Hello to all of my fabulous readers of the LGCSF History Corner blog. I hope you are doing well as we all are processing the loss of the wonderful Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
This week I am continuing my series on the Art and Music of LGCSF with the emphasis on more art from our "Love Bites" shows from the 2000s. The first cabaret with the title "Love Bites" was on February 13, 2004, the day before Valentine's Day and we did two shows that evening at the Rainbow Room of the LGBTQ Center. This was the brainchild of our AD, Stephanie Lynne Smith, and the Artistic Advisory Committee as we sang about the flipside of love. Our special guests and emcees for this show were The Living Dolls, Liz Matthews and Diane Merlino. They sang five songs throughout the evening, "Taking a Chance on Love", "Get Happy", "I Want My Money Back", "Sentimental Journey", and "Sincerely". Our opening medley of "Love Bites" were "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "I Get Around", "It's My Party", "Namaste", "Stop in the Name of Love", and "Your Momma Don't Dance". And the chorus was off on this crazy and wonderful journey of "Love Bites".
Please look through the photos I have included of the program cover of this first show and of posters from four more "Love Bites" cabarets. The art for each of these posters really captured the spirit of the chorus at that specific time. Our second one "Love Still Bites", from February 11 and 12, 2005, features a drawing of a disgruntled Cupid with broken arrows and a broken bow behind him.
The poster from our fourth one "Love Bites The Hand That Feeds It", from February 9 and 10, 2007, features four photos of various characters from shows that preceded this one, as you can see a picture of the chickens from "Group Therapy" as an example. Our wonderful Carolyn Eidson was the emcee for these two shows and she was fabulous. This show was held at Theatre Rhinoceros where we had presented a couple of shows the previous year so we were comfortable there.
The poster from our fifth one "Love Bites, My Dog Bites and My Pickup Truck Won't Start" in which we sang some of our favorite country songs of love gone wrong. As you can see the poster featured a drawing of an angry Cupid with a shotgun and a rope that emphasized a Special Adults Only Show Valentine's Day. This show was held at the EXIT on Taylor theatre and we did six shows over two weekends, Feb. 7-9 and 14-16, 2008. One thing I remember from these shows that one evening a group of slightly inebriated young women from out of town just happened to be looking for a show and from their reactions they really loved us and we loved them right back.
The final poster from this week is from our seventh annual anti-Valentine's Day Cabaret and Musical Extravaganza "Love Bites and All That Jazz", which was held at the Women's Building on 18th Street. This show was also held over two weekends, Feb. 5-6 and 12-13, 2010. As you can see from the poster that this show was ADULTS ONLY. The songs we performed for this show were on the jazzy side with a little bit of raunch and our audiences were in the mood for what we did on this occasion. One thing that I can say about this crazy idea for an anti-Valentine's Day show that showcased the ways that love can go wrong and the songs that our various soloists chose to sing really connected with our audiences and they have continued with the ADs who followed Stephanie, Billy Sauerland and Michael Reilly.
Next week I will be featuring the poster art from some of the "Love Bites" shows with Billy. See you all then and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my fabulous readers out there in the universe. Hopefully you are all staying safe and inside to minimize the effects of all the smoke and smog in our air.
This week I am continuing my series on the Art and Music of the chorus. We have had the great fortune to have some amazing artists who have created the art for our flyers, posters and program covers. I have included four photos of flyers from our early cabarets with Stephanie Smith. These were "Full Moon Full of Love" from 2002, which featured someone with their hands up in front of a full moon. For "Role Playing" from 2003, the flyer features stylized figures underneath stage lights. These two cabarets were held at the Cafe du Nord downstairs in the Swedish American Hall.
In 2004 we were in our new home for our cabarets in the Rainbow Room at the LGBT Community Center where we pereformed the first of our "Love Bites" (more about these next week) cabarets in February and "Somewhere Over the Top: An Adult Cabaret" which we performed in September. The flyer for this was a stylized picture of our guest performance artist and emcee Jamie Glowacki.
These cabarets were great fun for us and especially for those singers who wanted to perform solos, duets, trios, etc. around the theme of whatever the title of the show was. There was usually one or two full chorus numbers and in "Full Moon Full of Love" that was "Somewhere" which was our go to song. Also in this cabaret our special guests were singer Corey Grundman accompanied by someone very familiar to us, Barry Lloyd. From the program sheet for this I see that there were mostly love songs like "Only Love," "Night and Day," "If Ever I Would Leave You," "The One I Love," and one by The Australia Contingent who sang "Let Me Live" by Queen. If anyone out there remembers who the Australia Contingent were please let me know because I do not remember who they were.
What I recall from the "Role Playing" cabaret as the favorite song for me was Jed Herman singing "Beauty School Dropout" from "Grease" as he was working with a blonde wig on a foam head.
For "Somewhere Over the Top" cabaret the chorus was at 46 strong including a straight married couple, Becky and Sean Quinlan. The reason this was called an adult cabaret was that some of the songs were just a little bit or a lot naughty. Our guest Jamie opened the show with "Anything Goes" by Cole Porter, "Leather" by Tori Amos and "My Favorite Things" by Rodgers and Hammerstein, which included various leather items. Other songs by various of our soloists were "Smut," "It's Nice to Have a Man Around the House," one of the early songs Jack Dubowsky wrote for us called "Big Feet" sung by the tenors and basses and "Making Love Alone" by our choralographer Kirk Johnson. To close out the first half was "The Streak" complete with our own streaker, Yann Jouvenot and was sung by the sopranos and altos.
The second half began with Jamie singing two more songs that she adapted "All That 'Ass'", and "Don't Fence Me In". Then there was "The Masochism Tango" and "A Place Where I Can Smoke" and we ended the show with a "Monty Python Sing Along". This was great fun for us and for our audience who really sang along to the Monty Python naughty songs. Next week I will feature some of the flyer art from some of our "Love Bites" cabarets so see you all then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and any new ones on this hot Labor Day weekend. I hope you are all staying safe, cool and hydrated. This week I am writing about our fourth official CD "Group Therapy" with music and lyrics by our own June Bonacich. But first I would like to share a few quotes from Stephanie Smith that she wrote in the program of our 25th Anniversary Concert. "My experiences with the Chorus have been varied and treasured and they are what make me stay. My first experience with LGCSF was as its pianist. I was asked to serve as interim during the search for a permanent artistic director in 2001. My "audition" was quite funny. I ran the first half of the rehearsal as usual, and then auditioned after break... I wanted the position, but I also wanted what was best for the Chorus. Happily, I was selected and my title changed from Interim to Artistic Director. Same pay, same routine, different commitment and I was overjoyed."
Back to "Group Therapy". For the show we were at 37 strong. This was a musical written for us by June and we were blessed to have the beautiful and talented Michael Mohammed as our stage director and choreographer. As he worked with Stephanie and us in our rehearsals toward our performances of "GT" we really came together, the cast became very comfortable in their roles so we were ready for our dress rehearsal which is the performance that was recorded for the CD. Even the orchestra was beautiful with June on synthesizer, Alyras on bass, Erika Johnson on drums, Luba Kravchenko on piano and Ashley Moore on electric guitar. The show was held at the Rainbow Room of the LGBT Community Center in early November, 2005. We were in our costumes and makeup and were backstage ready to go on. We could hear the small group who were there to witness our dress rehearsal. And here we go.
As the orchestra played the overture we came on singing "Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I feel like a nut". The story line was about Katie who had just moved to San Francisco and her adventures in the City, finding a therapy group, deciding if she was a lesbian or not, getting a new hairdo, and hearing the stories of the others in her group. The first song was "The Hairdresser Polka" as Katie (Wendy) sang and the hairdressers did their magic on her hair. In group Jill (Sharon) sang "What More Could I Ask For?" being clearly content with her cat. Next was P. Francis Tucker (Scott) had always been chicken and was chased and spanked by big chickens in "He's Chicken". Then Evelyn, the therapist (Mary) informed the group about transference in "The Transference Tango" as we all tangoed and changed many partners as we went through transference. Then Stan (Shane) and backup singers performed "Looking Back", a "long" look back at his life. The first act closed with Jill and ensemble singing and dancing "Psychobabble Waltz".
Act II began with Jill and ensemble singing "Dysfunctional Relationship" which we can all probably relate to. Next was Nathan (Jed) singing how he would like to "Run Away". P. Francis Tucker and the chickens were back with "I Always Tried to Please You". Then the trio of Jenny (Noam), Marybeth (CeCe) and Katie sang "It's So Clear Now" after going through therapy. Then Marybeth and ensemble sang and danced country style to "Stomp on My Heart". Next the ensemble sang "Marybeth" about her life and when she went to the prom with her boyfriend and ended up with her girlfriend. Love wins out. The show ended with everyone singing the uplifting "As I Say Yes to Life" as we all looked forward to the future. The show was a hit as we would perform it again in Chicago in 2006 during the Gay Games Cultural Week and again as a benefit for the Jon Sims Community Center. The whole experience of "Group Therapy" for me was so wonderful for me as we all became comfortable in our roles in it and the personalities of the cast really shown through. If anyone would like to listen to my CD just let me know as I am happy to share it with you. Next week more LGCSF Music and Art. See you all on Zoom at our first rehearsal on Thursday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
As members and allies of the LGBTQ community, we recognize that committing to social justice and meaningful change requires more than sharing hashtags and statements of support. In that spirit, we share the aims of Black Voices Matter, a pledge of anti-racism in choral practice. We pledge specifically to the goals outlined in the sections addressed to conductors and to choral non-profit organizations, boards, and administrators. LGCSF will be pursuing these goals with the help of the GALA New Harmony Workbook and the Of/By/For All program.
Michael Reilly and the Board of Directors,
Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and welcome to any new ones. To give you all something positive, this week I am writing about our 3rd CD which celebrated our 25th Anniversary in 2005. The music on this recording is from three concerts, "Composers in the Mist", May 8, 2004; "Something's Coming", November 13, 2004 and "LGCSF 25", May 7, 2005 with four songs from each concert. The chorus was under the direction of Stephanie Lynne Smith, with accompanists Ben Prince, Grace Renaud and Richard Link. During this time there were 48 of us singers on these recordings. The music we sang was either composed or arranged by members or friends of the chorus and it was our privilege to sing the music of people we know.
"Composers in the Mist". Jack Dubowsky wrote the music for the first three songs to texts by three different writers. They were "Twilight in Technicolor", "Double Nut", and "Sing We and Chant It". The fourth one was June Bonacich's "Dysfunctional Relationship" which we can all relate to in some manner or other.
"Something's Coming". The four songs from this concert were "There Comes a Time" by Connie Kaldor, "If Music Be the Food of Love" by Jean Belmont for all the romantics, "Let the River Run" by Carly Simon with a great solo by CeCe Cannavo and "Bashana Haba'ah", arranged by John Leavitt, with a beautiful solo by Jed Herman.
"LGCSF 25". This was our 25th anniversary concert at the Brava Theatre. We had invited alumni of the chorus to join us and we sang "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" with them. This had been our signature song during our first years as a chorus. The other three were favorites of the chorus; "Something Inside So Strong" with a strong solo by Laura Liscar, "Erev Shel Shoshanim" and a big gay anthem "Land of the Free" from "All Rights Reserved" by David Maddux with our wonderful soloists Lisa Rodke and Neck Venegoni. Some of the tracks on the CD were sponsored by members and friends of the chorus.
I have wonderful memories of all three concerts represented on this CD. We shared the stage on the first two concerts - Oakland Gay Men's Chorus and Voices Lesbian Choral Ensemble and it was great to sing with them. It was so much fun to see and sing with the alumni at "25". We loved performing these songs for our audiences which is why we do what we do. As Mary Cantrell wrote in part "Yes, audiences and performers are in the dance that gladdens the heart and clears the mind, that energizes the soul and takes us away from the mundane". We love our audience so stay tuned to lgcsf.org to see what we will be doing this fall. Next week more Music and Art.
In harmony and love always, Michael Lucero
Greetings to you my faithful readers. If there are any new ones please let me know. I hope all of you and your loved ones in California are safe from the fires and coping with all the smoke. What a crazy week this has been for us.
Today I am writing about our second official CD "Wish You Were Here". This was released in 2000 to celebrate twenty years of making music. Our Artistic Director at this time was Michael Carlson and our accompanist was resident composer June Bonacich. The chorus was at 40 strong with an almost perfect balance among all four parts. From the back cover Michael wrote, "Live concert recordings proudly presented by the men and women of the Lesbian/ Gay Chorus of San Francisco, celebrating twenty years of music!" The music was recorded in three venues in San Francisco - Herbst Theatre, First Unitarian Church, and Murphy Auditorium in Mission High School.
Here is a little bit of what I remember about these concerts and Michael Carlson as director. With input from the artistic advisory committee he brought us music that challenged us because he saw the potential in us to be able to sing complex music and sing it well. On this CD there is a song in Tagalog, and one in Yiddish. There was music by gay and lesbian composers which is part of our mission to share their music. With regular rehearsals, out of town retreats and sectionals we were prepared to always give our best.
The CD begins with a grand anthem "You Are the Light" by Leo Arnaud. Next is "Begin the Beguine" by that gayest of composers Cole Porter. For this we had choralography by Kirk Johnston. Next is "Give Me the Splendid, Silent Sun" which is 20th century classical choral music which gave us the chance to show our stuff. Next is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen with the head banging choreography at the bridge. Next was "Nina," a fun ditty by another gay composer, Noel Coward, with a great solo by Eric Wenburg. Next is "The Spirit of Creation" which was another challenging piece. Next was "Dahil Sa Iyo" (Because of You) a Tagalog love song that was a favorite of Imelda Marcos.
Next was "Erev Shel Shoshanim" (Evening of Roses) which we sang in Yiddish. It is a beautiful song and well worth looking for. Next was "My Heart is Longing for Your Love" which we sang acappella. Next was a song by composer Eric Whitacre. This was the very romantic "With a Lily in Your Hand" from "Three Flower Songs". Next we went to Motown and performed "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Ashford & Simpson complete with all the Motown choreography and big arm movements made easy for us by Kirk Johnson. Next was "Dysfunctional Relationship" by June Bonacich which was a song which was part of a musical she was writing for us. Next we sang "Shenandoah" acappella in a beautiful arrangement by James Erb. The CD ends with a favorite of ours "I Open My Heart" by Skye Evergreen, who I have written about in a previous History Corner.
Each of the artistic directors that I have sung with over the years has taught me something new in my musical journey with this chorus and Michael was no exception as he brought music that he enjoyed and we learned well. Next week I will continue my journey in LGCSF music and art with you. Take care of yourselves.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my loyal readers. I hope you all made it through the wild night of thunder and lightning last night. I hope you have power from PG&E back on. For the next few weeks I want to write about the Music and Art of LGCSF beginning with my memories of our first CD "Together in Harmony" under the direction of our Artistic Director Pat Parr taken from concerts in 1992 and 1993, a recording session in 1992 and released in 1994. I have included photos of the front and back covers of the CD and one of the chorus from the booklet. At this point there were 107 of us in the chorus. Yolanda and I are the only ones still singing with LGCSF. We also had an Assistant Conductor, Marty Stoddard, who composed the music along with lyrics by member Leslie Steere, "Love Song." Dwight Okamura, our wonderful accompanist, composed "Three Songs on Texts by Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall" - "At the Shrine of Aphrodite", "Hands and Lips", and "Take Me With You When You Fly".
Pat wrote in the liner notes, "Together in Harmony is the first recording released by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco. It is also among the first recordings released by a mixed group of Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States - perhaps the world! The music of this recording is as diverse as the membership of the chorus: from Brahms to Jule Styne, from ballads to joyously rhythmic exclamations. We are especially proud that five of the pieces were written specifically for LGCSF and another of the pieces - "Survivors" - was premiered at our 1993 Pride Concert. It is one of our goals to encourage and perform new music written by and for members of our community, and through this recording we hope to bring some of this music to a broader audience for their appreciation and enjoyment.
"The recordings were garnered from digitally mastered tapes of three concerts and a recording session, so the keen listener may hear some differences in the acoustics of the halls - as well as an occasional cough or baby's cry. I wish to thank our recording engineer Keith Sklower for his consistent patience with me during this process. I also wish to thank Stan Hill and Justin Taylor of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Cathy Roma of MUSE: Cincinnati's Women's Choir for their encouragement and knowledge so freely given."
There are five songs from our "Classics of Nature" concert which was on October 23, 1992, in Oakland's First Unitarian Church. These were three by Johannes Brahms, and two by Lloyd Pfautch. From our "Fantasies" concert in March, 1993 there is "Never Never Land". From the "Lesbian & Gay Composers" concert in October, 1993 is "I am Here" by our own Michael McDonald and Marty Cormier. Our recording session was in fall of 1993 in the rehearsal hall of First Unitarian Church, SF. It was kind of a nerve wracking experience since we sang each song or parts of a song over and over to get them right. And we had to keep quiet between each recording segment but we got through it and I will be sending our my iTunes playlist to you later on Chorus Connection. Take care of yourselves and each other and I am always sending my love. In harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers and hopefully some new ones. This week I thought I wouldn't write about LGCSF but about Legato European Association of LGBTQ+ Choirs and the Various Voices Festival. Legato and Various Voices are similar to GALA Choruses and their Festivals. The first VV Festival was in 1985 in Cologne, Germany with 4 choirs from 4 countries. I first became aware of VV in 2008 during GALA Festival in Miami. Martin Brophy, a man who we had met previously on vacation in London, was there to promote VV in London 2009 with 59 choirs with 1,800 singers from 14 countries. Since then this was on our bucket list of things we wanted to do. I have included nine photos, a poster of Various Voices, the Festival Guide, a photo of the opening concert, then the Homonics, the Deep C Divas, BarberFellas, the Pride flag over Odeonsplatz, rehearsal and performance of "Carmina Burana."
So we were off to Munich in May, 2018 with a friend from here. We knew we would be seeing Martin again as he sings with the London Gay Men's Chorus and the European Queer Choir. Another person we were hoping to see was Simon Pearson who sings with the Pink Singers and the BarberFellas. We also would be seeing Homonics, three lads from Dublin who also sing with Gloria, the Dublin LGBTQ Choir. We were also looking forward to seeing as many choruses as we could and to meet and mingle with these singers. This VV was the fourteenth Festival for Legato and there were 93 choirs with 2,700 singers from 19 countries represented. This was held in the Gasteig Cultural Center with four performance venues hosting chorus performances in each over the five days of VV.
There was an Opening Concert which featured the parade of choirs with a representative of each with a sign with the name of the choir. Also there was the official welcome from the Mayor of Munich, music by the Festival Orchestra, which was put together for VV 2018 only, the Groove Sistaz a 17 piece female big band who brought the house down. Also the four host choruses of Munich joined to sing their welcome.
On Friday, May 11, was the big blockbuster concert - "Munchen in Space - an InterGALActic Concert Night" with Conchita Wurst (check her out on Youtube Eurovision 2014 winning performance of "Rise Like a Phoenix"), Andreas Scholl and ten choirs with their intergalactic songs. This was quite an event and you can see this on Youtube, just type the title of the concert above and be aware that it actually begins 30 minutes in.
Besides singing in the Gasteig, choruses were also performing outside in two of the main squares of Munich, the Odeonsplatz and Max-Joseph-Platz. One of the reasons I wanted to be here was that the "Carmina Burana" would be performed outside in Odeonsplatz with all the singers of VV, an orchestra and three professional singers singing the solos, a children's chorus and the citizens of Munich. We had two days of rehearsals in the main concert hall and outside on Saturday, May 12 with the performance that evening. This was thrilling for me to be surrounded by all the wonderful singers as we were accompanied by the orchestra under the evening sky of Munich. There was a big party afterward in the lobbies of the Gasteig with dancing, cocktails and food and this was a time to spend with new found friends.
There were singers from the US representing GALA Choruses, the Rock Creek Singers and Potomac Fever, two small groups from Washington DC GMC, Oursong Atlanta, and Menalive from Orange County, and a North American GALA Festival Chorus. I highly recommend attending a future Various Voices Festival so put this on your bucket list if and when we can go to Europe again. The next one is scheduled for May (I think) of 2023 in Bologna, Italy. I will let you know more as Legato updates their website for this wonderful Festival.
You can see more videos from Various Voices on Youtube, just type in various voices festival 2018 in the search bar so please let me know what you watched. I am not sure what I will write about next time but I am still going through the archives so stay tuned. Sending you all my love and stay focused on something positive for you to get you through these times. Sharing these memories with you is one of these for me.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers (I know you are out there) and welcome to any new readers of my blog. I hope you are doing well and staying healthy and positive. Hopefully what I do brightens your day a little bit. I have included three photos from the program book and three videos - one which is a highlight video and look for Melanie DeMore with a big chorus who all have their pounding sticks. The next is of the song "Our Phoenix" performed by the Festival Mixed Chorus and written by our friend Mari Elena Valverde. The third is the Orlando Gay Chorus with a speech about the Pulse Club massacre in June and how the chorus has coped with the aftermath and their opening song "You'll Never Walk Alone." Grab your hankies for this.
This week I will be writing more about my experiences at GALA Festival X which took place in a little over four years ago in Denver from July 2 to 6, 2016. Yes we were back in Denver and performing in the four theatres of the Denver Performing Arts Center and also in the Bellco Theatre in the Denver Convention Center for the Closing Concert. For those of you who have never been to the Denver Performing Arts Center let me tell you a bit about the layout. These theatres are in a galleria setting with a dome over the walkway between the theatres and parking garage.
For the opening, "A Colorado Welcome" was held in this galleria area and featured the seven Colorado choruses performing the world premiere of a Festival 2016 commission by Nathan Hall called "Mountains & Rivers" celebrating the beauty of Colorado. The members of the choruses sang this from the many levels of the galleria to the audience of delegates and visitors and residents of Denver who were there. Earlier in this afternoon of July 2 a flash mob of 500 GALA singers sang "If I Were Gay" from "Avenue Q" at the Denver Pavilions to an appreciative audience there.
Following in the tradition of Blockbuster Concerts from last Festival, the first of these was that evening in Boettcher Concert Hall. This was the big Opening Concert with guest artists Matt Alber, Holly Near and our good friend Melanie DeMore. In fact the concert began with Holly and Melanie singing Holly's song "I am Willing". Matt, Holly and Melanie joined the choruses who were part of this concert. Melanie joined with One Voice Mixed Chorus and OurSong - the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chorus to sing "Free, Free, Free" which is one of the songs that Melanie taught us for our "Rise" concert. Melanie was very busy during this week as she led a workshop on Sunday morning on "The Art of Gullah Stick Pounding" and which she shared with us the history of this beautiful art as we were in rehearsals for "Rise." She also taught us about the background of the decorations of the sticks that we would be given and use in our concert.
Another of the Blockbuster Concerts was called "Engendered Species" and featured collaborations between the SATB choruses for a wonderful evening of song and sharing and during our rehearsal times with Harmony: a Colorado Chorale, which was led by Bill Loper and who was one of the persons who auditioned for Artistic Director of LGCSF, was a time to form friendships with these singers and for all the choruses to create meaningful music. The song we sang with Harmony was "Gate Gate" with lyrics of a Sanskrit text.
Speaking of collaborating, we sang, rehearsed and hung out with our friends from across the Bay, the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus. As the last song of our set on July 4, we were joined by OGMC to perform Jack Curtis Dubowsky's "Was It the Wind?" which was commissioned by both choruses and which we gave the world premiere at the SF Pride Concert in June.
Another Blockbuster Concert that was a highlight for us was "Youth Invasion from Gay to Z" which featured the seven youth choruses who were there to perform for us. These were Bridging Voices of Portland, Diverse City Youth Chorus of Cincinnati, Diverse Harmony of Seattle, Diverse Harmony Spectrum of Seattle, GenOUT Chorus of Washington, D.C., Omaggio Youth Chorus of Phoenix, and Youth PRIDE Chorus of New York City. Another youth chorus, Dreams of Hope presented their video "Home." As at all the youth chorus performances of the past, all of us in the audience were laughing, enjoying, crying and applauding these wonderfully talented young people.
Two more highlights that we really enjoyed were the ones the Seattle Women's Chorus and Seattle Men's Chorus. The SWC's Coffee Concert was entitled "We Can Do It" which was an original musical by Eric Lane Barnes to celebrate the women during World War II, the Rosie the Riveters who changed the American workplace forever. The women of the chorus were all in costume with their variations on Rosie the Riveter. A few of the song titles were "Wendy the Welder", "Mama's Makin' Bombers!", and "It Ain't Woman's Work."
The other was the Seattle Men's Chorus set as they bid farewell to their beloved Artistic Director, Dennis Coleman, as he was retiring after 36 years (I think), of leading this wonderful chorus. Of course there were many tears as he took his leave and as the Seattle Women's Chorus came onstage to sing with the men this was a powerful statement of what an important organization that GALA Choruses are.
See you next week when I will be writing about my experiences in Munich at the Various Voices Festival of 2018. Take care of yourselves and stay healthy.
As always I send my love, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers and to any of you who may be new to my blog. This I will be writing about our experiences at the GALA Choruses Festival IX which was held in Denver from July 7 to 11, 2012. There were changes to this Festival. It was shortened from 7 days to 5 days, it featured the introduction of Morning Coffee Concerts and Evening Blockbuster Concerts. Festival was held at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which has three major concert halls, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Buell Theatre, Boettcher Concert Hall and two smaller ones, the Stage Theatre and the Chambers Grant Salon where the Late Night Ensembles performances took place.
There were 6,000 singers representing 155 choruses and small ensembles and 5 youth choruses at this Festival and we took over downtown Denver. At the opening concert on Saturday, July 7, we were treated to the music of our Colorado choruses, the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Denver Women's Chorus, Harmony: a Colorado Chorale, Out Loud: the Colorado Springs Men's Chorus, Sine Nomine, Resonance Women's Chorus and Sound Circle and friends. This was held in Boettcher which is a theatre in the round. The concert began and ended with Zimbabwean marimba music performed by The Low Flying Knobs. In between were the performances by all of the Colorado choruses in a great mix of music. This concert was performed twice, first at 7:30 pm and again at 9:00 pm in order for all delegates to have an opportunity to attend. Also on this night was the Ensemble Festival featuring the small groups of several choruses. These took place in the Ellie and the Stage Theatre.
At this Festival LGCSF was joined by the Chorus of Lick-Wilmerding High School of San Francisco. Our artistic director, William Sauerland, was also the choral teacher at Lick. Sunday morning, July 8, we had our tech rehearsal onstage at the Ellie to prepare for us for our performance on Monday, July 9. We opened the afternoon block at 12:30 pm and performed the GALA Premiere of "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" composed for us by Jack Curtis Dubowsky with words by Harvey Milk from his letters and speeches from his archives and the Scott Smith Collection. We also performed June Bonacich's "If Gays Ruled the World." We were the first chorus to have a high school perform with a queer chorus at Festival. As with all Festival performances we received a standing ovation but I like to think there was a little extra for the high school kids who sang with us. It was certainly a highlight in my chorus life. Then we went on to listen to as many other choruses as we could fit into the rest of our time in Denver.
Let me talk about the morning Coffee Concerts which were new at this Festival. These were one hour concerts performed by choruses who had performed them during the past twelve months leading to Festival. These were all fully costumed and choreographed shows and they ranged from Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC performing "Alexander's House" to "When I Knew" by Heartland Men's Chorus. Also the Portland Gay Men's Chorus presented "The Young Person's Guide to the Gay Men's Chorus" and MUSE - Cincinnati Women's Choir presented ""#Tweet2Roar: MUSE Celebrates 29." One of the Coffee Concerts that we really enjoyed was "Von Trapped" by Men Alive with their take on "The Sound of Music" and this was very gay.
Also new were the evening Blockbuster Concerts which started with "Songs of the Soul" which was a sacred concert exploring the connections between spirituality, sexuality, and musical expression. Then came "Our Legacy = Our Song" which celebrated GALA's LGBT history through stories, photos, narration and music commissioned by our choruses. There were Men's Chorus, Women's Chorus and Mixed Chorus Singin' in the Round concerts, a Classical Masterworks Sing-Along and the Big Gay Sing in which everyone, those onstage and those in the audience sang along to the music and the lyrics were shown on the big screen so it was like the biggest karaoke ever. So gay and so fun. And then there was the fabulous Youth Invasion concert featuring the five youth choruses who were there - Diverse Harmony, Dreams of Hope, Mosaic Youth Chorus, PerformOUTKC and the Youth Pride Chorus. We in the audience laughed, cried, cheered, and gave standing ovations to each song and each chorus. We were so proud of these kids and we all realized these wonderful young singers are the future of GALA.
And then we came to the Closing Festivities on the evening of Wednesday, July 11 which was a celebration of music, stories, photos and video to wrap up Festival 2012. The program also included the launch of a virtual choral project called "Global Queer Quire" which featured virtual performances by LGBT choruses from across the world. We all sang "Born This Way" along with the Global Queer Quire and that was a special moment of feeling connected to all of the wonderful, talented singers that make up our GALA Choruses world. And then it was on to the closing party "Red Hot" presented by SFGMC, Heartland Men's Chorus, GMCW, Turtle Creek Chorale, Anna Crusis, Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus, NYCGMC and Denver Gay Men's Chorus. This was a great way to end our time together and party and dance with old friends and the new ones we made during our time in Denver. If anyone who was there has any photos you can share with us please send them to email@example.com.
Once again GALA lived up to its mission to empower LGBT choruses as we change our world through song. I love the four values that were included in the program book - We are Catalysts, We are Harmonizers, We are Listeners and We are Leaders. I know we will sing together sometime in the future and it will be a magical and spiritual event that will change our lives. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Sending you all my love.
In harmony always, Michael Lucero