First for us in 1991 was the 13th Annual Pride Concert. This was held on June 28 at our favorite, First Congo. Again we were the producers of this concert. This concert was dedicated to Robin Kay our founding director. The concert featured us, Voices: Bay Area Lesbian Ensemble, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Golden Gate Men's Chorus, The Glide Ensemble, Vocal Minority and Menage. Hank Plante, anchorman and reporter for KPIX Channel 5 News, was the evening's emcee.
From our program - "As producers of this concert it has been the goal to include representation by different performing groups from the Lesbian/Gay community each year. The diversity in membership, styles and sizes of the groups performing is possibly the greatest we've ever put together. All artists tonight have one thing in common - the dedication and hard work from each member of each organization necessary to bring the music to life. It is this dedication that brings the meaning of PRIDE to us as musicians and being truly Together in Harmony."
Earlier in the year at the 1991 Cable Car Awards LGCSF was awarded Outstanding Concert for our 12th Annual Pride Concert and Outstanding Performing Group - Menage. Hooray for us!!
Next for us was Bobby Sox to Beatles. This was presented at Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason on October 11 and 12. It featured music from the fifties and sixties. We got to wear our bobby sox and poodle skirts and our tie dye shirts and jeans. One of the highlights was an Elvis medley with four different Elvises. We went from Graduation Day at the end of the first act into We Shall Overcome at the beginning of the second act as we marched in with protest signs. Again we had lots of fun, after lots of hard work and dedication to memorizing all of the music, and so did the audience. Both nights were sold out and they were up on their feet and dancing and singing along.
One thing I would like to let you all know about the chorus at this time. We had both a Board of Directors which included fifteen members and an Advisory Board which consisted of people from the community to help us with advertising, outreach and fundraising. Also we had about 90 singers for this concert so we needed a big theatre and stage for us all. I was getting goosebumps reading through the list of names. In the bass section alone there were 29 of us. Our out of town weekend retreat where we rehearsed the show and bonded and shared meals and worked on costumes together was lots of fun.
Our final concert for 1991 was A Not So Silent Night. This was held on December 7 at the First Unitarian Church and December 8 at First Congo. We shared the stage with the San Francisco Winds of Freedom, the concert band of the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and our award winning octet, Menage. We all shared some beautiful and fun holiday season with our audience.
Congratulations to the chorus! At the 1990 Cable Car Awards the chorus won the award for our Broadway show of last October.
Our first concert of 1990 was called Brahms and Bernstein featuring the music of these two composers. The first of the two concerts was on April 27 at Old First Church on Van Ness in San Francisco as part of their concert series. The second was on April 28 at the First Congregational Church in Oakland. My favorite part of this concert was singing the Chichester Psalms by Leonard.
Next up was the 12th Annual Pride Concert and was our big 10th Anniversary Concert. Our special guests were SFGMC, the SF Gay Freedom Marching Band, Vocal Minority, which was originally an offshoot of LGCSF and alumni of LGCSF. The date was June 22 at First Congregational Church in San Francisco or as we affectionately called it "First Congo." Our first director, Robin Kay, was on hand as guest conductor. We introduced our newest small group "Naugahyde and the Dinettes, which was four of our twisted sisters. As always this Pride Concert was lots of fun for us and our audience and it was great to sing with our alumni once again.
Next up was our big production show "Radio Daze" held September 28 & 29 and October 13 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. The show featured music of the thirties and forties and was presented as a live radio broadcast which began with the famous War of the Worlds broadcast which was originally done by Orson Welles and company. Throughout the show we presented radio commercials of the time. Pat Parr worked with Gene Russo, our choreographer, and Roger Scroggs, stage director and script coordinator. This show was lots of hard work memorizing all of the music, learning dance and stage moves, but all the hard work paid off big time for us and our audience. We ended the night with "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me."
Finally, we ended the year as guests of SFGMC in their holiday show "A Classic Tex-Mex Holiday." Lots of fun as always singing with SFGMC.
Our Own Kind of Music, Pride, GALA Festival III, You and the Night and the Music, kickoff of our Tenth Anniversary Season, and Now Sing with Hearts Aglow.
A member of the chorus last Thursday told me that 1989 is his favorite year - Madonna and company. This was another busy year for the chorus. Our spring concert, Our Own Kind of Music, was the first we had done featuring music by living lesbian and gay composers, including two songs by two of our members and music by our Assistant Director, Marty Stoddard. The music we sang was exciting and challenging.
Next up on June 23 at Mission High School was the Pride Concert - a GALA Chorus Preview. This featured all of the Northern California gay and lesbian choruses - SFGMC, LGCSF, Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Sacramento Men's Chorus, Sacramento Women's Chorus, Santa Cruz Men's Chorus and VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble. This concert gave all of these choruses a chance to preview what they would be singing at the GALA Festival III in Seattle.
This was my first GALA Festival and what an eye opener it was. In July, we all were on our plane to Seattle for the GALA Festival III. It was held on the University of Washington campus and we all stayed in the dorms. What a great way to meet singers from other choruses in the hallways and at breakfast in the cafeteria. There were 43 choruses there to perform over a week of concerts in Meany Hall, the university's concert hall. We decided that we would show our audience of singers the San Francisco attitude. We were dressed to the nines - long gowns and dresses and tuxedos. When the curtain came up we got a standing ovation before even singing a note. One of the pieces we sang was Three Charms from Shakespeare by Conrad Susa. The last movement, "Fairie's Lullaby" from Midsummer Night's Dream featured a bombastic entrance by one of our basses as Oberon on a motorcycle as he cursed and cast a spell on the fairies. One other highlight of this GALA was singing in the Festival SATB chorus which was conducted by Vance George, the director at that time of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. We all learned a lot from him in our rehearsals. After the Closing Ceremonies we all stood outside the theatre in the square and sang along with Holly Near that she had written for all of us. What a way to get energized by hearing all of these choruses and coming back to San Francisco with all sorts of artistic ideas.
Next up for us was You and the Night and the Music, an evening of cabaret to benefit LGCSF. Marga Gomez was the mistress of ceremonies and featured an array of local cabaret singers, including our own Morgan Aiken, Scott Johnston and Menage. This was held in the fabulous Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel. What a fun night that was getting all dressed up again.
Next was the kickoff concert of our tenth season which was called Broadway, Brahms & Bernstein and a Birthday. This concert was a Broadway blockbuster. Our special guest was Lynda Bergren. We were once singing and dancing to these Broadway melodies. One of the highlights was a Duets Medley which featured twelve duets from various musicals. The big finale was Hello Dolly with Lynda as Dolly. This was a lot of fun for us and for our audience.
To finish out the year we were once again the guests of SFGMC in their Now Sing With Hearts Aglow holiday concert at the Herbst Theatre. One of the pieces we sang with SFGMC was John Rutter's "Gloria."
1988 was a busy and important year for the chorus as you will read. We started with a pair of spring shows, one in San Francisco and one in Berkeley, called A Touch of Classics. We sang the music of Wolfgang Mozart and Gabriel Faure. This was our first full concert of classical music with Pat Parr. It was also the first time we had performed outside of San Francisco.
Next up was A Decade of Pride on June 24, 1988. This concert featured us, our subgroups Menage and Fiddlestix, the SFGMC and one of their subgroups, Chamber Singers, and the San Francisco ARCAIDS Theatre. This last group was started at the beginning of 1988 by a group of actors, writers, musicians and other performers with a desire to explore issues pertaining to ARC and AIDS through music and theatre. Everyone in the performing ensemble has AIDS or ARC. What a wonderful group of persons to work with in this Pride concert.
Next up was our big production concert, LGCSF Goes to the Movies held on September 30, 1988 at First Congregational Church. Our special guest was the fabulous Deena Jones who sang The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat. She outdid Carmen Miranda. She also sang Big Noise from Winnetka with a group of dancers behind her in white tuxes and tails. This concert was lots of fun and offered many of our members a chance to shine as soloists, duets and quartets.
The next production we were a part of was In Memory of Friends and in Support of Those Living with AIDS. This was held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and was sold out. We were part of a group of local cabaret performers, such as Sharon McNight, Danny Williams, Darlene Popovic, Jose Sarria, the First Empress of San Francisco, as well as the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps and Flag Corps. This show was one way all of us who were part of it were able to keep the memory of those who had died in our hearts and in the hearts of our audience. At this time in the 1980s, our chorus, along with all other performing arts organizations, had lost members to AIDS. Many in our chorus volunteered in the organizations that formed to take care of them. These groups were the Shanti Project, Stop AIDS Prevention Group, AIDS Emergency Fund, Project Open Hand and many others.
...As part of the props for our LGCSF Goes to Hollywood show, we made two big Oscar statutes. As we were unloading the props from the show, the statues were put on the steps outside the church. Somehow, someone made off with these big Oscars and they are probably in someone's house....
joined the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in August of 1984, after seeing them sing in the Pride Concert the previous June and their director, Matt O'Grady, announced that if anyone in the audience wanted to join the chorus that auditions would be coming up so he joined. During his time in the chorus he has always sang in the bass section. He has served as Music Librarian, on the Production Committee, the Artistic Advisory Committee, as a bass section leader, as the GALA liaison and currently as chorus historian. He is glad to create this blog for the chorus to get the history out to anyone who looks at our website.