Greetings to all of my faithful readers out there and for any mothers I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. This week I thought I would share some highlights from our Leadsheet in 1994 to give you a taste of what we were doing then. In our first Leadsheet of the year edited by "A Lesbian with a Sense of Humor," Karen McMickle, there was an item for a get together to welcome all the new members at the home of our Administrative Director, Phill Barber. There was also the first notice for our spring retreat to prepare for our spring concert "It's About Love." It was held on March 4-6 at Camp Lomamar in the Santa Cruz mountains. For the new members, retreats are where we "bond" with each other on a VERY personal basis, where we perfect the music, and where we learn the choreography for the upcoming concert. The cost for the retreat was $75 and Eve Benton was the retreat coordinator.
There was also information about our trip to Seattle to sing with the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus and the Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Choir on Saturday, April 16. We will be flying to Seattle and all the actual costs and registration forms for those going will be forthcoming. By the way this was a really fun weekend meeting and spending time with these singers and a great opportunity to perform for a new audience. Also in the calendar were the dates for our regular rehearsals, our retreat, our tech and dress rehearsals and for two Production Committee meetings in January and February. In the calendar in following Leadsheets there was notice for our gig with the Widow Norton's (Jose Sarria) visit to the gravesite of the Emperor Norton. Also included in the Leadsheets was our mission statement - "To provide education and affirmation regarding the positive contributions of lesbians and gay men through the universal language of music as reflected in our motto 'Together in Harmony.'"
In the next Leadsheet there was a column by Tim O'Bayley, the chair of the Production Committee, talking about our upcoming show "It's About Love" and what he and Pat Parr had envisioned for it. It took place at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason and would mark our fourth time in this venue. Publicity would include our new season brochure as well as posters and flyers, as well as paid ads in the local lesbigay press. We would be going minimalist with both set and costumes, with costume changes simplified. Paul Ellis is desigining the set along with Pat to be abstract, minimalist colorful and portable to go with us to Seattle. We will be selling ads for our program to help cover that cost and to make a little extra money for the chorus. One more thing that was included in these Leadsheets were the lyrics for the music that we would be singing in the upcoming concert. We also had rehearsal tapes to listen to that helped with our memorization of our music. Pat was also putting out the word for ideas for music for the Pride Concert.
AS of July 28 we had a new Leadsheet editor, Sam Pizalato. He asked that we return our vests which we wore in the Pride Concert to our Wardrobe Warden Mary Cantrell. Again it was time for our fall retreat to take place on the weekend of September-October 2. It would be at Camp Harmon in the Santa Cruz mountains and Eve Benton was once again the retreat coordinator. In the calendar Sam included the birthdays of members so we would know who to celebrate. There was also a performance schedule starting with the Mr. & Ms. Cheeks & Chaps fundraiser on August 19 at the Eagle, a tree planting for Don Killam at the AIDS Memorial Grove on August 20, the P-Flag Convention at the Hyatt Regency Ball Room on September 4, the retreat, our dress rehearsals at the venues in Oakland and San Francisco on October 19 and 20 and concerts on the 21 and 22, the Persons with AIDS Thanksgiving Day dinner on November 24, the Castro Tree Lighting on December 3, the Godfather Service Fund caroling on December 11 and the Persons with AIDS Christmas Eve dinner on December 24. So as you all can see we had a very busy year in 1994 and we all grew closer as we prepared for all of these performances and shared our love of music with our audiences.
Well my lovelies, that is all for this week so I hope you enjoy this blog and I will be bringing you something new next week. Take care of yourselves, hug your loved ones now that we can, please let me hear your feedback and your ideas about future History Corners.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings again to all my faithful readers and friends,
I hope you are all well and staying safe and getting vaccinated so we can all get back together and sing. This week I want to write about early 1998 when we were under the artistic direction of Trente Morant. We were preparing for our Spice It Up! concert with two dates on March 13 and 14 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. This was the beginning of our 18th Anniversary Theatre and Trente wanted to bring together several styles of music to this concert. We had three special guests, Jill Togawa of Purple Moon Dance Project, Jackeline Rago of Crosspulse and Jonnie Pekelny, who was a friend of Jill Tallmer. The chorus at this point was at 48 strong and three of our altos, Deb, Yolanda and Linda were on the roster and Deb was part of a solo ensemble who sang "Oughta Be a Woman" by Sweet Honey in the Rock. The chorus also sang another Sweet Honey in the Rock song "Breaths" which was arranged by Trente. He also wrote and arranged a "Gloria" for us, and arranged a song by Oscar Peterson, Jr., called "Afro Blue". Jill Togawa danced and choreographed for us "Una Like No a Like" and Jackeline gave us excerpts from her "Spiritual Procession", which were "Sangueos" and "Calypso" so we were all moving to these rhythms as we sang. This is just some of what we sang. In our rehearsals for this we really worked on learning not only the music and words and also the rhythms for the various songs. We had a really great out of town retreat weekend where we worked hard on all of this along with the memorization of everything so we would be ready for the concerts. These concerts were advertised in the Fort Mason March 1998 newsletter and we also had flyers that we distributed throughout the City.
In the Leadsheet that came out on March 26 after our concerts, Trente thanked all of us for a fun concert. He said there were many former members of the chorus in the audience who said they were pleasantly surprised. He said that we all did a very good job with all of Jackie Rago's compositions. The only sort of negative thing Trente mentioned was where was the audience? Even with all of our efforts and advertising we all agreed that we need to do more. So with our preparations for the upcoming 20th Pride Concert we had tickets to sell the first week of May. The mailing list will be worked on and flyers and information will be sent out the last week of May. Flyer and poster distribution will begin the first week of June and we will have all the information for Chorus members to sell ads in our program.
The point of all this I think is that we as a chorus have struggled to sell and get a full audience to our concerts on a consistent basis. And I am wondering going forward how will we be marketing our concerts to get our audiences back and to let them it is safe to be in our performance venues to hear us and of course for all of us to feel safe. Let's all think about this and work together to show that we are strong and ready to lead with love. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will have more on the glorious history of our Chorus.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucer
Greetings and hello to all of my faithful readers,
This week as I have gone through my archives from 1990 I thought I would write about three chorus-related events that occurred that year.
On December 28, there was "An Evening to Remember Bob Cramer". This was held in the City Hall Rotunda. Bob was the founder of the Cable Car Awards which began in 1974. A couple of weeks ago at rehearsal Calliope asked what the Cable Car Awards were and Jesse Lanou and I explained what they were. They were an annual awards show honoring accomplishments within San Francisco's lesbian/gay community. The show had been acknowledged and gained respect as the largest gay awards show anywhere. It started out in Bimbo's nightclub then moved to the Japan Center Theatre and then to the San Francisco Giftcenter. As Chair of the Awards Bob is credited by many for bringing together the emerging lesbian and gay men's communities. As the show was presented each year, he insisted that gay women be included in every area of planning, production, award judging and as recipients of the awards. Mayor Art Agnos, Supervisor Harry Britt, Jose Sarria, State Senator Milton Marks and Richard Hongisto were some of the dignitaries who participated. Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco sang "Hand in Hand" by our own Jesse Lanou. One more historical note is that Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow flag, did the building lighting and donated the flags. I included a photo of the cover of the program with a photo of Bob Cramer.
The second item I want to talk about is fundraising booklet of discount coupons from businesses that join with you in supporting community and AIDS-related organizations. The trio that put this together were known as MxIII, R. Guy McGinnis, Gary Menger and our own Rose Mary Mitchell. They did the outreach to the businesses in the booklet and they note that they had personally visited every business advertising in the book so they gave their three thumbs in recommending these businesses. All proceeds from this equally benefitted Project Open Hand, Gay Rescue Mission, the SF Band Foundation, the AIDS Emergency Fund and Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF. I included a photo of the cover and one of Guy, Gary and Rose Mary.
The third item to talk about is our inclusion in the Old First Concerts which were held at the Old First Church on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. The chorus was part of their Spring 1990 season. We sang on April 20 and presented our classical concert, Brahms and Bernstein, which was part of our 10th Anniversary season of making music and creating community. Under the direction of Pat Parr and with guest soprano, Teresa Cardinale, we present Brahms "Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103", "Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53" and Leonard Bernstein's "Gloria" from "Mass" and the "Chichester Psalms". This was challenging music for us but we were inspired by singing in this beautiful church. I have included two photos, one of us and one of the program. Please enjoy all of these photos and thank you for coming along on my journey through the history of our wonderful chorus. Please give me any feedback you have and let me know what you enjoy or anything you might want to learn more about. See you next week with more of our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and have gotten your vaccinations or are planning to get them. The more who do this the sooner we can be back together in person again.
This week I thought I would do something a little different, because I can, and write about some of what went on behind the scenes in 1992 which was a busy year for us.
The chorus was going to the GALA Choruses Festival IV in Denver in July, 1992. Jack Hamilton, who was the GALA liaison at that time, presented a memo on July 25, 1991, a year in advance, to all chorus members of what to expect at Festival. This included the cost of everything, including airfare, the GALA registration fee, food and lodging. Jack wrote that the cost to attend Festival would cost a minimum of $700 per person. He said that the chorus hoped to raise enough money to subsidize some of the cost for everyone, and most of the cost for people for whom paying $700 would be a hardship. We wanted as many people to go to Festival as possible, so it was important that everyone participate in fundraising activities. The breakdown of the projected costs were:
Air fare $350.00
GALA registration 65.00
The chorus had set up a savings plan to help members put away money in advance, and to make it easier for them to handle payments to airlines and hotels. We encouraged everyone who plans to go to put as much money in as soon as possible.
As far as travel and hotel arrangements went for this Festival, the chorus was planning to travel and fly together to Denver and stay in the same hotel. The chorus would be making the arrangements for all of us. The dates for the Festival were June 28 to July 5. The Festival Committee was asking all attending choruses to arrive on Saturday, June 27, to have a day to settle in before Festival began and to also participate in their Pride Parade. This is what we did as well as many other choruses to the great joy of the people all along the parade route which ended at the park in front of the Colorado Capitol building. This was a great way for us to begin our week at Festival and we had a 4 pm rehearsal and the Opening Concert that night at 8 pm. We also had another rehearsal at 9 am Monday morning and there would be three blocks of concerts Monday through Friday and small groups concerts late nights. Obviously this was our biggest event for the year and most, if not all, of the chorus went to Denver and we all had a great time enjoying the music, the people we met from the other choruses, the food, and of course the socializing.
Next I would like to share some of what our PR committee was up to in 1992, what they were planning for the year which included a three year plan for chorus goals through 1994. They would be preparing calendar notices for the gay papers. One of the members had all the necessary information for this, including the deadlines for the papers, copying the information of upcoming concerts and events, and contacting concierges at various hotels in town. Another would supervise development and distribution of a monthly or quarterly calendar to send out. They also talked about our involvement with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). As far as the three year plan went, in 1992 would be a nurturing and wooing year to make inroads into CVB and the press, especially the straight press. They would be getting more photos of the chorus for publicity and would promote Menage. Also they talked about producing a video for publicity. The concept was to develop an 8- to 10 minute videotape to use for fundraising and audience development. This would include archival stills with voiceover, show clips and talking heads who will talk about the history of the chorus, and the members talking about being "Together in Harmony" as men and women working together. There was more detail about what it would take to get this project done. As far as I know and for whatever reason this video unfortunately never got made.
For 1993 they would develop and produce a first class brochure of the chorus. We will look at doing some cooperative pieces. They would continue to promote Menage. They were pursuing getting a regular TV show on CATV (cable to you) developing this idea with the Outreach and Fundraising committees. And for 1994 they were looking toward developing the PR support for a national tour.
Our Administrative Director put out a year long calendar in January. As I looked through this we were busy with rehearsals, which included chorus socials before rehearsals from 7 to 7:30, meetings of the Board of Directors, the Board retreat, dress rehearsals for our spring concert and the concert in April, an Eagle beer bust, rehearsals both regular and dress for the Pride concert in June, off to Denver and Festival, Folsom Street Fair beer booth in September, another Eagle beer bust in October and an in-town retreat to get ready for our fall concert, rehearsals for the Holiday Concert with SFGMC in December and we finally had time off after that concert. I included two photos, one of the cover of the Denver GALA Festival program and the cover of our 1992 Pride concert so enjoy those. That is it until next week so be on the lookout for the next History Corner. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
LGCSF History Corner: Some Musings on GALA Choruses Past and Present and Three Concerts I Watched This Weekend
Greetings to all of my faithful readers, I hope you are all well and getting vaccinated as you are able. Phil and I both have been fully vaccinated so we are now just waiting until the time comes when we can all be together again.
This time I want to share some musings on GALA Choruses past and present. In my archives I came across a couple of GALAgrams which were the way news from GALA was presented to all choruses in the 1990s and 2000s before social media and the Internet. In the one from Spring 1998 the cover story was about the second Singers Weekend and Leadership Conference to take place in Dallas over the Labor Day weekend. At that time when there were fewer choruses in GALA the Singers Weekends were offered for singers to come together and take part in either a mass SATB, SSAA or TTBB chorus under the direction of directors of a GALA chorus. Singers will be rehearsing, attending masterclasses and clinics and seeing old friends and making new ones.
In May/June of 2002 we received the 20th Anniversary Supplement of the GALAgram which talked about Why We Sing, Our History and Our Legacy - Twenty Years Together and Counting. What that meant then with the growth of GALA came the demand for more sophisticated education and training and strong artistic and social change leadership for GALA Choruses leadership. The GALA Choruses Board of Directors committed to the strategic questions that will strengthen choral relevance in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community and beyond.
During this time in the early 2000s there were two regional festivals which were held between the the GALA Festivals in 2000 and 2004. There was a Western Regional Festival in Seattle in May, 2002 and an Eastern Regional Festival in Cincinnati in July, 2002. At the Western Regional the first gay youth chorus in GALA, the GLASS Youth Chorus from Vancouver, B.C. performed for the first time. Also in 2002 the Gay Games were held in Sydney, Australia, on October 25 - November 9. Members of any of GALA Choruses were invited to come to be part of the Cultural Festival that was occurring at the same time and to sing in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and to sing in the big concert in the Sydney Opera House. Some members of LGCSF went to Sydney for this amazing experience and came back with great stories to share with us. Unfortunately I was not able to go to Sydney.
The third GALAgram I want to highlight is from Fall 2007 and was the Special 25th Anniversary issue. Robin Godfrey, the General Manager of GALA at that time, wrote, in part, "GALA Choruses is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What began as a network of support for GLBT choruses beginning to form in the early 1980s has evolved into an association of over 120 member choruses on three continents involving more than 7,500 singers. GALA Choruses produces the largest GLBT performing arts festival in the world with more than 5,500 delegates in attendance at Festival VIIe in Montreal in 2004 and a similar crowd expected for Festival 2008 Miami next summer". There was also a great article entitled "Mixed Choruses Play a Unique Role within GALA" which talked about the growth of LGBT choruses and the music they bring to share with the world.
Next I want to share with you that I spent my weekend watching three concerts from four GALA choruses. First up were the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus and Atlanta Women's Chorus presenting their show "Never Turning Back". It was the first time in nine years that the two choruses had performed together. It was really amazing as each song was performed in a different place either outside in Piedmont Park or around a pool where the women sang "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips and it was so much fun as they were wearing long gowns and dresses. The most moving song was "Angel Down" by Lady Gaga and sung by Panache, the men's chorus small ensemble, against a wall with George Floyd's name written many times. The most fun was a mash up of "I Will Survive/Survivor" which was filmed in a roller rink called the Golden Glide.
The next one was the Cincinnati Men's Chorus in their 30th anniversary show "String of Pearls". The pearl is the traditional gift for a 30 year anniversary so the title was totally appropriate. The men sang a great arrangement of "Fever" and "Moon River" and these were the highlights for me. Another highlight was "Take the A Train" by Billy Strayhorn and was presented with four dancers in what looked like a subway station as they went through their dance which was amazing.
The third one I watched was the South Coast Chorale from Long Beach in their 31st anniversary cabaret "How Can I Keep From Singing". Each singer introduced their song and talked about what was behind their choice to sing it and there were some funny and some very moving reasons shared. One highlight for me was the song "Mamma Said" which is by an artist who I had never heard of before, Mica Paris. I looked her up on iTunes and found she is British, a beautiful woman of color who had been in a couple of gospel groups so she has that background. Look her up and you will be amazed.
I know that the Cincinnati Men's Chorus video is still on YouTube so look for it. I am not sure if the videos of the other shows are still available but look for them. I will be looking for move concerts and cabarets throughout the spring and into summer of the amazing choruses that make up GALA Choruses. I suggest that you join the Facebook group GALA Chorus Members to see the schedule of upcoming concerts. Watching these concerts is a way that I am staying connected to these choruses until we can all be together again in person. Please let me know if you do watch these choruses and what you think about them.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will be back next week with more on our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there in chorus land. I hope you are all doing well and looking forward to getting your vaccinations. Phil and I have both gotten our two shots of the Pfizer vaccine so we are feeling good.
This week I thought I would do something a little different. This is my point of view of 1991 from my participation on the Production Committee (back when we had good working committees) and production of the Spring and Pride concerts. This is from the published minutes of our Production Committee meeting of 4/27/91. Present were Tim O'Bayley, Pat Parr, Terry Stalker, Linda Rohde, Todd King, Stephen Litzenburger, John Young, Chris Decker, Mary Cantrell and me. We talked about the Spring concert "Songstream" in the wrap-up where we reviewed the final budget and learned that the net profit for the concert was $1,280.78. This concert was our classical one featuring the music of American composers with two performances, one in Oakland and the other in San Francisco. Our AD, Pat Parr, reported that overall he thought the concerts went very well, with the exception of poor PR presence and ticket sales in Oakland. Tim O'Bayley, our production coordinator, said that he thought the committee did a great job and the areas that we can improve on are Program Ad Sales, poster coverage both in SF and East Bay, and press relations as there were no reviews. Obviously this was all before we had smartphones, social media, Youtube, Facebook, etc., so we had to get out and pound the pavement to put up posters, and solicit advertising from the community.
Next on the agenda was talking about all the production needs for the upcoming 13th Annual Pride Concert. Pat said his hope is that we fill First Congregational Church. We would be sending letters out to the participating groups on 5/3. They were besides us, Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Vocal Minority, Menage and Voices. We set the prices for tickets at $10, $15 and $25 for a sponsor ticket. We were in the process of being able to accept credit cards.
Among the tasks we all would be involved in were Facility/Technical - Tim investigated renting Pride flags to decorate the church. Mary volunteered her supply of scarves to decorate as well. We had our own mixer and microphones but may need to rent speaker poles. We will audio record this concert. We have to rent spotlights and contacting Hank Plante from Channel 5 News to be our MC and the possibility of TV coverage. For Publicity we will have an ad in the Parade Program and we will get a 25% discount for performing at the Parade Celebration. We will also get ads to all the gay papers and the SF Chronicle for the Pink Section.
The goal for the Pride concert is a $5,000 profit, with Tim doing graphic design and typesetting for the program. Phil Hernandez was the groups liaison and set designer. Todd King was the party coordinator, Marty Cormier handled tickets and ad sales and Pat took care of ticket printing, sound arrangements, etc. We also had three members who were Chorus Motivators to help involve the chorus with telemarketing, mailing, tickets and poster/flyer coverage. So as you all can see there was a lot going behind the scenes to put on this important concert for Pride.
One last thing is that in the Pride Parade and Celebration Program on the pages listing the Celebration Performers and Speakers the Chorus and Menage both performed in the 3:00 pm block on the City Hall Stage. Our own Lisa Gray performed in the leather segment on the Specialty Stage. Also I noticed on the Board of Directors of Parade 91 that our own Joan Zawaski is listed as Fiscal Coordinator. There was also a very interesting article in the Pride program entitled "In Defense of Drags (and Other 'Undesirables')" by Dennis McMillan aka Sister Dana Van Equity of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. In part he writes "I fear it's time again for image-conscious homosexuals to write their annual letters, begging the drag queens to not embarrass the community by disgracing the parade. Now, we who dress wildly do not censure those who prefer to apper less flaming, so why shouldn't we expect the same respect for our choice of dress code?" He goes on to say that it was the drag queens in the Stonewall bar who fought back against the police in June 1969 and without their actions we might not be having this parade. It is always good to have a look at our wider history so we know where we came from and to take up the resolve to always move forward. There are three photos of these items for you to see. As I continue through the archives I never know what I will come across until I sit down and read through what is there. Stay tuned for next time as I share more of our history both Chorus and beyond.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there. I know you are out there because I have gotten feedback from you. I found some new to me material in the chorus archives from 1993 that I want to share with you. These show the outreach the Chorus was doing in the community beyond San Francisco. And in print.
First I found a program from the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus for a concert they produced in March of 1993 called "Classic Memories" held in San Jose. They were directed by Lynne McLaughlin. Their special guest was our jazz octet Menage. The concert featured classic pop music from 1890 to the 1940s with music such as "Bicycle Built for Two", "Ah, Sweet Mystery", "The Charleston", "Sing Hallelujah", "I Got Rhythm" and "Someday My Prince Will Come". Menage performed "Java Jive", There, I've Said It Again", "Time After Time", and "I Remember You". Both groups combined to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as the finale.
The second program I found was one that was In Celebration of Gay Pride Month for GALEEMAS (Gay and Lesbian Employees Association at Pacific Telesis) on June 18, 1993. This was held in San Ramon and the chorus performed songs from our concert "Fantasies: Fairy Tales Can Come True". We sang "Be Our Guest", "Never Never Land", "At the Ballet", "If I Were/I'd Like To Be", "Money Medley", "Beauty and the Beast", "Co-dependent Medley", and "Imagine". This was one way we went on the road to widen our audience and do what we do best - sing for our audience and have fun doing it.
There were two items I found that fall into the print category. The first one was an article in "Alice Reports", which was the newsletter of the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian/Gay Democratic Club. It was titled "Lesbian/Gay Chorus: 13 Years, 'Together in Harmony'". It highlighted the fact that we are the oldest "mixed" chorus in the country and talked up all our endeavors - our concerts, fundraisers, outreach programs, and support of San Francisco community events.
The article also mentions our Cable Car Awards for the chorus and Menage. Also it talks about our sold-out smash hit "Fantasies: Fairy Tales Can Come True" concert and the upcoming 15th Annual Pride Concert which we hosted. My takeaway from this was you never know where the name of the chorus will show up with new praises for us.
Also in 1993 the chorus published two newsletters which were mailed to our friends, family and audience members to let them know of what we had done and what was upcoming. This was called "LGCSF Newsline" and we had two issues, one in April and the other in October. In the October issue we announced the arrival of our first recording "Together in Harmony" coming out in March of 1994 and available on CD and cassette tape - yes Virginia this was way before music streaming and iTunes and Spotify. There was a photo of the chorus in Denver at the 1992 GALA Festival in the atrium between the performance halls. There was also an article about our fall concert which would feature music by gay and lesbian composers. One would be a world premiere written by our pianist Dwight Okamura of three poems by Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall (188?-1943) who was a writer and poet. Her most famous book was "Well of Loneliness". Pat Parr gives thanks to Rodger Pettyjohn for starting the "Composers" concert tradition. Four other members of the chorus also composed music for this concert so it was their world premieres as well. Are there any composers out there either in the chorus or in my readership who would like to have the chorus perform them. Just let our AD, Michael Reilly, know.
One more thing of interest. In the April issue there was an article about our 1993 Annual Fund which was our way then of fundraising for the chorus. It mentions that even a $25 contribution would help and that only ten $25 donors keeps our piano tuned for a year. That's it for this week but as I dig deeper into the archives I will be sharing more LGCSF history with you next week.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers out there. I hope you all are doing well and that some of you have been able to get your vaccinations wherever you are. Phil and I are doing fine and he got his second Pfizer shot on the 10th and I will get my second on the 23rd so we will be good to go.
This week I came across in my archives the program from our performances with the Peninsula Ballet Theatre of "Carmina Burana" that took place in March of 1997. I have included three photos of the program so please take a look at them. This took place during the Pat Parr era and it had always been a dream of his for the chorus to perform the Carmina one way or another. He wanted to make sure that the chorus would be at a point where we would be able to this amazing piece the justice it deserves. I am not sure how the collaboration with Peninsula Ballet Theatre came about but it was quite an ambitious one. There were a lot of moving parts in this production. Of course there was LGCSF and the dancers of Peninsula Ballet Theatre. What a wonderful opportunity this was for us to be working with them. In rehearsals we had a chance to hang out with them a little bit and to get to know them. They were directed and choreographed by Carlos Carvajal. There were two soloists, Roderick Gomez, baritone, and Patty Wolfe, soprano. LGCSF had worked with Patty in the past so we were comfortable with her. There was also Ragazzi, the Peninsula Boys Chorus. There were two pianists, our own Dwight Okamura and Elizabeth Keim who had worked with us from time to time. There was other musical accompaniment by Pacific Sticks. So as you might guess we had to really be on our A game for this.
For any of you who may not know much about "Carmina Burana" they were poems written by wandering scholars and vagrant monks in the late thirteenth century. They were collected by a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Beuron in Bavaria, and kept hidden until the monastery was dissolved, when they found their way to Munich. They were discovered in 1803 and published in 1847.
In 1937, Carl Orff composed this cycle of songs, extolling secular beliefs in the joys of worldly pleasures: drinking, eating, and making love. Carvajal's choreography illustrates the Wheel of Fortune these songs are based on, which weaves a never-ending cycle of life and death, happiness and misfortune, success and failure.
Prior to this the chorus had only sung "O Fortuna," the opening song of this piece so it was great to be able to sing the whole thing which goes like this: Scene I - Wheel of Fortune, Scene II - Spring Time, Scene III - In the Tavern, Scene IV - Court of Love and Scene V - Wheel of Fortune. The English translation of "O fortuna" is "O, luck, like the moon changeable in state, you are always waxing or waning; hateful life is one moment hard and the next moment watches over the mind's acumen in gambling, poverty, power, it melts like ice." This is from the program.
I will finish with this which I have shared before. In May, 2018, we went to Munich to attend the Various Voices European LGBTQI Choral Festival. One of the reasons I wanted to go was to sing "Carmina Burana" with 3,000 singers, a full orchestra, four soloists, and the people of Munich in one of the major squares on a beautiful night of music. This is one of my most cherished musical memories.
Next week I will be bringing back memories of the chorus so please stay tuned. Until then I am as always,
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all well and staying that way by wearing your masks and washing your hands, etc. This time I thought I would write about Mary Cantrell, a long time member of the chorus, who was our wardrobe mistress throughout the Pat Parr years of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s and beyond. In August, 1992, Mary sent a memorandum to the chorus re General Information re Costume/Drag for Chorus Members. She wrote:
General Costume Requirements: We do such a variety of concerts that the drag will probably change drastically from one to another. However, there are some basic you need to have:
Casual: Those appearances, like the Beer Bust or at Candlestick, etc. require: a chorus T-shirt in one of the rainbow flag colors (red, kelly green, royal blue, purple, orange, bright yellow), blue jeans, tennis shoes.
Formal: This will apply to our classical concert in the fall and for other occasions that Pat may designate: black dress pants (or skirts, if you prefer), black socks, black shoes, white long-sleeved, collared dress shirt (to wear with the rhinestoned black ties we have). This year we have added: black long-sleeved, collared dress shirt. So the drag for all new and old chorus members for the fall 1992 classical concert is: BLACK BOTTOM and BLACK TOP! No turtle necks or charcoal grey (sorta black) will do. As usual, ties will be provided.
At other times, we may go even more formal, which means the dressiest, glitziest, sparkliest outfit (in good taste, of course): long dresses, cocktail length dresses, tuxedos, etc.
Shows: Our spring shows are a whole different thing from either of the above, and there is no way to tell you what we will require until the show is more set. As soon as production for a show is decided, however, you will be given instructions on what you need. The Costume Committee will work with people to get you outfitted for a show, but YOU MUST WORK ON IT TOO AND LET US KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU NEED. Usually, you will need to bring in your costumes for approval by a committee member 6 weeks or so before a show, so handling this is very important to insure a smooth show.
I have a couple of notes about the Leadsheet from August, 1992. At that time our own Yolanda deByle took over as the editor of the Leadsheet. She wrote that she wanted to expand it and provide a space that serves you such as a Letters to the Editor column, a Bulletin Board for people who want to announce parties, things for sale or want to buy, etc. We had a garage sale on August 29 and we were working the Castro Street Fair and an Eagle Beer Bust on October 4 at which we were selling Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We were also singing at Candlestick Park on August 21 for the SF Giants "Strike Out AIDS" benefit. So you can see that fall of 1992 started out on a very busy note. One more thing I noticed in the Calendar for August and September is that, besides our regular Thursday rehearsals, there were sectional rehearsals on Wednesday nights, alternating between S & A and T & B. Also we had social time from 7 to 7:30 before rehearsal with a different section hosting. Why does some of this sound familiar as to what we did before Covid hit.
One last thing - in 1992 our three major concerts were "Five Years of Madness" in May, the 14th Annual Pride Concert in June and "Classics of Nature" in October with a concert in Oakland and a second in San Francisco. Costuming and drag for each of these concerts were different so it was important at that time to have the guidance from Mary Cantrell, as Wardrobe Mistress, and the Costume Committee to help us all look our best for our grateful audiences. After all isn't that why we do what we do in the way we do what we do? I have included three photos, two of them with Mary - one of these with Jim Oerther, Michael Mohammed and Pamela Cook backstage at Theatre Rhino - and a two-fer showing us dressed up.
Take care of yourselves and have a great week. Be on the lookout for virtual concerts and cabarets from our sibling GALA choruses on Youtube throughout the spring.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe and wearing your masks, etc. I will be getting my first vaccine tomorrow, March 1, and I am grateful for that. This week I came across some interesting newspaper articles from the Tampa, Florida gay paper "Watermark" that had many items about the GALA V Festival that was held in July, 1996. I have included photos of these in this blog. Among was a photo spread titled Meet the Performers with photos of Chorale Internationale Gai de Paris, Manner Minne, the First Gay Chorus of Berlin, the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, D.C., MUSE & Cincinnati's Women's Choir, Washington D.C.'s Quintessential: Women Singing A Cappella. This Festival was hosted by Crescendo, the Tampa Bay Womyn's Chorus and the Tampa Bay Gay Men's Chorus. LGCSF performed on Wednesday, July 10, in Concert Block #8 and we closed this concert block following five other choruses, Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Another Octave - Connecticut Women's Chorus, Cincinnati Men's Chorus, Ottawa Men's Chorus, Bread & Roses Feminist Singers.
On another page in Watermark there was a list of the GALA V Schedule of Events. There was an Opening Social on Saturday, July 6, inviting people to join the 5,000 Festival delegates. Next day, Sunday, July 7, the delegates marched in the Tampa Gay Pride Parade. That evening was the Opening Ceremonies and World's Largest Hurricane Party. There was a parade of choruses, the keynote address by Dr. Maya Angelou, and Harvey Fierstein was the Master of Ceremonies. Sunday evening began the week of chorus concerts continuing through Saturday, July 13. There was a Gay & Lesbian Night at Busch Gardens with the Flirtations performing, a Women Celebrating Women Concert and Gala with Dr. Ysaye Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock. There was the traditional Legacy Award Dinner and the closing Black & White Ball to celebrate the last evening of GALA V. Also in this issue was an article about Holly Near who performed at Festival as she had performed at past Festivals.
Imagine what things were like in 1996 especially in Florida to host this Festival. I read in this paper "As recently as March, protesters from the American Family Association complained that hosting GALA V and its large contingent of foreign festivals was a bad idea."
In the next paragraph there was this, "the week-long festival will showcase world class talent and a virtual "who's who" of gay entertainment." Everything and everyone came together to put on a wonderful week of sharing music, networking with singers from other choruses and just a feeling of belonging. I also found a copy of the Fall 1996 issue of GALAgram which is how GALA Choruses communicated with all the choruses about what was happening. This was way before computers and social media kept us up to date. The headline on the front page says "Festival V Takes Tampa by Storm" with pictures showing this. I included another page of photos from this as well as on the "Out and About" page showcasing what choruses are doing, there is an item about our upcoming concert "Opera: Grand and Not So Grand". And speaking of ads for us, I came across one from SF Live on their Intelligencer page promoting our March, 1996 concert "A Tribute to the Music of Elton John" which we perfomred at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane of the chorus in 1996 and how we relied on the print media to learn about what was happening and how we advertised ourselves to San Francisco. Who knew then how the world would change in terms of how GALA would grow and change, how LGCSF would grow and change and how we continue to go on in this crazy time with our virtual performances. Enjoy the photos that will accompany this blog entry and please let me know what you think of what I am doing. I appreciate any and all comments and criticisms from you. Take care of yourselves, and I will have something more to write about on the history of LGCSF.
In love and harmony, Michael