Greetings and Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you all had safe and healthy holidays however you celebrated them. This first History Corner entry for the new year will be a little different.
First the chorus is coming up on its 41st birthday on January 23. Yes on that day in 1980 we, this group of adventurous and courageous men and women singers came together to sing. This was a whole new territory for us as lesbians and gay men and we all were there for one purpose, to make music and as we that we built community as we became comfortable with each other and of course friendships and relationships were formed.
We were doctors, lawyers, psychologists, funeral directors, engineers, waiters, architects, teachers, sales people, secretaries and bartenders, among other things and in age from 18 to 55. We were part of the Golden Gate Performing Arts and in the spring season concert series program we had 136 singers listed. Our first Artistic Director was Robin Kay who led us through our first three years. From that auspicious beginning, LGCSF along with SFGMC and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps began a musical tradition which came from the mind of Jon Reed Sims who was present at the birth of these three organizations. And we are all still here and thriving, and we need to ask where do we go from here and how do we get there?
One way certainly is survival and LGCSF has certainly survived through changes in Artistic Directors, Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards, changing singing personnel, although one thing I have noticed during my time in the chorus that the new singers who have come to join us and have stayed were people who got and understood who and what this chorus is. There were also changing financial times, a major earthquake, a riot that shut down the City and one of our performances. Then there have two major health crises, the AIDS epidemic and the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been major shifts in the political arena which at times affected all performing arts organizations.
Our chorus was one of the founding members of what is now GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, which now has over 190 member choruses and 10,000 singers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, China, and Cuba. We have performed at eight GALA Chorus Festivals, as well as in our own concerts and in collaboration with many other choruses over the years. We have had music written for us by members of the chorus, we have commissioned or co-commissioned major works that we have presented as world premieres, as well as performed all styles of music - classical, pop, rock, jazz, Broadway, and music from the movies.
We have had a musical written for us by one of our own, June Bonacich, "Group Therapy" that we premiered in 2005 under the baton of Stephanie Lynne Smith with several performances in San Francisco and which we went on the road with to Chicago in 2006 to perform during the cultural week of the Gay Games and some of us sang at the Opening Ceremony there. Some of also sang in the Opening Ceremonies of the first two Gay Games in San Francisco which were called the Gay Olympics in those early days.
This is only a small portion of our history and the question we need to ask ourselves is where do we go from here. I know we will keep on singing and rehearsing in the virtual world, on Zoom for the present and the foreseeable future, as we continue to learn new technology like Soundtrap as we lay down our vocal tracks. I am sure we will be continuing our collaborations with the Freedom Band as we did with them for last December's "Dance Along Nutcracker".
So as this current group of singers and Michael look forward to our new year together let us continue this wonderful and vital community as we learn new music and share it with our audience and the world. I have faith that we will be able to sing together and then to be in front of our audience to sing for them. If there are any alumni out there reading this and would like to sing with us on Zoom, please contact our AD, Michael Reilly, at firstname.lastname@example.org about your interest and he will send you an email with the Zoom link. Hope to see some of you on Zoom. I love and miss you all and so look forward to seeing you on Thursday, January 21, for our first get together and rehearsal and to celebrate our birthday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my wonderful and beautiful readers. This will be my final History Corner for the year that was and I am continuing my series on Pride Concert Programs and Posters art this time from 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. I have included photos of these program covers and posters for your perusal.
On Friday, June 28, 1996, was the 18th Annual Pride Concert held at the Herbst Theatre. This program with art was put together by Pat Parr, our AD, and during his time he created many program covers for a particular season and that had a common theme. A new chorus, Equal Voices, directed by a former of LGCSF, Rick Weaver, joined us for pre-show entertainment. For this concert our host and emcee was Donna Sachet, Empress XXX, who is a big supporter of ours. As this was our 16th anniversary, Donna joined us as we opened the show with "A Sweet Sixteen Birthday Fantasy". Following us were the SFGMC who sang selections from "Naked Man" and they were followed by VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble. After intermission the San Francisco Winds of Freedom opened up the second half and then we were on with our set and then the combined choruses and band performed "We Sing the Dream", which was the GALA Festival V anthem. Pat wrote in the program, in part, "Whether singing to our loyal concert audiences, at AIDS fundraisers, in hospitals, conventions, or at civic events such as the San Francisco Fair Gay Day, we of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus raise our voices and join our hands to share the power and love we fine in singing and working together."
On Friday, June 27, 1997, was the 19th Annual Pride Concert - One Concert, Many Voices at the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Center. Our host for this night of music was our own Lisa Gray and featured pre-show entertainment by Jungle Red, which was an offshoot of LGCSF. This concert was held in honor of Sky Evergreen, a performer, jazz pianist, songwriter, arranger and recording artist. During the 1980s he played at many cabarets in San Francisco backing Sharon McKnight among many other singers. The chorus had sung many of his arrangements over the years as we did on this night. This was also the last concert with our AD, Pat Parr, and SFGMC gave him a tribute in loving appreciation for his selfless dedication and uncompromising artistry in the choral arts during set as the sang "Irish Blessing". There was also a Lifetime Commitment Ceremony - remember this was long before marriage equality - of two of our biggest supporters - John Dobson and R. Guy McGinnis with State Assemblywoman Carol Migden officiating. John and Guy wrote in the program "May the future of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus shine with creative renewal."
The concert with Lisa Gray singing "I'm Gonna Fly" and she was followed by our guests from Long Beach, the South Coast Chorale. They were followed by Equal Voices and then the San Francisco Winds of Freedom. After intermission Lisa Gray was on again followed by SFGMC. Then LGCSF were onstage as we sang three songs arranged by Sky Evergreen - "Lover Come Back to Me", "For All We Know", and "How Long Has This Been Going On". For the finale, the combined choruses and band performed the finale from "In Memory of Friends", "If We Only Have Love" and "Not a Day Goes By". Pat had conducted us in this concert in 1987 so we all came full circle in closing with these two songs with Pat.
On Friday, June 26, 1998, was the 20th Annual Pride Concert - "High on Pride - 20 Years Singing Proud" at the First Unitarian Univeralist Center. This was our first Pride Concert with our new AD, Trente Morant. This night of music opened with the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and they were followed by SFGMC. After intermission our special guests from Canberra, Australia, the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire took the stage for their set closing with "Waltzing Matilda". How appropriate was that. Then we were on for our set with Trente which included a song written by Sky Evergreen, "I Open My Heart", which quickly became a favorite as we kept it in our repertoire to sing wherever we were invited. Trente arranged several of the songs we sang that night and we and the audience were treated to his flamboyant style, both in his fashion sense and his conducting.
On Tuesday, June 22, 1999, was the 21st Annual Pride Concert - "A Family Album", again at the Herbst Theatre. In the program notes we introduced our next new AD, Michael Carlson, and our new accompanist, June Bonacich. They were both a welcome addition to the chorus and we were excited to be working with them. The program notes read, in part, "This evening's concert, A Family Album - the 21st Annual Pride Celebration, begins the Chorus' 20th Anniversary and is focused upon our history as a community and a dedication of a hopeful, prosperous future. Tonight's performance is special for many reasons. Perhaps most exciting for the Chorus is its kickoff of a fundraising campaign and music-making schedule leading to its landmark performance at the Millenium Celebration of GALA Choruses in San Jose next year."
There was a new trio who joined us in this concert, the Bearatones, with our own Thaddeus Pinkston as their Artistic Director/Accompanist. Also joining us for the first time was the lesbian acappella quartet, Out on a Clef, with June Bonacich as one of the four. The GAPA Men's Chorus was with us again as were VOICES: Lesbian Choral Ensemble. The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band were on hand and then we were on with our set that Michael had prepared for us. One song that I really loved was Leonard Bernstein's "Make Our Garden Grow" from Candide. This was very challenging to learn but very rewarding to sing. And we closed with "I Open My Heart" by Sky Evergreen who was still in our thoughts and hearts.
The combined choruses and band closed with "If My Friends Could See Me Now". We invited the audience to sing along so this was a great way to go out and enjoy Pride Weekend with our friends and to carry our spirits forward.
So long for this year - I wish all of you happy holidays, Hannukah, Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Happy New Year or beautiful winter solstice. Keep music in your hearts and heads and I will see you in the new year with more of the history of LGCSF.
In love and harmony always, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers this week on this first Sunday of December. Are you ready to watch our appearance in the Band's Dance-a-Long Nutcracker this weekend? I know I will as well as trying to watch as many of the choruses in GALA in their virtual holiday cabarets and concerts. This weekend was Chicago Gay Men's Chorus' show and there will be concerts to fill all the upcoming weekends through the end of the month. This week I am continuing my series on our Pride Concert program art and featuring the programs from 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. I have included photos of these four programs for your perusal. One thing I want to say about these programs is that we were able to reach out to the community and they responded by placing ads in the programs which helped us to pay for them.
On Friday, June 26, 1992, was the 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Musical Celebration at First Congregational Church in San Francisco. This Pride concert honored the Tenth Anniversary of the Golden Gate Men's Chorus and featured an art exhibit by CASA, which was a social alternative organization focused on Gay - Bisexual Latino issues. It promoted HIV awareness and bi-lingual/bi-cultural services for its members and the Latino community at large. The MCs for this concert were Roberta Achtenberg and Tom Nolan, who were local politicians and great allies and supporters of the LGBTQ community in the 1990s. I want to recognize Tim O'Bayley who I worked with on the Production Committee during this time and he was the one who designed the programs for us.
The first chorus onstage was the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus who were followed by Vocal Minority. Next were VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble directed by our friend, Melanie DeMore. They were followed by Golden Gate Men's Chorus. After intermission the San Francisco Winds of Freedom took the stage who were followed by Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Men's Chorus. Then LGCSF came on and presented our GALA Festival set that we would be performing in Denver that following July. For the finale, the combined choruses and band performed "In This Moment" by Gary Simmons which was a GALA Choruses Festival IV competition winner.
On Friday, June 25, 1993, was the 15th Annual Pride Concert at the Herbst Theatre. From Pat Parr's welcome he wrote, in part, "Tonight's Emcees are legends in their own time both as entertainers and as supporters of Lesbian and Gay rights. Gail Wilson has charmed audiences with her fabulous vocal stylings, and she has devoted endless energy and time as a past Co-Chair of the AIDS Emergency Fund and endless fundraisers. Jose Sarria, Empress I of San Francisco, the Widow Norton, was fighting for Gay rights as a performer at the infamous Black Cat in San Francisco long before Stonewall was designated the beginning of the Gay rights movement. I am pleased to have worked with both of them in the past and am very grateful for their presence tonight.""
First onstage for this Pride Concert were Gail, Jose and LGCSF singing "You're the Top". We were followed by VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble, then came our own Menage, and the Winds of Freedom blew us away as they closed the first act. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus were on to kick off the second half and they were followed by our special guests, The Rhythm Method, a talented quartet of women from Denver who had wowed us with their performance at GALA Festival the previous July. Then LGCSF were on with their set and one of the pieces we sang was written for us by John-Michael Albert called "Survivors". The concert came to a grand finale as all the performers joined onstage to sing "We Shall Be Free" by Garth Brooks and Stephanie Davis. Once again this was another wonderful night of singing with our talented Bay Area friends and neighbors and our visitors from Colorado.
On Friday, June 17, 1994, was the 16th Annual Pride Concert at the Center for the Arts Theatre at Yerba Buena Gardens. In his welcome, Pat Parr wrote, in part, "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco is proud to present this evening of music in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Stonewall. It is appropriate that the three oldest self-identified lesbian and/or gay musical organizations in the U.S. have combined with one of the newer (four years old) organizations to bring you this concert of music reflecting the diversity, solidarity, and strength of our community. We are also proud to bring to our San Francisco audience for the first a chorus of mixed voices from the GALA network - the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus". The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band presented pre-concert entertainment in the Howard St. Courtyard of Yerba Buena Gardens.
The concert began with LGCSF and Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus onstage singing songs of protest and praise from South Africa. Then we left the stage to Seattle as they performed excerpts from their most recent concert "Boys and Girls with Stories". They were followed by SFGMC who closed out the first half. We came back for the second half with our set in which we sang a song composed by a member of the chorus, Rick Weaver, called "Portrait of Me" with its message "our portraits hang in every hall, every shape, color and size . . ." reflecting the universality of lesbians and gay men within all segments of society. The concert ended with the combined choruses performing "Circle of Love" which was written by Rick Weaver and Pat Parr especially for this 16th Pride Concert to unite the approximately 300 voices of the three choruses performing on this night. Needless to say we all had a great time as we rehearsed together with and spent time this weekend with these beautiful and talented singers. This program was put together by Leslie Steere.
On Friday, June 16, 1995, was the 17th Annual Pride Concert and we were back at the Herbst Theatre. Pat Parr put this program together and wrote, in part, "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco is proud to present our 15th Anniversary Season. As the oldest continually singing, lesbian and gay chorus in the country, we celebrate the life, energy, and strength of our community in all our endeavors: our concerts, fundraisers, outreach programs, and performances at many and various San Francisco events. In 1994 we were honored to be the first lesbian and/or gay-identified group ever to receive the prestigious Arts Excellence Award from the Business Arts Council of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce."
We had as our special guests for this concert the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, D.C., marking the second Pride Concert where we had choruses joining us from outside California. We joined them onstage to open the concert with "We Shall Be Heard" and then we left the stage for Washington to sing their set. They were followed by SFGMC who performed selections from their summer extravaganza "KGAY FM: Sounds of the Sixties" with their special guest star Florence Henderson. Following the San Francisco Winds of Freedom were on with their spectacular sound. Then LGCSF followed with our set and then Washington joined us to sing "Behold the Hills of Tomorrow" by Stephen Sondheim and then came the finale with SFGMC joining all of us with the band to perform "Words Like Freedom" by Langston Hughes. Once again this was another wonderful and beautiful of music, laughs, friendships begun and the chance to hang out with our siblings from Washington in rehearsals and performance. There really has been nothing quite like a Pride Concert where the musicians involved come together for this one night, this one moment in time.
I hope you are enjoying this series of History Corners about our Pride Concerts, the program art and a bit of what happened during the concerts. Please let me know what you think. See you all next week here and please check out all the virtual holiday concerts of our sibling choruses this month.
In love, harmony and peace, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers on this last Sunday of November, 2020. I hope you are all safe and sane and healthy and hope you were able to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually with friends and family. Phil and I had a quiet one here in Alameda and shared a dinner of ham with a bourbon, cherry and pomegranate glaze, mashed sweet potatoes with Grand Marnier, a glass of Pinot Grigio and strawberry rhubarb pie.
This week for you I am continuing my look back at the Pride Concert program and poster art. The four program covers here are from 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991. These four concerts were produced by LGCSF and sponsored in part by PCW Communications, Inc. and the Galleon Bar & Restaurant.
On Friday, June 24, 1988, was the 10th Annual Gay Musical Celebration, A Decade of Pride. In the Welcome our Business Manager, Linda K. Rohde, wrote, in part, "Tonight, on behalf of the members, staff and advisory board of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, I welcome you to the continuation of that tradition - THE ANNUAL GAY MUSICAL CELEBRATION - A DECADE OF PRIDE. Some of the faces have changed, both in the audience and within the ranks of the performers, but the warmth and enthusiasm of that first concert still prevails, giving us that comfortable feeling of 'returning home' after a year-long journey."
In the list of Production Staff for Art Design was by Jack Klaus. I was listed as the "Right Hand Man" and Judy Tauber, a soprano, was listed as "Right Hand Woman".
At this time we were at 48 strong voices almost equal in all four sections. In this concert LGCSF opened and closed the show. Our guests included the San Francisco ARCAIDS Theatre, the Chamber Singers of SFGMC, Menage, our jazz octet. After intermission the SFGMC were on, then Fiddlestix, our country-western quartet, then Jennifer Berezan, a singer/songwriter/guitarist whose first album "In the Eye of the Storm" was due that summer. Then as I said we were on to close the concert.
On Friday, June 23, 1989, was the 11th Annual Gay Musical Celebration which was A GALA Chorus Preview and held at Mission High School. LGCSF was at 54 strong. In this concert were the eight Bay Area choruses who would be participating in the GALA Choruses Festival in Seattle the following July. There were choruses from Sacramento and Santa Cruz who were making their San Francisco debut. This was a wonderful night of music as we shared the stage with these amazing choruses and heard some of the inspiring music we would be performing and singing in Seattle.
First onstage was the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, then the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus of San Jose, and then the Sacramento Women's Chorus. Next was the Men's Chorus Commission conducted by Gregg Tallman followed by SFGMC. Next came the Women's Chorus Commission conducted by Sonni Zambino. After the intermission was the Mixed Chorus Commission conducted by Pat Parr and followed by LGCSF. Next was the Santa Cruz Men's Chorus, then VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble, the Sacramento Men's Chorus and the concert with all of the choruses combining to sing our own Jesse Kane's wonderful song, "Hand in Hand".
On Friday, June 22, 1990 was the 12th Annual Gay Musical Celebration - "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus Turns 10". This concert was sponsored in part by Grants for the Arts. The program was put together by Marsha Seeley and our publicist Jackie Hicks. The design of the ten candles were carried over to all the program covers for this season. Yes this concert marked the conclusion of the Tenth Anniversary season of LGCSF. It was our great pleasure to reach out to thank the individuals and groups that were instrumental in our creation in January, 1980. Through the vision of Jon Sims and the support of SFGMC, our founding director, Robin Kay, accepted the challenge to create a "mixed" chorus. There were 60 men and 7 women who met at the first rehearsal.
LGCSF opened the concert opened the concert followed by the San Francisco Winds of Freedom. Then Vocal Minority, formerly a small pop group of LGCSF, but then on their own, performed. They were followed by the then current small groups, Menage, Naugahyde and the Dinettes and Menage. After the intermission the SFGMC were onstage. Then LGCSF and alumni from the first ten years sang together - "I'd Rather Sing Soprano", "Somewhere", which had been our signature song, "I Sing the Body Electric" and "Hand in Hand". These were conducted by Robin Kay. This was followed by the big finale with all the performers onstage singing "Not a Day Goes By/If We Only Have Love". This was a wonderful night of music and hanging out with alumni of LGCSF and sharing our music with our wonderful audience.
On Friday, June 28, 1991, was the 13th Annual Pride Concert - "The Musical Event of the San Francisco Pride Celebration!" The publicist in the program is listed as Carol Northrup so I believe she created the cover for this program. Our Master of Ceremonies was Hank Plante, journalist and anchor of KPIX Channel 5 news. This concert was dedicated to Robin Kay, Founding Director of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco. As Pat Parr wrote in the Welcome "As producers of this concert it has been the goal of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus to include representation by different performing groups from the Lesbian/Gay community each year. We are very excited about this evening's program. The diversity in membership, styles and sizes of the groups performing is possibly the greatest we've ever put together. From Broadway to Gospel, traditional to contemporary, jazz to songs of protest, comedy to drama, the works presented tonight all have one thing in common - the dedication and hard work from each member of each organization to bring the music to life."
The concert opened with the wonderful Glide Ensemble, who were followed by the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, then Vocal Minority who were followed by VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Ensemble. They were led at this time by our good friend, Melanie DeMore. So our connection with her goes back to 1991 and this concert. After the intermission the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus took the stage and were followed by Menage. Then LGCSF were onstage and the night ended with the Combined Choruses singing "Brothers and Sisters". Once again this was a night of wonderful and inspiring music and performances by all of these talented musicians.
Next week I will continue my look back at the art of our Pride Concert programs and posters. Take care of yourselves. Remember this Tuesday, December 1, is World AIDS Day and #Giving Tuesday. Sending my love to you all.
In love, peace and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there. I continue to hope that you all are staying healthy and wearing your masks and washing your hands and staying at least six feet apart when you do go out. I missed you recently since my old Mac died and I ordered a new iMac which arrived last week so I am ready to go. This week I am continuing my series of Pride Concert Program and Poster Art. I have included four photos of the art from 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987.
On June 22, 1984 was the 6th Annual Gay Musical Celebration at the Nourse Auditorium. In these early years the Pride concert was produced by Golden Gate Performing Arts and Remy Martin Cognac. The program cover for this concert was nostalgic. It featured a photo of Clark Gable and Jeanette McDonald in the movie "San Francisco". Also there are photos of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, an old photo of a cable car and one of the "painted ladies" houses along Alamo Square. I noticed on the back of the program under "Art and Design" the name of Mark Woodworth and Terrific Graphics so I imagine they designed this program. The concert starred SFGMC with special guests S. F. Lesbian/Gay Chorus, the Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale and the Barbary Coast Cloggers. In this concert our Artistic Director was Matt O'Grady.
On June 28 and 29, 1985 was the 7th Annual Gay Musical Celebration at Mission High School Auditorium. This particular program was actually a free newspaper and on the front page is a picture of a few members of SFGMC. This was published by Golden Gate Performing Arts and the concert was produced again by GGPA and Remy Martin. The groups who performed on June 28 were Sistah Boom, SFGMC, San Francisco Lesbian Chorus, Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale, the Barbary Coast Cloggers, Men About Town, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Liedermann Chorus of San Jose.
The groups performing on June 29 were SFGMC, San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Chorus, Temescal Gay Men's Chorus, Tap Troupe/Vocal Minority, Men About Town, City Swing, and the Redwood Empire Glee Club of Santa Rosa. This was quite a weekend to hear from many musical organizations which is what these Pride concerts were set up to be. In this concert our Interim AD was Beth Sanders who lived in Stockton and commuted every week to lead us in rehearsals and concerts.
On June 27 and 28, 1986 was the 8th Annual Gay Musical Celebration subtitled "A Little Guts & Lots of Glitter". This was held at the First Congregational church and was produced again by SFGMC and Remy Martin Cognac. I am not sure who designed the program book but it included lots of advertisements which I am sure paid for the programs. The performers on June 27 were the San Francisco Lesbian Chorus, Barbary Coast Cloggers, Men About Town, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, LGCSF, the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers, and SFGMC. Our AD for this concert was Rodger Pettyjohn so yes we went through changes during these three years and we kept on singing.
The performers on June 28 were Liedermann Gay Men's Chorus of San Jose, Foggy City Dancers, a presentation honoring Remy Martin, Men About Town, City Swing and Vocal Minority, and SFGMC. Again over these two nights our audiences were entertained by the talented musical organizations of the Bay Area.
On June 26, 1987 was the 9th Annual Gay Musical Celebration held at First Congregational Church. This was the first Pride concert that LGCSF produced. This was our first Pride concert with our new AD, Pat Parr. In the welcome in the program our Business Manager, Mary Ann DePietro wrote, in part, "Each one of us here tonight, audience and performers alike, understands the power behind self expression. Our voices and instruments blending in harmony create an invisible language of universal perfection and truth." The performers in this concert were Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale, Menage which was our jazz and pop octet, the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, SFGMC, their Chamber Singers and Men About Town, Vocal Minority and LGCSF closed out the night. Among the ads and patrons in the program were greetings from many City politicians, Sheriff Mike Hennessey, City Attorney Louise Renne, Hon. John Molinari, Assemblyman Art Agnos, and Hon. Willie L. Brown, Jr. There was also a review of the concert in the Advocate magazine.
Next week I will continue this journey through LGCSF Pride Concert program and poster art. Take care of yourself and those around you as we go through the rest of this year.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all my faithful readers and hopefully to any new readers. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy and sane as we all wind down to Election Day a week from Tuesday. This week I thought I would get back to writing about the art of the Pride concert posters and programs starting with the first one from 1979.
Please see the first of four photos I included. This was called "A Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral" and was held on June 22, 1979. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band along with the Great Organ of Grace Cathedral were the performers who shared their music and began a tradition of annual Pride concerts that continued until 2016. As you see on the poster tickets were $5 through Bass ticket outlets. I really like the script that was used for this poster.
The second one I want to share with you is the cover of "A Gay Musical Celebration at Davies Symphony Hall" which was held on June 26, 1981. The performers who shared their music this night were the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus, which is what we were called in those early days. One of the songs we sang that night was to become our signature for the following years, "Somewhere" from "West Side Story".
The third photo I want to share with you is the cover of "The Fourth Annual Gay Musical Celebration" which was held at the Civic Auditorium, now known as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium across from City Hall. This concert was significant because it was the first time, I believe, that an American Sign Language interpreter, Elise Webster, was onstage with all of us. This evening of music presented the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching and Twirling Corps who opened the festivities with "Coronation March" by John Williams. Next the two choruses, as above, were on together. Then each chorus had their own times in the spotlight. There was a special appearance by the San Francisco Tap Troupe. The SFGMC were joined by the Bay Area Women's Quartet performing the "Coronation Scene" from "Boris Godunov" by M. Musorgski. Next were the two choruses again with the Tap Troupe and the 1982 Gay Olympics Color Guard performing a "San Francisco Medley". The grand finale for this glorious night of music was "California Here I Come" and we invited the audience to sing along with us.
The fourth photo I have is an ad promoting the "Fifth Anniversary of the Gay Musical Celebration" which took place on June 24, 1983 at the Warfield Theatre. There were two performances that night at 7:00 and 10:00 pm with San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Chorus and Friends. Unfortunately I do not know who the "Friends" were because I do not have a program for this event. If any alumni out there have this program or remember any of what we performed please let me know.
That is it for this week and I will be sharing more of our beautiful Pride poster and program art with you. Take care of yourselves and see you next week.
And don't forget to vote.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers wherever you may be. I hope you all had a good weekend and that you have voted or are making your plans to vote. This week's editions will be about two more events we participated in with Michael. The first was that we were asked to sing in the SF Singfest by Mark Growden who is the festival founder. This was held in November, 2017, in the Mission Dolores Basilica which is a beautiful space to sing in. This event featured five regional community choruses so it was a great way to meet these singers and to listen to their music. The Bay Area has so much talent and it was good to share ours with these musicians.
The second event was our spring concert, "Passages - A Musical Journey Through the Stages of Life". This was a collaboration with the Lick-Wilmerding High School Choir and the USF Classical Choral Ensembles. This was also part of USF's Performing Arts and Social Justice program which we found out that Michael is very passionate about as we learned and rehearsed the music performed here. The singers from Lick-Wilmerding were on first and sang two songs - "The Hills of Tomorrow" by Stephen Sondheim and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror". The USF singers then came on and performed "Der Tanz" (The Dance) by Franz Schubert and a modern classical piece by Jocelyn Hagen called "Sofdu, unga astin min" (Sleep my young love) and this was sung in Icelandic which was very impressive and beautiful.
LGCSF was then onstage as we performed 3 selections from Kirke Mechem's "BIRTHDAYS: Round Numbers - Bridget at Ten - Turning Twenty - Is Seventy Old?" One aspect of this concert that Michael brought to us is that we should be singing about things that happen to people throughout their lives. He brought us music that dealt with Alzheimer's disease both with a song written by a composer who was developing Alzheimer's and then a cantata in which the lyrics were written by people whose family members had gone through the various stages of Alzheimer's and how they coped with their loved ones.
We sang "Melancholy Flower" by Steve Goodwin who was going through the early stages of Alzheimer's and knew he had more music to compose but was not able to do it. A friend and fellow musician, Naomi LaViolette worked with him on this piece and provided the lyrics to his beautiful music.
The cantata we performed "Alzheimer's Stories" was composed by Robert Cohen after receiving a commission from the Susquehanna Valley Chorale on the subject of Alzheimer's disease to honor the lives of the family members of the singers of this Chorale who had suffered and died from this disease. The lyrics came from stories the singers had posted on a blog they created. There are three parts to this beautiful and poignant and humorous work. The first is "The Numbers" about the numbers of people who have contracted Alzheimer's since it was first diagnosed 1901. The second is "The Stories" recounting the stories the singers remembered being told by their loved ones. The third is "For the Caregivers" which gave honor to all of those who gave care and love to their loved ones and which was the most poignant and emotional part to sing through. I just want to say many thanks to Michael for bringing this beautiful music to us and that we got to perform it with the other two choirs and to sing in St. Ignatius Church on May 4, 2018 on a beautiful spring evening.
Take care of yourselves and I will be back next week with the next installment of the LGCSF History Corner.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Photos by Katharine James
Hello and greetings to all my faithful readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and staying sane and healthy through all the ever changing news of the world. Getting back to a simpler time, more or less, to February 2018 and Michael's first Love Bites show with us. He decided to go with a Shakespearean theme naming it "Love Biteth. A true and most dreadful discourse by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco". During our rehearsals for this, Michael brought several songs for soloists, duets, etc., to us for us to choose. I have included photos of the program cover and our set list.
The shows were held at Martuni's over four nights, February 11, 12, 14, and 15, 2018. The chorus had several songs as we opened with "Comedy Tonight" and then our cher sang "The Stages of Love Medley" - "Cupid, This Magic Moment and You Don't Own Me". And the audience went crazy. The other pieces the whole chorus performed were "Sh-Boom" - "sh-boom sh-boom yatta yatta yatta yatta sh-boom", etc., "Ye Spotted Snakes" our first piece by William Shakespeare, "Weep, O Mine Eyes" by John Bennet who I believe was a contemporary of old Will, then later came "If We Shadows Have Offended", also by old Will and we closed with "You Will Be Found" from "Dear Evan Hansen". Asher, Birgit, Dr. Mark, Evan, Emma, Janice, Joe and Will all had solos on the different days of the shows.
Annie put her all into "Glitter in the Air", Asher and Emma crooned "I'm Only Thinking of Him", as they put on their best wistful looks. Lisa E. then offered "This Could Be Love", which was followed by Pax and Catalina singing "What a Piece of Work is Man". Catalina then soloed on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", which is a good question for Love Biteth. Then Joan came on with her usual flair with "I Put a Spell on You" as she weaved her magic spell over the audience. Then Pax performed "The Ouzel Cock", another ditty by old Will. Dr. Mark followed with his best Etta James on "At Last". Next the quintet of Dale, Robert, Annie, Janice and Joe performed "This Bottom's Gonna Be On Top", and it was anyone's guess as to who it would be. Then the beautiful and talented Sabine did her best Aretha and Carole on "A Natural Woman" and Robert followed with "One is the Loneliest Number" with tears in his eyes. And then the talented and beautiful Evan performed the wistful "Everybody's Fucking But Me", and by the end of this he had gotten several potential dates. Then the irrepressible Janice sang the Four Tops hit "I Can't Help Myself", as she introduced several sexual toys. Next was Eliza Speece singing and asking to "Bring On the Men!" and Kobi Dwek crooned "Only You". After Kobi sang, as stated above, the full chorus was on with "If We Shadows Have Offended" and "You Will Be Found". One thing that I want to say about this last song is that as we rehearsed all of us really came to love and believe in the lyrics and heart of this song.
As we finished this version of "Love Bites" we were preparing for a really creative and challenging season ahead as we all prepared to go on this journey forward with Michael. Next week will be all about our next concert and musical journey with our cher. See you all then and remember to vote!
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
(Gallery photos by Ziggy Tomcich)
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all finding ways to stay sane and healthy in these crazy changing times. My favorite way to stay sane is to listen to all of the wonderful choral music from GALA Choruses on their YouTube channel so please check this out for yourselves. I promise you will find something to cheer you up and lift your spirits.
Since I have written about all of our past Artistic Directors in past editions, this week I decided to write about our current AD, Michael Reilly. In mid-2017, after our then AD, William Sauerland, stepped down, there was a search on for a new AD. We picked Michael. He and his husband, Robert Haerr, had both sung in the Denver Gay Men's Chorus. They currently live in Vallejo and Michael serves on the music faculty of Solano Community College (Chorus, Voice, and Theory) as well as the Director of Music at Community Presbyterian Church and Artistic Director for the Georgia Street Singers of Vallejo.
Before his first rehearsal with us, there was a get together with Michael to get to know him which was held at Dale Danley's house. I brought a notebook with chorus posters and season brochures for him to view to give him a bit of the background of the chorus. As we discussed what might be our first concert with him he suggested "Nightmare on Polk Street". For our first concert with Michael, we were at 28 strong.
As Michael wrote in his program notes, "Welcome (or should I say Beware?) to LGCSF's Nightmare on Polk Street! For the next hour and a half, we are going to explore nightmares, real and imagined." This was held on October 27 and 28, 2017 at MCC on Polk Street. Of course we were all in our best Halloween drag, whatever spoke to each of us. Some of the music that Michael brought to us to learn was new and diverse to say the least. We began the concert with The Invitation "In the Sorcerer's Hall", then "Things That Go Bump in the Night". Other music was "The Milkman", "La Llorona", "Old Abram Brown" by Benjamin Britten. Then the tenors and basses sang "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and the sopranos and altos sang "I Have a Million Nightingales". Then we performed two songs from "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Sweet Transvestite", and "The Time Warp", in which we asked the audience to get up and dance the Time Warp with us.
For the second half, we performed "A Nightmare Wedding Horrortorio" by Joseph Horovitz and Alistair Sampson, which featured a wedding between two monsters. We followed this with "Love is Love is Love". We ended the concert with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with the chorus trying to imitate Mr. Jackson's moves as much as we were able to do. We all had a great time with this music and the audience loved it as well.
As we went through the rehearsal process for this concert with Michael we got to know him and he got to know us. As he said in the notes, "We have dreamed, rehearsed, labored, and loved this concert into existence."
Next week I will be writing about Michael's first Love Bites cabaret with us which was called "Love Biteth". See you all then. Take care of yourselves and all of your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers, I know you are out there. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe and sane among all that is happening in our world. This week I am sharing the beauty of the LGCSF poster and program art from three of our Love Bites cabarets under the direction of Billy Sauerland. I have included two photos of posters from our 2011 and 2012 Love Bites shows and one of the program cover from 2013.
The first one was "Love Bites Off Broadway" which was held on February 11 & 12, 2011 in the Mission Cultural Center. This would be our home for the next few Love Bites and other concerts. It was a good space for us and the people there we worked with were great to work with. The art for this poster and program cover featured the front entrance of some theatre with LGCSF at the top of one of the side display windows. With this design, I felt this really captured the music we sang from various Broadway musicals with the emphasis on songs about love gone wrong, the man or woman who got away with the sopranos and altos singing "There's Nothin' Like a Dame" and the tenors and basses singing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair", which are just two examples of what we sang. Of course there were the usual mix of wonderful soloists, duos, etc. Billy had just come on board as our AD in January and was thrown right away into his first Love Bites and it was a big success for us and our audiences had fun as well.
On February 10 & 11, 2012, we presented "Love Bites and so did the 80s" and the poster featured a four head split screen of some crazy looking doll with four different hair colors. Of course her hair was really big. This cabaret was our salute to the pop music of the 80s as we decorated the Mission Cultural Center with 80s paraphernalia. We had our wonderful choreographer Michael Mohammed and guest soloist Katya Smirnoff-Skyy. Katya sang Cyndi Lauper's song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Of course there was an ABBA song as Wendy Tobias sang "The Winner Takes It All". The full chorus began the first act with a Dance Party Medley which was choreographed by Michael Mohammed. Also in February 2012 was when Whitney Houston had died so we had a big heart onstage in memory of Whitney. This was another fun show for the chorus as we brought out our old 80s clothes and dug back in our memories to the good and not so good music from that decade.
The third one for this edition was "Love Bites: 10 Years and Still Masticating", held on February 8 & 9, 2013. This was the tenth anniversary of our Love Bites cabarets and we were again in the Mission Cultural Center. The program cover art featured a somewhat broken heart behind the bold letters of LOVE BITES. Our former AD, Stephanie Lynne Smith, was on hand to co-emcee the show with Billy and I can say it was so much fun to work with her again. We had fun with the audience as we opened with "This Marriage" and Stephanie stormed onstage saying "no, no, no, this is not what Love Bites is all about". Billy calmed her down as we launched into "Down With Love", which was one of the songs from our first Love Bites. All of the music we sang in this cabaret featured some of the most beloved or the most biting songs from a decade of Love Bites. And again this was so much fun for us and for our audiences as we had two sold out shows for this one.
I want to put in a plug for our YouTube channel, so please check it out so you can see us in action from past concerts and cabarets and let me know what you enjoy there. Next week I will be writing more about the art of our posters and programs so stay tuned. Take care of yourselves and all of your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero