Greetings to all of my fabulous readers out there in the universe. Hopefully you are all staying safe and inside to minimize the effects of all the smoke and smog in our air.
This week I am continuing my series on the Art and Music of the chorus. We have had the great fortune to have some amazing artists who have created the art for our flyers, posters and program covers. I have included four photos of flyers from our early cabarets with Stephanie Smith. These were "Full Moon Full of Love" from 2002, which featured someone with their hands up in front of a full moon. For "Role Playing" from 2003, the flyer features stylized figures underneath stage lights. These two cabarets were held at the Cafe du Nord downstairs in the Swedish American Hall.
In 2004 we were in our new home for our cabarets in the Rainbow Room at the LGBT Community Center where we pereformed the first of our "Love Bites" (more about these next week) cabarets in February and "Somewhere Over the Top: An Adult Cabaret" which we performed in September. The flyer for this was a stylized picture of our guest performance artist and emcee Jamie Glowacki.
These cabarets were great fun for us and especially for those singers who wanted to perform solos, duets, trios, etc. around the theme of whatever the title of the show was. There was usually one or two full chorus numbers and in "Full Moon Full of Love" that was "Somewhere" which was our go to song. Also in this cabaret our special guests were singer Corey Grundman accompanied by someone very familiar to us, Barry Lloyd. From the program sheet for this I see that there were mostly love songs like "Only Love," "Night and Day," "If Ever I Would Leave You," "The One I Love," and one by The Australia Contingent who sang "Let Me Live" by Queen. If anyone out there remembers who the Australia Contingent were please let me know because I do not remember who they were.
What I recall from the "Role Playing" cabaret as the favorite song for me was Jed Herman singing "Beauty School Dropout" from "Grease" as he was working with a blonde wig on a foam head.
For "Somewhere Over the Top" cabaret the chorus was at 46 strong including a straight married couple, Becky and Sean Quinlan. The reason this was called an adult cabaret was that some of the songs were just a little bit or a lot naughty. Our guest Jamie opened the show with "Anything Goes" by Cole Porter, "Leather" by Tori Amos and "My Favorite Things" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which included various leather items. Other songs by various of our soloists were "Smut," "It's Nice to Have a Man Around the House," one of the early songs Jack Dubowsky wrote for us called "Big Feet" sung by the tenors and basses and "Making Love Alone" by our choralographer Kirk Johnson. To close out the first half was "The Streak" complete with our own streaker, Yann Jouvenot and was sung by the sopranos and altos.
The second half began with Jamie singing two more songs that she adapted "All That 'Ass'", and "Don't Fence Me In". Then there was "The Masochism Tango" and "A Place Where I Can Smoke" and we ended the show with a "Monty Python Sing Along". This was great fun for us and for our audience who really sang along to the Monty Python naughty songs. Next week I will feature some of the flyer art from some of our "Love Bites" cabarets so see you all then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and any new ones on this hot Labor Day weekend. I hope you are all staying safe, cool and hydrated. This week I am writing about our fourth official CD "Group Therapy" with music and lyrics by our own June Bonacich. But first I would like to share a few quotes from Stephanie Smith that she wrote in the program of our 25th Anniversary Concert. "My experiences with the Chorus have been varied and treasured and they are what make me stay. My first experience with LGCSF was as its pianist. I was asked to serve as interim during the search for a permanent artistic director in 2001. My "audition" was quite funny. I ran the first half of the rehearsal as usual, and then auditioned after break... I wanted the position, but I also wanted what was best for the Chorus. Happily, I was selected and my title changed from Interim to Artistic Director. Same pay, same routine, different commitment and I was overjoyed."
Back to "Group Therapy". For the show we were at 37 strong. This was a musical written for us by June and we were blessed to have the beautiful and talented Michael Mohammed as our stage director and choreographer. As he worked with Stephanie and us in our rehearsals toward our performances of "GT" we really came together, the cast became very comfortable in their roles so we were ready for our dress rehearsal which is the performance that was recorded for the CD. Even the orchestra was beautiful with June on synthesizer, Alyras on bass, Erika Johnson on drums, Luba Kravchenko on piano and Ashley Moore on electric guitar. The show was held at the Rainbow Room of the LGBT Community Center in early November, 2005. We were in our costumes and makeup and were backstage ready to go on. We could hear the small group who were there to witness our dress rehearsal. And here we go.
As the orchestra played the overture we came on singing "Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I feel like a nut". The story line was about Katie who had just moved to San Francisco and her adventures in the City, finding a therapy group, deciding if she was a lesbian or not, getting a new hairdo, and hearing the stories of the others in her group. The first song was "The Hairdresser Polka" as Katie (Wendy) sang and the hairdressers did their magic on her hair. In group Jill (Sharon) sang "What More Could I Ask For?" being clearly content with her cat. Next was P. Francis Tucker (Scott) had always been chicken and was chased and spanked by big chickens in "He's Chicken". Then Evelyn, the therapist (Mary) informed the group about transference in "The Transference Tango" as we all tangoed and changed many partners as we went through transference. Then Stan (Shane) and backup singers performed "Looking Back", a "long" look back at his life. The first act closed with Jill and ensemble singing and dancing "Psychobabble Waltz".
Act II began with Jill and ensemble singing "Dysfunctional Relationship" which we can all probably relate to. Next was Nathan (Jed) singing how he would like to "Run Away". P. Francis Tucker and the chickens were back with "I Always Tried to Please You". Then the trio of Jenny (Noam), Marybeth (CeCe) and Katie sang "It's So Clear Now" after going through therapy. Then Marybeth and ensemble sang and danced country style to "Stomp on My Heart". Next the ensemble sang "Marybeth" about her life and when she went to the prom with her boyfriend and ended up with her girlfriend. Love wins out. The show ended with everyone singing the uplifting "As I Say Yes to Life" as we all looked forward to the future. The show was a hit as we would perform it again in Chicago in 2006 during the Gay Games Cultural Week and again as a benefit for the Jon Sims Community Center. The whole experience of "Group Therapy" for me was so wonderful for me as we all became comfortable in our roles in it and the personalities of the cast really shown through. If anyone would like to listen to my CD just let me know as I am happy to share it with you. Next week more LGCSF Music and Art. See you all on Zoom at our first rehearsal on Thursday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
As members and allies of the LGBTQ community, we recognize that committing to social justice and meaningful change requires more than sharing hashtags and statements of support. In that spirit, we share the aims of Black Voices Matter, a pledge of anti-racism in choral practice. We pledge specifically to the goals outlined in the sections addressed to conductors and to choral non-profit organizations, boards, and administrators. LGCSF will be pursuing these goals with the help of the GALA New Harmony Workbook and the Of/By/For All program.
Michael Reilly and the Board of Directors,
Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and welcome to any new ones. To give you all something positive, this week I am writing about our 3rd CD which celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2005. The music on this recording is from three concerts, "Composers in the Mist", May 8, 2004; "Something's Coming", November 13, 2004 and "LGCSF 25", May 7, 2005 with four songs from each concert. The chorus was under the direction of Stephanie Lynne Smith, with accompanists Ben Prince, Grace Renaud and Richard Link. During this time there were 48 of us singers on these recordings. The music we sang was either composed or arranged by members or friends of the chorus and it was our privilege to sing the music of people we know.
"Composers in the Mist". Jack Dubowsky wrote the music for the first three songs to texts by three different writers. They were "Twilight in Technicolor", "Double Nut", and "Sing We and Chant It". The fourth one was June Bonacich's "Dysfunctional Relationship" which we can all relate to in some manner or other.
"Something's Coming". The four songs from this concert were "There Comes a Time" by Connie Kaldor, "If Music Be the Food of Love" by Jean Belmont for all the romantics, "Let the River Run" by Carly Simon with a great solo by CeCe Cannavo and "Bashana Haba'ah", arranged by John Leavitt, with a beautiful solo by Jed Herman.
"LGCSF 25". This was our 25th anniversary concert at the Brava Theatre. We had invited alumni of the chorus to join us and we sang "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" with them. This had been our signature song during our first years as a chorus. The other three were favorites of the chorus; "Something Inside So Strong" with a strong solo by Laura Liscar, "Erev Shel Shoshanim" and a big gay anthem "Land of the Free" from "All Rights Reserved" by David Maddux with our wonderful soloists Lisa Rodke and Neck Venegoni. Some of the tracks on the CD were sponsored by members and friends of the chorus.
I have wonderful memories of all three concerts represented on this CD. We shared the stage on the first two concerts - Oakland Gay Men's Chorus and Voices Lesbian Choral Ensemble and it was great to sing with them. It was so much fun to see and sing with the alumni at "25". We loved performing these songs for our audiences which is why we do what we do. As Mary Cantrell wrote in part "Yes, audiences and performers are in the dance that gladdens the heart and clears the mind, that energizes the soul and takes us away from the mundane". We love our audience so stay tuned to lgcsf.org to see what we will be doing this fall. Next week more Music and Art.
In harmony and love always, Michael Lucero