First I have an addendum fun fact to last week's Corner - we were guests of SFGMC on December 24 at the Castro Theatre for Home for the Holidays. One of the songs we sang was "Magic Snow" by Jack C. Dubowsky. Afterwards, there was quite a controversy and complaints from members of SFGMC who were in recovery who were upset at "Magic Snow", a song about how Santa gets through Christmas Eve. Our response was simple: Santa is a fictional character and therefore not real. We were not invited back for the next one. Now to 2008.
Love Bites: My Dog Bites and My Pickup Truck Won't Start, February 7-9 and 14-16, EXIT on Taylor. This was our 5th annual Love Bites show and we were in a new venue and yes we did two weekends. We were 30 strong at the start of the year and we began the show with another Jack C. Dubowsky tune "Your New Stupid Boyfriend." And it went on from there as we sang various deranged country songs about love gone wrong. One of the duets by Ann Shapira and Shelley Kutilek sang the Dixie Chicks song "Goodbye Earl." We reprised "Stomp on My Heart" from "Group Therapy." We ended with a choreographed "Your Momma Don't Dance." We had lots of fun and so did our audiences.
LGCSF Does It Again!, April 11 & 12, Theatre Rhinoceros. This was a fundraiser to help get the chorus to Miami for the next GALA Festival. The music in this show was a greatest hits type show of the best music we have sung under Stephanie's direction. We sang "Muni Rider", then another song from "Group Therapy" called "Transference Tango," then we reprised a couple of songs from the Christmas Crap-Array, "Magic Snow" and "Surabaya Santa," and then one of our favorites "Stacy's Mom" featuring Laura Liscar. The second half was our version of "Trial by Jury" by Gilbert & Sullivan. It was fun to sing and dance these songs again.
We sang an outreach performance at a benefit for the Cindy Kolbs AIDS Fund and the Gay/Straight Alliance at San Francisco State University on April 17.
2008 Pride Concert: Our Message is Music, June 26 & 27, First Unitarian Church. This Pride concert was a special one in which we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Three of the Band's former conductors were there to direct three pieces - Jeffrey Foote, Nancy Corporon and Jadine Louie. With these three organizations together again it was another wonderful time to present our music with the pride we have in ourselves and in our community. The concert ended with a favorite of the Band - "If My Friends Could See Me Now," with changed lyrics that celebrate playing in an all gay band.
GALA Festival 8, July 12-19, Miami. The chorus traveled to Miami to participate in the quadrennial GALA Choruses Festival. This Festival marked the 25th anniversary of GALA Choruses. We were there with 5,000 singers representing 125 choruses and small ensembles from all over the world. Ann Hampton Calloway sang in the Opening Ceremony. This was the first Festival where the youth choruses had their own concert blocks and they were beautiful and inspiring. Our set included two songs from "Group Therapy" - yes the chickens were there - and more of our favorites "Neighbors' Chorus," "Magic Snow," a Chinese folk song "Diu Diu Deng," "Ray's Rockhouse" and a traditional Zambian song "Bonse Aba" that Stephanie had brought to us.
Oakland-East Bay PRIDE Invitational, August 16 & 17, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland. Again we were guests of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. Also in these concerts were three groups appearing for the first time. They were the Rainbow Women's Chorus, Vocal InFusion and a small ensemble of SFGMC, Vocal Minority. It was good to hear these new voices in these concerts and to make new friends as well.
LGCSF Eats Out: A Classical Concert About Food, October 17 & 18, The Kanbar Center. A concert about food - what were we thinking? Well thanks to Stephanie and our friendly composers Jack Curtis Dubowsky and Eric Lane Barnes and June Bonacich it all worked. Our tenor Ron Masker sang the "Banquet Fugue" by John Rutter, we sang "Potluck" by June, "Such a Nice Brisket by Jack, and we sang four songs by Eric - "Lambscapes V & Vi," "Carmina Ricotta," "Caffeine Overload Polka," and "Bittersweet Tango." Then we sang "If Music Be the Food of Love" and ended with "Libiamo" from La Traviata. This was a tasty treat for us and our audiences.
Christmas Crap-Array II, December, EXIT Theatre. We gathered again to present a cabaret evening of non-traditional and deranged anti-holiday and Christmas music. I do not have a program for this one so I don't remember what we sang except for "Melvin the Elf."
2007 - Love Bites, Pride, Queer Night at the Opera, An Autumnal Out-ing, Home for the Holidays, Christmas Crap-Array
Love Bites the Hand That Feeds It, February 9 and 10, Theatre Rhinoceros. The chorus was at 35 strong as we started with the year with the next incarnation of our anti-Valentine's Day cabaret. This was our first time performing in Theatre Rhinoceros, a theatre that has supported gay playwrights and actors as well as singers. We began this show with "Down With Love" and then the various soloists, duets, etc. did their things and we ended the first half waltzing to the "Neighbors' Chorus." In the second half we sang a song by Jack Curtis Dubowsky, who would become a composer who would work closely with Stephanie through the rest of this decade.
29th Annual Pride Concert: Here's Where I Stand, June 21 & 22, First Unitarian Church. This was another wonderful time to perform together at Pride with SFGMC and the Freedom along with guest artists GLAM Youth Choir and Voices: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. The Band was magnificent as usual as were the Men's Chorus. Our set contained music of different styles, from the deranged lyrics of "Potluck" to "Gay Little Nymph" "The Offbeat of Avenues," and "For Now" from Avenue Q and the night ended with all choruses together singing "Here's Where I Stand."
A Queer Night at the Opera, June 29, SOMArts Theatre. This concert was a departure for us. We were asked to participate in this National Queer Arts Festival evening of operatic music. There were four local opera singers and we were essentially the opera chorus behind these singers. Learning this music expanded and challenged our musical chops and we were singing before a new audience which is always good for us. The evening ended with "Libiamo" from La Traviata.
An Autumnal OUT-ing, October 26 & 27, November 2 & 3, Theatre Rhinoceros. This show combined a cabaret for the first half and Gilbert & Sullivan's operetta "Trial by Jury" in the second half. We worked with our stage director and choreographer Michael Mohammed to stage "Trial by Jury" as we all took on a character of the opera and created our costumes and makeup. Of course we changed the setting of the opera from a courtroom to a 1960's era gay bar. It was challenging to learn the music but all of our hard work paid off for us and our audiences. The photos below are from backstage at Theatre Rhino for "Trial by Jury."
Home for the Holidays, December 1, Thomas Downey High School, Modesto. The chorus traveled to Modesto as guests of SFGMC to sing in their Home for the Holidays concert for the good people of Modesto. On this World AIDS Day, this concert was a fundraiser for the Stanislaus Community Assistance Program which provides critical health and human services to people effected by life-threatening diseases. This was a good time for us and it was for a good cause.
Christmas Crap-Array, December 20, 21 & 22, EXIT Theatre. What Love Bites is to Valentine's Day this new cabaret we hope will become a Christmas type tradition. Many traditional Christmas and holiday songs were de-ranged by various chorus members such as "My Favorite Drinks" based on "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music," and de-ranged by Kirk Johnson. The full chorus led off with a new and naughty song by Jack Dubowsky called "Magic Snow" which tells how Santa is able to make all of his deliveries on Christmas Eve. Lots of fun for us as we discovered more hidden talents from the chorus. This was a fundraiser for us to help send the chorus to Miami next July for the next GALA Festival.
2006 - Love Bites, Pride, Gay Games VII, Oakland Pride, The Best is Yet to Come, Turn the World Around
Love Bites . . . and Leaves a Mark, February 10 & 11, Rainbow Room, LGBT Center. This was our third annual Love Bites anti-Valentine's Day cabaret. We were 41 strong at this time and began the show with "Down With Love" and then came a variety of songs spotlighting our talented soloists, duos, trios and quartets. The first half ended with "Stacy's Mom" which went on to be a favorite of the chorus. Yay, Jen and Laura, you rocked. The second half opened with a naughty version of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and more good solos, etc., and we ended with "These Boots are Made for Walking." Lots of fun again for us and our audiences. Also we got a glowing review by Sister Dana Van Iquity in the Bay Times.
28th Annual Pride Concert: We Are What We Are, June 23, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre. Again we gathered with our friends in the SFGMC and the Freedom Band along with Candye Kane, the debut of the GLAM Youth Chorus, and the Golden Gate Men's Chorus in two shows of great Pride music. GLAM was the first gay youth chorus in California so this was a historical night for them and all of us. We welcomed our new accompanist and assistant artistic director, Michael A. Schuler. We sang "Ray's Rockhouse," "Free Your Mind," and "Ella's Song" with Deb Cohler as soloist with Laura Liscar, Elisa Shore and Lisa Vogt. The finale which included all choruses was "I Am What I Am." This was a wonderful way to start Pride weekend and to share our music with our audience.
Gay Games VII, July, Chicago. Members of the chorus traveled to Chicago for two things. First, we sang as part of a mass chorus at the Opening Ceremony of the Gay Games as we watched the parade of athletes representing their countries make their way into Soldier Field. Our director Stephanie Smith was honored to be the conductor of this mass choir. We had rehearsals for three days prior to our performance and the mass chorus also sang an evening concert at the Grant Park bandshell for a very receptive audience. Also as part of the Gay Games Cultural Week the chorus took Group Therapy on the road and performed three shows at the Raven Theatre which is located on the north side of Chicago. This was a lot of work for us but also a lot of fun as we bonded to perform this show again, in a new city and a new venue, which incidentally worked very well for us. There were athletes from the various teams who came to see us. One of the nights after the show, we went to a bear and biker bar a couple blocks from the theatre and we took over the back bar area and Laura was flirting with all of the big and beefy men there and we all had a great time.
Out Loud: 7th Annual Oakland Invitational Pride Concert, August 27, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland. Again we were guests of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus in their Pride concert. Also on this evening's program were Colla Voce, Out on a Clef, GLAM Youth Choir, and Otto Voci. Again this was a time of these LGBTQI musical organizations to come together to share their music and show the world where we all stand and we all had a great time rehearsing together before the concert and putting on our best faces for the performance. Thanks Michael Carlson.
The Best is Yet to Come: Jadine Louie Farewell Concert, September 16, Everett Middle School. This concert was presented by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band to honor the leadership of their musical director, Jadine Louie, as she stepped down after 10 years. Our chorus, along with SFGMC, were special guests. SFGMC started off with their traditional "Irish Blessing" for Jadine. We began the second half with a traditional Kenyan song, "Kwaheri." Under Jadine's leadership, the Band performed in more than 40 community concerts, 10 Pride concerts and hundreds of parades, civic and community events. The Band has twice been named the Official Band of the City of San Francisco by the Board of Supervisors during her tenure. We love you, Jadine.
Turn the World Around, November 3 & 4, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church. From the program, Stephanie wrote "The LGCSF is happy to present songs of hope, Joy and Laughter from all over planet Earth. We believe that through the language of music, we are all Together in Harmony. Enjoy!" And indeed we sang music, among others, from Quebec in French, a set of Chinese folk songs and the traditional Kenyan "Kwaheri." We also sang the Second Movement from Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein in Hebrew. We also traveled to Lake Titicaca and spoke a Geographical Fugue. This was challenging music for us and we stretched our musical muscles and after all the hard work it came together beautifully for us and our audience.
I was trying to remember if we sang with the SFGMC this year in their Home for the Holidays show. If anyone from that time remembers please let me know.
First before I get into 2005, I have a few more facts from 2004. That year San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom requested that the County Clerk issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One of those couples who got married at that time were our Director, Stephanie Smith, and the Director of SFGMC, Dr. Kathleen McGuire. So the choruses were now related by marriage. On the back of the Oakland Pride program were pictures and bios of Michael Carlson, the Oakland Men's Chorus Director and our former Director and our current accompanist, Thaddeus Pinkston.
Love Still Bites, February 11 & 12, LGBT Center Rainbow Room. This was the second annual Love Bites cabaret and again gave our singers the chance to showcase their talents as soloists, duets and trios along with a few full chorus numbers. During this time we had a straight married couple in the chorus, Sean and Becky Quinlan, and they just fit in with what the chorus was and is about. This cabaret ended with the full chorus singing "Cell Block Tango" from the musical "Chicago," which we did with choreography - a hot number.
25th Anniversary Concert, May 7, Brava Theatre. Here are a few quotes from Stephanie in the program. "The Chorus was there for me when I came out to my parents. The Lesbian/Gay Chorus is not just a bunch of people rehearsing each week for the next concert. The Chorus is a family. The secret of the Chorus is not in the energy of its director or the shape of its finances. There is magic in the wonderful spirit of community that lives in the Chorus. The world I desperately want to exist DOES exist at each rehearsal and each performance. Every time the Chorus takes the stage, the differences between sexual identities vanish, and the music is all that matters." The music we sang for this 25th anniversary mattered to us and to our audience and this was a wonderful and magical night.
27th Annual Pride Concert, June 24, Grace Cathedral. This was yet again another wonderful night of music and sharing the stage with SFGMC, the LG Freedom Band and our special guest, the GLASS Youth Choir. It was a treat for all of us to be singing in Grace Cathedral again with our friends in the Men's Chorus and the Band. One of the songs we sang was "Big Boned Gal" by k. d. lang and Shane Kroll was the Big Boned Gal.
6th Annual Invitational Pride Concert, September, Lakeshore Baptist Church, Oakland. In this concert we were guests of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus along with Out on a Clef and VOICES: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. This was another great collaborative concert with these wonderful musicians.
Group Therapy, November 3, 4 & 5, Rainbow Room, LGBT Center. This was the first full musical theatre adventure that the chorus performed. It was "A freshly twisted, wacky musical comedy for everyone," written by our own June Bonacich. Michael Mohammed was our stage director and choreographer. This was a whole new learning experience for all of us - to learn this music and each be a character for an entire show. As each of us got more comfortable with the character, the more natural we became in our performances - especially when P. Francis Tucker, played by Scott Turco, got spanked by several chickens. Wendy Tobias as Katie got her hair done during "The Hairdressers Polka." This was great fun for us and for our audiences.
Home for the Holidays, December 24, Castro Theatre. Again we were guests of SFGMC at their 9:00 pm show as part of this annual holiday gift to the community at the historic Castro Theatre. This is always a special night for everyone.
Love Bites, February 13, LGBT Community Center. This cabaret was the brainchild of Stephanie and the Artistic Advisory Committee to present "LGCSF sings the flipside of love." It has evolved into our annual anti-Valentine's Day cabaret which has showcased the many talents of our chorus since this first one. This evening was hosted by The Living Dolls, Liz Matthews & Diane Merlino, a Bay Area duo. The chorus was 52 strong as we began our 25th season. We started off with a "Love Bites" medley which included "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "I Get Around," "It's My Party," and "Stop In The Name of Love." We all had fun with this show and so did our audience.
Composers in The Mist, April 23 & 24, St. Francis Lutheran Church. As part of our mission, this concert featured original music by living Bay Area LGBT composers who were all at the concerts. We were joined by the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. We sang three pieces by Jack Dubowsky, one each by Caroline Smith, Kathleen McGuire, and our own June Bonacich, Richard Link and Jesse Lanou. It was challenging and inspiring to learn and perform this music and it was great to get to know the composers.
Celebrating Our Champions!, June 19, San Francisco Jewish Community Center. Also as part of our mission, this was one of our outreach events. The evening was all about the Lesbian Health Research Center and their Annual Gala Benefit. The chorus was honored to be part of the entertainment for this important and inspiring event.
26th Annual Pride Concert: All You Need Is Love, June 25, Mission High School. This Pride concert was a tribute to Brian Epstein, the first manager of the Beatles, who also happened to be gay. Brian added some panache to the act of the Beatles - the theatrics of the mop tops, the suits and their characteristic bow. Our chorus, SFGMC, and the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band welcomed our special guests - Beatles' aficionado Martin Lewis, who is the webmaster of the official Brian Epstein website, and the SF LGBT Pride's Celebrity Grand Marshal, Alan Cumming. It was great fun to learn and perform the music of the Beatles and of course the audience was singing along with all of us. One of our singers, Maya Lara, did a knockout performance of John Lennon's "Oh Darling."
GALA Festival VII, July 17-24, Place des Arts, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This was the first GALA Festival to be held outside of the United States. The chorus traveled to Montreal to join and perform for 6,000 delegates representing 175 choruses from around the world. It was great to hear all of the wonderful choruses from Canada. Comedian Kate Clinton performed in the Opening Ceremonies. One of the important highlights of this festival was the Transgender/Gender Queer Festival Chorus. Ever since this festival, each succeeding one has featured transgender and gender queer choruses. Their stories and music has inspired all of us. Another highlight was the Voices of Women concert, which was a celebration of women's voices in GALA Choruses that was being presented for the third time at GALA. For you newbies in the chorus, GALA is the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses and every four years there is a choral festival with LGBTI choruses from all over the world come to perform for each other. The next one will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July, 2020.
Fifth Annual Invitational Pride Concert, August 21, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland. In this concert, we were guests of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus in their Pride Concert. Also on the program were Out on a Clef and VOICES: Lesbian choral Ensemble. This was another wonderful opportunity to join together with three amazing performing organizations and make music with them and to share it with the audience. We sang part of our set that we had sung at GALA in Montreal.
Somewhere Over The Top: An Adult Cabaret, September 17-18, LGBT Community Center. Under Miss Smith's guidance, she wanted the chorus to present two cabarets a year to showcase the many and varied talents of the chorus. This one featured some music with "naughty" lyrics and the finale for this was a Monty Python Sing Along. This was another fun evening of music for us and our audience.
Something's Coming, November 13, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church. This concert was a look ahead to the 25th birthday of the chorus. Our special guests were Voices: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. We sang some South African freedom songs, music by Samuel Barber, "Who Will Buy" from the musical Oliver!, among other songs and the finale we sang with VOICES was "Hold On."
Home for the Holidays, December 24, Castro Theatre. Once again we were the guests of SFGMC at the 9:00 pm show in their wonderful set of Christmas Eve concerts at the fabulous Castro Theatre.