Greetings to my faithful readers. Hope you are all well and had a chance to enjoy something good this weekend. This week I want to share with you what was happening with the chorus in the second half of 1983.
As I have been reading through the leadsheets for 1983 I am really able to gain an insight into what was happening with the chorus. This is where I read that the chorus would begin its search for a new director. This process was under the guidance of the Permanent Search Committee. The chorus was informed that beginning in April there would be participative interviews with the prospective candidates. Each one would have an hour for warm-ups and leading the chorus in rehearsal and a brief period set aside for any questions from the chorus. The first candidate was Steve Bryant who was from Seattle. The second was Dick Kramer, the former artistic director of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Also during this time there were many meetings of the Permanent Search Committee as they read the resumes and met with the prospective candidates. The next candidate was Richard Soback and as a result of balloting by the chorus on June 15, he was offered the position as director. As of June 22 the chorus had yet to be notified of his acceptance or rejection of the offer. Alas because I do not have any leadsheets between 6/22 and 8/3 I cannot say for sure what happened in this time period. But there is good news as you will read.
What I do know is that the chorus held a couple of fundraisers - one on July 24 called "Bountiful Buffet" and the second on August 22 called "The Toast of the Town" and held at the New Performance Space at 3153 - 17th Street.
"Bountiful Buffet" was a full on chorus participation event. By this I mean that members of the chorus prepared and/or cooked meals - both vegetarian and meat - for 200 guests as well as members of the chorus providing the entertainment in a cabaret style. We also had an auction. Our special guest of the night was Sharon McNight, the well known international cabaret performer.
"The Toast of the Town" was a fundraiser for us and featured many Bay Area performers who generously donated their talents for us. They included Pamela Brooks, Faye Carol, Bob Bendorff, Romanovsky & Phillips, our own Francesca Dubie and Bill Ganz.
The chorus also participated in the Santa Cruz Gay Freedom Day Parade which was held the Sunday previous to San Francisco's Pride Parade. To quote the leadsheet "This is a wonderful opportunity for the chorus to be visible (wear your chorus T-shirts) as well as another chance to participate in our community relations efforts."
Besides these two fundraisers, there were ideas for six other events talked about as follows: 1. Softball Quencher where the chorus would sell hot dogs & beer at the gay softball games; 2. Bar Runs where Vocal Minority would perform at Tavern Guild bars; 3. River Romp where there would be a dance and a mini-concert at Russian River; 4. Let's Make Up with make-up booths at street fairs; 5. Golden Notes which would be singing telegrams; and 6. Holiday Auction which would be a holiday shopping spree auction.
One other thing that happened was an announcement in the July 14 issue of the Bay Area Reporter titled "Mixed Chorus to Jump Ship" which chronicled the decision of LGCSF to withdraw from Golden Gate Performing Arts. To quote "At issue was an insolvent corporate umbrella, whether to hire a conductor, and to what extent this chorus would take financial liability for a financially disastrous concert last month at the Warfield Theatre." The chorus did leave GGPA and went with the Capp Street Foundation as our new corporate umbrella. I have asked two former singers who were in the chorus at that time for any additional memories they may have of this event.
Finally, the last concert of the year we participated in was "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" which was held on December 18 and 24 at the Nourse Auditorium. Listed in the program was Gerard Montana as Artistic Director and Matthew O'Grady as Assistant Director. At this point we were at 36 strong and we were the guests of SFGMC. Also on this concert was the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band. We were conducted by Matthew and we performed two pieces from "A Ceremony of Carols" by Benjamin Britten, "The Sleigh (A la Russe)", "Magnificat" by Pergolesi, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Martin & Blane, and we finished with a fully staged and costumed "Fruitcake" by Philip Hagemann & Penny Leka. I have heard from more than one source - or it may be urban myth - but "Fruitcake" brought the house down and perhaps was a starting point for our future fully staged, singing, dancing, costumed concerts to come. That's it for this week and I know it's a lot but there is a lot of history of this chorus to go through so I am glad for your indulgence. Next week I will be letting you know about the first half of 1984. Take care of yourselves until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are well and having a great week. This week I am writing about what the chorus was up to in the first half of 1983. As I mentioned last week our founding director, Robin Kay, stepped down so we had some decisions to make about our future and one thing was to find a new permanent director so a search committee was formed and the word was put out about our need. In the meantime, soprano Sherrin Lloyd stepped up to be our interim director and she sent a letter on January 5 to the chorus. This was in part a welcome to the Spring Concert Season for us and our first rehearsal with Sherrin would be on January 12. She stated the need for new singers and she asked for help in recruiting new voices. She wrote that an audition would be scheduled for each new singer after they attend one rehearsal.
Our Chamber Chorus will have a new director in the person of Robert Erickson who also the conductor of the Men's Chorus Chamber Chorus. Vocal Minority is continuing under the able guidance of Bill Ganz and there were openings for tenors and basses. The chorus would be celebrating their third birthday on January 29 at Sutter's Mill. Sherrin ended her letter by saying that the chorus had been a healing place for her and she was feeling whole and wanted to share with the chorus all the she had to give.
At this point in the history of the corner for each section there was an administrative section leader and a musical section leader. On February 6 we performed at the Cable Car Awards held at the Japan Center Theatre and we received an award for our participation in the 1982 "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert.
Also at this time the GALA Choruses organization was still in its beginning stages. As I mentioned last week there was a one day Choral Festival featuring the 11 west coast choruses in that concert. In April we learned that tapes of this concert would be available. A member of Portland Gay Men's Chorus would be reproducing these tapes. Do any members of the chorus at that time have any idea where our copy might be, Linda, Tim or Leslie?
In 1983 there was a C.O.A.S.T. (Come Out and Sing Together) concert scheduled for September in New York City. Our Linda Rohde attended a mid-term conference in Denver to meet with representatives from 12 choruses discussed and worked on articles of incorporation, bylaws and a statement of purpose.
There was much discussion in the Leadsheet throughout 1983 about our participation in the Festival in NYC, who would be able to go and if we would have a well balanced chorus to perform there. After all was said and done we did go and sang during that weekend.
Our first concert with Sherrin conducting us was called "Soundwaves" and was held on May 21 at Trinity Episcopal Church and on May 22 at Ollie's in Oakland. We opened the first half of the concert with highlights from "Annie," then followed by "The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee" by Jean Berger. Then the Chamber Chorus performed three pieces, "Round About" by John Bennet, an English folk song "One May Morning" and finished with "Sing Me a Song" by Orazio Vecchi. Then the full chorus song took the audience on "A Sentimental Journey Thru the 40's." Vocal Minority was next singing "In the Mood," "The Rose" and a medley of songs from "Fame" which also featured two dancers.
The second half was a bit more serious as the chorus performed "Gloria" by Antonio Vivaldi. For this first concert with Sherrin we were at 65 strong which was a good sign that we would continue and thrive.
Our next performance was in the Fifth Annual Gay Musical Celebration. This was held on June 24 at the Warfield Theatre with two shows at 7 pm and 10 pm. Unfortunately I do not have a program for this concert so I don't know what we sang. I attached photos of the art for these two concerts so enjoy.
Next week I will be writing about what happened with the chorus in the second half of 1983 and the search for a permanent director.
With much love to all, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers and want to wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day. This week I am writing about the second half of 1982 and what we did in our concerts. "Together in Harmony" was the title of our concert held on November 13 at the First Unitarian Church. You will see the cover of our concert program attached. We opened the concert with music from "Nabucco" by Giuseppe Verde. We next sang "Pavane" by Gabriel Faure then the men of the chorus "Invocation" by Debussy and the women sand "Salut Printemps" also by Debussy. Next the chorus was back to sing Brahms' "Nanie, the Chamber Chorus performed "Neve Liebeslieder Walzer" also by Brahms and the chorus ended the first half with the "Echo Song" which we sang a capella.
After the intermission, Vocal Minority performed a "Portrait of Duke Ellington" which included "Sophisticated Lady," "Satin Doll," "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," and "It Don't Mean a Thing." Then the full chorus was on to round out the concert with "All the Things You Are" by Hammerstein and Kern, a "Porgy and Bess Medley" by the Gershwins and we ended with "Beat! Beat! Drums!" by Howard Hanson.
Next for us was our appearance with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in the Third Annual Now Sing With Hearts Aglow which was held at the Nourse Auditorium on December 19 and 24. For our part, we joined forces with the men to open the concert singing "Personent Hodie," from 1360 Germany and "Here We Come a Wassailing." Then we sang another "O Magnum Mysterium" by Tomas Luis de Victoria. Then the women of the chorus sang a piece by J. S. Bach, then the Chamber Chorus performed three pieces, "Lullay My Liking," "My Dancing Day," and "In Dulci Jubilo." The full chorus then sang Ernest Bloch's "Silent Devotion" and a Chanuka song "Mi Y'Malel."
Then our Vocal Minority came on and sang four pieces - "Fa La La Fantasie," "Bless the Beasts and Children," "Jingle Bells," and "Good Christian Friends Rejoice." Then the full chorus again was on stage to finish the first half with "A Christmas Carol" by Tom Lehrer, "Good King Kong Looked Out by P. D. Q. Bach, one of our favorite composers, and of course the "Hallelujah Chorus" by G. F. Handel.
Also one other major event we participated in was the West Coast Choral Festival (C.O.A.S.T. - Come Out and Sing Together) held at Nourse Auditorium on September 4 with 7 other choruses. This was part of the Second Annual Gay Chorus Directors and Business Managers Convention. The registration fee for this event was $30.00.
One of the photos attached is of the cover of The Voice, which was one of the gay newspapers of that time. On the cover is the new director of the SFGMC, Ernest L. Veniegas, Jr., who came on board with them earlier in the fall. The other person pictured is our own Robin Kay, who at that time had announced her decision to step down as our director. Of course this means that 1983 would be a year of change for us as we would begin the search for a new permanent director. This I will be talking about and what happened and how we went forward in next week's installment so please stay tuned.
Keep loving yourselves and stay together in harmony, Michael Lucero
Happy February to all my faithful readers. This week I will be writing about the first half of 1982 for the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus. We were still under the umbrella of the Golden Gate Performing Arts and they produced a spring season brochure which laid out what the two San Francisco choruses would be presenting in the first half of 1982.
SFGMC put on four productions between March and May. The first was "With a Song in My Heart" and featured the vocal soloists of the chorus. The second was "Fabulous Follies of 1982" which was a program featuring guest artists and they had two perforances and was promoted as a benefit for SFGMC. Their third was "Rites of Spring" and was a departure as it was mostly a dance concert and presented the debut of the Falcon Dance Theatre. This was also presented on two nights. The fourth was "From Ops to Pops" and there were also two performances, one in San Francisco and the second in Palo Alto at Stanford University. From the paperwork of GGPA regarding this season and the post concert breakdowns, of the SFGMC concerts that were two nights the ticket sales were poor and they had half empty performance halls.
Our chorus presented two concerts and appeared in the 4th Annual Gay Musical Celebration. First up for us was our spring concert "Romance ,n Rhythm" held on March 27 at the First Unitarian Church. There were 97 of us who sang this concert. We performed "Messa di Gloria" by Puccini. Next the Chamber Chorus sang a piece by Palestrina. Then Gary Miller, director of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, was here as a guest conductor to conduct the chorus singing Benjamin Britten's "Hymn to St. Cecilia." Next on the program the Vocal Minority sang "Fascinating Rhythm," "If It's Magic" by Stevie Wonder, and a tribute to Louis Armstrong - "Hello Dolly," "Basin Street Blues," and "When the Saints Go Marching In."
The full chorus was back to sing the final four songs of the evening. They were "All the Things You Are" by Jerome Kern, "Song to Celia" by P.D.Q. Bach, "I Am the Monarch of the Sea" by Gilbert & Sullivan and finished with "The Rhythm of Life" by Cy Coleman. For this concert and the following one we reached out to women's organizations to encourage them to buy tickets and that was successful.
The next concert was "Love Songs" and featured our two small groups, the Vocal Minority and the Chamber Chorus. They put on two shows at Albion Hall on May 16.
The final concert was the Gay Musical Celebration held on June 25 at the Civic Auditorium. This concert brought back the SF Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps to perform with the two choruses. Also on the program were the San Francisco Tap Troupe. SFGMC performed the "Coronation Scene from Boris Godumov" by Modest Musorgskii and accompanied by the Bay Area Women's Quartet. The two choruses, the Tap Troupe and the 1982 Gay Olympics Color Guard performed "San Francisco Medley Revisited" with Robin Kay conducting and two pianists our Bill Ganz and SFGMC's Andy Pesce.
I will be writing about the second half of 1982 next week which has some interesting new things for the chorus so stay tuned.
As always we are in harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."