we had a 4 pm rehearsal and the Opening Concert that night at 8 pm. We also had another rehearsal at 9 am Monday morning and there would be three blocks of concerts Monday through Friday and small groups concerts late nights. Obviously this was our biggest event for the year and most, if not all, of the chorus went to Denver and we all had a great time enjoying the music, the people we met from the other choruses, the food, and of course the socializing.
Next I would like to share some of what our PR committee was up to in 1992, what they were planning for the year which included a three year plan for chorus goals through 1994. They would be preparing calendar notices for the gay papers. One of the members had all the necessary information for this, including the deadlines for the papers, copying the information of upcoming concerts and events, and contacting concierges at various hotels in town. Another would supervise development and distribution of a monthly or quarterly calendar to send out. They also talked about our involvement with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). As far as the three year plan went, in 1992 would be a nurturing and wooing year to make inroads into CVB and the press, especially the straight press. They would be getting more photos of the chorus for publicity and would promote Menage. Also they talked about producing a video for publicity. The concept was to develop an 8- to 10 minute videotape to use for fundraising and audience development. This would include archival stills with voiceover, show clips and talking heads who will talk about the history of the chorus, and the members talking about being "Together in Harmony" as men and women working together. There was more detail about what it would take to get this project done. As far as I know and for whatever reason this video unfortunately never got made.
For 1993 they would develop and produce a first class brochure of the chorus. We will look at doing some cooperative pieces. They would continue to promote Menage. They were pursuing getting a regular TV show on CATV (cable to you) developing this idea with the Outreach and Fundraising committees. And for 1994 they were looking toward developing the PR support for a national tour.
Our Administrative Director put out a year long calendar in January. As I looked through this we were busy with rehearsals, which included chorus socials before rehearsals from 7 to 7:30, meetings of the Board of Directors, the Board retreat, dress rehearsals for our spring concert and the concert in April, an Eagle beer bust, rehearsals both regular and dress for the Pride concert in June, off to Denver and Festival, Folsom Street Fair beer booth in September, another Eagle beer bust in October and an in-town retreat to get ready for our fall concert, rehearsals for the Holiday Concert with SFGMC in December and we finally had time off after that concert. I included two photos, one of the cover of the Denver GALA Festival program and the cover of our 1992 Pride concert so enjoy those. That is it until next week so be on the lookout for the next History Corner. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
LGCSF History Corner: Some Musings on GALA Choruses Past and Present and Three Concerts I Watched This Weekend
Greetings to all of my faithful readers, I hope you are all well and getting vaccinated as you are able. Phil and I both have been fully vaccinated so we are now just waiting until the time comes when we can all be together again.
This time I want to share some musings on GALA Choruses past and present. In my archives I came across a couple of GALAgrams which were the way news from GALA was presented to all choruses in the 1990s and 2000s before social media and the Internet. In the one from Spring 1998 the cover story was about the second Singers Weekend and Leadership Conference to take place in Dallas over the Labor Day weekend. At that time when there were fewer choruses in GALA the Singers Weekends were offered for singers to come together and take part in either a mass SATB, SSAA or TTBB chorus under the direction of directors of a GALA chorus. Singers will be rehearsing, attending masterclasses and clinics and seeing old friends and making new ones.
In May/June of 2002 we received the 20th Anniversary Supplement of the GALAgram which talked about Why We Sing, Our History and Our Legacy - Twenty Years Together and Counting. What that meant then with the growth of GALA came the demand for more sophisticated education and training and strong artistic and social change leadership for GALA Choruses leadership. The GALA Choruses Board of Directors committed to the strategic questions that will strengthen choral relevance in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community and beyond.
During this time in the early 2000s there were two regional festivals which were held between the the GALA Festivals in 2000 and 2004. There was a Western Regional Festival in Seattle in May, 2002 and an Eastern Regional Festival in Cincinnati in July, 2002. At the Western Regional the first gay youth chorus in GALA, the GLASS Youth Chorus from Vancouver, B.C. performed for the first time. Also in 2002 the Gay Games were held in Sydney, Australia, on October 25 - November 9. Members of any of GALA Choruses were invited to come to be part of the Cultural Festival that was occurring at the same time and to sing in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and to sing in the big concert in the Sydney Opera House. Some members of LGCSF went to Sydney for this amazing experience and came back with great stories to share with us. Unfortunately I was not able to go to Sydney.
The third GALAgram I want to highlight is from Fall 2007 and was the Special 25th Anniversary issue. Robin Godfrey, the General Manager of GALA at that time, wrote, in part, "GALA Choruses is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What began as a network of support for GLBT choruses beginning to form in the early 1980s has evolved into an association of over 120 member choruses on three continents involving more than 7,500 singers. GALA Choruses produces the largest GLBT performing arts festival in the world with more than 5,500 delegates in attendance at Festival VIIe in Montreal in 2004 and a similar crowd expected for Festival 2008 Miami next summer". There was also a great article entitled "Mixed Choruses Play a Unique Role within GALA" which talked about the growth of LGBT choruses and the music they bring to share with the world.
Next I want to share with you that I spent my weekend watching three concerts from four GALA choruses. First up were the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus and Atlanta Women's Chorus presenting their show "Never Turning Back". It was the first time in nine years that the two choruses had performed together. It was really amazing as each song was performed in a different place either outside in Piedmont Park or around a pool where the women sang "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips and it was so much fun as they were wearing long gowns and dresses. The most moving song was "Angel Down" by Lady Gaga and sung by Panache, the men's chorus small ensemble, against a wall with George Floyd's name written many times. The most fun was a mash up of "I Will Survive/Survivor" which was filmed in a roller rink called the Golden Glide.
The next one was the Cincinnati Men's Chorus in their 30th anniversary show "String of Pearls". The pearl is the traditional gift for a 30 year anniversary so the title was totally appropriate. The men sang a great arrangement of "Fever" and "Moon River" and these were the highlights for me. Another highlight was "Take the A Train" by Billy Strayhorn and was presented with four dancers in what looked like a subway station as they went through their dance which was amazing.
The third one I watched was the South Coast Chorale from Long Beach in their 31st anniversary cabaret "How Can I Keep From Singing". Each singer introduced their song and talked about what was behind their choice to sing it and there were some funny and some very moving reasons shared. One highlight for me was the song "Mamma Said" which is by an artist who I had never heard of before, Mica Paris. I looked her up on iTunes and found she is British, a beautiful woman of color who had been in a couple of gospel groups so she has that background. Look her up and you will be amazed.
I know that the Cincinnati Men's Chorus video is still on YouTube so look for it. I am not sure if the videos of the other shows are still available but look for them. I will be looking for move concerts and cabarets throughout the spring and into summer of the amazing choruses that make up GALA Choruses. I suggest that you join the Facebook group GALA Chorus Members to see the schedule of upcoming concerts. Watching these concerts is a way that I am staying connected to these choruses until we can all be together again in person. Please let me know if you do watch these choruses and what you think about them.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will be back next week with more on our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there in chorus land. I hope you are all doing well and looking forward to getting your vaccinations. Phil and I have both gotten our two shots of the Pfizer vaccine so we are feeling good.
This week I thought I would do something a little different. This is my point of view of 1991 from my participation on the Production Committee (back when we had good working committees) and production of the Spring and Pride concerts. This is from the published minutes of our Production Committee meeting of 4/27/91. Present were Tim O'Bayley, Pat Parr, Terry Stalker, Linda Rohde, Todd King, Stephen Litzenburger, John Young, Chris Decker, Mary Cantrell and me. We talked about the Spring concert "Songstream" in the wrap-up where we reviewed the final budget and learned that the net profit for the concert was $1,280.78. This concert was our classical one featuring the music of American composers with two performances, one in Oakland and the other in San Francisco. Our AD, Pat Parr, reported that overall he thought the concerts went very well, with the exception of poor PR presence and ticket sales in Oakland. Tim O'Bayley, our production coordinator, said that he thought the committee did a great job and the areas that we can improve on are Program Ad Sales, poster coverage both in SF and East Bay, and press relations as there were no reviews. Obviously this was all before we had smartphones, social media, Youtube, Facebook, etc., so we had to get out and pound the pavement to put up posters, and solicit advertising from the community.
Next on the agenda was talking about all the production needs for the upcoming 13th Annual Pride Concert. Pat said his hope is that we fill First Congregational Church. We would be sending letters out to the participating groups on 5/3. They were besides us, Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Vocal Minority, Menage and Voices. We set the prices for tickets at $10, $15 and $25 for a sponsor ticket. We were in the process of being able to accept credit cards.
Among the tasks we all would be involved in were Facility/Technical - Tim investigated renting Pride flags to decorate the church. Mary volunteered her supply of scarves to decorate as well. We had our own mixer and microphones but may need to rent speaker poles. We will audio record this concert. We have to rent spotlights and contacting Hank Plante from Channel 5 News to be our MC and the possibility of TV coverage. For Publicity we will have an ad in the Parade Program and we will get a 25% discount for performing at the Parade Celebration. We will also get ads to all the gay papers and the SF Chronicle for the Pink Section.
The goal for the Pride concert is a $5,000 profit, with Tim doing graphic design and typesetting for the program. Phil Hernandez was the groups liaison and set designer. Todd King was the party coordinator, Marty Cormier handled tickets and ad sales and Pat took care of ticket printing, sound arrangements, etc. We also had three members who were Chorus Motivators to help involve the chorus with telemarketing, mailing, tickets and poster/flyer coverage. So as you all can see there was a lot going behind the scenes to put on this important concert for Pride.
One last thing is that in the Pride Parade and Celebration Program on the pages listing the Celebration Performers and Speakers the Chorus and Menage both performed in the 3:00 pm block on the City Hall Stage. Our own Lisa Gray performed in the leather segment on the Specialty Stage. Also I noticed on the Board of Directors of Parade 91 that our own Joan Zawaski is listed as Fiscal Coordinator. There was also a very interesting article in the Pride program entitled "In Defense of Drags (and Other 'Undesirables')" by Dennis McMillan aka Sister Dana Van Equity of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In part he writes "I fear it's time again for image-conscious homosexuals to write their annual letters, begging the drag queens to not embarrass the community by disgracing the parade. Now, we who dress wildly do not censure those who prefer to apper less flaming, so why shouldn't we expect the same respect for our choice of dress code?" He goes on to say that it was the drag queens in the Stonewall bar who fought back against the police in June 1969 and without their actions we might not be having this parade. It is always good to have a look at our wider history so we know where we came from and to take up the resolve to always move forward. There are three photos of these items for you to see. As I continue through the archives I never know what I will come across until I sit down and read through what is there. Stay tuned for next time as I share more of our history both Chorus and beyond.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero