Greetings to all my faithful readers out there in chorus land. I hope you are all doing well and looking forward to getting your vaccinations. Phil and I have both gotten our two shots of the Pfizer vaccine so we are feeling good.
This week I thought I would do something a little different. This is my point of view of 1991 from my participation on the Production Committee (back when we had good working committees) and production of the Spring and Pride concerts. This is from the published minutes of our Production Committee meeting of 4/27/91. Present were Tim O'Bayley, Pat Parr, Terry Stalker, Linda Rohde, Todd King, Stephen Litzenburger, John Young, Chris Decker, Mary Cantrell and me. We talked about the Spring concert "Songstream" in the wrap-up where we reviewed the final budget and learned that the net profit for the concert was $1,280.78. This concert was our classical one featuring the music of American composers with two performances, one in Oakland and the other in San Francisco. Our AD, Pat Parr, reported that overall he thought the concerts went very well, with the exception of poor PR presence and ticket sales in Oakland. Tim O'Bayley, our production coordinator, said that he thought the committee did a great job and the areas that we can improve on are Program Ad Sales, poster coverage both in SF and East Bay, and press relations as there were no reviews. Obviously this was all before we had smartphones, social media, Youtube, Facebook, etc., so we had to get out and pound the pavement to put up posters, and solicit advertising from the community.
Next on the agenda was talking about all the production needs for the upcoming 13th Annual Pride Concert. Pat said his hope is that we fill First Congregational Church. We would be sending letters out to the participating groups on 5/3. They were besides us, Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Vocal Minority, Menage and Voices. We set the prices for tickets at $10, $15 and $25 for a sponsor ticket. We were in the process of being able to accept credit cards.
Among the tasks we all would be involved in were Facility/Technical - Tim investigated renting Pride flags to decorate the church. Mary volunteered her supply of scarves to decorate as well. We had our own mixer and microphones but may need to rent speaker poles. We will audio record this concert. We have to rent spotlights and contacting Hank Plante from Channel 5 News to be our MC and the possibility of TV coverage. For Publicity we will have an ad in the Parade Program and we will get a 25% discount for performing at the Parade Celebration. We will also get ads to all the gay papers and the SF Chronicle for the Pink Section.
The goal for the Pride concert is a $5,000 profit, with Tim doing graphic design and typesetting for the program. Phil Hernandez was the groups liaison and set designer. Todd King was the party coordinator, Marty Cormier handled tickets and ad sales and Pat took care of ticket printing, sound arrangements, etc. We also had three members who were Chorus Motivators to help involve the chorus with telemarketing, mailing, tickets and poster/flyer coverage. So as you all can see there was a lot going behind the scenes to put on this important concert for Pride.
One last thing is that in the Pride Parade and Celebration Program on the pages listing the Celebration Performers and Speakers the Chorus and Menage both performed in the 3:00 pm block on the City Hall Stage. Our own Lisa Gray performed in the leather segment on the Specialty Stage. Also I noticed on the Board of Directors of Parade 91 that our own Joan Zawaski is listed as Fiscal Coordinator. There was also a very interesting article in the Pride program entitled "In Defense of Drags (and Other 'Undesirables')" by Dennis McMillan aka Sister Dana Van Equity of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In part he writes "I fear it's time again for image-conscious homosexuals to write their annual letters, begging the drag queens to not embarrass the community by disgracing the parade. Now, we who dress wildly do not censure those who prefer to apper less flaming, so why shouldn't we expect the same respect for our choice of dress code?" He goes on to say that it was the drag queens in the Stonewall bar who fought back against the police in June 1969 and without their actions we might not be having this parade. It is always good to have a look at our wider history so we know where we came from and to take up the resolve to always move forward. There are three photos of these items for you to see. As I continue through the archives I never know what I will come across until I sit down and read through what is there. Stay tuned for next time as I share more of our history both Chorus and beyond.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there. I know you are out there because I have gotten feedback from you. I found some new to me material in the chorus archives from 1993 that I want to share with you. These show the outreach the Chorus was doing in the community beyond San Francisco. And in print.
First I found a program from the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus for a concert they produced in March of 1993 called "Classic Memories" held in San Jose. They were directed by Lynne McLaughlin. Their special guest was our jazz octet Menage. The concert featured classic pop music from 1890 to the 1940s with music such as "Bicycle Built for Two", "Ah, Sweet Mystery", "The Charleston", "Sing Hallelujah", "I Got Rhythm" and "Someday My Prince Will Come". Menage performed "Java Jive", There, I've Said It Again", "Time After Time", and "I Remember You". Both groups combined to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as the finale.
The second program I found was one that was In Celebration of Gay Pride Month for GALEEMAS (Gay and Lesbian Employees Association at Pacific Telesis) on June 18, 1993. This was held in San Ramon and the chorus performed songs from our concert "Fantasies: Fairy Tales Can Come True". We sang "Be Our Guest", "Never Never Land", "At the Ballet", "If I Were/I'd Like To Be", "Money Medley", "Beauty and the Beast", "Co-dependent Medley", and "Imagine". This was one way we went on the road to widen our audience and do what we do best - sing for our audience and have fun doing it.
There were two items I found that fall into the print category. The first one was an article in "Alice Reports", which was the newsletter of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club. It was titled "Lesbian/Gay Chorus: 13 Years, 'Together in Harmony'". It highlighted the fact that we are the oldest "mixed" chorus in the country and talked up all our endeavors - our concerts, fundraisers, outreach programs, and support of San Francisco community events.
The article also mentions our Cable Car Awards for the chorus and Menage. Also it talks about our sold-out smash hit "Fantasies: Fairy Tales Can Come True" concert and the upcoming 15th Annual Pride Concert which we hosted. My takeaway from this was you never know where the name of the chorus will show up with new praises for us.
Also in 1993 the chorus published two newsletters which were mailed to our friends, family and audience members to let them know of what we had done and what was upcoming. This was called "LGCSF Newsline" and we had two issues, one in April and the other in October. In the October issue we announced the arrival of our first recording "Together in Harmony" coming out in March of 1994 and available on CD and cassette tape - yes Virginia this was way before music streaming and iTunes and Spotify. There was a photo of the chorus in Denver at the 1992 GALA Festival in the atrium between the performance halls. There was also an article about our fall concert which would feature music by gay and lesbian composers. One would be a world premiere written by our pianist Dwight Okamura of three poems by Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall (188?-1943) who was a writer and poet. Her most famous book was "Well of Loneliness". Pat Parr gives thanks to Rodger Pettyjohn for starting the "Composers" concert tradition. Four other members of the chorus also composed music for this concert so it was their world premieres as well. Are there any composers out there either in the chorus or in my readership who would like to have the chorus perform them. Just let our AD, Michael Reilly, know.
One more thing of interest. In the April issue there was an article about our 1993 Annual Fund which was our way then of fundraising for the chorus. It mentions that even a $25 contribution would help and that only ten $25 donors keeps our piano tuned for a year. That's it for this week but as I dig deeper into the archives I will be sharing more LGCSF history with you next week.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there. I hope you all are doing well and that some of you have been able to get your vaccinations wherever you are. Phil and I are doing fine and he got his second Pfizer shot on the 10th and I will get my second on the 23rd so we will be good to go.
This week I came across in my archives the program from our performances with the Peninsula Ballet Theatre of "Carmina Burana" that took place in March of 1997. I have included three photos of the program so please take a look at them. This took place during the Pat Parr era and it had always been a dream of his for the chorus to perform the Carmina one way or another. He wanted to make sure that the chorus would be at a point where we would be able to this amazing piece the justice it deserves. I am not sure how the collaboration with Peninsula Ballet Theatre came about but it was quite an ambitious one. There were a lot of moving parts in this production. Of course there was LGCSF and the dancers of Peninsula Ballet Theatre. What a wonderful opportunity this was for us to be working with them. In rehearsals we had a chance to hang out with them a little bit and to get to know them. They were directed and choreographed by Carlos Carvajal. There were two soloists, Roderick Gomez, baritone, and Patty Wolfe, soprano. LGCSF had worked with Patty in the past so we were comfortable with her. There was also Ragazzi, the Peninsula Boys Chorus. There were two pianists, our own Dwight Okamura and Elizabeth Keim who had worked with us from time to time. There was other musical accompaniment by Pacific Sticks. So as you might guess we had to really be on our A game for this.
For any of you who may not know much about "Carmina Burana" they were poems written by wandering scholars and vagrant monks in the late thirteenth century. They were collected by a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Beuron in Bavaria, and kept hidden until the monastery was dissolved, when they found their way to Munich. They were discovered in 1803 and published in 1847.
In 1937, Carl Orff composed this cycle of songs, extolling secular beliefs in the joys of worldly pleasures: drinking, eating, and making love. Carvajal's choreography illustrates the Wheel of Fortune these songs are based on, which weaves a never-ending cycle of life and death, happiness and misfortune, success and failure.
Prior to this the chorus had only sung "O Fortuna," the opening song of this piece so it was great to be able to sing the whole thing which goes like this: Scene I - Wheel of Fortune, Scene II - Spring Time, Scene III - In the Tavern, Scene IV - Court of Love and Scene V - Wheel of Fortune. The English translation of "O fortuna" is "O, luck, like the moon changeable in state, you are always waxing or waning; hateful life is one moment hard and the next moment watches over the mind's acumen in gambling, poverty, power, it melts like ice." This is from the program.
I will finish with this which I have shared before. In May, 2018, we went to Munich to attend the Various Voices European LGBTQI Choral Festival. One of the reasons I wanted to go was to sing "Carmina Burana" with 3,000 singers, a full orchestra, four soloists, and the people of Munich in one of the major squares on a beautiful night of music. This is one of my most cherished musical memories.
Next week I will be bringing back memories of the chorus so please stay tuned. Until then I am as always,
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all well and staying that way by wearing your masks and washing your hands, etc. This time I thought I would write about Mary Cantrell, a long time member of the chorus, who was our wardrobe mistress throughout the Pat Parr years of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s and beyond. In August, 1992, Mary sent a memorandum to the chorus re General Information re Costume/Drag for Chorus Members. She wrote:
General Costume Requirements: We do such a variety of concerts that the drag will probably change drastically from one to another. However, there are some basic you need to have:
Casual: Those appearances, like the Beer Bust or at Candlestick, etc. require: a chorus T-shirt in one of the rainbow flag colors (red, kelly green, royal blue, purple, orange, bright yellow), blue jeans, tennis shoes.
Formal: This will apply to our classical concert in the fall and for other occasions that Pat may designate: black dress pants (or skirts, if you prefer), black socks, black shoes, white long-sleeved, collared dress shirt (to wear with the rhinestoned black ties we have). This year we have added: black long-sleeved, collared dress shirt. So the drag for all new and old chorus members for the fall 1992 classical concert is: BLACK BOTTOM and BLACK TOP! No turtle necks or charcoal grey (sorta black) will do. As usual, ties will be provided.
At other times, we may go even more formal, which means the dressiest, glitziest, sparkliest outfit (in good taste, of course): long dresses, cocktail length dresses, tuxedos, etc.
Shows: Our spring shows are a whole different thing from either of the above, and there is no way to tell you what we will require until the show is more set. As soon as production for a show is decided, however, you will be given instructions on what you need. The Costume Committee will work with people to get you outfitted for a show, but YOU MUST WORK ON IT TOO AND LET US KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU NEED. Usually, you will need to bring in your costumes for approval by a committee member 6 weeks or so before a show, so handling this is very important to insure a smooth show.
I have a couple of notes about the Leadsheet from August, 1992. At that time our own Yolanda deByle took over as the editor of the Leadsheet. She wrote that she wanted to expand it and provide a space that serves you such as a Letters to the Editor column, a Bulletin Board for people who want to announce parties, things for sale or want to buy, etc. We had a garage sale on August 29 and we were working the Castro Street Fair and an Eagle Beer Bust on October 4 at which we were selling Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We were also singing at Candlestick Park on August 21 for the SF Giants "Strike Out AIDS" benefit. So you can see that fall of 1992 started out on a very busy note. One more thing I noticed in the Calendar for August and September is that, besides our regular Thursday rehearsals, there were sectional rehearsals on Wednesday nights, alternating between S & A and T & B. Also we had social time from 7 to 7:30 before rehearsal with a different section hosting. Why does some of this sound familiar as to what we did before Covid hit.
One last thing - in 1992 our three major concerts were "Five Years of Madness" in May, the 14th Annual Pride Concert in June and "Classics of Nature" in October with a concert in Oakland and a second in San Francisco. Costuming and drag for each of these concerts were different so it was important at that time to have the guidance from Mary Cantrell, as Wardrobe Mistress, and the Costume Committee to help us all look our best for our grateful audiences. After all isn't that why we do what we do in the way we do what we do? I have included three photos, two of them with Mary - one of these with Jim Oerther, Michael Mohammed and Pamela Cook backstage at Theatre Rhino - and a two-fer showing us dressed up.
Take care of yourselves and have a great week. Be on the lookout for virtual concerts and cabarets from our sibling GALA choruses on Youtube throughout the spring.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe and wearing your masks, etc. I will be getting my first vaccine tomorrow, March 1, and I am grateful for that. This week I came across some interesting newspaper articles from the Tampa, Florida gay paper "Watermark" that had many items about the GALA V Festival that was held in July, 1996. I have included photos of these in this blog. Among was a photo spread titled Meet the Performers with photos of Chorale Internationale Gai de Paris, Manner Minne, the First Gay Chorus of Berlin, the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, D.C., MUSE & Cincinnati's Women's Choir, Washington D.C.'s Quintessential: Women Singing A Cappella. This Festival was hosted by Crescendo, the Tampa Bay Womyn's Chorus and the Tampa Bay Gay Men's Chorus. LGCSF performed on Wednesday, July 10, in Concert Block #8 and we closed this concert block following five other choruses, Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Another Octave - Connecticut Women's Chorus, Cincinnati Men's Chorus, Ottawa Men's Chorus, Bread & Roses Feminist Singers.
On another page in Watermark there was a list of the GALA V Schedule of Events. There was an Opening Social on Saturday, July 6, inviting people to join the 5,000 Festival delegates. Next day, Sunday, July 7, the delegates marched in the Tampa Gay Pride Parade. That evening was the Opening Ceremonies and World's Largest Hurricane Party. There was a parade of choruses, the keynote address by Dr. Maya Angelou, and Harvey Fierstein was the Master of Ceremonies. Sunday evening began the week of chorus concerts continuing through Saturday, July 13. There was a Gay & Lesbian Night at Busch Gardens with the Flirtations performing, a Women Celebrating Women Concert and Gala with Dr. Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock. There was the traditional Legacy Award Dinner and the closing Black & White Ball to celebrate the last evening of GALA V. Also in this issue was an article about Holly Near who performed at Festival as she had performed at past Festivals.
Imagine what things were like in 1996 especially in Florida to host this Festival. I read in this paper "As recently as March, protesters from the American Family Association complained that hosting GALA V and its large contingent of foreign festivals was a bad idea."
In the next paragraph there was this, "the week-long festival will showcase world class talent and a virtual "who's who" of gay entertainment." Everything and everyone came together to put on a wonderful week of sharing music, networking with singers from other choruses and just a feeling of belonging. I also found a copy of the Fall 1996 issue of GALAgram which is how GALA Choruses communicated with all the choruses about what was happening. This was way before computers and social media kept us up to date. The headline on the front page says "Festival V Takes Tampa by Storm" with pictures showing this. I included another page of photos from this as well as on the "Out and About" page showcasing what choruses are doing, there is an item about our upcoming concert "Opera: Grand and Not So Grand". And speaking of ads for us, I came across one from SF Live on their Intelligencer page promoting our March, 1996 concert "A Tribute to the Music of Elton John" which we perfomred at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane of the chorus in 1996 and how we relied on the print media to learn about what was happening and how we advertised ourselves to San Francisco. Who knew then how the world would change in terms of how GALA would grow and change, how LGCSF would grow and change and how we continue to go on in this crazy time with our virtual performances. Enjoy the photos that will accompany this blog entry and please let me know what you think of what I am doing. I appreciate any and all comments and criticisms from you. Take care of yourselves, and I will have something more to write about on the history of LGCSF.
In love and harmony, Michael