36th Annual San Francisco Pride Concert - Together Strong, Kelly Cullen Auditorium, June 14, 2014.
This Pride Concert called Together Strong after the SF Pride Committee's title for all of the Pride events was again a collaboration between LGCSF, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and two special guests, the Camerata California, a versatile chamber choir from Sacramento and guest soloist Jefferson Packer. The director of the Band, Pete Nowlen, is also Artistic Director of Camerata California, which is how they came to be with us on this concert. The concert was held in a new facility, the Kelly Cullen Auditorium which is in the old YMCA building on Golden Gate Avenue. Our MC for the concert was Joe "Trauma Flintstone" Wicht, who has become a member of our Board of Directors.
The concert was held in honor of the memory of Jose Julio Sarria, better known far and wide as the Empress Jose I, the Widow Norton. Jose chose this name to remember a San Francisco character named Joshua Norton. He lived in San Francisco in the mid-1800's and died in 1880. He declared himself the Emperor of the United States. Jose Sarria was a political activist from San Francisco who in 1961 became the first openly gay candidate for any public office in the US. He ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He also performed as a drag Queen at the infamous Black Cat Bar and was a co-founder of the Imperial Court System. He was also a great supporter of the chorus and perfomed with us in a couple of shows that will be long remembered.
The concert had the world premiere of a piece entitled "From Darkness to Light" by Philip Orem which was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela. We also performed the West Coast premiere of "I Am in Love with the World" by Nathan Hall and which had text by Maurice Sendak.
The concert opened with the Band playing "Hymn for Africa" by Peter Meecham. Next was "Today is the Gift" by Samuel Hazo and performed by us, the Band and Camerata California. Next the three groups performed "From Darkness to Light" and there were pictures of Nelson Mandela from his life projected on screen. Next was Joe Wicht as Trauma Flintstone warbling "They Can't Take That Away From Me" by the Gershwins and this was followed by the Band playing "City Trees" by Michael Markowski.
Next Jefferson Packer, LGCSF and Camerata California performed "I Am In Love With the World" which was followed by Jeff, and the other three groups performing "Votre toast, je peux vous le render (Toreador Song)" from Bizet's opera "Carmen."
Next in honor of Jose, the Widow Norton, we all sang her anthem "God Save Us Nellie Queens," and we ended the concert with us, the Band and Camerata California singing "Over the Rainbow."
To follow up on our collaboration with City Swing from our Swing Break show, we were invited to sing with them at their 7th Annual Concerts in the Park way out in Clayton on June 21, 2014 so we sang some of the music from Swing Break for a whole new audience.
Next week will be about our participation with MCC Choir in a gospel concert called "Let It Shine."
Cheers, Michael Lucero