Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are well and staying safe and I want to wish a Happy Fathers Day to any dads out there. This week I decided to write about my experiences at GALA Festival IV which was held in Denver from July 28 through July 4, 1992. This turned out to be a big and very busy week for us. We all flew together out of SFO and arrived on Saturday, June 27 and after checking into our hotel rooms and getting our Festival badges and official merchandise and ate, we attended the Denver Pride Concert that evening. We heard and enjoyed the music of our three host choruses, Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Denver Women's Chorus and Harmony: A Colorado Chorale.
The next day, Sunday morning, LGCSF along with many other choruses marched in the Denver Pride Parade and relaxed afterward in the park in front of the Colorado State Capitol. All along the parade route we received cheers and applause from the people watching and we also saw tears on many faces in gratitude that we were there. In 1992 there was a national movement designed to ban civil rights for gays and lesbians and Colorado was one of the first states to be targeted. We saw many signs to vote NO on the measure that was on the ballot in an upcoming election.
This was the second Festival that Phil and I were part of and we thought "Wow what a way to start our week with music and then marching in their Parade." For this Festival there were 64 performing choruses and representatives from 17 other choruses to make up the 3,500 delegates who were there to sing. These singers were from all over the U.S., Canada, England Germany. That Sunday evening we went to the Festival Opening Concert to hear our three host choruses again and to see all of the other choruses that had arrived that day as each chorus stood and shouted their name to thunderous applause from everyone. Then we went to bed and tried to sleep but it was not easy as we were thinking about everything that we had heard and seen and been part of.
Monday morning we were up and on to the first block of concerts starting at 9 am! We learned that each chorus would be performing twice in each of the two theatres that were open for us - Boettcher Concert Hall and the Temple Buell Theatre. So between 9 and 2:30 pm with an intermission we saw ten choruses perform. Then at 4 pm there was a Mixed Choruses Reception where we got to meet and mingle with people from the other mixed choruses. That was a lot of fun and we saw singers who we had met in Seattle. Then we had dinner and at 7 pm we went to the evening concerts featuring four choruses. Then at 9:30 there were small group performances but we went to the hotel and to bed.
Tuesday morning was the time for our onstage rehearsals at the two theatres. Also there were rehearsals for singers who were participating in the Festival Choruses - men's, women's and mixed - who would be singing the music that was commissioned by GALA in the Closing Concert on July 4. Then we had time for lunch and then it was show time for us Tuesday afternoon. In our concert block were Seattle Men's Chorus, West Coast Singers, Great Lakes Men's Chorus, LGCSF and Philadelphia Men's Chorus. We first sang in Boettcher then when we finished we dashed to Buell for our second set. In our set we sang a "Most Unusual Day Medley" - "It's a Most Unusual Day," "The Trolley Song," "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "I Said No," and "Georgie Girl." Then Menage sang "Let the River Run" and we ended with "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" which was complete with the banana ballet with both sexes in native attire and the beautiful and talented Beth Yates as the Lady with the Hat. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that the militant lesbians at the time were incensed with us as they thought the bananas were too phallic. But it was lots of fun for us and we did not think it was offensive at all. That evening there were more small group performances and after we ate we relaxed and went to bed.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were easier for us since we had performed and were now able just to enjoy all the performances of the other choruses. We skipped the small group performances one night and went to one of the big country and western gay bars. Also this week the Gay Rodeo was in town so there were lots of handsome cowboys and cowgirls there to line dance. That was lots of fun.
Friday we went to the concert blocks starting at 11 am. That evening there were two special concerts. The first was "A Time for Remembrance" as we listened to some beautiful music and thought about singers and friends that we had lost to AIDS. And now for something completely different the second concert featured the Flirtations, an acappella group of five men who with their blend of humor and flirting with each other and the audience lifted our hearts and spirits.
On Saturday were the onstage Festival Choruses rehearsals as the singers in these choruses prepared for the Closing Concert which was held in Boettcher. Afterward there was the big closing party hosted by SFGMC in the Galleria of the Performing Arts Complex where we had all sung together, made new friends, laughed and cried and felt renewed as we all went back to our home cities and carried the GALA spirit on as we prepared for a new season of music. This was another eye opening week of wonderful music, dancing, love and making new friends and seeing old ones. Please enjoy the five photos I included of the Festival book and the concert programs and a picture of the chorus on the steps of parking garage across from the theatres. Next week will be all about my experiences at Festival VI in San Jose in 2000. See you then.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. This week I write about my experience at my first GALA Choruses Festival in July, 1989 in Seattle. A alto from LGCSF, Leslie Bayless, was our GALA liaison and she kept us updated as to what was expected of us as to the delegate fee of $40 and the fee for our housing, breakfast and lunch of $195. This GALA was held on the campus of the University of Washington and we all stayed in the co-ed dorms. You can guess what the decor of the dorm rooms became when 2500 singers/interior decorators took charge. Because of our group airfare, we all flew together to Seattle and returned to San Francisco together.
Yes there were 2500 singers representing 43 choruses together for a week of singing, eating, rehearsing, and having fun and getting to know each other. Phil and I met and spent time together with a tenor from the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus. At this point in GALA Choruses history there were 75 member organizations and there were representatives from 57 of them.
We arrived on Sunday, July 2, registered, got our dorm rooms and unpacked and got ready to go to the Opening Concerts which featured our host choruses, the Seattle Men's Chorus and the Seattle Women's Ensemble and their various subgroups, The Derivative Duo, the Chromatones, the Philandros Singers and the Emerald City Volunteers. The first Opening Concert was held in the afternoon followed by an Opening Reception and the Opening Concert was repeated that evening. It was quite a production and we were all blown away by what these two choruses sang and danced. One thing that I remember from that first day is that as the choruses came into Meany Theatre and were seated, one chorus would stand and shout their name to thunderous applause and then another stood and said their name and so on.
The mornings of Festival were for rehearsals of the GALA Commission pieces and music by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky which would be performed by the mass men's, women's and mixed choruses in the Closing Concert and capped off by everyone singing a new song by Holly Near "Come Out Singing" which we sang outside of the theatre in the University's Red Square with Holly.
One of the highlights for me was rehearsing with members of the four other mixed choruses there as we learned the commissioned piece for mixed choruses we would be performing in the Closing Concert which was "Three Charms from Shakespeare" by Conrad Susa. This mass chorus was conducted by Vance George who was the director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. We all learned a lot from him as we read through the three charms - "Witches' Charm," "Dirge" and the "Fairies' Lullaby." The four other choruses singing with us were Cream City Chorus from Milwaukee, Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington DC, the River City Mixed Chorus from Omaha and the West Coast Singers from West Hollywood.
Of course we had our own rehearsal and performance of our set which was in the evening concert block on July 6. Our concert block started with the Los Angeles Women's Community Chorus, then Gay Men's Chorus of Long Beach, Boston Gay Men's Chorus, then us and the evening ended with Portland Gay Men's Chorus so we were in good company.
We sang "Everybody Says Don't" by Stephen Sondheim, then "Hand in Hand" by our own Jesse Kane, then Menage sang "The Birth of the Blues" and we finished with "Passengers of Infinity" which was written for us by Kristin Norderval which we first performed in 1986. Our plan was to show off our San Francisco class and taste and we wore our best evening dresses and tuxedos and struck a pose as the curtain opened and the audience loved us.
Throughout the week as we took in all the different concert blocks and heard and saw all the different choruses from all over the country and Canada, we were blown away by the tremendous talent of our sister and brother singers as we all came together to sing for each other. Sometimes it became a little overwhelming but since it was our first time at Festival we all wanted to do as much as possible. We in the chorus came back to San Francisco on a high as we brought the energy from GALA home and said to ourselves we can do that and that and that. All in all this first GALA Festival for me was a life changing, eye opening experience that I will never forget. I can also truly say that my experiences at the other Festivals I have attended have also been life changing in different ways and I would not have missed any of these Festivals. Here's hoping that it will be safe to sing next year and that we will be able to attend the next Festival.
The photo I attached was from Festival VIII in Miami because I did not have one from Seattle. Next week I think I will write about my experiences at Festival IV in Denver, 1992. See you then and as always sending my love to you all.
Singing in harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers and happy June and Pride month. I hope you are all well and doing everything you can to stay healthy and hopefully sane amidst all that is going on. This week in our history from 1989 I will be writing about what the chorus was doing for fundraising and outreach. Please look at the photographs I attached which show what we were involved in plus a flyer advertising auditions on July 14-26 for the fall season of the chorus - "Sing a variety of styles of music from classical to Broadway in a supportive atmosphere."
One of our first outreach and fundraising events of the year was for a show in Guerneville on Easter Sunday to benefit the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank. There were three events that day - first performances at Fifes featuring Samm Gray and our own Scott Johnston, Morgen Aiken and the chorus plus Menage and Fiddlestix. Following that at the Willows our full ticket donors were invited to a social hour hosted by the owners of the Willows with champagne and hors d'ouevres. Next at the Woods at 6 pm an Easter buffet was served with musical entertainment by the soloists of the afternoon and the chorus.
Our next outreach event was one for our patrons to join us in attending ACT's performance of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" on May 24 at the American Conservatory Theater on Geary. Tickets for $50 were for people who wanted to become chorus patrons and attend a champagne reception.
As I have mentioned in previous History Corners, the Galleon Bar and Restaurant was again in 1989 a home for cabaret shows. On Sundays starting on May 14, our Scott Johnston hosted and performed in "Scott's Broadway" which featured soloists from San Francisco and whenever any of soloists from the chorus performed they would always put in a good word for the chorus and the upcoming Pride Concert in June.
Finally I want to talk about an outreach event that Scott Johnston and Menage were involved in. This was "Hats Off to Hospice" which celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Hospice Programs of Visiting Nurses and Hospice of San Francisco. This was held on December 8 in the Ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott Hotel. Also performing in this show was Nicholas, Glover & Wray, Weslia Whitfield, The Jesters and Jae Ross, who were all well known Bay Area cabaret and stage singers. This was a wonderful evening to honor the nurses and caregivers who provided hospice care and to hear some inspiring and fun music.
I would just like to say that what the chorus did in the eighties and nineties at fundraisers for all of the different AIDS and care organizations made proud and happy to be a part of it as we went out and lived our mission statement. Next week I will be writing a bit more of what the chorus was doing in 1989 so stay tuned.
Sending my love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying safe and trying to stay positive in your hearts and minds through these times. This week I would like to write about what our lovely and talented Leadsheet editor, Bill Ward, wrote about in the Leadsheet in 1988 to keep us informed about what was happening with the chorus, its schedule of rehearsals and concerts and what various individuals were doing. Most of what Bill wrote about during the first few weeks of 1988 was for us to welcome the new members into the chorus and to make sure they feel comfortable as we learn their names and why they came to join this merry band of musicians. He also talked up our spring retreat at Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville during Easter weekend. There will be a Spring Cotillion along with our talent show so bring your prom dresses and tuxes. Of course we will be rehearsing our music for our upcoming concerts in San Francisco and Berkeley - "A Touch of Classics" featuring music by Gabriel Faure and Wolfy Mozart. These concerts were financially and musically successful as we cleared over $1,000 and the people in Berkeley want us back next spring for another concert.
Our fabulous jazz octet, Menage, was nominated for a Cabaret Gold Award and the Awards show will be on April 25 at the Venetian Room. Unfortunately they did not win an award, but they were busy in March as they performed at the Castro Lions Club, then at a fundraiser for the Names Project and the Lyon-Martin Clinic at the Green Room in the War Memorial Building and a show at Big Mama's in beautiful downtown Hayward. Our own Scott Johnston is hosting Open Mike nights on Mondays at the Galleon so if you would like your time in the spotlight just show up there and show the world what you have to offer.
We had a chorus garage sale and I was in charge of this along with several volunteers as Bill asked for the chorus to clean out their closets and donate their stuff. Next up for us was the Gay Pride Concert which will be produced by our own Jesse Kane. She did a fabulous job for us at last year's Pride Concert so this should go smoothly as well. As we were rehearsing our music for Pride, we kept busy in May, with staff meetings, Fiddlestix performing in Walnut Creek for the Contra Costa AIDS Task Force fundraiser, Menage at the Santa Rosa Lions Club, the chorus at Collingwood Recreation Center for the AIDS Bike-A-Thon, then Fiddlestix, Menage and Pat Parr at Amelia's for the Arcadia Bodybuilding Physique then Fiddlestix and Menage performing for the East Bay PWAs. Bill put in a plug reminding us to thank Pat for all the time he puts into directing the chorus, Menage and Fiddlestix plus all the meetings and other performances he does.
In June besides our performing in the Pride Concert, we also rode on a cable car in the Pride Parade and there was a call for four monitors for our group. Sell, sell, sell those concert tickets!! There was a call out to the chorus to help paint sets for the concert. We also staffed a booth at Civic Center after the the arade. Also on June 25 the chorus were handling the food concessions for the Arcadia Bodybuilding Association event at Mission High. Bill was also putting in information for the GALA Festival coming up in Seattle in 1989 and asking for ideas for fundraising for this trip to have the entire chorus be there.
From our updated 1988 schedule, on July 7 rehearsals for our Movies concert started and the 10th was the cutoff for auditions for new members. We were also learning music for the "In Memory of Friends" concert. For the Movies concert, there was a call for people to join the production committee. Phil and I were part of this and I remember a fun day we had making papier mache bananas for use in our performance of "The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat" for this concert. In August two of our rehearsals will be for the staging of the Movies concert with our stage director, Roger Scroggs. September 30 was our "LGCSF Goes to the Movies" concert which I remember was so much fun and all of our hard work paid off.
On October 8 was an all day rehearsal for "In Memory of Friends" with a barbecue lunch provided. October 9 was show time. On November 7 Menage performing a fundraiser at the Plush Room to raise funds for GALA III Festival. In November we had nominations and election of the Board of Directors. The chorus became incorporated. Menage and Fiddlestix were both busy in November and December performing in various venues and the chorus sang with the SFGMC in their Christmas Concerts. Yes 1988 was a busy and exciting year for the chorus and I enjoyed it all because we were all young and healthy and having a good time and making wonderful music and sharing our gifts with our audiences. Next week I will start my in depth look at the chorus in 1989. See you then and stay healthy and positive. I send my love to all of you.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero