34th Annual Pride Concert, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, June 22, 2012, 7 pm & 9 pm.
This Pride Concert was a historic night for the chorus and the Freedom Band, co-producers of the concert, for a variety of reasons. First, this was the first time we had performed in the beautiful concert hall at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Second, it was the first time students from Lick-Wilmerding High School had sung with us in a Pride Concert. Third, this was the world premiere of "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" which was co-commissioned by the chorus and Lick-Wilmerding.
The composer, Jack Curtis Dubowsky, and Billy Sauerland, our director, had received the full cooperation of the Estate of Harvey Milk and the Harvey Milk Archives of the Scott Smith Collection. Also Susan Goldstein, the City Archivist of San Francisco, gave Jack and Billy full access to Harvey's original papers, which yielded texts that have never been published before. It was from these texts and the words from Harvey's famous speeches that the lyrics we would be singing came from.
There were two shows of this Pride Concert, one at 7 pm and the second at 9 pm. Each show was a little bit different in the lineup of the groups that performed with us on this night. In the first show, Voices Lesbian Choral Ensemble sang Billy Joel's "She's Got a Way," Ysaye Barnwell's "We Are," and Akasa's "World Citizen." The Golden Gate Men's Chorus performed "Gryning Vid Havert (Nautical Sunrise)," David Conte's "Everyone Sang," and "It Gets Better."
Both shows began with the Freedom Band playing "Kirkpatrick Fanfare" and we joined them to sing "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." Also in both shows our chorus and the students from Lick-Wilmerding performed "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" which was composed of five movements. These were I. Recruit You, II. Come Out, III. Judgment, IV. Hope and V. Postlude.
For me personally singing the words of Harvey Milk was a very moving experience. I had heard Harvey make his speeches when he was running for Supervisor in 1978. I had started working in the City Attorney's office in City Hall in March of 1978 and I was working there the day Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk were shot by Dan White so I will always have that memory.
The Freedom Band came on and played "Dreams and Proclamations," "Celebration Tribalesque," and "The Sinfonians" in both shows and we then joined the Band to perform "Dry Your Tears, Afrika."
The two choruses who were not in the first show but sang in the second show were the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and they sang "Feeling Good," "Dentro Il Mio Cuor," and "I Sing Out." Also the Lollipop Guild, a small group of the SFGMC sang "All My Loving," "Somewhere" from "West Side Story," "Too Straight Polka," and ended with "Rock the Boat." Again this was another wonderful night of collaboration with all of our great performing groups and the students who brought their own energy to us and the concert. Our audiences also had a great time because we all heard immediate positive feedback in the lobby after the shows.
Next week I will be writing about "Loving Repeating" which was our fall show.
Cheers, Michael Lucero