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
Hello and greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you all had a fun Valentine's Day and watched the Cincinnati Men's Chorus in their Dear Johns virtual cabaret. It was very festive and fun. This week I thought I would write about the history of Love Bites since we are waiting for our latest virtual Love Bites video to arrive with the 18th version of our ongoing gift to the community. I have included four photos of past program covers, including our first one so check them out.
First of all the chorus had been putting on cabarets before our first Love Bites in February, 2004. The titles of three of them were "Full Moon Full of Love", "Role Playing", and "Somewhere Over the Top". The idea for Love Bites was the brainchild of our AD, the beautiful and talented Stephanie Lynne Smith, aided and abetted by the Artistic Advisory Committee. I, along with Deb Cohler, was on that committee and we held meetings at Deb's house. I seem to remember that we talked about the success of these previous cabarets and what could we create to continue this tradition of showcasing the talents of our members. We were all of a similar mind that we more or less hated the schmaltzy love songs we listened to around Valentine's Day growing up and thought why not turn that around and sing songs that reflected an anti-Valentine's Day vibe since we had all experienced some kind of romantic breakup in our lives. When this idea was presented to the chorus it was like we all said "Yes, let's do this" so Stephanie asked singers who wanted to do solos, duets, trios, etc., to present her with songs to include in the shows.
As we went forward with a new Love Bites each year we came up with a specific theme and asked that the songs picked by the members fit in that theme. There were also full chorus songs that opened and closed the shows so there was certainly something for everyone to do. We all had great fun in putting these shows together and some of the talent we displayed and the songs that were performed by the soloists, duets, etc. surprised and amused us and maybe had us shedding a tear or two.
The very first Love Bites was held on Friday the 13th, 2004, at the LGBT Center in the Rainbow Room with our special guests, the Living Dolls, from Seattle. This was our home for Love Bites for the next two years. We also performed Love Bites at Theatre Rhinoceros, Exit Theatre on Taylor, and the Women's Building. When Billy Sauerland came on as AD in 2011 Love Bites was presented at the Mission Cultural Center where we had a 125 seat house, an actual stage and backstage. This was our home for the next few years for Love Bites. And then we went to Martuni's, the fabulous, intimate piano bar which has been home for Love Bites and Naughty and Nice. I guess this can tail onto what I mentioned in the last History blog regarding some of the venues we have performed in here in San Francisco. Wherever we were putting on Love Bites, our audiences found us, loved us and came back for more. I want to give the biggest loving shout out to Ms. Smith for her guidance and support and help she gave to us and especially for the soloists, duets, etc. who got out onstage and sang their hearts out for our audiences and for us.
So take care of yourselves my wonderful readers, stay safe and hopefully you will get vaccinated as soon as possible as more vaccines are on their way to a CVS or Walgreens near you or wherever you have your health care.
Sending all my love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all my fabulous readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and staying sane and safe and healthy. Phil and I are doing well and just waiting to hear from Kaiser sometime for our appointment for our vaccinations. This week as I was thinking about what to write I came across a folder in my archives that had advertising for our Pride Concert 1998. Our Artistic Director at that time was Trente Morant and we had been working hard to learn our music for this concert. Our special guests that year were Qwire, Canberra, Australia's Gay and Lesbian Chorus. We had time to socialize with them between our dress rehearsal and the day of the concert, June 26.
First I would like to say that in 1998 there were several gay newspapers that were available to the community in many places. These included the Bay Area Reporter, the San Francisco Bay Times, San Francisco Frontiers and the Sentinel. The Pride Concert was announced in the arts sections of each of these publications, Out & About, Coming Up! and Pride Guide.
Also in 1998, KQED television had published a Lesbian and Gay Pride Month calendar which listed all of the content that was produced and shown on KQED in June as well as listing all of the various community events happening and the Pride Concert was proudly listed in this booklet.
Unfortunately I do now know who in the Chorus at that time was in charge of marketing for us but I would imagine it was our Public Relations committee who would have taken care of this for us. Also a large part of what we did to advertise was hand out flyers in the Castro and contact all of our friends and family to let them know what a fabulous concert we were producing and to please come and celebrate with us. Then as now word of mouth is one of the best ways we can advertise and let our audiences know when one of our performances is coming up. In this age of social media it is so easy to reach out to all of our friends around the world and let them know when we will be on Facebook or YouTube.
I have included photos of our flyer from 1998 Pride and also pictures of the notices in KQED's publication as well as the ones in the gay newspapers so check those out as well.
I think next week I will be writing all about Love Bites and how it started and how it has evolved over the years. See you then. Take care of yourselves, love each other and stay safe.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers, I know you are out there. I hope you are all well and staying safe and healthy and to any of you in an area where the winter storms are happening please stay safe and warm. This week I want to begin with one more item to go with what I wrote about last week - the awards and certificates that the Chorus received. I came across three items from the 1991 Cable Car Awards show nominating the Chorus for three of our concerts from 1990. These were all for "Outstanding Concert" and the three concerts were "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus Turns 10", "Brahms & Bernstein", and "Radio Daze". I am not sure if we won for any of these but of course we were honored to receive them.
My main thing to write about this week is about our early Leadsheets. As you who have been in our Zoom rehearsals this year one of our alumni, Jesse Lanou, has joined us to sing with us once again. During the first one, Jesse mentioned that she had been the editor of the Leadsheet starting when she first joined in 1981. I was not able to find any Leadsheets in my archives from 1981 but have some 1982 that I wanted to share with you and what we were doing then and what was in our calendar beginning in August. One item in the Leadsheet from that time is a suggestion for the streamlining of our name from "San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus" to "San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Chorus". Our rehearsals were held on Wednesday nights. BREAKING NEWS - the Gay Olympics torch reaches San Francisco from New York City on 8/22/82 and the Gay Olympics Games start on 8/25/82. The chorus participated in the GALA West Coast Festival on 9/4/82 and we had rehearsed for our set in this one day event. There were 11 choruses participating in the six hour concert at Nourse Auditorium. Those first five days of September, 1982, were busy with our rehearsal on 9/1, registration of the participating choruses at California Hall on 9/2, cocktails, dinner and show on 9/3, tech rehearsals starting at 9 am at Nourse with the concert starting at 2 pm. On 9/5 starting at 10:30 am vocal clinic and rehearsal for Gay Olympics Games closing ceremony and the performance at 12:30 pm at Kezar Stadium. The following weekend, 9/10-9/12 was our fall retreat at Cazadero Music Camp. The Festival Concert was a great success and there were many thank yous in the Leadsheet for our chorus members who worked to make everything run smoothly. On 8/11/82 the vote was taken for the chorus name change and there were 31 votes to change, 18 not to change and 3 votes for neither old nor new name.
On 9/21/82, at the Plush Room our subgroup, Vocal Minority along with Sean Martinfield performed. The chorus was now in rehearsal for their fall concert, "A Harmonic Harvest", which was held November 13, 1982 at the First Unitarian Church. In the Leadsheet from 9/8/82 Jesse put in a notice to look for a new Leadsheet editor as she would be starting a new job as a San Francisco Deputy Sheriff so look out all you miscreants. As of November 1 we had a new Leadsheet editor in the person of Janice Embrey and Jesse was happy to announce this change.
There was a call for ushers for the SFGMC's concerts on 10/22 and 10/23/82 at Nourse Auditorium. As we were getting closer to our November fall concert, there was a concert production meeting on 11/2, our dress rehearsal on 11/3, regular rehearsal on 11/10 and the concert on Saturday, 11/13. As we moved into December we were rehearsing for our performance in collaboration with SFGMC in their "Now Sing With Hearts Aglow" concerts on 12/19 and 12/24. We also went caroling in the Castro on 12/22 instead of our regular rehearsal. So you all can see that the second half of 1982 was a very busy one for the Chorus. Please check out the photos that I included to see what our Leadsheet looked like back in the good old days. Also a reminder: if you have any chorus photos with a caption that you would like to share in a future History Corner please let me know. My email is in Chorus Connection. Stay tuned for the next History Corner - who knows what will inspire me to write about from our singing past. Take care of yourselves.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all doing well, staying safe, sane and healthy. It is so wonderful to have a President who has an actual plan to put concrete actions into place to tackle the coronavirus and that these decisions are based on science and the facts.
This week I thought I would write about some of the awards and certificates that the Chorus received throughout the years. From the 1970s through the 1990s there were two separate organizations that awarded prizes for excellence in the gay community - the Cable Car Awards with their overall theme of Outstanding - and for excellence in live performance - the San Francisco/Bay Area Gold Awards presented by the San Francisco Council on Entertainment. Any awards given from these organizations were very prestigious.
The Cable Car Awards started in 1974 by Bob Cramer and he always included on stage and in the audience leaders in the political arena joining with entertainers, journalists, athletes, artists, photographers and civic minded persons to celebrate our community. The Chorus and its subgroups, Menage and Fiddlestix, were all nominated in 1989 and 1990. The Chorus won in 1989 for Outstanding Concert for our LGCSF Goes to the Movies. In 1990, Fiddlestix were nominated for Outstanding Performing Group, as were Menage, and as was the Chorus for Outstanding Concert "The Critics' Award". In 1990, the Chorus was awarded a Cable Car Award for the 1989 Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade Outstanding Performing Group. In 1992, the Chorus was awarded the Bob Cramer Award for Excellence.
The San Francisco/Bay Area Gold Awards were started in 1978 by a man by the name of Jack Essex and a group of his friends who mapped out the first Gold Awards to honor cabaret performers, singers, pianists, comedians and the cabarets and the jazz and comedy clubs where they were able to perform. In 1988, Menage was nominated for Outstanding Musical Group. Menage was also nominated in 1989 as well as our own Scott Johnston for Outstanding Male Cabaret/Nightclub Vocalist. So as you can see back in the good old days of live entertainment in San Francisco the Chorus was well represented.
As far as certificates that the Chorus has received in the past, I want to mention two certificates we received in 2005. These were both Certificates of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco and signed by then Mayor Gavin Newsom. The first was awarded on January 20, 2005, and recognized and honored the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco on the occasion of its 25th Anniversary. Founded in 1980 by John Sims as the world's first gay and lesbian choral ensemble, the chorus has entertained audiences throughout the Bay Area and across the world.
The second was awarded on May 7, 2005, and it recognized and honored the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco for 25 years of building and enriching our communities with music. Your voices are helping to transcend the barriers of race and sexuality and unite individuals from all walks of life. Congratulations!
I want to give a shout out to one of our alumni who joined us last Thursday on Zoom, my good friend Jesse Lanou who now lives in Oregon. She was the first to respond to my outreach on Facebook to join us this season and I hope we will hear and see other alumni in the future. One of the memories I have of Jesse is when my partner, Philip, and I helped Jesse backstage at one of the Cable Car Awards shows. It was a long day of work but also a lot of fun and we got to interact with the presenters and the performers.
One last thing before I sign off for this week. There is something a little different that I would like to do for a future History Corner, or maybe two of them. That would be to request any backstage photos that any of you have and that I could use and put captions with the photos as a visual glimpse of what we have done. Please upload your pictures to Dropbox or to my email which is in Chorus Connection. I look forward to seeing your photos. Take care of yourselves this week and see you on Zoom on Thursday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
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 email@example.com 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