Happy February to all my faithful readers. This week I will be writing about the first half of 1982 for the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus. We were still under the umbrella of the Golden Gate Performing Arts and they produced a spring season brochure which laid out what the two San Francisco choruses would be presenting in the first half of 1982.
SFGMC put on four productions between March and May. The first was "With a Song in My Heart" and featured the vocal soloists of the chorus. The second was "Fabulous Follies of 1982" which was a program featuring guest artists and they had two perforances and was promoted as a benefit for SFGMC. Their third was "Rites of Spring" and was a departure as it was mostly a dance concert and presented the debut of the Falcon Dance Theatre. This was also presented on two nights. The fourth was "From Ops to Pops" and there were also two performances, one in San Francisco and the second in Palo Alto at Stanford University. From the paperwork of GGPA regarding this season and the post concert breakdowns, of the SFGMC concerts that were two nights the ticket sales were poor and they had half empty performance halls.
Our chorus presented two concerts and appeared in the 4th Annual Gay Musical Celebration. First up for us was our spring concert "Romance ,n Rhythm" held on March 27 at the First Unitarian Church. There were 97 of us who sang this concert. We performed "Messa di Gloria" by Puccini. Next the Chamber Chorus sang a piece by Palestrina. Then Gary Miller, director of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, was here as a guest conductor to conduct the chorus singing Benjamin Britten's "Hymn to St. Cecilia." Next on the program the Vocal Minority sang "Fascinating Rhythm," "If It's Magic" by Stevie Wonder, and a tribute to Louis Armstrong - "Hello Dolly," "Basin Street Blues," and "When the Saints Go Marching In."
The full chorus was back to sing the final four songs of the evening. They were "All the Things You Are" by Jerome Kern, "Song to Celia" by P.D.Q. Bach, "I Am the Monarch of the Sea" by Gilbert & Sullivan and finished with "The Rhythm of Life" by Cy Coleman. For this concert and the following one we reached out to women's organizations to encourage them to buy tickets and that was successful.
The next concert was "Love Songs" and featured our two small groups, the Vocal Minority and the Chamber Chorus. They put on two shows at Albion Hall on May 16.
The final concert was the Gay Musical Celebration held on June 25 at the Civic Auditorium. This concert brought back the SF Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps to perform with the two choruses. Also on the program were the San Francisco Tap Troupe. SFGMC performed the "Coronation Scene from Boris Godumov" by Modest Musorgskii and accompanied by the Bay Area Women's Quartet. The two choruses, the Tap Troupe and the 1982 Gay Olympics Color Guard performed "San Francisco Medley Revisited" with Robin Kay conducting and two pianists our Bill Ganz and SFGMC's Andy Pesce.
I will be writing about the second half of 1982 next week which has some interesting new things for the chorus so stay tuned.
As always we are in harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
LGCSF History Corner - 1981 Part 2
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and to any newcomers to LGCSF and our glorious history. This past Thursday, January 23, the chorus celebrated its 40th birthday. Yes we have hit the big 40!! Any readers out there who have any photos or memories of the chorus please post them on our Facebook page.
This week I am writing about what the chorus did in the second half of 1981. We were part of the Golden Gate Performing Arts "A Season of Note." GGPA produced a season brochure listing the performances of our chorus and SFGMC. One surprise for me is that SFGMC produced a concert entitled "Instrumentalists of the Chorus," which the men of the chorus shared their instrumental talents with their audience. This was held on November 22, 1981, at Trinity Episcopal Church.
On October 2 at Trinity Episcopal Church, the LGCSF performed "Sing! The Rhythm of Life." For this concert we were at 82 strong. This concert featured more of the classical repertoire that Robin Kay brought to us. We sang music by Johannes Brahms, Orlando di Lasso, Samuel Barber, J. S. Bach, and the Gloria from "Mass in G" by Franz Schubert. We were joined on these pieces by members of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. Our Chamber Chorus sang four madrigals and the Vocal Minority sang some pop music - "A Sentimental Journey Through the Forties" including "People Will Say We're in Love," "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "You Are My Sunshine" and "Over the Rainbow." They finished with "One" from "A Chorus Line." The full chorus ended the concert with their versions of "I Sing the Body Electric" from "Fame" and "The Rhythm of Life" which the chorus has sung many times since then at various concerts.
On November 15 at Albion Hall at 141 Albion, Vocal Minority and the Chamber Singers performed twice in "Musical Fun & Games." The Chamber Chorus continued a musical recreation made popular in the sixteenth century: the art and fun of madrigal singing. Vocal Minority were united in their love of the American popular song and they featured two medleys: One was of Jerome Kern hits and the second they reprised "A Sentimental Journey through the 40's." These concerts benefitted the Mixed Chorus and the Lesbian/Gay Olympic Games which were held in San Francisco in 1982. Two members of the chorus, Rose Mary Mitchell and Michael Clarke, were part of the organizing team of what has become known as the Gay Games.
To end the year on December 20 and 24 at the Nourse Auditorium, LGCSF and SFGMC joined forces to sing in "Now Sing Again with Hearts Aglow." The two choruses sang two pieces together to open the evening with "Masters in This Hall" and the "Coventry Carol." Then we sang music by Brahms, then "O Magnum Mysterium," "Gesu Bambino," "Carol of the Bells," "Ya Viene La Vieja," "How Unto Bethlehem," "Fum, Fum, Fum," then something fun by P.D.Q. Bach "Throw the Yule Log on Uncle John" and "The Twelve Days After Christmas." We joined the men at the end of the concert to sing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Song of Galilee" which was followed by an audience sing-along.
One more item of note: our director, Robin Kay, was invited to conduct the New York City Gay Men's Chorus in their holiday concert at Carnegie Hall. This was quite an honor for her and us. Enjoy the attachments of the concert program covers and the want ad for more sopranos and altos. See you next week with the first half of 1982 in the life of our chorus.
Keep on singing, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
Greetings to all my faithful readers. There is one more thing I want to add from last week's blog. As I said at our Premiere Concert we were accompanied by Lamba Pro Musica. This orchestra was founded by Jon Sims, the godfather of all gay musical organizations, and held its first rehearsal on January 24, 1980, the day after our first rehearsal.
As I have been going through the early archives of the chorus I keep discovering materials that I have never seen before. One thing was the Golden Gate Performing Arts spring concert series brochure. Our first concert was titled "Our Time and Place" which was held on May 30 at the Trinity Episcopal Church and May 31 at the First Congregational Church at Post and Mason which became our sort of home performance space through the later 1980s and 1990s. We sang music by Schubert, Liszt, Faure and Scott Joplin.
I would also like to write about the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. The next concert in the series was the "National Tour Concert" of the SFGMC and was held on June 4 at the Warfield Theatre. This was the kickoff concert for their tour which took them to Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York, Washington, D.C., Lincoln, Boston and Seattle. This tour encouraged all the audiences in these cities to think about starting a queer chorus in their city. The tour was an historic first: the opportunity to proclaim from coast to coast the talent, the joy, the love and the resourcefulness of the national gay community.
The next concert that LGCSF performed in was the "Gay Musical Celebration at Davies Symphony Hall." This was held on June 26 and featured the two gay choruses of San Francisco. We were supported by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and the Bay Area Women's Brass Quartet. With SFGMC, the concert was opened with "Gloria in excelsis Deo" by Joseph Dreschenmeier and "Song of Galilee." Then our set began with "Somewhere" from "West Side Story." This was the first time we had performed this and it became our signature song for many years to follow. We also sang excerpts from "Treemonisha" by Scott Joplin. Our director, Robin Kay, whose photo I included, was considered a leading interpreter of Scott Joplin's work and had performed them widely in person and on radio. We ended our set with "Budavari Te Deum" by Zoltan Kodaly.
Two days after this concert, we marched and rode in the Pride Parade on a float which was sponsored by the Sutro Bath House. Next week I will write about what we did in the second half of 1981.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and any new readers out there, welcome. I have been going through more of the chorus archives that I had received from Kim Hargreaves. I came across the spring concert series program as well as flyers from our concerts that year and a program from the Gay People's Union of UC Berkeley Gay Awareness Week in November, 1980 in which we performed for them. This material is something new to me as I have never seen it before now. I thought what a way to celebrate our 40th birthday on January 23 than to bring you this history.
This is from the Golden Gate Performing Arts (GGPA) Spring Concert Series program. In the beginning, 1980, there was the Golden Gate Performing Arts which was the umbrella organization for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps (yes they had baton twirlers at the front of the band every time they marched and played), the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus and Lambda Pro Musica. The primary purpose for GGPA was to provide support for these musical organizations in the areas of fundraising, legal, insurance, and public relations services to these groups.
The Band presented its concert "A Night at the Movies" on April 18 and 19, 1980 at Mission High School. They played music from the movies from all genres including "Citizen Kane," "West Side Story," a Space Medley, a Symphonic Fantasy from the Wizard of Oz, a special guest appearance by local cabaret star Ruth Hastings with the Varsity Drag subgroup of the Band. You get the idea of this concert.
Next in the season was the SFGMC presenting their concert "Let There Be Music" on April 23 and 24, 1980 at the Herbst Theatre, then on April 30 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University and on May 3 at First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. They sang a mixture of classical choral music. The small group, Men About Town, sang some pop and Broadway songs and the chorus ended with "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King, "Dangling Conversation" and "The Boxer" by Paul Simon, "Water Music" by Terence Allbright and "Tarantella" by Randall Thompson.
Next this spring was the premiere concert of us, the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus with Lambda Pro Musica on May 17 at Mission High School. Our director was Robin Kay and the program was one of classical music and we ended with a medley from "Porgy and Bess." The orchestra opened with Mozart's Symphony No. 29, A major followed by Vivaldi's Concerto in C Major. The chorus sang "Two Folksongs" by Johannes Brahms and "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure. With the orchestra we sang Sacred Cantata No. 4 by J. S. Bach.
In reading through the history of these two organizations our chorus' first rehearsal was on April 23 and Lambda Pro Musica's first rehearsal was on April 24. At this rehearsal a dozen string musicians cautiously entered a rehearsal room that became a musical/personal/social space none had experienced before. They created not only beautiful music, but also a uniquely safe context in which to be who they were. I can also truly say that the rehearsal spaces that the chorus has sung in over the years since I joined in 1984 became a safe space to be who I am and hopefully everyone else who came to sing with us.
We next sang at the Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral on June 27 along with SFGMC, the Band and Lambda Pro Musica and John Renke who was the Assistant Organist and Choirmaster of Grace Cathedral. I am sure it was a glorious experience for the musicians as well as the audience to perform in that beautiful sacred space.
Next came our fall concert "Together in Harmony" which we presented on September 27 at Mission High School. This concert was also the debut of our two small ensembles - the Chamber Singers and the Vocal Minority. We performed the music of William Byrd, J. S. Bach, Voltan Kodaly and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Next for us was a chance to sing in Berkeley as part of UC Berkeley's Gay Awareness Week and we sang on Tuesday, November 11 in Wheeler Auditorium. I am sure any of our singers now who have attended UC Berkeley would know where that is.
For the finale of the year 1980 we sang with SFGMC in their concert Now Sing with Hearts Aglow at Nourse Auditorium on December 21. From the program it sounds like it was a very beautiful and gorgeous evening of music from both choruses and their respective Chamber Singers. One last thing - there was a memo from the Women's Outreach Group of the chorus going out to various individuals and businesses to recruit more sopranos and altos for the chorus.
Next week I will be writing about our adventures in 1981 as I look through the programs and material which is helping me fill in the gaps from the early years so please indulge me.
Happy reading and always in harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
Hello and greetings and Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all had a wonderful and peaceful and musical holiday season. For my first History Corner post of 2020 I want to talk about some of what goes on in the background. From the beginning the chorus has always had a Board of Directors and as part of their obligations is to work with the greater gay community to promote the chorus.
We also had a Community Advisory Board which I believe first started in 1988. Here is more on this Board. Among the archives I found a memo dated January 6, 1992, from Rosemary Mitchell to the Board of Directors stating that she had sent a letter to all Advisory Board members asking for their commitment for another year of service. What I found to be most interesting in reading this is what the duties of the Advisory Board were.
1. Attending our concerts and fundraising;
2. Purchasing sponsor tickets;
3. Cash contributions;
4. Offering services at various chorus-sponsored activities;
5. Helping to procure both paid and non-paid (benefit) performances for both the chorus and the small groups; and
6. Developing and coordinating chorus fundraisers.
At this time there were 13 persons who were on the Community Advisory Board and I remember when they were introduced to the chorus and I remember seeing them at various times at our concerts. I am sure that they also helped to get gigs for Menage, our small group ambassador, since it seemed they were always performing and representing the chorus at various events. As we all know things do change and as far as I can deduce the Community Advisory Board ended at the end of 1994.
I am looking forward to seeing and singing with you all at our first rehearsal as we begin this year of new music, collaborations with other choruses in our concerts and singing at the GALA Festival in Minneapolis. Next week more of my personal memories of being in our wonderful chorus.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
Hello to all of my faithful readers. This week I want to share with you about another of our chorus traditions and that is out of town retreats. These retreats were intended to have the chorus be by ourselves away from any kind of outside distraction so that we could bond and become really close as we rehearsed whatever show or concert was coming up. Some of my earliest memories of these was when Rodger Pettyjohn was our AD. At these retreats, aside from our rehearsal times, there always a "talent" show on the Saturday night. During one of these talent shows, Rodger sat silently at a piano for what seemed an interminable time. Another time Rodger had us lay on the floor and close our eyes so his new electronic composition could take us on a musically guided meditation.
The retreat sites we would go to during the Pat Parr years were in the Santa Cruz mountains or in the Guerneville area in Sonoma county. On the retreat before our Elton John concert I remember was how much fun we had rehearsing his songs and decorating our own outsized glasses similar to what Elton wore onstage. Also at the retreats, if there were sets to be designed and put together, this was where this was done. Another time during the retreat before our Radio Daze concert we were instructed on how to use and apply stage makeup and from that time on at each concert in our dressing rooms were makeup kits for all of us to use. All of the "talent" shows during this time were always so much fun and some of the talent shared was actually quite good. Another thing I remember during a retreat is that we performed at a benefit in Guerneville for the Sonoma County AIDS service organizations. Enjoy the pictures from one of these retreats with Pat.
A retreat I remember during the Michael Carlson years was at a hostel in the Marin Headlands where there were great views of the Pacific and back to San Francisco. As there were other people at this hostel during the weekend, we performed for them so we could have the feedback from this audience on the music we had been rehearsing.
During the Billy Sauerland years, we had a retreat at the Montara Lighthouse hostel near Half Moon Bay. We were rehearsing "Loving Repeating", the Gertrude Stein musical. During this time we all had the chance to be outside to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and coastline and we also enjoyed the beauty of being together learning this music.
Also during this time we were invited by the Freedom Band to join them three different years at their Music Camp in Cazadero. This was great fun for us as we got to spend time with the musicians of the band and of course there was a "talent" show that we all took part in. We also shared time around the camp fire and roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.
This will be my last History Corner entry for this year. What an amazing year this has been for our chorus. My thanks and love to Michael as he has led us on our musical journey. See you at Naughty and Nice. My love to you all at this time of year.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebration with your family and friends. This time I want to write about more of some of the traditions the chorus participated in 1992. This year was a busy one for us. In addition to our concerts and our performance in Denver at the GALA Festival, we participated in three community events in the early part of the year. The photos attached are from the programs of these three events.
The first followed the coronation of the Empress and Emperor of San Francisco which was all started by Jose Sarria, (photo enclosed) the First Empress who claimed she was the Widow Norton, the widow of Emperor Joshua Norton who was a beloved character in San Francisco's past. Google him to find out more about him. Anyway he is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Colma. Jose Sarria was a big supporter of LGCSF both onstage as MC and offstage and he was the first openly gay man to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
On Sunday, March 1, after the coronation the night before, the Imperial Court and other dignitaries go to Emperor Norton's gravesite and LGCSF and the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Marching Band were part of the entertainment. We did this for a number of years in the late 1980s and early 1990s under Pat Parr's direction and this was always a sort of hoot for everyone involved.
The second event was our appearance at the 18th Annual Cable Car Awards & Show which was on March 14 at the San Francisco Fashion Center. The MCs for the evening were newscasters Ginger Casey and Hank Plante from KPIX TV, and our own Linda Rohde & Tony White. The Cable Car Awards was founded by Bob Cramer who dedicated 20 years of his life to serving the lesbian and gay community and he had a high standard of excellence. Following his death to AIDS, the board of directors established the Bob Cramer Award for Excellence which was presented to San Francisco's Lesbian & Gay Performing Arts Organizations - City Swing with Gail Wilson, S.F. Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, San Francisco Tap Troupe, Vocal Minority with Wayne Love directing, Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, Menage, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Theatre Rhinoceros, and VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble. The Band, LGCSF, SFGMC and VOICES performed as the finale to this wonderful night of celebrating the best of all of us.
The third event we participated in was An Event in 3 Acts - Heart Strings, The AIDS Memorial Quilt and You. The show at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre was the Heart Strings part of the evening and featured an array of singers, actors and dancers from all over the country. The part we played was as backup singers for Nell Carter as she sang her heart out and got the audience up on their feet as I remember it.
That is it for this week but I will be back next week with more of our traditions so look for it.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all of my faithful readers. This week and for the next few editions of the History Corner I thought I would write about some of our traditions. One of the first traditions that I was aware of were birthdays and birthday parties. It seemed in the early years of the chorus, we would have a party at the drop of a hat and of course we celebrated the birthdays of our singers. They ranged from simple affairs to big extravaganzas.
Of course we had to have a big party to celebrate the tenth birthday of the chorus. This was held on January 27, 1990, at the Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts, which was also the home of the SF Band Foundation. Preparations for the party were under way in December as we sent out invitations to our present singers as well as to our alumni. In 1990 we had no social media so we reached out by telephone, letters, our Leadsheet printed on paper, and the word did get out to everyone.
There was dancing, cabaret, and a talent show featuring acts from our wonderful retreat shows. This was hosted by our fabulous MCs Jill Tallmer, Bill Ward and Robert (Babs) Kirsch. There was also memorabilia, a no-host bar and food. The sopranos were in charge of popcorn, chips and dips, pretzels; the altos had the sweets covered; the tenors brought nuts and fruits (naturally) and the basses brought veggies and dips.
From the Leadsheet that went out there was a call for posters, bananas, or other items from old sets. Yours truly and my husband, Phil Hernandez, were in charge of these items. Jesse Kane would be putting together a concert highlight tape and video. There were also displays of photos and programs so we could relive our past glories from our first ten years.
I have included a few photos taken at the party. The black and white photo is of Robin Kay, who was our first Artistic Director. The others are of the chorus who were attending as well as a photo of Mary Cantrell and Marjorie Sheffield performing in the talent show.
I would surely love to see us have a party like this to celebrate our 40 years of making music, memories and friends. Let's start thinking about this - Membership Committee and Board - and anyone else who is good at organizing something like this. As I continue to go through the historic chorus material I received from Kim Hargreaves there will be more to come about the traditions and community we have built.
Next week who knows what I will write about but it will be something great.
Love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers. This week I am writing about the last concert conducted by William Sauerland entitled "HERE I AM: Living Authentically" which was held at MCC on May 6 and 7, 2017. Billy asked the chorus and friends to write something that would embody his vision of living authentically for this concert and what had inspired them in their lives to live authentically. Eight people responded to this request, six of our singers and two friends of the chorus. The first person to share his thoughts was Lynn Jordan, a member of MCC and a friend of the chorus. This was called "Yes, I am Still Here in Body and in Spirit! Why Do You Ask?" and the chorus sang "I Sing Out" with Pax and Van on the solos. Next Dale Danley talked about "My Father" and the chorus sang "Come Travel With Me." Then Dr. Mark Higgins talked about his experience among the early doctors and caregivers to persons with AIDS and the chorus sang "Be the Hero" with solos by Dale and Asher.
Hello to all of you wonderful singers and faithful readers. This week I am writing about Ménage. They were a jazz and pop octet that were formed by our AD Pat Parr in October 1986. They became ambassadors for the chorus and performed at many events and benefits in small venues. They were an auditioned group and spent a lot of time with each other in their own rehearsals and retreats with Pat.