Artistic Director Jerry "J.R." Foust, Fall 2001 - Fall 2002
After Michael Carlson stepped down to become Artistic Director of the Oakland/East Bay Gay Men's Chorus, we went through another AD search and we selected Jerry "J.R." Foust. Our first rehearsals with him began in October, 2001.
He was also at this time the Artistic Director of Opus Q East Bay Men's Chorale.
Here is some of his background. He was a singer with the Indianapolis Men's Chorus in 1991 and he has also been a member of VOICES of Kentuckiana and the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, where he served as baritone section leader and Assistant Director.
During his musical studies, he has had the opportunity to perform under conductors and composers like James Mulholland, Joseph Jennings, Alice Parker, Margaret Willis (founder, Chicago Symphony Chorus), Michael Hayden (founder, Indianapolis Men's Chorus) and Sue Coffee (founder, Sound Circle). He had many years of experience instructing young people in instrumental and vocal music, theater, and movement. His musical inspiration and hero is Leonard Bernstein and he likes to have a Bernstein piece performed in every concert.
The first concert that LGCSF sang in with J.R. as AD was as guests on the Opus Q winter concert "Let Music Live!" which was performed at the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley. This concert was also the first time that Stephanie Smith performed as our accompanist. As always whenever there is a change in the leadership of the chorus there is a change in the membership as well but as some singers left we were happy to have new singers join us. One thing that I have noticed about new members coming into LGCSF is that from the start they either get what we are about and stay or they don't and they leave. At this point with J.R. we were about 30 strong.
On December 24, 2001, LGCSF was a guest on the SFGMC's Home for the Holiday performances at the Castro Theatre. This was the first time for us to be on this program.
Our first program in 2002 with J.R. was "Afterglow - a Castro Cabaret" and was held at Cafe du Nord for two nights in February. Opus Q was our guest on this show. Following this in March was our first full concert on our own under the direction of J.R. called "The Promise of Living." This was followed by our appearance in the 24th Annual Pride Concert along with SFGMC and the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Also appearing as special guests were Sharon Gless and Sir Ian McKellen.
This was our last concert with J.R. as our AD and I am not sure of all the reasons why he left after such a short time but one guess is that he wanted to be the full time AD of Opus Q as well as to finish his Masters degree at UC Berkeley. I will have more detailed posts about these concerts when I get back to writing about them in the future.
Next week I will be writing about our next AD, Stephanie Smith and the impact she had on LGCSF.
Cheers in harmony, Michael Lucero, storyteller and historian
Stefanie Grosekemper, a singer in our soprano section, shares her thoughts on the song "And We Walked" from the choral suite "Quiet No More".
Artistic Director Michael Carlson - Late 1998 - September, 2001
Our next Artistic Director, Michael Carlson, came to the Chorus in late 1998. He came to San Francisco from Reno, Nevada, where he had been Director of Music for the Roman Catholic Diocese there. He had received a wealth of choral experience the University of Nevada Las Vegas and and University of Nevada Reno. In Las Vegas, Michael was the first associate conductor of UNLV's Varsity Men's Glee Club. He had studied with the great choral conductor, Robert Shaw. He is also a trained lyric baritone and continues to perform musical theater and operatic roles.
Michael at this time was the manager of a new boutique hotel in the Tenderloin and through his contacts in the business community we were able to have gigs in the community such as for the LGBT group from Pacific Telesis at one of their events and to sing at the Academy of Friends event in 1999 and 2000 where we also got to watch the Academy Awards in style.
His first concert directing us was "A Family Album - the 21st Annual Pride Concert" in June, 1999. This was also the introduction to us of the wonderful June Bonacich who was accompanist for us at this time. The chorus was at 38 strong then and I noticed that Deb Cohler, Yolanda DeByle, Joan Goldman and Linda Rodriguey were in the alto section. And we continue to love them for who they are and what they contribute to the chorus.
This concert featured the Bearatones, a male quintet accompanied by Thaddeus Pinkston. Also there were Voices, the East Bay Lesbian Ensemble, Out on a Clef, a female quartet in which June Bonacich was the baritone, the GAPA Chorus and the S. F. Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. It was a great evening for all of us as we got be with all of these Bay Area musical friends to present our music to our wonderful audience.
The year of 2000 was a big one for us because we were going to GALA Festival in July in San Jose, and we performed in the Pride Concert as usual in June, and we had a concert called "Across the Ponds" which featured Schola Cantorosa, Gay Men's Chorus of Hamburg, Germany, and VOICES: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. We did this on July 20, two days before GALA Festival began on July 22. We hosted the German men in our homes and had social time with them as well as rehearsing with them. Schola Cantorosa is a show chorus and their show was called "Dressed to Kill." From the program they say "Enjoy the culmination of artwork, fabulous music, spectacular choreography, funky costumes and enter the world of stage!!!" They were unlike anything we or our audience had seen and they brought the house down then and also at the GALA Festival.
Michael's last concert with us was on September 8, 2001, at the Second Annual Pride Concert of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus which was called "Building a World Together." We were guests on the program along with Opus - East Bay Men's Chorale, Out on a Clef, SDK with Thaddeus Pinkston on piano, and the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus. At this point Michael had become Artistic Director of Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. The last song we sang with him was "The Long Day Closes."
Next week I will be writing about our next AD, J. R. Foust.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
Joe Sigman, a singer in our bass section, shares his story of growing up gay and participating in activism.
Bill Ganz, Acting Director, fall of 1998
Hello to my faithful readers.
Happy May to all of you. Since Trente Morant, our previous AD had stepped down the chorus once again turned to Bill Ganz to be our Acting Director for the fall of 1998. As you may recall from a previous entry, Bill had been our Interim Director in 1985 as the chorus went through some changes.
I would like to give you some background on Bill about what he had been doing at that time. He had directed the UC Men's Chorale and the Cal Jazz Choir at UC Berkeley for eight years. He had also served as Associate Director of UC Choral Ensembles. In addition to his duties at UC Berkeley, he had served as conductor of the award-winning Cable Car Chorus, which is a barbershop quartet.
On November 6 & 7, 1998, Bill led us in our fall concert Classical Music for Cowards. At this point, we were at 32 singers with good representation in all four sections. This concert brought us back to what our first AD, Robin Kay, loved, classical music. But this was Bill's take on the repertoire and he wanted to make it fun for us to learn and sing and to bring that sense of fun to our audience. Bill told us at our first rehearsal for this concert that we should not be afraid of classical music and it turned out that he was right. From what I remember, Bill really got us to blend and to listen to each other and that was a valuable lesson we all learned.
Joining us in this concert was the Oberon Quartet, two violinists, a violist and a cellist. They played the overture to the evening, the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by J. S. Bach. We sang music by G. F. Handel, five pieces from Schubert's "Mass in G," the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Benedictus and the Agnus Dei. We also sang a couple of fugues - "The Heart of the Fugue" and "Geographical Fugue." For something a little lighter there was a soprano and alto quintet who performed "Hail Holy Queen" from the movie "Sister Act." We ended the evening with "Amazing Grace" which had been arranged by Sky Evergreen.
One thing I found funny in the program was we had a Movement Coordinator, Alena Cawthorne, and that Scenic Ambiance was provided by our Production Committee. That's it for this week. Next time I will be writing about our newest AD, Michael Carlson.
Cheers, love and song, Michael Lucero
Kelly Sundin, a singer in our tenor section, shares their thoughts on the songs "What If Truth is All We Have?" and "And We Walked" from the choral suite "Quiet No More".
LGCSF singer Pax Ahimsa Gethen reflects on gender transition, voice changes, and the role of trans people of color in the Stonewall Uprising.
Hi, I’m Pax. I sing in the bass section of LGCSF, but when I first joined our chorus in 2013, my voice was in the alto range. While singing in the alto section, I came to realize that I was transgender. Though I’d been assigned female at birth, I’d suspected for some time that I was not a woman. I’d always preferred to sing songs written for male voices, and felt out of place in a section that was, at that time, all women. I switched to the tenor section, and soon afterward started on testosterone therapy, which gradually lowered my voice to the baritone range.
I also sing with New Voices Bay Area, a new chorus hosted by the Community Music Center specifically for transgender, intersex, and genderqueer singers. This February, we hosted a symposium, Trans and Singing, which was a great opportunity to educate singers and voice teachers about the unique talents of, and challenges faced by, singers in our community.
Being transgender, I feel a special connection to the Stonewall Uprising. Trans and gender-nonconforming people, particularly people of color like myself, were on the front lines of the riots, and were the most likely to be harassed by the police. Fifty years later, there is a lot more awareness about our community, but we are still facing discrimination and violence.
One of the songs in our upcoming concert, “Glorious Beauties”, was written by Our Lady J, a trans musician known for her writing for the TV shows Transparent and Pose. One of the lyrics reads, “Some say we’re freaks, we’re monsters. We say we’re nothing new.” Indeed, trans people--under various names and faces--have always existed. We will continue to exist, persist, and resist. “No, we won’t back down.”
Video and audio editing by Pax Ahimsa Gethen and Ziggy Tomcich
“Glorious Beauties” music and lyrics by Our Lady J
Sign up for information about the Community Music Center Trans and Singing symposium: http://tinyurl.com/trans-and-singing
LGCSF will be performing "Quiet No More", a brand new choral suite celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, at our OUT in the Streets concert on May 31. Get tickets at https://stonewall50.brownpapertickets.com/.