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