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
Swing Break, Mission Cultural Center, April 11 & 12, 2014.
This show was a departure for us in a way as it was all big band swing music. We collaborated with City Swing, an 18-piece big band conducted by Bradley Connlain. In his notes, Billy Sauerland said "We hope this evening of big band swing music leaves your toes tapping and your heart singing. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with City Swing, and we are grateful to Bradley Connlain and all the instrumentalists for this amazing opportunity." In preparation for this show, the chorus traveled to Oakland to join in City Swing's rehearsal to begin our work with them. And all of the hard work of both groups paid off to enjoyment of our enthusiastic audiences.
The chorus was at 30 strong singers for this show and it began with City Swing playing dance music for our audience and many of them did get out of their seats and danced. Then City Swing played "Basie - Straight Ahead" and this led into John Gullotto soloing and the chorus behind him with "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and this was followed by "Moonglow" which was sung by Dale Danley, Yolanda, Pax, Joan Goldman, John, Tom McElroy, Martha Merchant, Ellen Miller, David Pistrang (whatever happened to him), Janice Placido, Linda Rodriguey and Noam Szoke. Next up Tom Reardon, one of our Board of Directors, sang "Come Fly With Me." This was followed by "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" with Billy, Linda, Fernando Ruelos and John out front. The first half ended with "Orange Colored Sky" with David out front and the chorus backup. And then came intermission.
The second half began with the chorus singing "Tenderly" very tenderly. Then Fernando and Jason LeBrun led us in "That Old Black Magic" and we were in their spell. And then there was more music for dancing. Next up was Wendy Tobias, Scott Turco and Dale "Pep, Vim and Verve" and they were followed by Tom Reardon again singing "Luck Be a Lady." Next we sang "Moonlight Serenade" with Billy, Wendy, Fernando and John out front. This was followed by Scott soloing on "At Last" and the chorus ended with "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" and then there was more music for dancing as our audience and we danced the night away. All of us, City Swing and our audiences loved this show and the music that brought back memories for them.
Next week I will be writing about Pride 2014.
Cheers to all, Michael Lucero
Love Bites: Down the Hatch, the 11th Annual Anti-Valentine's Day Cabaret, Martuni's, February 2014.
This was our latest edition of this now annual and much anticipated cabaret that our former Artistic Director, Stephanie Lynne Smith, began and brought to life as an annual fundraiser for the chorus. It has always been one of the most successful series of shows that the chorus has presented.
This show began with our AD, Billy Sauerland, and Tom McElroy singing Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" which was followed by Scott Turco singing Rufus Wainwright's "The Art Teacher."
Next our talented and lovely Catherine Dunford sang Tom Lehrer's "I Hold Your Hand in Mine" and this was followed by the equally talented and lovely Paul Michael Alves giving his all in "At Last." Etta James eat your heart out.
Next up was John Gullotto performing Cole Porter's questioning song "What is This Thing Called Love?" and then came our own girl group trio of Yolanda, Linda and Lisa Vogt performing Carole King's "One Fine Day." Lots of fun to hear when these three get together.
Next was something a little bit different. This was CAMPALOT: A LGCSF spoof on the famous Broadway musical "Camelot." There were five songs from the musical performed and first was Billy singing about the "Simple Joys of Maidenhood," followed by Paul as King Arthur warbling the title song "Camelot." Then came a quartet if Jason LeBrun, Tom, Billy and Scott saying "Then You May Take Me to the Fair." This was followed by our lovely soprano Rachyl Underwood performing "If Ever I Would Leave You." Finally, Billy sang "I Loved You Once in Silence."
Next from the Broadway musical "Road Show" another trio of Dale Danley, Yolanda and Fernando Ruelos sang "The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened" composed by Stephen Sondheim.
The next song to be performed was by a quartet of Pax, John, Fernando and our wonderful manager, Alyssa Stone, singing "This Plum is Too Ripe" from "The Fantasticks."
To close out this wonderful and fun night of music there was an audience sing-a-long. This was a parody by Alyssa and others who wished to remain anonymous of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music." Our take on this was "My Favorite Gays" and it went like this.
Lesbos in Castro and dykes in Potrero
Lipsticks and butches who worship Home Depot
All of the homos who love to Partay
These are a few of my favorite Gays
Twinks in pink hot pants and trannies in hot swag
Scene-sters at Gold's Gym and tall queens in full drag
Leather-clad Bears with their junk on display
These are a few of my favorite Gays
When I'm single (aka always)
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite Gays
And then I don't feel so bad!
Next week will be all about our show Swing Break: an Evening of Big Band and Chorus Music with City Swing. See you all at our first rehearsal on Thursday.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero