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.
Next Birgit Eschmann talked about her music teacher in Germany and how she was inspired by this teacher and the chorus sang ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Next Yolanda sang one of her twisted parodies based on "The Ballad of Jed Clampett." Then another friend of the chorus, Clare Ramsaran, read her piece "A Mixed Experience" and the chorus sang "In This Very Room." Next our very own poet, David Hathwell, read one of his poems from "Muses" and he and Ellen soloed on "I Am the River".
Next Martha Merchant shared her thoughts on "Not a Lesbian" and the chorus sang "Here's Where I Stand" with solos by Eliza Speece and Joan Estep. Then long time member, Linda Rodriguey, talked about her experience when she first joined the chorus in 1997 called "A Change of Heart" and the chorus sang "How Can I Keep from Singing". The chorus sang the final three pieces of the program, ""Would You Harbor Me?", "Turn the World Around", and one of our favorites, John Lennon's "Imagine".
Billy quoted Leonard Bernstein in his notes what Leonard said about music. "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before" which I believe is needed more than ever today. He also quoted his favorite, Julie Andrews, about the end of his journey with us, "It's time now to go, for everything must end, but I'll see you soon, I know, knowing time is our friend." Billy thanked the chorus past and present, the Board of Directors, Paul McCurdy, and his husband, Tom, for going with him on this journey. He also encouraged the audience to sing, to sing in a choir, to lift their voices in song and to give to our community.
Some of the chorus sang with Billy one more time on May 12 as guests of the Chabot College Choir of which Billy was the director.
Next week I will be writing about more of our past history that I have learned about from the archives that I was given by Kim Hargreaves. See you then.
Love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Additional notes from Pax Ahimsa Gethen:
I re-joined LGCSF for this concert after a three-year absence, which I blogged about at that time.
At the conclusion of the May 7 performance, we surprised Billy by serenading him with "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music, customized with lyrics written for the occasion.
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.
Among the many accolades that Ménage received was their nomination for "Outstanding Musical Group" by the San Francisco Bay Area Gold Awards. Also Ménage was the only group from the West Coast to be asked to perform at the March on Washington in October, 1987. At this event, the AIDS Quilt was displayed for the first time to a nationwide audience. One of our former singers, Mary Cantrell, wrote a very moving account of her experience at the March and she writes about the music from the stage was carried by the wind over the quilt. Ménage also appeared at the March on Washington in 1993 and I have included a photo from the program page that lists the performers on the rally stages. I noticed that two of the performers who sang after Ménage that afternoon were RuPaul and Melissa Etheridge.
On February 11, 1989, Ménage held their first full cabaret at the fabulous Plush Room in the York Hotel. Among the reviews of this show, both reviewers, Gary Menger and Dennis McMillan, said that "Stepping Out" was definitely Steppin' Up for the group. The evening showcased the group as well as the individual talents of each of the eight singers. They performed such songs as "Putting on the Ritz", Steppin' Out (With My Baby)", "Birth of the Blues", "St. Louis Woman", "It Don't Mean a Thing", "As Time Goes By", "Dancing in the Dark", "All That Jazz", and "Razzle Dazzle".
The next year Ménage had their second cabaret show called "Hit Me With a Hot Note". They sang the title song, "Stompin' at the Savoy", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Sweet Georgia Brown", "I've Got a Crush on You", "You Don't Know Me", and a beautiful duet by Lisa Gray and Carol Booth singing "The Rose". All in all another wonderful of music from our octet.
In 1991, Ménage was nominated for the 1991 Cable Car Award for Outstanding Performing Group. In December, 1992, at MCC in the Castro, Ménage presented a holiday concert called "Holiday Issues (I'm Dreaming of a Trite Christmas)" and you can imagine what these issues were. One other program I have is of Ménage appearing as a special guest of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Windy City Gay Chorus which was called "A Song of Two Cities". So as you all can see, from this sample of the various events and concerts that Ménage put on, they were indeed the best ambassadors for the chorus that we could hope for. Enjoy the pictures, especially the one where they are really getting to know one another.
Next week I will be writing about Billy Sauerland's last concert with us so stay tuned.
Cheers, Michael Lucero
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.
We began our set with the "Most Unusual Day Medley" which was arranged by our AD, Pat Parr. It started with "It's a Most Unusual Day," then "The Trolley Song,", then "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" sung by the sopranos and altos, "I Said No" sung by the tenors and basses and finished with "Georgie Girl." Next up our jazz octet, Menage, sang "Let the River Run" by Carly Simon. Our finale was as I described above. At this Festival each chorus performed their set twice so I remember after the first performance running to the second theatre to get set for our second one. There were 70 of us who were to sing along with our fearless leader, Pat Parr. We all had a great time as you can imagine.
All Creatures Great and Small - November 5 & 6, 2016.
This concert was presented at a new venue for us - the Community Music Center at 544 Capp Street. I did not sing in this concert so I do not have a program for it. I had shoulder surgery in October although I did attend all rehearsals up to that time.
Our AD, William Sauerland, came up with the idea for this concert to sing songs about and for animals. A couple of the songs I remember we sang were "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "I Talk to the Animals" from the musical "Dr. Doolittle." Another good thing I remember from this concert is that it was the first one that our new chorus manager, Joie Ray Cohen, was in charge of the door at this venue.
I think I will write a bit more about Menage for the next edition so stay tuned.
Love to all, Michael Lucero
In this video, LGCSF singer Pax Ahimsa Gethen shares their thoughts on homelessness in San Francisco and our upcoming performance of Street Requiem.
Hi, I’m Pax. I sing with the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for over 16 years, and I’ve been happy to make this city my home for many reasons. But despite our great tolerance and tremendous wealth, hundreds of my neighbors are living and dying out on the streets. The plight of our homeless population is so dire that the United Nations has characterized it as a human rights violation. I am ashamed.
Last December, I attended a processional organized by the Skywatchers, in memory of those who had died on the streets. We met at the Kelly Cullen Community, a center in the Tenderloin that provides housing and social services for homeless individuals. I had performed with LGCSF in the auditorium of this building at our Pride concert in 2014.
I learned of this processional from Melanie DeMore, who was the featured guest in our concert “Rise!” last November. Melanie taught us the songs we would be singing as we marched. Many of those songs, like “One Foot in Front of the Other”, were familiar to me from our concert and past events.
We marched to City Hall, holding signs bearing the names of the departed. We continued on to United Nations Plaza, where we joined an interfaith vigil. Local religious leaders, homeless people, and others took turns reading aloud the names of 240 people who had died on the streets of San Francisco that year.
On November 2, LGCSF will be remembering and honoring our departed homeless neighbors in our performance of Street Requiem, a choral work by Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne, and Jonathon Welch. A portion of our ticket sales will benefit Larkin Street Youth Services, a nonprofit provider for young people experiencing homelessness. Please join us at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for this moving tribute.
Voice, video editing, and piano: Pax Ahimsa Gethen
Music: "Agnus Dei" (piano part only) from Street Requiem, by Kathleen McGuire and Andy Payne
LGCSF presents Street Requiem on November 2, 2019, 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Tickets on sale now.
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".
As reported in the February 12, 1990 edition of the New York Times, Nelson Mandela led the crowd in this call and response at a rally in Cape Town, just after he was freed after being incarcerated by the Apartheid government for 27 years. You can hear the chant at 2:25 in this video of his speech.
LGCSF will be performing Street Requiem , a choral work remembering and honoring those who have died on the street, on November 2 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Tickets are on sale now.
Greetings to all of you wonderful readers of this blog. This week I am writing about another of our collaborative concerts we were part of in the first half of 2016. On this concert, which was presented on May 14 and 15, 2016, we were guests of the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. Also on this program was the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers under the direction of Derek Tam. At this point our artistic director, Billy Sauerland, was also the director of OEBGMC. In the program notes Billy wrote, in part, "I am brand new as the Artistic Director of this organization, and while transitions can be challenging, these incredible men have shown me such joy! I am honored to be standing in front of them." Billy also wrote "We are presenting two new, fabulous, and distinct pieces. The upbeat and gay drinking tune from Jack Curtis Dubowsky is 'A Bacchanalian Song', which celebrates the joy of vino. On a far more serious tone, we present the world premiere of 'Los cinco lunas de Lorca', by the internationally-renowned composer Gabriela Lena Frank, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz."
The concert opened with OEBGMC singing "Sing for Joy!" by G. F. Handel which was followed by "Bonse Aba" a traditional Zambian folk song. Next they sang two songs from "Hold Fast to Dreams" with music by Dave Brubeck, set to poems by Langston Hughes. They ended their set with the two pieces I mentioned above, "A Bacchanalian Song" and "Las cinco lunas de Lorca".
Next onstage were the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers. They opened with "Bonse Aba" which was followed by the "23rd Psalm" with music by Bobby McFerrin. Then came a couple of songs by Stephen Foster - "Hard Times Come Again No More" and "Nelly Bly." They also performed the traditional spiritual "Soon Ah Will Be Done" and ended their se with "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel.
After intermission, Billy led LGCSF on and we started with another traditional spiritual "Hold On" and we followed this with "It's You I Like" by Fred Rogers - yes Mr. Rogers. Next we sand "Earth Song" by Frank Tichelli and then we performed a song by Billy's favorite singer, Julie Andrews, "Time is My Friend". We then ended our set with "One Person" from the Jerry Herman Broadway musical "Dear World".
Then OEBGMC was back on to sing their final set. They began with "Let the River Run" by Carly Simon, then "Luck Be a Lady" from "Guys and Dolls". They next sang a song which has become somewhat of a gay anthem, "Make Them Hear You" from "Ragtime the Musical" by Stephen Flaherty. To spice things up, their next song was "Smooth" which was recorded by Santana and Rob Thomas. OEBGMC ended the concert with "Proud" by Peter John Vettese and Heather Small. "What have you done today to make you feel proud?"
It was great for us to collaborate again with OEBGMC and we have formed friendships with many of the men of this chorus over the years. It was also great for the first time to be on a concert with the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers. This is one thing I have always looked forward to being a part of as part of all the various Pride Concerts and other times when we have sung with other choruses. That musical connection is something that we all share.
Next week I will be writing about our Pride Concert so stay tuned. As always your faithful historian, Michael Lucero. I recently got from Kim Hargreaves several boxes of chorus archives from the early 1990s. I have never seen these so as I go through them I will be sharing with you photos and stories from that time.
Cheers in harmony, Michael
Greetings to my faithful readers. Here is the next entry all about the concerts we performed in 2016. It was a busy year for us and our AD, Billy Sauerland, had programmed this concert and the following two as collaborative concerts with different choruses joining us onstage. We were also preparing music to perform in Denver at the 2016 GALA Choruses Festival so these concerts allowed us to sing some of the repertoire we would sing there.
"Together in Harmony" was on April 17 at MCC where we all rehearse. This concert was a collaboration between LGCSF and the Metropolitan Community Church Choir. Erik Flaten was the MCCSF Music Director and he also sang with us sometimes. Billy also liked to use guest soloists from the Chabot College choir which he conducted. The first three songs were performed by the combined choruses. Lorenzo Murillo was the guest tenor and he had the solo on our first song "Ella's Song" which was written by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock. This was followed by "Famine Song" featuring Wendy Tobias, Elisa Shore and Mark Higgins as soloists. The third was John Lennon's "Imagine".
Then LGCSF was on as we sang "Gay Little Nymph" by Francois Regnard and Pierre Ronsard. Billy told us he liked this piece because it had the word "gay" in the title. This was followed by "Come Again, Sweet Love" by John Dowland, "Erev Shel Shoshanim" by Yosef Hadar, which has become a favorite of the chorus over the years. Next came "This Marriage" by Eric Whitacre, which the chorus sang at a marriage ceremony held in Golden Gate Park in the Conservatory of Flowers. Next we sang the Beatles song "Can't Buy Me Love" which had been arranged as a madrigal and was a challenge to learn in this manner. We closed our set with "Seize the Day" by Alan Menken from the musical "Newsies."
Next the MCCSF Choir was on to sing "Sweet Rivers" by William Moore, "Alleuja" from "Exultate, jubilate" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They ended their set with "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" by Edwin Hawkins.
Then LGCSF came back and joined MCCSF Choir to sing selections for the GALA Chorus Festival. These were "It's You I Like" by Fred Rogers (yes that Mr. Rogers), "Earth Song" by Frank Ticheli, "Time is My Friend" by Julie Andrews - who is Billy's favorite singer, and we ended the concert with a traditional spiritual "Hold On" which sent all of us out with the uplifting feeling that only good live music can do.
This was a fun concert to be part of and to sing with the MCCSF Choir since they provide us with our rehearsal space and of course just to spend time with them and to have our efforts pay off and enjoyed by our audience.
See you all next week with my next entry for the blog.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers. I want to thank some of the new singers for their feedback on the History Corner blog. As I always say any and all feedback is welcome and encouraged. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about the concerts and events we took part in 2016.
The first was the 13th Annual Love Bites show at Martuni's. This one was entitled "Love is a Four-Letter Word" and we performed three shows - February 1, 14 and 15. We had as our guest musical director the lovely and talented Joe Wicht. Joe offered his time and talent to work with the soloists and they took advantage of this to make sure they would shine and of course they and we all did. We had three special guest performers who shared their special talents with our audiences. On February 13 it was Jesse Cortez, on the 14th it was Steve Knill and on the 15th it was Leigh Crow.
We opened with "Sway" which got the audience in the mood. Next up was Wendy Tobias singing "Life of the Party" from the musical "The Wild Party". This was followed by a country song written by Hoyt Axton called "Hangnail" and featured the multitalented Ellen Miller and Tom McElroy. Next Dale Danley gave his all on "Pray for You". The chorus came back on to do our rendition of "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'". Then Julia Balen soloed on "An Old-Fashioned Love Story" also from "The Wild Party". Then John Gullotto sang his heart out on Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine". From the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack our very talented and lovely Janice Placido sang "If I Can't Have You" and she was accompanied by Johnny G. on ukulele. Next the beautiful Liz Wand sang "Baltimore" and we went to intermission.
During intermission we had an auction for a Valentine's Song-O-Gram to be performed by our Board member and local cabaret headliner Tom Reardon.
The second half began with the chorus singing Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" with Joan Goldman, Ellen and Tom M. soloing on the verses. The amazingly wonderful Van Mares was up next performing "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Sit on It". I guess it is up to your imagination as to what IT refers to. Next the always wistful Paul Michael Alves gave us "Guess Who I Saw Today". Next Joan Goldman gave it her all on "Total Eclipse of the Heart". The following number was a parody written by the creative mind of Yolanda DeByle entitled CBA (Contraception, Birth by unwed women, Abortion). This was a parody on the Jackson 5 song ABC. This featured the Bible Belters: Yolanda, Linda Rodriguey, Asher Butnik and Van Mares. Wendy Tobias was back with her solo on "But the World Goes 'Round" from the movie "New York, New York". The show ended with a bang with the chorus singing "Steppin' Out With My Baby" with Asher on the solo. We wished our audiences to go stepping out with their babies and to have a song in their hearts. The chorus had a lot of fun with this music and the audience responded with enthusiastic applause and much laughter.
See you next week with the next entry of the chorus in 2016.
All my love, Michael Lucero