Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all are having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend and staying safe as you celebrate in your own ways. This week I am writing about what went on behind the scenes with the chorus in 1988. This was a busy year for us as we moved forward under the direction of Pat Parr in his second year as our fearless AD.
Some of the accomplishments in 1988 were Menage singing at the Coronation of the Empress and Emperor of San Francisco and the chorus singing at the Cable Car Awards in February.
In March Menage was at the San Carlos Lions Club event. In April we performed our Classics Concert in Berkeley and San Francisco. We reached a new audience in the East Bay which included many heterosexuals. Menage was nominated for a Cabaret Gold Award and performed at the show in the Venetian Room.
In May Menage performed at the Santa Rosa Lions Club and the BAYMEC dinner in San Jose and performed with Fiddlestix at a fundraiser for the East Bay AIDS Project.
In June we produced and performed in the Decade of Pride Concert, had a float in the Pride Parade and Menage and Fiddlestix performed at the Saddle Tramps fundraiser. There was a staff retreat in July.
In August we performed at the return of the Names Quilt from its National Tour and at our General Meeting we approved our incorporation. Since February 1988 there had been many meetings with staff, chorus members and the Community Advisory Board to work on how we would become incorporated and all the steps we needed to take. Michael Clarke was at the forefront of these efforts. One of the next steps to be taken was to elect a Board of Directors for the Chorus. The deadline for nominations for the Board was in October with the final nomination and election happened in November.
In September Fiddlestix performed at the Gay Rodeo in San Leandro and our "LGCSF Goes to the Movies" concert was a smash success. We all had a great time as we donned our costumes as our favorite actor or actress, dancing and singing our way into the hearts of our audience.
In October we performed in and were part of the stage crew for the second "In Memory of Friends" concert at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. In November the chorus, Menage and Fiddlestix all performed for Danny Williams' Thanksgiving dinner for people with AIDS.
We ended the year with a performance with SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert, we sang at the Venetian Room for Allen White's 50th birthday event and Menage performed at numerous events to raise money for the GALA Festival in 1989.
On December 11, we sang Christmas carols at the Children's Hospital of San Francisco and received a lovely letter from the hospital's staff. On this day we and several other singers were part of a bus tour that also visited St. Francis Hospital, St. Mary's, Coming Home Hospice and Garden Sullivan Hospital.
There is one more thing I would like to share with you before I close this edition to show how much the chorus was connected to the community during our first decade and how important it was to us. One of the members of the Advisory Board, Joseph Taro, was elected as a non-singing member of the new Board of Directors. To quote from his letter regarding this he wrote, "I would just like to say how excited I am about the recent incorporation of the chorus and my future participation as an active member of the Board. I have been a member of the Advisory Board throughout the last few years. I have participated in numerous fundraisers, such as rummage and raffle sales, as well as having been involved in the decision making process leading to the chorus' tremendous musical and financial growth." We in the chorus really appreciated Joseph and all of the other members of the Advisory Board who served in our interest.
Next week I will be writing more about the chorus in 1988 and sharing some of what was in our Leadsheet that helped to keep us focused with our rehearsal and performing schedules. See you then. As always I send my love to everyone so please stay healthy and share your love and sing to people even if it is by virtual means.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and I hope you are all in good health and staying safe and keeping abreast of all the changing guidelines as we go about our lives. I wanted to write this week a little bit more about what the chorus was going through as I observed it. As I said last week we now had a new Artistic Director in the person of Pat Parr. At that time I was the music librarian so I worked closely with Pat as to what music would be passed out at the start of a concert rehearsal time. I included in the attachments to this the cover for our program "LGCSF Rides Again," which was our country western concert featuring us and our own Fiddlesticks and Menage small groups, four different country western dance groups, Men About Town from SFGMC with Danny Williams as our emcee. Also attached are photos of the poster from the first Gay Musical Celebration held at Grace Cathedral in June 1979 and two posters from our 1991 season, "Bobby Sox to Beatles" and "A Not So Silent Night."
I would now like to write about some of what was happening behind the scenes of the chorus. We had a great Board of Directors and also a wonderful Chorus Advisory Board. The people on the Advisory Board were from the gay business community as well as members of the chorus and held quarterly Advisory Board meetings and I read through the minutes from their meeting of March 14, 1987.
At that time the chorus had lots of connections with these gay business owners and they helped us with fundraising and publicity. They talked about insurance for the chorus, the Pride concert which we would be producing for the first time, obtaining corporate grants from large liquor companies, contacting large PR firms for their SF client lists, and contacting Jeff Jones - a professional grant writer who specialized in gay/lesbian grants. Also talked about was growing the chorus to 50 singers and how to maintain the membership. In regard to the Pride concert, we would sending solicitation letters to prospective patrons who would receive a special invitation after confirming and sending their money and having their name and amount in the program as well as being able to attend the reception after the concert.
As for getting publicity for the chorus, Jerry Coletti, one of the members of the Advisory Board, owned the Galleon Bar & Restaurant and would be creating a Cabaret Room and have Menage and other singers from the chorus perform there to promote the chorus. The members also suggested that for any future major fundraiser at a large venue that they plan to spend a year to develop all the plans and details, such as if there would be special guests performing and contacting them for their fees or anything else they would need. Also discussed at this meeting was the participation of LGCSF in the National March on Washington. Money was eventually raised for Menage to go and sing on the main stage.
So as you can see this was a busy and exciting year for the chorus and also we see that some of the important things for us now as then are fundraising and publicity, recruitment and maintaining our membership, advertising for the chorus for any concerts or events that we produce. In the Leadsheets from June 1987 there is a plug for the chorus retreat and the retreat talent showcase as well as the chance to pass out flyers in the Castro for the Pride concert on Saturday afternoons leading up to the concert. Menage sang at one of these Saturday afternoons as part of the fun we had doing this. Besides the Pride concert, the chorus would also be riding a cable car in the Pride Parade.
And as always please provide me with any feedback about my blog and let me know what you like or what you might want to read about in the future. I love you all so take care of yourselves and share your love for the chorus online however you can. See you next week as I write about the chorus in 1988 with more background and what was being talked about in the Leadsheets.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and Happy Mothers Day. I hope this finds you in good health and somewhat good spirits as we navigate these crazy times. As I have gone through more of my archives which have sparked my memories, I thought I would write more about what happened with the chorus in 1987. This was another year of transition as we embarked on a search for a new permanent Artistic Director. The lovely and talented Bill Ward was the Leadsheet editor for this year and in the first one from 1/7/87, he wrote that at this first rehearsal we would have one of our own, Cal Domingue, step up to direct us. Bill also wrote "As we begin this new year let's all make an effort to show our commitment to the Chorus and its continued growth and quality. As lesbians and gay men working together (and enjoying it) we enjoy a social condition which is not as widespread as I'd like it to be. I want to show the community and anyone else we can how well gay men and lesbians can get along together and just how much we have to offer one another." It has been fun for me to read through the Leadsheets from 1987 which by the way were all typed and printed and copied on paper. There was no email, texting, sharing data, smart phones, and no computers at that time.
The Chorus staff had been working on finding a new AD. At our next rehearsal we got to audition Michael Martin for this. Pat Parr was the next victim to audition for us as he would be directing us in the second half of rehearsal on 1/28/87. As of the date of the next Leadsheet, 2/4/87, Pat Parr had accepted the position of AD for LGCSF - hooray. Bill wrote in part "Pat Parr is eager to begin working with us and I'm looking forward to the association with him. We still have to find a rehearsal space for Thursday evenings in order to begin with Pat." As of 2/12/87, we were looking at St. Francis Lutheran as a possible rehearsal space and this would be our first full rehearsal with Pat and Michael Martin would be our accompanist and backup conductor.
The Chorus would begin working on the music we would sing at the "In Memory of Friends" concert in April. Menage would be performing at the Cable Car Awards at the Eagle at a beer bust for us in February so we were off and running as we began another busy year. The Chorus would be having a retreat at Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville in June to prepare for the Pride Concert. On Valentine's Day, there was a big party for the Chorus at Linda and Jesse's house. The more we socialize and get to know each other will reflect in our performances and progress together. As Bill wrote about his experience in being a part of "In Memory of Friends," he wrote "Being at the Palace of Fine Arts last week was a remarkable experience for me. Being part of the group effort such as this one makes me realize how important we really are to one another and how much our spirits depend upon love and respect for one another. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did."
As we prepared for the 9th Annual Gay Musical Celebration, which was the first Pride concert we produced on our own, I saw us really come together and we all had our own specific jobs to do to have everything go smoothly for us and our guests and audience. There was a strength of purpose helped to keep us on track and we felt we had grown up. We felt the 37 of us were tighter than ever. For Pride, we received a $5,350 grant from PC World Communications and another $1,000 from International Data Group.
Tenor Bill Sanderson said of the Chorus, "It's like a second family. In the rest of the community, the lesbians and gay men have their own places. They don't interact much. But here we can sing together, go on retreats, and have fun." Alto Rosemary Mitchell said, "The women and men of this group obviously search out this kind of experience. I need men in my life, and the men here need women."
Pat said he plans to continue working on the Chorus' blend, dynamics, and overall musicianship. He also wanted to see the group grow in size to 50 singers. On the agenda for the Chorus after Pride was an all country concert in the fall and a classical concert the following spring.
I was really excited by this feeling in the Chorus as we began this journey with Pat as we learned to follow what he was doing on the podium and how he truly was learning to know us and what our individual talents were and how to best use them for moving the Chorus forward. I think next week I will write a bit more about 1987 because this was really an exciting time for me.
Take care of yourselves, give hugs virtually to all around you and spread the love I know you have.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings and happy May to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying well both physically and mentally. I find that what keeps me going is to listen to all the music on my iTunes playlist which is over 12,000 songs, especially music of our chorus and other choruses which always inspire me.
As I said last week that I would be writing more about what the chorus did in 1986 under the musical direction of Rodger Pettyjohn. As I mentioned in a previous entry, Rodger stepped down from directing the chorus due to his health since he had AIDS. After working with us in the latter part of 1985 we embarked on learning the music we would sing in our spring concert "This is Our Country!" held on March 5 and 8. Proceeds from this concert were given to the Statue of Liberty Fund and our name was inscribed on a plaque as the first Lesbian/Gay group to have contributed to this fund.
I have a review of this concert entitled "Warm Praise" by Bernard Spunberg where he welcomed and congratulated the chorus under the leadership of Musical Director Rodger Pettyjohn. He wrote "From the opening notes of a medley from 'West Side Story', Pettyjohn and his ensemble revealed a great, big, beautiful sound." "'Maria', sung as a lesbian love song, was sung with inspiring expressivity." There was a new quartet from the chorus, the Muni Transfer, which later in the year become Menage an octet which became the ambassador for the chorus for many years appearing at many small events to spread the word and work of the chorus. We put out a press release after the concert announcing that auditions for all voice parts would be held on March 22. At this point rehearsals were being held at All Saints Episcopal Church on Waller Street.
Our next performance was in the Gay Pride Concert in June in which we sang selections from "Oliver" and received a standing ovation which was the first time for that in many years. Rodger was so excited by this he wanted to sing "I Sing the Body Electric" as an encore. But we had not rehearsed it although most of us had sung it in the past. We got through the first part, mostly forgot the second part but we kept smiling and remembered the final part which we finished strongly. The audience loved our chutzpah and the fact that we stayed with it. Just another moment in the life of the chorus where we all picked each other up to deliver our music.
The chorus received its first Cable Car Award for the Gay Games II Inaugural Concert on August 1 and 5 in which we sang music by gay and lesbian composers. Also on that concert were musicians of the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers which Rodger was one of the founding members. This was a truly memorable concert for me as we were with all these talented musicians and singing to a new audience, the athletes from the Gay Games plus our regular audience. I found in the archives a letter from the Golden Gate Business Association which notified us that they would be giving us a grant in the amount of $1,300 to provide advance production support for this concert.
We also sang in the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert with SFGMC in December. We also did caroling in various locations throughout this month. Pat Parr, who would become our next Artistic Director, heard us in this concert and was so impressed with us that in 1987 he applied for the position of AD and was hired after we voted him in.
This was a busy year for the chorus. We began with an out of town retreat at the Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville in January, a cocktail party, garage sale and a bake/ticket sale at Castro and Market in February. We had the technical rehearsal for "This is Our Country!" on February 28, a fundraiser at the "N Touch" cabaret on March 2, dress rehearsal on March 4 and the concerts on March 5 and 8. Regular rehearsals began again on March 26. On May 18 members of the chorus sang at a Gay and Lesbian Outreach for the Elderly dinner. June 4 was the date for our "Oliver" music to be memorized for the Pride Concert and June 27 for the concert and June 29 we were in the Pride Parade. July 25-27 we were on retreat at Bishop's Ranch to work on the music for the Gay Games II concert and to bond and have fun and get to know each other and come together as a community. There was a "talent show" on Saturday night - so much talent you wouldn't believe. We had a technical rehearsal and dress rehearsal after we got back from the retreat and then the two concerts on August 1 and 5. We also sang in the Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games on August 17.
Rehearsals began on September 17, we staffed a booth at the Folsom Street Fair on the 21st and staffed a booth at the Castro Street Fair on October 5. We performed at an event at the Green Room in the Veterans Building on Oct. 10 and at 22 on the Red event the following evening. Next we sang at Big Mama's in Hayward. On December 14, we sang at the beer bust at the SF Eagle and finished with the holiday concert with SFGMC. Rodger was one who liked having a seating chart for the chorus at rehearsals and we sat in a mixed voice seating which meant you really had to know your music which was always memorized for our concerts.
Next week I will be writing more about 1987 and our first year with Pat Parr so stay tuned.
In harmony and health and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and safe and staying healthy as we all go through these trying times. Please stay positive and listen to as much music as you can. That is what I do every day.
I thought I would write a bit more about what the chorus went through in 1985. As I have been reading through the archives from 1985, our Artistic Director, Matt O'Grady, and our accompanist, Jim Murdoch, moved on to pursue other professional concerns. A member of the chorus who was also an arranger, Beth Sanders, stepped up to be our interim director. Our rehearsal space was in Russell Kassman's piano store.
I read through the first few Leadsheets of 1985 and the chorus kept on with rehearsals. January 18 was the production meeting for the spring concert. January 27 was the date for our 5th birthday party. There was an Open Forum meeting on January 30 and a steering committee meeting set for February 3. The chorus was nominated for a Cable Car Award for Outstanding Concert for our Lullaby of Broadway concert from November, 1984. One of the others we were up against was Sylvester at the Castro Theatre show. The Cable Car Awards was held on February 2 at the Japan Center Theatre. Unfortunately we did not win this year. There was a thank you party on February 23 for Jim Murdoch as we wished him well on his new endeavors. To be admitted to the party you must come wearing a crazy hat with the best hat winning a door prize. As always we were recruiting new members in all voice parts. So you see the chorus was busy during the early part of 1985.
For the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade we put out a flyer inviting current and past members of the chorus to a Family Reunion to "Honor Our Past and Secure Our Future" and to celebrate 5 years of "Together in Harmony" and to sing, dance and be wild in the streets. We had a float with music from our past 5 years of concerts playing as we sang and danced our way up Market Street. We also sang in the 7th Annual Gay Musical Celebration which was held on June 28 and 29 at Mission High School. We performed on June 29 as we sang "Stand Up and Be Counted" which was composed and arranged by Beth Sanders, followed by "Amazing Grace" arranged by a friend of the chorus David Stratton. Next was "Song of the Soul" composed by Cris Wiliamson and arranged by Beth and we closed with ""Rhythm of Life." Please look at the attachments regarding this concert.
Of course there was an ongoing search for a permanent Artistic Director and in August Rodger Pettyjohn was hired and we started rehearsals with him for our new season on September 25. We sent out press releases to the San Francisco gay papers as well as one to GALA Choruses. He spent October through December building us up and we sang on street corners - during Christmas season in front of Macy's, in Union Square and on Castro Street. Here is some of the repertoire we learned during fall 1985 through spring 1986. "Bouree" by Bach, "Fa Una Canzona," "The Greatest Love of All," "I Sing the Body Electric," "The Rhythm of Life," and "Simple Gifts" by Copland.
For our Holiday repertoire it was "Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heavenly Light" by Bach, "Carol of the Bells," Caroling, Caroling," "Deck the Halls," "In Dulci Jubilo," "Let It Snow," and "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme.
For our Spring concert there was "A Chorus Line medley," "Elijah Rock," "Frostiana" by Randall Thompson, "Shenandoah," "Simon and Garfunkel medley," "There is a Balm in Gilead," and a "West Side Story medley and for Gay Pride "Reincarnations No. 3" by Samuel Barber. The chorus had its work set out by Rodger and we all learned it together in harmony. In the Leadsheet from December 4 Rodger wrote about attendance saying from this date until March 5, 1986 only two excused absences from rehearsal are allowed. Further, more than 2 excused absences or any unexcused absences may result in suspension from the chorus at the discretion of the music director. As you see Rodger really stressed the importance of being at rehearsals to learn the music and as well to bond with each other to become a harmonious unit. What I remember during this time is that we all learned the music and we had fun and were determined to be our best as we were on this new journey with Rodger.
Next week I will dig further into the chorus in 1986 and our musical journey from that year. Take care of yourselves, wash your hands and stay safe and sing every day.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and washing your hands and staying home as much as possible. I thought I would continue a bit more with what I wrote about last week - the fundraising the chorus did for various AIDS organizations in the 1980s and fundraising that was done for us.
In the chorus archives I discovered two letters from Gary Menger dated November 4 and 5, 1986 that were the beginning steps of planning for the first "In Memory of Friends" concert fundraisers that LGCSF was involved in. He wrote in part "there's a need to mourn our dead, confront our loss, allow ourselves a moment to slow down and feel a catharsis." Gary also included a first draft of music he would like in the show with the music flowing to form a narrative from more innocent times to what was happening in the 1980s. This went through several changes before the final script was finished and I seem to remember that everyone involved thought the music selection was exceptional.
On March 2, 1986, there was a Comedy & Cabaret show to benefit LGCSF at the 'N Touch cabaret and bar on Polk Street. One of the comedians on this show was Tom Ammiano, who was a teacher and later was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the State Assembly. The other comic in this event was one who seemed to be everywhere at this time, Danny Williams. For those of you too young to remember these men, just Google them. The chorus also performed for the crowd.
Another benefit for LGCSF was held at the New High Chaparral bar on Market Street in the Castro on April 5. This event featured four different country western dance groups, the Savoy South Bay Stompers, the Foggy City Dancers, the S. F. Saddle Tramps and the San Jose Spurs. Of course Danny Williams was part of this show and our own Jene Bombardier entertained the crowd with her music.
On October 4, 1987, at Glide Memorial Methodist Church in the Tenderloin the chorus and Menage along with the Glide Ensemble and their musical director, Richard Dorsey, performed in a benefit for the S. F. AIDS Emergency Fund. I remember this was a really fun and uplifting event as we were able to perform before a new audience who really liked us.
Finally on December 18, 1987, the chorus presented a Christmas Concert and Carol Sing Along. The reason I mention this concert is that half of the proceeds from ticket sales went to the Larkin Street Youth Center and I believe this was the first time that we partnered with this wonderful organization.
That's it for this week and next week I will be digging more into what we did in 1985 which was a transitional year for the chorus. Stay well and stay positive - we will get through this. For those of you who maybe missed my latest Chorus Connection post the GALA Festival will be taking place next year July 7 - 11, 2021 in Minneapolis and after all this time away from each other I expect this will be the best one ever.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
In Memory of Friends...and in Support of Those Living with AIDS
The 1980s was a decade when AIDS hit our community at large and our chorus community. Many volunteer organizations were created to help people deal with all the different aspects of this disease. One of these was the AIDS Emergency Fund. The AEF was established in 1982 and provides immediate financial assistance to people with AIDS and disabling ARC. The idea for the concert production "In Memory of Friends ... and in Support of Those Living with AIDS" to raise funds for AEF came from the minds and hearts of Gary Menger who were a concert producers and good friends of LGCSF.
The concert was at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre on Thursday, April 9, 1987. In the Welcome page in the program, producer Gary Menger wrote in part "Everyone in this concert and everyone involved in the technical or promotional aspects of making it happen are willing volunteers because we've all lost people we loved to AIDS. This evening is offered in memory of those people. The best way we know to honor the memory of friends no longer with us is to contribute in whatever way we can toward the ease and comfort of those now living with AIDS." Then he goes on to thank all of the people, musicians and businesses who helped bring this concert to life.
LGCSF started the show with "Corner of the Sky" from "Pippin" and Menage followed with "The Greatest Love of All." The other performers in the show were local cabaret entertainers and singers such as the wonderful Weslia Whitfield, Tom Anderson, Pamela Brooks, John Lusk, and Tom Vetrano. In the middle of Act I LGCSF also sang "The Way We Were." This was followed by the San Francisco Tap Troupe and Gail Wilson performing "You and the Night and the Music." Men About Town from SFGMC performed "Mood Indigo/ Puttin' on the Ritz." The first act closed with Pamela Brooks and Company singing "San Francisco."
In the second act, the SF Gay Freedom Marching Band performed a medley from "West Side Story" and this was followed by the Vocal Minority with a medley from "The Wiz" and "The Wizard of Oz" ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). The entire company joined together to end the evening with "If We Only Have Love/Not a Day Goes By." This finale was arranged and conducted by Wayne Love.
On October 9, 1988, a second "In Memory of Friends" concert was held again at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. It was produced again by Gary Menger along with his producing partner Don Johnson. The executive producers of the show were Jerry Coletti and Pat Montclaire of the Galleon restaurant. They provided all the initial funds required, agreed to cover stipends for all the participating non-profit performing groups, paid for much of the advertising, gave us free use of their meeting rooms and sent lunch to the entire company the day of dress rehearsal and provided a cast buffet after the show.
This show was a little different from the first one in that it was a "book show" meaning that members of the cast played parts and there was a story line. Gary and Don wrote in the program "We agreed to team up again for this project, and agreed on the new form it would take. Kind friends told us it was impossible to create a "book show," borrow music from other shows to fit our intent, have relatively few rehearsals, and get the whole thing right in just a couple months. We saw that the only to prove them wrong was to forge ahead and do it ... we hope you'll be pleased with the result."
Act 1 was titled "Summer, Last Year." The cast included two members of LGCSF who had gone on to be cabaret performers, Scott Johnston and Morgen Aiken. Jose Sarria, the first Empress of San Francisco, was also part of the cast. One of the scenes was set in the garden behind Jose's Upper Market fourplex. Some of the music performed was "Take Me to the World," LGCSF sang "It's a Most Unusual Day." Other songs were "Beautiful Girls," "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore," and "Wherever He Ain't" at the grand opening of Jose's New "Black Cat" bar. The Band, Twirling Corps and Flag Corps performed "Before the Parade Passes By" as part of the Gay Freedom Day Parade ending the first act.
The chorus and Scott sang "Another Hundred People" and "Lonely Town" to open the second act. One of the highlights of Act 2 was "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and the finale "Today/Tomorrow/Yesterday."
This show raised $32,000 for the AIDS Emergency Fund and Allen White wrote a glowing review of the concert in the Bay Area Reporter. As I said at the start this decade saw many fundraisers and benefits. One of these was for the San Francisco Band Foundation called "You and the Night and the Music" held on August 24, 1988 at the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel. Our wonderful jazz octet, Menage, performed in this show to represent LGCSF. Just so you all know, the Venetian Room was the premier venue for all the jazz singers and players to play in San Francisco.
Another fundraiser in 1988 was "22 on the Red," a night of gambling and entertainment, which was presented at Pier Two at the Fort Mason Center. This was the annual fundraiser for the Golden Gate Business Association.
That's it for this week. I included photos of advertising for the first In Memory of Friends as well as program covers of the various events listed and photos of the presentation of the $32,000 to the AEF and LGCSF onstage in the second show. Take care of yourselves as you stay at home and remember to wash your hands. I love you all and miss singing with you more than I can say. Not quite sure what I will be writing about next week as I continue going through the archives.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope that you are all well and doing your best to stay healthy. This edition of the History Corner focuses on what we were doing in the second half of 1984. As I had written in probably my first post, I joined the chorus in July 1984 after seeing the chorus in the SFGMC's Pride Concert at Nourse Auditorium. All of us in the San Francisco gay musical community heard that Jon Reed Sims, the founder of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps and SFGMC and LGCSF, had died of complications due to AIDS on July 16. Of course, throughout the 1980s we all would lose friends and lovers as a result of this disease and we would attend too many memorial services as we honored the lives of our loved ones.
Because of his inspiration, we now have queer marching bands and choruses all over the world. The memorial service for Jon Sims was held at Grace Cathedral on August 3 and this was the first time I sang with the chorus as part of this service. We sang "Soon-ah Will be Done" and "Elijah Rock." I attached photos of the cover of the program and the article in the Bay Area Reporter about Jon's life.
I have also included a photo of a recruitment flyer and one for a benefit for LGCSF at Buckley's Bistro & Bar which was at 131 Gough Street.
There is a photo of the program of our "Lullaby of Broadway" concert held on November 3 which I described in detail in a past History Corner. A week later we were guests of the Freedom Band in their "Hollywood Canteen" show at the Japan Center Theatre which was an evening of entertainment inspired by the big band era. Costumes and uniforms were encouraged, there was a Betty Grable Look Alike Contest and there were taxi dancers for hire. We ended the year as guests of SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert at the Nourse Auditorium on December 16 and 24. We sang "Coventry Carol," "Silent Night in Contempora," "No. 3 from Three Carols of the Season" and finished with "Twelve Days After Christmas."
Among other papers in the archives from 1984 I came across a commentary on 1984 being an important year for the chorus. We had gone through a year of searching for a new director, and we decided to leave Golden Gate Performing Arts. It was time to stabilize our membership and make our presence more widely known in the community. It was our goal to increase our membership to its former size and to follow our former schedule of four concerts and several public appearances.
1983 had taken its toll on us and we found that changes in the chorus's energy and the community interests limited the rapid expansion we had planned. We altered our approach and decided to cancel the spring concert, stabilize with a smaller membership, and place more emphasis on community appearances.
Throughout 1984 our membership averaged 35 members of which 25 were considered a solid core group. By the time we got to "Lullaby of Broadway" we were at 48 members and it was sold out and nominated for a Cable Car Award. It seemed that our community appearances were the most successful manner of recruiting new members.
In reading through the Leadsheets starting in August we had a retreat in Guerneville the last weekend of August, commitment forms were handed out to everyone to ensure that we attended rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances for the fall season. We also held Open Forums once a month on the third Wednesday during the last half hour of rehearsal. Chorus t-shirts (5) and bow ties ($7) were on sale from our music librarian Michael Gerding. Also tapes of our "Back in Grace" concert were available for $6.25. Chorus dues were $7 per month. This August the Leadsheet had a new editor in the person of Kate Lynn. Also the chorus had a booth at the Castro Street Fair on August 19.
In the next History Corner I will be writing about the life of the chorus in the first half of 1985 and the changes that happened then. Until then please stay healthy all of you.
All my love, Michael Lucero
Happy March to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and staying healthy and remembering to wash your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze and staying home when you are sick. Anyway this week I am writing about the first half of 1984 in the life of the chorus. As I mentioned last week, and in the archives I have, I found a letter dated November 15, 1983, to the Capp Street Foundation regarding our application for fiscal sponsorship under their umbrella. To quote from this letter, "There is a myth that lesbians and gay men can not work together. The Mixed Chorus combats this myth and provides a positive role model for the lesbian and gay communities through its music and its community service."
The chorus announced its new Artistic Director in the person of Matthew O'Grady and our Accompanist in the person of James Murdock. Matt made his debut as our AD at the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert. In our first Leadsheet of 1984, it was announced that under Matt's direction and with the help and support of our returning and incoming members we were looking forward to an exciting and eventful year. We would be celebrating our 4th Annual Birthday Party which was a Tea Dance at Clementina's Baybrick Inn at 1190 Folsom Street on January 22. We were also looking for a new editor for the Leadsheet. Jesse Kane (now Lanou) stepped forward to take on this extremely fun task.
Our first gig of the year was at the Cable Car Awards on February 4. We would be finding out if the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert would win an award for the third year and thus becoming eligible for the coveted "Hall of Fame." We were also deciding on a new logo for use on our correspondence and T-shirts. Also there was a call from GALA for someone who would be interested in putting together the next GALA Directory. Our editor, Jesse, asked for help in sending out the Leadsheet to all participating GALA choruses. So you can see that we have been involved in GALA for quite awhile.
In March we were advertising the Temescal Gay Men's Chorus performances. Valerie Igl, a soprano, was hosting an April Fool's party/talent show on March 31. Vocal Minority would be performing at Valencia Rose on April 8. Our editor, Jesse Kane, along with Alternative Measures would be performing at Fanny's cabaret the following night and on April 29, also at Fanny's, members of the chorus and special guests would be singing. The chorus was also having a membership drive and we need someone to design a recruitment poster. As you can see, members of the chorus were keeping busy at the various cabaret venues around town.
The next chorus gig was on May 29 which was held in the City Hall Rotunda. We appeared with the Band and SFGMC at the reception following the preview performance of "La Cage aux Folles." This was a benefit performance for Operation Concern, Lesbian Rights Project, S.F. Aids Fund, among other organizations.
The chorus celebrated the first birth of a child to a member of the chorus. The little person, named Mercedes Katherine Navarro, was born to Cindy Navarro, a very wonderful and long time member of the chorus.
Our next performance was on June 15 in the Pride Concert titled "Back in Grace" meaning Grace Cathedral. Again we were with the Band and SFGMC. We performed a couple of spirituals, "Elijah Rock" and "Soon-ah Will Be Done," followed by "To Be Sung on the Water" by Samuel Barber, "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure, "Fa Una Canzona" by Orazio Vecchi, and we ended with "One" from "A Chorus Line" as we kicked up our heels to the music of Marvin Hamlisch. This concert was the sixth anniversary of the Band and they proudly dedicated the concert to its founder, Jon R. Sims, whose vision and dedication have borne fruit in gay musical organizations all across the land and now the world.
We also participated in the SFGMC's Gay Day concert on June 22 which was held at Nourse Auditorium. Yes we did have a very busy first half of 1984 and we were getting our name heard around the City at the different cabaret shows and events. See you next week as I write about the second half of 1984 in the life of our chorus.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to my faithful readers. Hope you are all well and had a chance to enjoy something good this weekend. This week I want to share with you what was happening with the chorus in the second half of 1983.
As I have been reading through the leadsheets for 1983 I am really able to gain an insight into what was happening with the chorus. This is where I read that the chorus would begin its search for a new director. This process was under the guidance of the Permanent Search Committee. The chorus was informed that beginning in April there would be participative interviews with the prospective candidates. Each one would have an hour for warm-ups and leading the chorus in rehearsal and a brief period set aside for any questions from the chorus. The first candidate was Steve Bryant who was from Seattle. The second was Dick Kramer, the former artistic director of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Also during this time there were many meetings of the Permanent Search Committee as they read the resumes and met with the prospective candidates. The next candidate was Richard Soback and as a result of balloting by the chorus on June 15, he was offered the position as director. As of June 22 the chorus had yet to be notified of his acceptance or rejection of the offer. Alas because I do not have any leadsheets between 6/22 and 8/3 I cannot say for sure what happened in this time period. But there is good news as you will read.
What I do know is that the chorus held a couple of fundraisers - one on July 24 called "Bountiful Buffet" and the second on August 22 called "The Toast of the Town" and held at the New Performance Space at 3153 - 17th Street.
"Bountiful Buffet" was a full on chorus participation event. By this I mean that members of the chorus prepared and/or cooked meals - both vegetarian and meat - for 200 guests as well as members of the chorus providing the entertainment in a cabaret style. We also had an auction. Our special guest of the night was Sharon McNight, the well known international cabaret performer.
"The Toast of the Town" was a fundraiser for us and featured many Bay Area performers who generously donated their talents for us. They included Pamela Brooks, Faye Carol, Bob Bendorff, Romanovsky & Phillips, our own Francesca Dubie and Bill Ganz.
The chorus also participated in the Santa Cruz Gay Freedom Day Parade which was held the Sunday previous to San Francisco's Pride Parade. To quote the leadsheet "This is a wonderful opportunity for the chorus to be visible (wear your chorus T-shirts) as well as another chance to participate in our community relations efforts."
Besides these two fundraisers, there were ideas for six other events talked about as follows: 1. Softball Quencher where the chorus would sell hot dogs & beer at the gay softball games; 2. Bar Runs where Vocal Minority would perform at Tavern Guild bars; 3. River Romp where there would be a dance and a mini-concert at Russian River; 4. Let's Make Up with make-up booths at street fairs; 5. Golden Notes which would be singing telegrams; and 6. Holiday Auction which would be a holiday shopping spree auction.
One other thing that happened was an announcement in the July 14 issue of the Bay Area Reporter titled "Mixed Chorus to Jump Ship" which chronicled the decision of LGCSF to withdraw from Golden Gate Performing Arts. To quote "At issue was an insolvent corporate umbrella, whether to hire a conductor, and to what extent this chorus would take financial liability for a financially disastrous concert last month at the Warfield Theatre." The chorus did leave GGPA and went with the Capp Street Foundation as our new corporate umbrella. I have asked two former singers who were in the chorus at that time for any additional memories they may have of this event.
Finally, the last concert of the year we participated in was "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" which was held on December 18 and 24 at the Nourse Auditorium. Listed in the program was Gerard Montana as Artistic Director and Matthew O'Grady as Assistant Director. At this point we were at 36 strong and we were the guests of SFGMC. Also on this concert was the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band. We were conducted by Matthew and we performed two pieces from "A Ceremony of Carols" by Benjamin Britten, "The Sleigh (A la Russe)", "Magnificat" by Pergolesi, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Martin & Blane, and we finished with a fully staged and costumed "Fruitcake" by Philip Hagemann & Penny Leka. I have heard from more than one source - or it may be urban myth - but "Fruitcake" brought the house down and perhaps was a starting point for our future fully staged, singing, dancing, costumed concerts to come. That's it for this week and I know it's a lot but there is a lot of history of this chorus to go through so I am glad for your indulgence. Next week I will be letting you know about the first half of 1984. Take care of yourselves until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero