Cole Thomason-Redus - Fall of 2010
After Stephanie Smith stepped down after the 2010 Pride concert, we were on the search again for an artistic director. We were grateful to have Cole Thomason-Redus on board as our Interim Director. Cole is a fifth-generation San Franciscan and is a sought-after conductor and educator of choral music and musical theater. In 2010 Cole was in his eleventh year as an Artist-in-Residence at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Cole has also been a vocalist and composer for the renowned choral ensemble, Schola Cantorum San Francisco. Many of his works written for the Schola have been recorded, broadcast on NPR and have been performed by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.
Cole led us in our fall concert called "Dead White Men," which was a "mostly classical concert". We sang a Gregorian chant as well as pieces by J. S. Bach, Samuel Barber and Brahms. We also sang a Canadian folk song in French, and two Irish folk songs. We also sang music from Bizet's "Carmen" and Verdi's "La Traviata". And to round out the concert we sang music by Jonathan Larson from "Rent" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Freddie Mercury.
Cole also led us in our 4th Annual Christmas Crap-Array and we performed an outreach gig at a gay bar on Larkin Street and we also sang as guests of SFGMC in their 21st Annual Home for the Holidays concerts at the Castro Theater.
As with any change in leadership, our singing membership went down but our Board of Directors and others kept things going behind the scenes as they were extending the search for a new permanent Artistic Director. I will be writing about that AD, William Sauerland, in the next edition of our History Corner.
I would like to take a break from writing the blog until we come back full time when we start rehearsals again for our fall concert.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
Stephanie Lynne Smith, Part 2 - 2006-2010
Hello faithful readers, here is my continuing blog about Ms. Smith as she continued to grow the chorus both in membership as well as our musicianship and our willingness to try new things. We also had new accompanist and assistant artistic director in Michael Anthony Schuler. Another thing that happened in these years was that Stephanie married Dr. Kathleen Maguire, who was the AD of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus so in a sense both choruses were their adult children and we all had to get along. Both choruses had great times at the Pride Concerts in this decade. We also performed in the SFGMC's Home for the Holidays concerts on Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre and also traveled with SFGMC to Santa Rosa and Modesto as part of their outreach shows in December as well.
Starting with "Group Therapy" in 2005 we began expanding our musical chops as we performed full musicals written for us by June Bonacich and Jack Curtis Dubowsky who gave us "Halloween in the Castro: A Horror Opera." We also staged a one act operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan called "Trial by Jury" and of course we gayed it up to modernize it and make it our own.
The 32nd Annual Pride Concert in 2010 was Stephanie's last concert with us as AD and was titled fittingly enough "The Sound of Fabulous." This was our 30th anniversary season finale and was a fitting tribute to Stephanie as she was on her way to the next part of her life - the stage with her "Fifi and Fanny" shows. Stephanie has since moved to Portland, Oregon, with her wife, Jen Brown. She was artistic director of Confluence, the Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus, and she now has her "Ms. Smith Presents" adult performance classes in which she encourages her students to be the best they can be in their quest to be wonderful and fabulous performers. I guess once a teacher always a teacher and for me that best describes what she brought to LGCSF as she gave us the freedom to be the best we could be in our performances. I love you, Ms. Smith.
Next time I will write about our next Interim Director Cole Thomason-Redus.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Stephanie Lynne Smith, Part 1 - 2002-2005
Stephanie Lynne Smith came to the chorus as an occasional accompanist in 2001 and 2002 with Michael Carlson and Jerry Foust. From this time, the chorus began to know her as a great pianist and we could see her potential of leadership. She is originally from Wichita Falls, Texas and received her Bachelor of Music in Piano performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She also did extensive study in Music Education. In Colorado, she was busy as the assistant choral director at Aurora Central High School and a choral, solo and conducting pianist at the university.
She moved to the Bay Area in 2001, where she received her Master of Music in Chamber Music Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. While at the Conservatory, she played for such luminaries as Menahem Pressler and Emmanuel Ax.
When she became Artistic Director of LGCSF in fall of 2002, she was also the music teacher for K-8 grades at St. Lawrence O'Toole School in Oakland and pianist at Max's Opera Cafe.
We rehearsed at St. Francis Lutheran Church on Church Street across from Safeway. Our first show with Stephanie was a cabaret called "Full Moon of Love" at Cafe du Nord. I noticed on the program sheet that our special guests for this show were Coley Grundman and Barry Lloyd. Our pianist for this show was Vincent Peterson, who eventually became our Assistant Artistic Director. This cabaret was a fundraiser to send singers from the chorus to Sydney to sing in a mass choir for the Gay Games. Stephanie liked these cabaret shows since they were relatively easy to put together and showcased our solo singers to great effect. Eventually in 2004 Stephanie and the Artistic Advisory Committee came up with the idea for our Love Bites shows to be performed around Valentine's Day and to showcase our soloists, duets and trios again singing about the bitter flipside of love - in other words no schmaltzy love songs here.
Our first full concert with Stephanie was our Fall Concert at St. Francis Lutheran Church which became our home venue for our concerts at this time. At this first concert we were 33 strong and singers then and now are Yolanda, Kim and Lisa Vogt sopranos and Deb, Joan and Linda in alto section and yours truly. On December 24 we were again the guests of SFGMC on their annual Home for the Holidays concerts at the Castro Theatre. The year 2003 began with another cabaret at Cafe du Nord called "Role Playing", then an outreach performance at the 8th annual HIV Prevention Awards followed by our Spring Concert - Hope, and the 25th Annual Pride Concert, a fall concert and Home for the Holidays.
February 13, 2004, was the date of the very first Love Bites cabarets and was held at the Rainbow Room at the LGBT Community Center. This became our home for several following Love Bites shows. Next came our spring concert in April, another outreach performance at the SF Jewish Community Center, the Pride Concert and our big trip to the GALA Choruses Festival in beautiful Montreal, Quebec. After we got back from GALA, Stephanie kept us busy as we sang in the Oakland Pride Concert, another cabaret "Somewhere Over the Top," our fall concert and Home for the Holidays.
In 2005 we opened with "Love Still Bites" followed by our 25th Anniversary Concert which was held at the Brava Theatre. Then came the SF Pride Concert and the Oakland Pride Concert and then came "Group Therapy", an original musical composed for us by chorus member the wonderful June Bonacich. More to come on all of these concerts and shows when I return to writing about them individually.
Next time I will be writing more about Stephanie in 2006 through her last year with us 2010.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero