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