Hello to all of my faithful readers. This week I want to share with you about another of our chorus traditions and that is out of town retreats. These retreats were intended to have the chorus be by ourselves away from any kind of outside distraction so that we could bond and become really close as we rehearsed whatever show or concert was coming up. Some of my earliest memories of these was when Rodger Pettyjohn was our AD. At these retreats, aside from our rehearsal times, there always a "talent" show on the Saturday night. During one of these talent shows, Rodger sat silently at a piano for what seemed an interminable time. Another time Rodger had us lay on the floor and close our eyes so his new electronic composition could take us on a musically guided meditation.
The retreat sites we would go to during the Pat Parr years were in the Santa Cruz mountains or in the Guerneville area in Sonoma county. On the retreat before our Elton John concert I remember was how much fun we had rehearsing his songs and decorating our own outsized glasses similar to what Elton wore onstage. Also at the retreats, if there were sets to be designed and put together, this was where this was done. Another time during the retreat before our Radio Daze concert we were instructed on how to use and apply stage makeup and from that time on at each concert in our dressing rooms were makeup kits for all of us to use. All of the "talent" shows during this time were always so much fun and some of the talent shared was actually quite good. Another thing I remember during a retreat is that we performed at a benefit in Guerneville for the Sonoma County AIDS service organizations. Enjoy the pictures from one of these retreats with Pat.
A retreat I remember during the Michael Carlson years was at a hostel in the Marin Headlands where there were great views of the Pacific and back to San Francisco. As there were other people at this hostel during the weekend, we performed for them so we could have the feedback from this audience on the music we had been rehearsing.
During the Billy Sauerland years, we had a retreat at the Montara Lighthouse hostel near Half Moon Bay. We were rehearsing "Loving Repeating", the Gertrude Stein musical. During this time we all had the chance to be outside to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and coastline and we also enjoyed the beauty of being together learning this music.
Also during this time we were invited by the Freedom Band to join them three different years at their Music Camp in Cazadero. This was great fun for us as we got to spend time with the musicians of the band and of course there was a "talent" show that we all took part in. We also shared time around the camp fire and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.
This will be my last History Corner entry for this year. What an amazing year this has been for our chorus. My thanks and love to Michael as he has led us on our musical journey. See you at Naughty and Nice. My love to you all at this time of year.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebration with your family and friends. This time I want to write about more of some of the traditions the chorus participated in 1992. This year was a busy one for us. In addition to our concerts and our performance in Denver at the GALA Festival, we participated in three community events in the early part of the year. The photos attached are from the programs of these three events.
The first followed the coronation of the Empress and Emperor of San Francisco which was all started by Jose Sarria, (photo enclosed) the First Empress who claimed she was the Widow Norton, the widow of Emperor Joshua Norton who was a beloved character in San Francisco's past. Google him to find out more about him. Anyway he is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Colma. Jose Sarria was a big supporter of LGCSF both onstage as MC and offstage and he was the first openly gay man to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
On Sunday, March 1, after the coronation the night before, the Imperial Court and other dignitaries go to Emperor Norton's gravesite and LGCSF and the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Marching Band were part of the entertainment. We did this for a number of years in the late 1980s and early 1990s under Pat Parr's direction and this was always a sort of hoot for everyone involved.
The second event was our appearance at the 18th Annual Cable Car Awards & Show which was on March 14 at the San Francisco Fashion Center. The MCs for the evening were newscasters Ginger Casey and Hank Plante from KPIX TV, and our own Linda Rohde & Tony White. The Cable Car Awards was founded by Bob Cramer who dedicated 20 years of his life to serving the lesbian and gay community and he had a high standard of excellence. Following his death to AIDS, the board of directors established the Bob Cramer Award for Excellence which was presented to San Francisco's Lesbian & Gay Performing Arts Organizations - City Swing with Gail Wilson, S.F. Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, San Francisco Tap Troupe, Vocal Minority with Wayne Love directing, Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, Menage, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Theatre Rhinoceros, and VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble. The Band, LGCSF, SFGMC and VOICES performed as the finale to this wonderful night of celebrating the best of all of us.
The third event we participated in was An Event in 3 Acts - Heart Strings, The AIDS Memorial Quilt and You. The show at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre was the Heart Strings part of the evening and featured an array of singers, actors and dancers from all over the country. The part we played was as backup singers for Nell Carter as she sang her heart out and got the audience up on their feet as I remember it.
That is it for this week but I will be back next week with more of our traditions so look for it.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. This week and for the next few editions of the History Corner I thought I would write about some of our traditions. One of the first traditions that I was aware of were birthdays and birthday parties. It seemed in the early years of the chorus, we would have a party at the drop of a hat and of course we celebrated the birthdays of our singers. They ranged from simple affairs to big extravaganzas.
Of course we had to have a big party to celebrate the tenth birthday of the chorus. This was held on January 27, 1990, at the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts, which was also the home of the SF Band Foundation. Preparations for the party were under way in December as we sent out invitations to our present singers as well as to our alumni. In 1990 we had no social media so we reached out by telephone, letters, our Leadsheet printed on paper, and the word did get out to everyone.
There was dancing, cabaret, and a talent show featuring acts from our wonderful retreat shows. This was hosted by our fabulous MCs Jill Tallmer, Bill Ward and Robert (Babs) Kirsch. There was also memorabilia, a no-host bar and food. The sopranos were in charge of popcorn, chips and dips, pretzels; the altos had the sweets covered; the tenors brought nuts and fruits (naturally) and the basses brought veggies and dips.
From the Leadsheet that went out there was a call for posters, bananas, or other items from old sets. Yours truly and my husband, Phil Hernandez, were in charge of these items. Jesse Kane would be putting together a concert highlight tape and video. There were also displays of photos and programs so we could relive our past glories from our first ten years.
I have included a few photos taken at the party. The black and white photo is of Robin Kay, who was our first Artistic Director. The others are of the chorus who were attending as well as a photo of Mary Cantrell and Marjorie Sheffield performing in the talent show.
I would surely love to see us have a party like this to celebrate our 40 years of making music, memories and friends. Let's start thinking about this - Membership Committee and Board - and anyone else who is good at organizing something like this. As I continue to go through the historic chorus material I received from Kim Hargreaves there will be more to come about the traditions and community we have built.
Next week who knows what I will write about but it will be something great.
Love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers. This week I am writing about the last concert conducted by William Sauerland entitled "HERE I AM: Living Authentically" which was held at MCC on May 6 and 7, 2017. Billy asked the chorus and friends to write something that would embody his vision of living authentically for this concert and what had inspired them in their lives to live authentically. Eight people responded to this request, six of our singers and two friends of the chorus. The first person to share his thoughts was Lynn Jordan, a member of MCC and a friend of the chorus. This was called "Yes, I am Still Here in Body and in Spirit! Why Do You Ask?" and the chorus sang "I Sing Out" with Pax and Van on the solos. Next Dale Danley talked about "My Father" and the chorus sang "Come Travel With Me." Then Dr. Mark Higgins talked about his experience among the early doctors and caregivers to persons with AIDS and the chorus sang "Be the Hero" with solos by Dale and Asher.
Hello to all of you wonderful singers and faithful readers. This week I am writing about Ménage. They were a jazz and pop octet that were formed by our AD Pat Parr in October 1986. They became ambassadors for the chorus and performed at many events and benefits in small venues. They were an auditioned group and spent a lot of time with each other in their own rehearsals and retreats with Pat.
Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are all alright after the wind storm of last night and all the fires and smoke. This edition of the History Corner is a two parter.
First I want to add a little bit more about our performance at the GALA Festival in Denver in 1992. As you can see from some of the photos there were lots of bananas. One of the songs we performed was "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" from the Busby Berkeley musical "The Gang's All Here." It was sung in the movie by Carmen Miranda and I highly recommend that you check it out on YouTube for a good laugh which we all can use. Anyway our own beautiful and talented Beth Yates was our Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat and we had our own banana dancers who surrounded her as she sang.
In this video, LGCSF singer Pax Ahimsa Gethen shares their thoughts on homelessness in San Francisco and our upcoming performance of Street Requiem.
Hello again to all my faithful readers and the wonderful history nerds who are enjoying my notebooks of our chorus history that I have been bringing to rehearsals. In regard to what was talked about the upcoming Festival next year, this week I am writing about my experience at the GALA Festival 2016 which was held in Denver. This was my seventh Festival and I was blown away by all of the awesome choruses, large and small, and especially the new choruses, who I saw and heard during the five days of Festival. Some of the buzz we heard about prior to Festival were the two international coming to perform - MANO A MANO, a five man group from Havana, Cuba, who had their own set and then joined the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles during their set and many of the singers and dancers of GMCLA were in Latin American costumes with feathers galore which was quite the gay spectacle. The other chorus was the Beijing Queer Chorus and their set was much more subdued but was all the more powerful because of this subtlety. They also performed in the Engendered Species Blockbuster Concert which featured collaborations between various SATB choruses. This concert was to bring the SATB choruses together to form lasting partnerships, friendships, and to create meaningful music!
As with past Festivals, there were a number of workshops during the mornings of the Festival week. One of the workshops was led by our friend and collaborator, Melanie DeMore, and her workshop was "The Art of Gullah Stick Pounding" which we all learned about as we prepared for our concert "Rise" with Melanie. She also appeared in the Opening Concert leading a combined chorus in "Free, Free, Free" which we performed with her. As I have mentioned before, please watch the highlight video from Festival 2016 and you will see Melanie in her workshop and onstage.
Next on my list of highlights were the wonderful, amazing and talented youth choruses and they had their Blockbuster Concert called "Youth Invasion from Gay to Z". The youth choruses performing were Bridging Voices, GenOut Chorus, Diverse Harmony: Spectrum, Youth Pride Chorus, Diverse City Youth Chorus, Ommagio Youth Chorus, and Dreams of Hope. They sang a wide spectrum of songs including some written by youth composers. We in the audience all cried, laughed and applauded these youth choruses and realized these singers are the future of GALA Choruses.
Also other highlights were the Mosaico Blockbuster Concert and the Women's Voices Rising. Mosaico featured and honored the musical traditions of GALA's communities of color. "Rhythm is our heartbeat, Melody our spirit, Diversity our song!" The Beijing Queer Chorus and MANO A MANO also performed in this concert which was led off by the Mu Daiko Taiko Ensemble. The Women's Voices Rising concert featured many of the fabulous women's choruses - Sound Circle, PFLAGG Juneau Pride Chorus, Rainbow Women's Chorus, Denver and San Diego Women's Choruses, Sacramento Women's Chorus, Trans* Voices Festival Chorus and Resonance Women's Chorus of Boulder.
Now onto our performance in Denver. We sang on July 4 in the Buell Theatre and our set was "Hold On," "It's You I Like" by Fred Rogers, "Earth Song", "Time Is My Friend" by Billy Sauerland's favorite Julie Andrews, "One Person" by Jerry Herman and we were joined by the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus performing "Was It The Wind?" which was composed for us by Jack Curtis Dubowsky with lyrics by East Bay poet Ina Coolbrith.
All in all it was a wonderful five days of amazing music, rehearsals, seeing old friends and making new ones, tears, laughter, love from the audience and the stage, everything that can happen when 6,000 queer singers come together and make music and harmony. I can't wait for the next one in Minneapolis, July 4-8, 2020.
Next week I will be writing about our fall concert "All Creatures Great and Small".
Love to you all, Michael Lucero
Again I send greetings to all of you my faithful readers. Thanks to all of you self-professed history nerds in the chorus who have told me they enjoy reading the blog.
The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco presents the 38th Annual Pride Concert: A Choral Gala at First Unitarian Church on June 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm. For you newbies in the chorus and for those of you who just recently moved to San Francisco, the Annual Pride Concert had been an ongoing event produced in June during Pride Week. They were started and were always a collaborative coming together of the various and talented queer choruses in the Bay Area.
In the program notes, our Artistic Director William Sauerland wrote, in part, "This extraordinary and long-lasting event has been at the center of the pride festivities of San Francisco for 38 years. While over the last three decades numerous other exciting concerts and events have burst forth to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride, the Annual Pride Concert is the singular annual event that brings together multiple LGBTQ+ music organizations to create one community concert."
This concert featured the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and the 4 Vocal Ensembles of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and of course LGCSF. The music that each of these groups performed this night was what they and we would be singing at the GALA Festival 2016 in Denver. In a sense this was the dress rehearsal for all of us to sing our music to the Pride Concert audience and to get their immediate feedback.
The Golden Gate Men's Chorus under the direction of Joseph Piazza led off the concert. Their first selection was "Richte mich, Gott" by Felix Mendelssohn and followed with "Hosanna" from "Words of Paradise, No. 4" by Daniel E. Forrest, Jr. Their next piece was "Gogot" by Sydney Guillaume and followed by the traditional spiritual "I Know I've Been Changed" and this was followed by the traditional Igorot planting and mourning song "Chua-ay" which was sung in the Igorot dialect. Next they sang "Psalm 130: Out of the Depths" by Eriks Esenvals with text from Psalm 130: 1-8 and they ended with "Somebody to Love: by Freddie Mercury.
Next on the program were the four Vocal Ensembles of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. The Lollipop Guild sang a medley of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons songs - "Can't take My Eyes Off of You," "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Let's Hang On." Then Vocal Minority sang a medley of songs by Chicago - "25 or 6 to 4," "If You Leave Me Now," "Saturday in the Park," "Just You 'n Me," and "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?" Then the HomoPhonics performed "It's Raining Men" and they were dressed in yellow rain slickers. Then SWAG came on to sing a medley of contemporary hits - "Rather Be", "What is Love" and "Treasure." The four groups then sang a Boy Band Medley - "Bye Bye Bye", "I Want It That Way'" "Back Here," "I'll Make Love to You," and "I Want You Back." Any of you boy band fans will know which group sang the originals. That was a lot of singing from the guys from SFGMC.
After intermission the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and LGCSF were on and we both sang the same sets as we performed at the Oakland Pride & Joy in May, 2016. Check last week's blog entry to see the list of songs we sang.
I am not quite sure what I will be writing about next week so stay tuned.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Thanks to long-time LGCSF member Deborah Cohler for being the dramaturg for our upcoming performance of Street Requiem. This post is based on her research.
During "Gloria, Anthem of Empowerment", the eighth movement of Street Requiem by Kathleen McGuire, a call and response ushers forth from the chorus. "Amandla!" "Awethu!" In the Xhosa language of South Africa, these words mean "Power" and "It's Ours".