First I would just like to share some memories of my time since I joined the chorus in 1984 and the artistic directors I have sung with up until 1999 when we got another new AD, Michael Carlson. The first AD I sang with was Matt O'Grady, a young Irishman who was a very friendly and gregarious person and he wanted to learn about his family's roots in Ireland. Next was Rodger Pettyjohn in 1985. His background in music was avant garde musicians like John Cage. He was involved with the Society of Lesbian and Gay Composers so we learned some new music from this group of musicians. Next was Pat Parr in 1987 and for the next ten years he led us through big changes, big production concerts and concerts featuring music by women composers and lesbian and gay composers. Pat and his husband, David Thompson, are now living the good life in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Next was Trente Morant, who brought us music with lots of rhythm as well as teaching us about music and musicians from the Harlem Renaissance. In the fall of 1998, we had an interim director, Bill Ganz, who taught us that we should not be afraid of classical music. And now to 1999.
Michael Carlson brought his youthful energy and a commitment to new music to the chorus. He had studied with masters of choral conducting: Robert Shaw, Rodney Eichenberger and Jo-Michael Schiebe. Our accompanist during this season was June Bonacich, now a member of our Board of Directors.
21st Annual Pride Concert: A Family Album. This Pride concert was certainly a family album of six Bay Area musical groups. The concert was held on June 22 at the Herbst Theatre. The concert featured Voices, the East Bay Lesbian Ensemble, Out on a Clef, the Bearatones, the GAPA Chorus, S.F. Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and LGCSF. This was another wonderful evening of sharing great music and laughter and being together, and giving our audience some wonderful music. The highlight for me was sing Make Our Garden Grow from Candide by Leonard Bernstein. This song really stretched our musical muscles. We ended our set with I Open My Heart by the wonderful friend of the chorus, Sky Evergreen. The chorus had an out of town retreat in Guerneville at the Triple R Resort and we sang a mini set for the people there as a warmup for Pride.
Love Notes! This concert was held on October 23 and 24 at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. Our special guests on this concert was the Golden Gate Men's Chorus. As Michael wrote in the program that it is our own love of music that brings us together and is also the beginning of the Chorus' new commitment to the development and performance of music suited to our tradition. We are very proud to bring you an excerpt of lesbian and composer June Bonacich's "The Second Harvest", as well as to share Kirke Meechem's "Island in Space." This concert was a great time for us to work with and to get to know the Golden Gate Men's Chorus and their director, Joseph Jennings.
A Winter Choral Celebration. This concert was held on December 10 at MCC and our special guests on this concert were the Singers of the Metropolitan Community Church. The music for this concert was partly classical Christmas music and music by gay composers Ned Rorem and Aaron Copland. We also sang a couple of light hearted songs by P. D. Q. Bach - "O Little Town of Hackensack" and "Throw the Yule Log On, Uncle John." Then we sang June's wonderful new music "The Second Harvest" and closed with our favorite "I Open My Heart."
1998 - Another Year of Change: Spice It Up!, 20th Annual Pride Concert and Classical Music for Cowards
I would like to say that as I have been taking this trip down memory lane for myself and my time in the chorus various memories come back to me that are important for me to share with you. First is that sometime in the late 1980s, Michael Clarke, one of our tenors, did most of the paperwork and research to get the tax exempt status that the chorus has enjoyed since that time. Michael also gave the chorus a generous monetary gift as part of his estate. And he was also a wonderful human being and I was glad to have sung with him.
Next if you can remember back to April, 1992. That was when the Rodney King riots were happening as the result of the verdict in the trial of the LA police officers who had beaten Rodney King. The riots in San Francisco were on the Thursday night before our Five Nights of Madness concerts when we were having our dress rehearsal. After the rehearsal was over, we accompanied each other to our cars just to make sure we were all safe. The concert scheduled for May 1 was cancelled as a precaution for us and our audience. Needless to say when we gathered on May 2 to perform our show, we had a sold out audience and we sang and danced our hearts out. That was a very emotional performance for all of us after all that had happened and we were able to give our audience an enjoyable concert and to make their hearts a little lighter.
Spice it Up! This concert was held on March 13 and 14 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. Our director, Trente Morant, gave us a wide variety of music to give to our audience. There was everything from the Gershwins to Sweet Honey in the Rock to our friend Sky Evergreen and music and arrangements by Trente. We had some special guests - Jill Togawa of Purple Moon Dance Project, Jackeline Rago of Crosspulse and Jonnie Pekelny. It was a challenge for us to learn and memorize this music but in the end we had fun and our audience did too - they were up and dancing.
20th Annual Pride Concert: High on Pride - 20 Years of Singing Proud. This Pride concert was held on June 26 at First Unitarian Church of SF. Our special guests were Qwire, Canberra, Australia's Gay and Lesbian Chorus, the SFGMC and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Jose Sarria, the Widow Norton, First Empress of San Francisco, was the MC for the concert. This concert was special because we had the opportunity to spend time with the singers from Canberra before the concert. It was also special since this was Trente's last concert with us. He had to step down due to health reasons. The last song we sang in this concert was a song composed by Trente called Take Off and he and we did.
Classical Music for Cowards. This concert was conducted by our Interim Director Bill Ganz, who had worked with the chorus in various ways in the past. This was held on November 6 and 7 at MCC. Our special guest for this program was the Oberon Quartet who played Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 as the overture to the concert. We sang music by Handel, Schubert, Faure, Puccini, P. D. Q. Bach, Gilbert & Sullivan and Hail Holy Queen from Sister Act. Again this music was challenging to learn but we did and we all gained a new appreciation for this music and we learned not to be afraid of classical music.
The year 1997 was another year of change for the chorus. Our Artistic Director, Pat Parr, stepped down after the Pride concert after ten years directing this chorus. We all learned from Pat a lot of music, musical styles, we learned about ourselves through dealing with good times and bad times within the chorus. We all grew, we all changed, but the spirit of this chorus was there and is still here.
Our new Artistic Director was Trente Morant. He was the first African American director for the chorus. We were on to a new journey with Trente and we continued our learning about the chorus and about ourselves.
Carmina Burana. It had always been a dream of Pat's to conduct the chorus in a concert of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. This concert was produced in conjunction with the Peninsula Ballet Theatre. This was another unique way to broaden our audience with our chorus and the audience of Peninsula Ballet Theatre. We did two shows, March 8 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and on March 9 at the Smithwick Theatre in Los Altos, CA. We also collaborated with Ragazzi, the Peninsula Boys CHorus and our soloists were Patty Wolf and Roderick Gomez. This was truly a beautiful production with the ballet company and the two choruses and soloists.
19th Annual Pride Concert: One Concert, Many Voices. This concert was held on June 27 at the Center for the Arts Theatre at Yerba Buena Gardens. This concert was Pat's last one leading the chorus. It was also a concert to remember the life of Sky Evergreen. Sky was a local jazz pianist, playing with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Linda Hopkins, Jules Broussard and his own trio. In the 1980s he became a fixture on the local cabaret scene. Sky was also a songwriter and arranger and the chorus sang four songs arranged by Sky - Lover Come Back to Me, For All We know, How Long Has This Been Going On and It Don't Mean a Thing. Also on this evening was a Lifetime Commitment Ceremony of two of our biggest supporters, John Dobson and R. Guy McGinnis. State Assemblywoman Carole Migden officiated. Remember this was way before gay marriage.
Our guests on this Pride concert were Lisa Gray as host, SFGMC, San Francisco Winds of Freedom, Equal Voices, and the South Coast Chorale from Long Beach, CA. All in all this quite a fitting tribute to Pat Parr and Sky Evergreen.
Love Is In The Air.This was the first concert with our new Artistic Director, Trente Morant. This was held at MCC on November 14 and 15. Here is just a bit of Trente's resume - at the time he was also the Artistic Director of the Oakland Youth Chorus. He also toured the country for five years as Performer-Lecturer specializing in music from the Harlem Renaissance. Needless to say we learned a lot of new things from the start, including rhythm and a new style. This concert featured music from a wide spectrum of composers - George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim and our own Sky Evergreen.
18th Annual Pride Concert. This Pride concert took place on June 28 at Herbst Theatre. It was hosted by Donna Sachet, Empress XXX, and now one of the hosts for the TV broadcast of the San Francisco Pride Parade. The concert featured us with our guest artists SFGMC, San Francisco Winds of Freedom, VOICES: Bar Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble and we had pre-show entertainment by Equal Voices, a one year old chorus directed by a former member of LGCSF, Rick Weaver. We started the show with a Sweet Sixteen Birthday Fantasy featuring Donna Sachet to mark our 16th season. This was another great concert of cooperation with the other performing groups singing and playing wonderful music and the kickoff to Pride Weekend 1996.
GALA Festival V. This GALA Festival was held in Tampa, Florida, in July and saw an explosion in the growth of the event with 82 choruses performing during the week and the format of the Festival continuing to evolve.
Opera Grand & Not So Grand. This concert was presented on November 1 & 2 at MCC Eureka Street. Our special guests for this concert were Jose Sarria - The Widow Norton, the Derivative Duo from Seattle, and Ms. Patty Wolfe. This was a concert of favorite opera choruses from many well known operas, such as Lucia di Lammermoor, Nabucco, Carmen, Cavalleria Rusticana, La Traviata, Il Trovatore and Die Fledermaus. It was fun and also challenging to learn this wonderful music of all the great composers.
Sing-Along Sound of Music. Did you always want to be Maria? Captain Von Trapp? The Mother Superior? The Baroness? The Lonely Goatherd? Well now is your chance to dress up, "Climb Every Mountain" and win a prize for your efforts. We presented this show on December 5 at MCC and of course we were dressed as our favorite person from the movie. Lots of fun for us and our audience. The hills were alive with the Sound of Music on that night.
A Tribute to the Music of Elton John. This was our chorus' way to celebrate the music of one of our gay heroes, Elton John. We presented this on March 22 and 23 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. Our rehearsals leading up to the concert were a lot of fun learning the songs of Elton and putting our twist on them. At our retreat we spent time working on costumes, including decorating our own outsize glasses. This was kind of our first multimedia concert. As background for the medley of Friends and Your Song were photos of the chorus at the retreat. During Candle in the Wind were projected various images of Marilyn Monroe. The beginning of Act II featured our wonderful accompanist, Dwight Okamura, playing Funeral for a Friend. This was another concert that was great fun for us and for our audiences.