Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope that you are all well and doing your best to stay healthy. This edition of the History Corner focuses on what we were doing in the second half of 1984. As I had written in probably my first post, I joined the chorus in July 1984 after seeing the chorus in the SFGMC's Pride Concert at Nourse Auditorium. All of us in the San Francisco gay musical community heard that Jon Reed Sims, the founder of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps and SFGMC and LGCSF, had died of complications due to AIDS on July 16. Of course, throughout the 1980s we all would lose friends and lovers as a result of this disease and we would attend too many memorial services as we honored the lives of our loved ones.
Because of his inspiration, we now have queer marching bands and choruses all over the world. The memorial service for Jon Sims was held at Grace Cathedral on August 3 and this was the first time I sang with the chorus as part of this service. We sang "Soon-ah Will be Done" and "Elijah Rock." I attached photos of the cover of the program and the article in the Bay Area Reporter about Jon's life.
I have also included a photo of a recruitment flyer and one for a benefit for LGCSF at Buckley's Bistro & Bar which was at 131 Gough Street.
There is a photo of the program of our "Lullaby of Broadway" concert held on November 3 which I described in detail in a past History Corner. A week later we were guests of the Freedom Band in their "Hollywood Canteen" show at the Japan Center Theatre which was an evening of entertainment inspired by the big band era. Costumes and uniforms were encouraged, there was a Betty Grable Look Alike Contest and there were taxi dancers for hire. We ended the year as guests of SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert at the Nourse Auditorium on December 16 and 24. We sang "Coventry Carol," "Silent Night in Contempora," "No. 3 from Three Carols of the Season" and finished with "Twelve Days After Christmas."
Among other papers in the archives from 1984 I came across a commentary on 1984 being an important year for the chorus. We had gone through a year of searching for a new director, and we decided to leave Golden Gate Performing Arts. It was time to stabilize our membership and make our presence more widely known in the community. It was our goal to increase our membership to its former size and to follow our former schedule of four concerts and several public appearances.
1983 had taken its toll on us and we found that changes in the chorus's energy and the community interests limited the rapid expansion we had planned. We altered our approach and decided to cancel the spring concert, stabilize with a smaller membership, and place more emphasis on community appearances.
Throughout 1984 our membership averaged 35 members of which 25 were considered a solid core group. By the time we got to "Lullaby of Broadway" we were at 48 members and it was sold out and nominated for a Cable Car Award. It seemed that our community appearances were the most successful manner of recruiting new members.
In reading through the Leadsheets starting in August we had a retreat in Guerneville the last weekend of August, commitment forms were handed out to everyone to ensure that we attended rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances for the fall season. We also held Open Forums once a month on the third Wednesday during the last half hour of rehearsal. Chorus t-shirts (5) and bow ties ($7) were on sale from our music librarian Michael Gerding. Also tapes of our "Back in Grace" concert were available for $6.25. Chorus dues were $7 per month. This August the Leadsheet had a new editor in the person of Kate Lynn. Also the chorus had a booth at the Castro Street Fair on August 19.
In the next History Corner I will be writing about the life of the chorus in the first half of 1985 and the changes that happened then. Until then please stay healthy all of you.
All my love, Michael Lucero
Happy March to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and staying healthy and remembering to wash your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze and staying home when you are sick. Anyway this week I am writing about the first half of 1984 in the life of the chorus. As I mentioned last week, and in the archives I have, I found a letter dated November 15, 1983, to the Capp Street Foundation regarding our application for fiscal sponsorship under their umbrella. To quote from this letter, "There is a myth that lesbians and gay men can not work together. The Mixed Chorus combats this myth and provides a positive role model for the lesbian and gay communities through its music and its community service."
The chorus announced its new Artistic Director in the person of Matthew O'Grady and our Accompanist in the person of James Murdock. Matt made his debut as our AD at the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert. In our first Leadsheet of 1984, it was announced that under Matt's direction and with the help and support of our returning and incoming members we were looking forward to an exciting and eventful year. We would be celebrating our 4th Annual Birthday Party which was a Tea Dance at Clementina's Baybrick Inn at 1190 Folsom Street on January 22. We were also looking for a new editor for the Leadsheet. Jesse Kane (now Lanou) stepped forward to take on this extremely fun task.
Our first gig of the year was at the Cable Car Awards on February 4. We would be finding out if the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert would win an award for the third year and thus becoming eligible for the coveted "Hall of Fame." We were also deciding on a new logo for use on our correspondence and T-shirts. Also there was a call from GALA for someone who would be interested in putting together the next GALA Directory. Our editor, Jesse, asked for help in sending out the Leadsheet to all participating GALA choruses. So you can see that we have been involved in GALA for quite awhile.
In March we were advertising the Temescal Gay Men's Chorus performances. Valerie Igl, a soprano, was hosting an April Fool's party/talent show on March 31. Vocal Minority would be performing at Valencia Rose on April 8. Our editor, Jesse Kane, along with Alternative Measures would be performing at Fanny's cabaret the following night and on April 29, also at Fanny's, members of the chorus and special guests would be singing. The chorus was also having a membership drive and we need someone to design a recruitment poster. As you can see, members of the chorus were keeping busy at the various cabaret venues around town.
The next chorus gig was on May 29 which was held in the City Hall Rotunda. We appeared with the Band and SFGMC at the reception following the preview performance of "La Cage aux Folles." This was a benefit performance for Operation Concern, Lesbian Rights Project, S.F. Aids Fund, among other organizations.
The chorus celebrated the first birth of a child to a member of the chorus. The little person, named Mercedes Katherine Navarro, was born to Cindy Navarro, a very wonderful and long time member of the chorus.
Our next performance was on June 15 in the Pride Concert titled "Back in Grace" meaning Grace Cathedral. Again we were with the Band and SFGMC. We performed a couple of spirituals, "Elijah Rock" and "Soon-ah Will Be Done," followed by "To Be Sung on the Water" by Samuel Barber, "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure, "Fa Una Canzona" by Orazio Vecchi, and we ended with "One" from "A Chorus Line" as we kicked up our heels to the music of Marvin Hamlisch. This concert was the sixth anniversary of the Band and they proudly dedicated the concert to its founder, Jon R. Sims, whose vision and dedication have borne fruit in gay musical organizations all across the land and now the world.
We also participated in the SFGMC's Gay Day concert on June 22 which was held at Nourse Auditorium. Yes we did have a very busy first half of 1984 and we were getting our name heard around the City at the different cabaret shows and events. See you next week as I write about the second half of 1984 in the life of our chorus.
In harmony, Michael Lucero