Greetings to all of my faithful readers and welcome if there are any new ones. I hope you all had a safe and sane 4th of July and stayed home and watched the fireworks shows on TV. We watched the CNN show with Don Lemon and Dana Bash and a great array of musical guests.
This week I am writing about my experiences at the GALA Festival VI, which was held in San Jose from July 22-30, 2000. This was our third Festival and we were all excited to be participating in this wonderful week of music and seeing old friends and making new ones. Since this Festival was so close, Phil and I volunteered to help out at Festival and there were several workshops prior to Festival that we attended to learn about what we would be doing to help welcome all the singers who would be coming to San Jose and to answer any questions that these delegates might have. It was a wonderful way for us to be more involved in Festival and to help out GALA.
At this point, there were more than 190 choruses in GALA composed of over 10,000 singers on 4 continents. At this Festival, there were 140 performing groups and more than 5,000 singers which made this the largest gay and lesbian choral event in history up to that point. The opening and closing ceremonies took place in the San Jose Convention Center. At the opening we all sang the Festival anthem "A Chorus of Lovers and Friends" which was composed for GALA by David Sereda. There was the procession of choruses and entertainment by Harvey Fierstein and Friends. The keynote address was given by Kate Clinton.
At the closing ceremonies among all the speeches, remembrances and reflections of Festival 2000, we were entertained by Holly Near and Bruce Villanch. Of course we all sang "A Chorus of Lovers and Friends" again and ended singing "One Voice." The daily concert blocks took place in the Civic Auditorium across the street from the Convention Center and in the Center for Performing Arts one block away.
There were rehearsals for the Festival choruses who would be performing the music commissioned for GALA for SATB, SSAA, and TTBB choruses. The Festival choruses performed on Wednesday, July 26. One of the pieces for the SATB chorus, "With One Voice," became an anthem for LGCSF as we sang it at the Pre-GALA concert in July, "Across the Ponds," just before Festival. Our guests were Schola Cantorosa, Gay Men's Chorus of Hamburg, Germany and VOICES: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. The three choruses performed the music we would sing at Festival. We hosted them from Schola and were able to spend time with them and show them around San Francisco for a day. They are a show chorus so their set featured fabulous costumes, dancing and acting so they were a hit with our audience and for the audience at GALA.
There was another chorus from Germany, a men's chorus from Paris, several choruses from Canada, and the Pink Singers and London Gay Men's Chorus from London and the Deep C Divas from Leeds, England and Gloria from Dublin. We had a chance to meet some of the singers from these choruses and are still in touch with a few of them today. The buzz at GALA was that everyone had to hear Lavender Light Gospel Choir from New York. They performed twice so that most people were able to hear their glorious, uplifting music and we all agreed that we had been transported to church. LGCSF also performed twice, once on Friday, July 28 and the next day, so that was fun and a little hectic for us.
Among other special concerts there was "Celebrating Women Concert" with Holly Near as the emcee. This concert featured the women's choruses and one of the highlights was MUSE Cincinnati Women's Choir and Deep C Divas singing with Holly Near on two of Holly's songs "A Thousand Grandmothers" and "Uh Huh." There were two other guests who performed - Linda Tillery in the first half and Rhiannon in the second half. There was also a fun evening entitled "World's Greatest No-Talent Show" which showcased various soloists and small groups from some of the choruses. Who knew how many talents there were in our GALA world? One last thing I want to say is that the motto for this Festival "Touching Hearts, Changing Minds" was there in abundance through the voices and songs of everyone who was there onstage and in the audience as we all cheered on and were cheered by our peers. This is what Festival has always meant for me and being part of LGCSF as we celebrated with our sisters and brothers and went back to our hometowns energized and ready to share this energy with all of our audiences and communities.
Next week I will be writing about my experience at Festival VII in Montreal, Quebec. Take care of yourselves and remember we will get through these times and sing again.
With harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are well and staying safe and I want to wish a Happy Fathers Day to any dads out there. This week I decided to write about my experiences at GALA Festival IV which was held in Denver from July 28 through July 4, 1992. This turned out to be a big and very busy week for us. We all flew together out of SFO and arrived on Saturday, June 27 and after checking into our hotel rooms and getting our Festival badges and official merchandise and ate, we attended the Denver Pride Concert that evening. We heard and enjoyed the music of our three host choruses, Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Denver Women's Chorus and Harmony: A Colorado Chorale.
The next day, Sunday morning, LGCSF along with many other choruses marched in the Denver Pride Parade and relaxed afterward in the park in front of the Colorado State Capitol. All along the parade route we received cheers and applause from the people watching and we also saw tears on many faces in gratitude that we were there. In 1992 there was a national movement designed to ban civil rights for gays and lesbians and Colorado was one of the first states to be targeted. We saw many signs to vote NO on the measure that was on the ballot in an upcoming election.
This was the second Festival that Phil and I were part of and we thought "Wow what a way to start our week with music and then marching in their Parade." For this Festival there were 64 performing choruses and representatives from 17 other choruses to make up the 3,500 delegates who were there to sing. These singers were from all over the U.S., Canada, England Germany. That Sunday evening we went to the Festival Opening Concert to hear our three host choruses again and to see all of the other choruses that had arrived that day as each chorus stood and shouted their name to thunderous applause from everyone. Then we went to bed and tried to sleep but it was not easy as we were thinking about everything that we had heard and seen and been part of.
Monday morning we were up and on to the first block of concerts starting at 9 am! We learned that each chorus would be performing twice in each of the two theatres that were open for us - Boettcher Concert Hall and the Temple Buell Theatre. So between 9 and 2:30 pm with an intermission we saw ten choruses perform. Then at 4 pm there was a Mixed Choruses Reception where we got to meet and mingle with people from the other mixed choruses. That was a lot of fun and we saw singers who we had met in Seattle. Then we had dinner and at 7 pm we went to the evening concerts featuring four choruses. Then at 9:30 there were small group performances but we went to the hotel and to bed.
Tuesday morning was the time for our onstage rehearsals at the two theatres. Also there were rehearsals for singers who were participating in the Festival Choruses - men's, women's and mixed - who would be singing the music that was commissioned by GALA in the Closing Concert on July 4. Then we had time for lunch and then it was show time for us Tuesday afternoon. In our concert block were Seattle Men's Chorus, West Coast Singers, Great Lakes Men's Chorus, LGCSF and Philadelphia Men's Chorus. We first sang in Boettcher then when we finished we dashed to Buell for our second set. In our set we sang a "Most Unusual Day Medley" - "It's a Most Unusual Day," "The Trolley Song," "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "I Said No," and "Georgie Girl." Then Menage sang "Let the River Run" and we ended with "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" which was complete with the banana ballet with both sexes in native attire and the beautiful and talented Beth Yates as the Lady with the Hat. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that the militant lesbians at the time were incensed with us as they thought the bananas were too phallic. But it was lots of fun for us and we did not think it was offensive at all. That evening there were more small group performances and after we ate we relaxed and went to bed.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were easier for us since we had performed and were now able just to enjoy all the performances of the other choruses. We skipped the small group performances one night and went to one of the big country and western gay bars. Also this week the Gay Rodeo was in town so there were lots of handsome cowboys and cowgirls there to line dance. That was lots of fun.
Friday we went to the concert blocks starting at 11 am. That evening there were two special concerts. The first was "A Time for Remembrance" as we listened to some beautiful music and thought about singers and friends that we had lost to AIDS. And now for something completely different the second concert featured the Flirtations, an acappella group of five men who with their blend of humor and flirting with each other and the audience lifted our hearts and spirits.
On Saturday were the onstage Festival Choruses rehearsals as the singers in these choruses prepared for the Closing Concert which was held in Boettcher. Afterward there was the big closing party hosted by SFGMC in the Galleria of the Performing Arts Complex where we had all sung together, made new friends, laughed and cried and felt renewed as we all went back to our home cities and carried the GALA spirit on as we prepared for a new season of music. This was another eye opening week of wonderful music, dancing, love and making new friends and seeing old ones. Please enjoy the five photos I included of the Festival book and the concert programs and a picture of the chorus on the steps of parking garage across from the theatres. Next week will be all about my experiences at Festival VI in San Jose in 2000. See you then.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. This week I write about my experience at my first GALA Choruses Festival in July, 1989 in Seattle. A alto from LGCSF, Leslie Bayless, was our GALA liaison and she kept us updated as to what was expected of us as to the delegate fee of $40 and the fee for our housing, breakfast and lunch of $195. This GALA was held on the campus of the University of Washington and we all stayed in the co-ed dorms. You can guess what the decor of the dorm rooms became when 2500 singers/interior decorators took charge. Because of our group airfare, we all flew together to Seattle and returned to San Francisco together.
Yes there were 2500 singers representing 43 choruses together for a week of singing, eating, rehearsing, and having fun and getting to know each other. Phil and I met and spent time together with a tenor from the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus. At this point in GALA Choruses history there were 75 member organizations and there were representatives from 57 of them.
We arrived on Sunday, July 2, registered, got our dorm rooms and unpacked and got ready to go to the Opening Concerts which featured our host choruses, the Seattle Men's Chorus and the Seattle Women's Ensemble and their various subgroups, The Derivative Duo, the Chromatones, the Philandros Singers and the Emerald City Volunteers. The first Opening Concert was held in the afternoon followed by an Opening Reception and the Opening Concert was repeated that evening. It was quite a production and we were all blown away by what these two choruses sang and danced. One thing that I remember from that first day is that as the choruses came into Meany Theatre and were seated, one chorus would stand and shout their name to thunderous applause and then another stood and said their name and so on.
The mornings of Festival were for rehearsals of the GALA Commission pieces and music by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky which would be performed by the mass men's, women's and mixed choruses in the Closing Concert and capped off by everyone singing a new song by Holly Near "Come Out Singing" which we sang outside of the theatre in the University's Red Square with Holly.
One of the highlights for me was rehearsing with members of the four other mixed choruses there as we learned the commissioned piece for mixed choruses we would be performing in the Closing Concert which was "Three Charms from Shakespeare" by Conrad Susa. This mass chorus was conducted by Vance George who was the director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. We all learned a lot from him as we read through the three charms - "Witches' Charm," "Dirge" and the "Fairies' Lullaby." The four other choruses singing with us were Cream City Chorus from Milwaukee, Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington DC, the River City Mixed Chorus from Omaha and the West Coast Singers from West Hollywood.
Of course we had our own rehearsal and performance of our set which was in the evening concert block on July 6. Our concert block started with the Los Angeles Women's Community Chorus, then Gay Men's Chorus of Long Beach, Boston Gay Men's Chorus, then us and the evening ended with Portland Gay Men's Chorus so we were in good company.
We sang "Everybody Says Don't" by Stephen Sondheim, then "Hand in Hand" by our own Jesse Kane, then Menage sang "The Birth of the Blues" and we finished with "Passengers of Infinity" which was written for us by Kristin Norderval which we first performed in 1986. Our plan was to show off our San Francisco class and taste and we wore our best evening dresses and tuxedos and struck a pose as the curtain opened and the audience loved us.
Throughout the week as we took in all the different concert blocks and heard and saw all the different choruses from all over the country and Canada, we were blown away by the tremendous talent of our sister and brother singers as we all came together to sing for each other. Sometimes it became a little overwhelming but since it was our first time at Festival we all wanted to do as much as possible. We in the chorus came back to San Francisco on a high as we brought the energy from GALA home and said to ourselves we can do that and that and that. All in all this first GALA Festival for me was a life changing, eye opening experience that I will never forget. I can also truly say that my experiences at the other Festivals I have attended have also been life changing in different ways and I would not have missed any of these Festivals. Here's hoping that it will be safe to sing next year and that we will be able to attend the next Festival.
The photo I attached was from Festival VIII in Miami because I did not have one from Seattle. Next week I think I will write about my experiences at Festival IV in Denver, 1992. See you then and as always sending my love to you all.
Singing in harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers and happy June and Pride month. I hope you are all well and doing everything you can to stay healthy and hopefully sane amidst all that is going on. This week in our history from 1989 I will be writing about what the chorus was doing for fundraising and outreach. Please look at the photographs I attached which show what we were involved in plus a flyer advertising auditions on July 14-26 for the fall season of the chorus - "Sing a variety of styles of music from classical to Broadway in a supportive atmosphere."
One of our first outreach and fundraising events of the year was for a show in Guerneville on Easter Sunday to benefit the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank. There were three events that day - first performances at Fifes featuring Samm Gray and our own Scott Johnston, Morgen Aiken and the chorus plus Menage and Fiddlestix. Following that at the Willows our full ticket donors were invited to a social hour hosted by the owners of the Willows with champagne and hors d'ouevres. Next at the Woods at 6 pm an Easter buffet was served with musical entertainment by the soloists of the afternoon and the chorus.
Our next outreach event was one for our patrons to join us in attending ACT's performance of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" on May 24 at the American Conservatory Theater on Geary. Tickets for $50 were for people who wanted to become chorus patrons and attend a champagne reception.
As I have mentioned in previous History Corners, the Galleon Bar and Restaurant was again in 1989 a home for cabaret shows. On Sundays starting on May 14, our Scott Johnston hosted and performed in "Scott's Broadway" which featured soloists from San Francisco and whenever any of soloists from the chorus performed they would always put in a good word for the chorus and the upcoming Pride Concert in June.
Finally I want to talk about an outreach event that Scott Johnston and Menage were involved in. This was "Hats Off to Hospice" which celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Hospice Programs of Visiting Nurses and Hospice of San Francisco. This was held on December 8 in the Ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott Hotel. Also performing in this show was Nicholas, Glover & Wray, Weslia Whitfield, The Jesters and Jae Ross, who were all well known Bay Area cabaret and stage singers. This was a wonderful evening to honor the nurses and caregivers who provided hospice care and to hear some inspiring and fun music.
I would just like to say that what the chorus did in the eighties and nineties at fundraisers for all of the different AIDS and care organizations made proud and happy to be a part of it as we went out and lived our mission statement. Next week I will be writing a bit more of what the chorus was doing in 1989 so stay tuned.
Sending my love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying safe and trying to stay positive in your hearts and minds through these times. This week I would like to write about what our lovely and talented Leadsheet editor, Bill Ward, wrote about in the Leadsheet in 1988 to keep us informed about what was happening with the chorus, its schedule of rehearsals and concerts and what various individuals were doing. Most of what Bill wrote about during the first few weeks of 1988 was for us to welcome the new members into the chorus and to make sure they feel comfortable as we learn their names and why they came to join this merry band of musicians. He also talked up our spring retreat at Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville during Easter weekend. There will be a Spring Cotillion along with our talent show so bring your prom dresses and tuxes. Of course we will be rehearsing our music for our upcoming concerts in San Francisco and Berkeley - "A Touch of Classics" featuring music by Gabriel Faure and Wolfy Mozart. These concerts were financially and musically successful as we cleared over $1,000 and the people in Berkeley want us back next spring for another concert.
Our fabulous jazz octet, Menage, was nominated for a Cabaret Gold Award and the Awards show will be on April 25 at the Venetian Room. Unfortunately they did not win an award, but they were busy in March as they performed at the Castro Lions Club, then at a fundraiser for the Names Project and the Lyon-Martin Clinic at the Green Room in the War Memorial Building and a show at Big Mama's in beautiful downtown Hayward. Our own Scott Johnston is hosting Open Mike nights on Mondays at the Galleon so if you would like your time in the spotlight just show up there and show the world what you have to offer.
We had a chorus garage sale and I was in charge of this along with several volunteers as Bill asked for the chorus to clean out their closets and donate their stuff. Next up for us was the Gay Pride Concert which will be produced by our own Jesse Kane. She did a fabulous job for us at last year's Pride Concert so this should go smoothly as well. As we were rehearsing our music for Pride, we kept busy in May, with staff meetings, Fiddlestix performing in Walnut Creek for the Contra Costa AIDS Task Force fundraiser, Menage at the Santa Rosa Lions Club, the chorus at Collingwood Recreation Center for the AIDS Bike-A-Thon, then Fiddlestix, Menage and Pat Parr at Amelia's for the Arcadia Bodybuilding Physique then Fiddlestix and Menage performing for the East Bay PWAs. Bill put in a plug reminding us to thank Pat for all the time he puts into directing the chorus, Menage and Fiddlestix plus all the meetings and other performances he does.
In June besides our performing in the Pride Concert, we also rode on a cable car in the Pride Parade and there was a call for four monitors for our group. Sell, sell, sell those concert tickets!! There was a call out to the chorus to help paint sets for the concert. We also staffed a booth at Civic Center after the the arade. Also on June 25 the chorus were handling the food concessions for the Arcadia Bodybuilding Association event at Mission High. Bill was also putting in information for the GALA Festival coming up in Seattle in 1989 and asking for ideas for fundraising for this trip to have the entire chorus be there.
From our updated 1988 schedule, on July 7 rehearsals for our Movies concert started and the 10th was the cutoff for auditions for new members. We were also learning music for the "In Memory of Friends" concert. For the Movies concert, there was a call for people to join the production committee. Phil and I were part of this and I remember a fun day we had making papier mache bananas for use in our performance of "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat" for this concert. In August two of our rehearsals will be for the staging of the Movies concert with our stage director, Roger Scroggs. September 30 was our "LGCSF Goes to the Movies" concert which I remember was so much fun and all of our hard work paid off.
On October 8 was an all day rehearsal for "In Memory of Friends" with a barbecue lunch provided. October 9 was show time. On November 7 Menage performing a fundraiser at the Plush Room to raise funds for GALA III Festival. In November we had nominations and election of the Board of Directors. The chorus became incorporated. Menage and Fiddlestix were both busy in November and December performing in various venues and the chorus sang with the SFGMC in their Christmas Concerts. Yes 1988 was a busy and exciting year for the chorus and I enjoyed it all because we were all young and healthy and having a good time and making wonderful music and sharing our gifts with our audiences. Next week I will start my in depth look at the chorus in 1989. See you then and stay healthy and positive. I send my love to all of you.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
This week, we mourn and condemn the senseless and cruel murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Tragically, George Floyd was one of many victims of white supremacy and anti-black racism in the United States. The protests throughout our nation give voice to those who have cried for years that Black Lives Matter.
We stand in peaceful solidarity with the BlackLivesMatter movement. To all black people who are angry, who are hurting, who seek change: We will be your standing stone. We will stand by you.
The Artistic Director and Board of Directors,
Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco
Video: Performance of “I Will Be Your Standing Stone”, featuring Melanie DeMore, November 2018
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