Hello faithful readers, First I would like to tell you a little bit more about our Artistic Director William Sauerland. One of the things he told us from the start was that his favorite singer ever is Julie Andrews. That is why this concert was called "My Favorite Sings" and features a photo of Julie as Maria in "The Sound of Music" singing in the Alpine meadow. For this concert he had asked his friend and mentor, soprano Audrey Luna, to join us in this concert. When he told us this we all knew we would have to step our game. But for one reason or another this did not quite happen in our rehearsals as Billy would have liked it to have been. Billy came from a professional singing background and here was directing a community chorus. The low point came in one rehearsal as we were singing "Both Sides Now" and we were not quite getting it done to his satisfaction or ours. He said that if we did not do better he would call Audrey and tell her not to come sing with us. So it was rather an uncomfortable situation for all of us. The good news is that we did pull it together for the concert as we always had done so here is the program.
My Favorite Sings, MCC, 150 Eureka Street, November 14 and 15, 2014.
The concert opened with us singing "Famine Song" which was followed by "How Can I Keep From Singing?" which had been a chorus favorite from past directors and concerts. Next was "I Hear America Singing" and then "Harriet Tubman," another chorus favorite. Then we sang the beautiful Hebrew song "Erev Shel Shoshanim" followed by Eric Whitacre's wonderful "This Marriage" which we dedicated to the Marriage Equality fight. Next we sang Samuel Barber's "Sure on This Shining Night" and this was followed by "Muero Porque No Muero" with Audrey Luna singing her beautiful solo as the end of the first half.
The second half opened with "Ahrirang", a Korean folk song followed by the Irish folk song "Down By the Sally Garden" with Jason LeBrun on flute. Next was "The Blue Bird" again with Audrey soloing on this. Next was "You Are the New Day" followed by Lennon & McCartney's "Can't Buy Me Love" in a Gregorian chant style. Next we sang "Tenderly" oh so tenderly followed by "Both Sides Now" - yes we sang this to Billy's satisfaction. Next was "Seize the Day" from "Newsies" and our finale was selections from "The Sound of Music." Through all the drama of rehearsals for this concert we came through with flying colors for an inspiring night of music.
I will be taking a week off next week from the Corner as I will be in Tucson at the GALA Leadership Symposium with Michael and Robert and Dale and I will be attending a workshop about GALA liaisons and learning more about GALA Festival coming up next year in Minneapolis so I will have news for all of you when we are back in rehearsals.
Cheers, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers. I had recently been going through some more of my chorus archive folders and found a draft schedule for our 2011-2012 Fall Season with our AD, William Sauerland. Billy had informed us in July that we had been invited to participate in a performance by the Man Dance Company which would take place on August 13 and 14 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This was the first time for the chorus to perform in that beautiful theatre. The Man Dance Company were performing dances to the music of Shawn Kirchner and songs from his album called "Meet Me on the Mountain." Check this out on iTunes or Spotify. Several of the songs were about persons who would rather dance or be with someone of their own sex rather than someone of the opposite sex. The chorus sang backup on a couple of these songs and we also sang music from the film "Brokeback Mountain" that we had been rehearsing for our upcoming fall concert. The dance company danced to that as well. This was a good collaboration between us and the dance company and we had the chance to sing before a new audience.
Let It Shine! a Gospel Music Concert, MCC, October 18, 2014.
This was another collaborative concert and the chorus were the guests of the MCCSF Worship and Praise Choir under the direction of Grace Renaud, who has been a singer and accompanist of LGCSF over the years. The guest soloist was Juanita Harris, a wonderful singer, violinist and pianist.
The concert began with Wendy Tobias and Michael Cronin soloing with the MCC Choir on "Let the Church Rise" and this was followed by "Operator" which was made famous by Manhattan Transfer and then came "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" with a solo by Skip Purdy who also sang with us. Then a quintet of MCC singers called Queentet sang "Ain'a That Good News" and "God Bless the Child." Then Grace Renaud and Elisa Shore sang the Indigo Girls song "Closer to Fine." Then came Juanita Harris singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "Down by the Riverside" accompanied by Queentet, then "Dig a Little Deeper in God's Love" and "God Never Failed Me, Yet." To end the first half were two sing alongs "Shabbak & Sunrise/Sunset" and "We've Come This Far By Faith."
The second half began with "Bye & Bye" sung by MCCSF and LGCSF with Elisa singing a solo. Next we sang "I Hear America Singing" with words by Walt Whitman and then we sang "Famine Song." Next Wendy sang "Here's One" and this was followed by "Bless Me." Then came another sing along "This Little Light of Mine" and MCCSF sang "Dig a Little Deeper." Next the trio of Wendy, Grace and Michael C. sang "Get Happy." Then Juanita Harris came on to sing "Amazing Grace" which was amazing and "Holy, Thou Art" and then we all ended with everyone singing "Amen!"
This was a concert in which we got to sing some new music in a new style and to participate with the people at MCCSF who graciously extend to us the use of the church for our rehearsals. Thanks to all of them.
Next week will be all about "My Favorite Sings."
Cheers, Michael Lucero
36th Annual San Francisco Pride Concert - Together Strong, Kelly Cullen Auditorium, June 14, 2014.
This Pride Concert called Together Strong after the SF Pride Committee's title for all of the Pride events was again a collaboration between LGCSF, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and two special guests, the Camerata California, a versatile chamber choir from Sacramento and guest soloist Jefferson Packer. The director of the Band, Pete Nowlen, is also Artistic Director of Camerata California, which is how they came to be with us on this concert. The concert was held in a new facility, the Kelly Cullen Auditorium which is in the old YMCA building on Golden Gate Avenue. Our MC for the concert was Joe "Trauma Flintstone" Wicht, who has become a member of our Board of Directors.
The concert was held in honor of the memory of Jose Julio Sarria, better known far and wide as the Empress Jose I, the Widow Norton. Jose chose this name to remember a San Francisco character named Joshua Norton. He lived in San Francisco in the mid-1800's and died in 1880. He declared himself the Emperor of the United States. Jose Sarria was a political activist from San Francisco who in 1961 became the first openly gay candidate for any public office in the US. He ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He also performed as a drag Queen at the infamous Black Cat Bar and was a co-founder of the Imperial Court System. He was also a great supporter of the chorus and perfomed with us in a couple of shows that will be long remembered.
The concert had the world premiere of a piece entitled "From Darkness to Light" by Philip Orem which was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela. We also performed the West Coast premiere of "I Am in Love with the World" by Nathan Hall and which had text by Maurice Sendak.
The concert opened with the Band playing "Hymn for Africa" by Peter Meecham. Next was "Today is the Gift" by Samuel Hazo and performed by us, the Band and Camerata California. Next the three groups performed "From Darkness to Light" and there were pictures of Nelson Mandela from his life projected on screen. Next was Joe Wicht as Trauma Flintstone warbling "They Can't Take That Away From Me" by the Gershwins and this was followed by the Band playing "City Trees" by Michael Markowski.
Next Jefferson Packer, LGCSF and Camerata California performed "I Am In Love With the World" which was followed by Jeff, and the other three groups performing "Votre toast, je peux vous le render (Toreador Song)" from Bizet's opera "Carmen."
Next in honor of Jose, the Widow Norton, we all sang her anthem "God Save Us Nellie Queens," and we ended the concert with us, the Band and Camerata California singing "Over the Rainbow."
To follow up on our collaboration with City Swing from our Swing Break show, we were invited to sing with them at their 7th Annual Concerts in the Park way out in Clayton on June 21, 2014 so we sang some of the music from Swing Break for a whole new audience.
Next week will be about our participation with MCC Choir in a gospel concert called "Let It Shine."
Cheers, Michael Lucero
Swing Break, Mission Cultural Center, April 11 & 12, 2014.
This show was a departure for us in a way as it was all big band swing music. We collaborated with City Swing, an 18-piece big band conducted by Bradley Connlain. In his notes, Billy Sauerland said "We hope this evening of big band swing music leaves your toes tapping and your heart singing. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with City Swing, and we are grateful to Bradley Connlain and all the instrumentalists for this amazing opportunity." In preparation for this show, the chorus traveled to Oakland to join in City Swing's rehearsal to begin our work with them. And all of the hard work of both groups paid off to enjoyment of our enthusiastic audiences.
The chorus was at 30 strong singers for this show and it began with City Swing playing dance music for our audience and many of them did get out of their seats and danced. Then City Swing played "Basie - Straight Ahead" and this led into John Gullotto soloing and the chorus behind him with "Chattanooga Choo Choo" and this was followed by "Moonglow" which was sung by Dale Danley, Yolanda, Pax, Joan Goldman, John, Tom McElroy, Martha Merchant, Ellen Miller, David Pistrang (whatever happened to him), Janice Placido, Linda Rodriguey and Noam Szoke. Next up Tom Reardon, one of our Board of Directors, sang "Come Fly With Me." This was followed by "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" with Billy, Linda, Fernando Ruelos and John out front. The first half ended with "Orange Colored Sky" with David out front and the chorus backup. And then came intermission.
The second half began with the chorus singing "Tenderly" very tenderly. Then Fernando and Jason LeBrun led us in "That Old Black Magic" and we were in their spell. And then there was more music for dancing. Next up was Wendy Tobias, Scott Turco and Dale "Pep, Vim and Verve" and they were followed by Tom Reardon again singing "Luck Be a Lady." Next we sang "Moonlight Serenade" with Billy, Wendy, Fernando and John out front. This was followed by Scott soloing on "At Last" and the chorus ended with "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" and then there was more music for dancing as our audience and we danced the night away. All of us, City Swing and our audiences loved this show and the music that brought back memories for them.
Next week I will be writing about Pride 2014.
Cheers to all, Michael Lucero
Love Bites: Down the Hatch, the 11th Annual Anti-Valentine's Day Cabaret, Martuni's, February 2014.
This was our latest edition of this now annual and much anticipated cabaret that our former Artistic Director, Stephanie Lynne Smith, began and brought to life as an annual fundraiser for the chorus. It has always been one of the most successful series of shows that the chorus has presented.
This show began with our AD, Billy Sauerland, and Tom McElroy singing Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" which was followed by Scott Turco singing Rufus Wainwright's "The Art Teacher."
Next our talented and lovely Catherine Dunford sang Tom Lehrer's "I Hold Your Hand in Mine" and this was followed by the equally talented and lovely Paul Michael Alves giving his all in "At Last." Etta James eat your heart out.
Next up was John Gullotto performing Cole Porter's questioning song "What is This Thing Called Love?" and then came our own girl group trio of Yolanda, Linda and Lisa Vogt performing Carole King's "One Fine Day." Lots of fun to hear when these three get together.
Next was something a little bit different. This was CAMPALOT: A LGCSF spoof on the famous Broadway musical "Camelot." There were five songs from the musical performed and first was Billy singing about the "Simple Joys of Maidenhood," followed by Paul as King Arthur warbling the title song "Camelot." Then came a quartet if Jason LeBrun, Tom, Billy and Scott saying "Then You May Take Me to the Fair." This was followed by our lovely soprano Rachyl Underwood performing "If Ever I Would Leave You." Finally, Billy sang "I Loved You Once in Silence."
Next from the Broadway musical "Road Show" another trio of Dale Danley, Yolanda and Fernando Ruelos sang "The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened" composed by Stephen Sondheim.
The next song to be performed was by a quartet of Pax, John, Fernando and our wonderful manager, Alyssa Stone, singing "This Plum is Too Ripe" from "The Fantasticks."
To close out this wonderful and fun night of music there was an audience sing-a-long. This was a parody by Alyssa and others who wished to remain anonymous of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music." Our take on this was "My Favorite Gays" and it went like this.
Lesbos in Castro and dykes in Potrero
Lipsticks and butches who worship Home Depot
All of the homos who love to Partay
These are a few of my favorite Gays
Twinks in pink hot pants and trannies in hot swag
Scene-sters at Gold's Gym and tall queens in full drag
Leather-clad Bears with their junk on display
These are a few of my favorite Gays
When I'm single (aka always)
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite Gays
And then I don't feel so bad!
Next week will be all about our show Swing Break: an Evening of Big Band and Chorus Music with City Swing. See you all at our first rehearsal on Thursday.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
A brief note from Pax Ahimsa Gethen on an outreach event we had before our big fall 2013 concert, "We Celebrate!". On July 5, 2013, we sang at Union Square, San Francisco for the opening ceremony of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs 30th annual convention, We performed the national anthems of the three main participating countries: The United States, Canada, and Japan. You can watch the video on our Facebook page.
We Celebrate!, First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Francisco, November 16, 2013.
This concert was a collaborative endeavor between LGCSF, the USF University Choir, and the choruses of Lick-Wilmerding High School. In his notes, Billy Sauerland thanked all of the choristers for their commitment and incredible work put into learning this wonderful and challenging repertoire. He also wrote "We celebrate the composers of tonight's concert, who range from Beethoven to Paul McCartney. We celebrate the centennial of Benjamin Britten, one of the foremost British composers of the last century. We are especially grateful to Jack Dubowsky from whom we commissioned "Harvey Milk: A Cantata" in 2012, and who has given us a beautifully crafted new version for chorus and woodwind quartet, which we are premiering in tonight's concert. We celebrate David Conte not only for writing the emotionally stiffing and exquisite "Elegy for Matthew," but also for giving freely of his time to work with us on the piece.
We opened the program with "This Is a Celebration" by Jerry Estes, followed by "Celebration" by Nancy Telfer. Next we sang "Jubilate Deo" by Benjamin Britten which was followed by "Elegischer Gesang" by Ludwig van B. We closed the first half with David Conte's "Elegy for Matthew." I included the lyric sheet for this for you to read.
We opened the second half with "Celebrate!" by Don Tyler and followed with "Celebration" from Sir Paul McCartney's "Standing Stone." As you can see we were all about celebration in this concert. Next on the program was Jack Curtis Dubowsky's revised with string quartet version of "Harvey Milk: A Cantata." The concert finished with all of us singing "Sing Joy!" by Mac Huff.
We celebrated the friendships and community formed from this collaboration working with Dr. Rebecca Seeman, director of the USF Choir, David Conte and all of the singers who joined us for this thrilling evening of music making. Our audience were very much appreciative of all of our hard work and responded in kind.
I will be taking a break from the History Corner until next year where we will start with Love Bites February, 2014. See you all at either the Dance Along Nutcracker or Naughty and Nice.
Cheers and love to you all for this wonderful year of making music with you,
35th Annual Pride Concert - Ripped from the Headlines! - Music Celebrating LGBT Stories. San Francisco Conservatory of Music, June 22, 2013.
This was our second Pride concert in a row in the beautiful theatre of the SF Conservatory of Music. There were two performances, one at 6 pm and 9 pm so it was a busy night for all the groups involved. The emcee for the shows was Supervisor Scott Wiener. The groups who performed were the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, the Metropolitan Community Church Choir, Vocal Minority of SFGMC, Oakland/East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and of course LGCSF.
The concert opened with the Band playing "Strike Up the Band" followed by the combined choruses and Band singing "I Hear America Singing" and "Credo." The Band followed with "The Music-Makers" and was followed by the MCC Choir singing "I'm Not Afraid," "The Storm is Passing Over," "Joyful, Joyful," and "Amen." Then we followed with "Let Me Entertain You," "Rhythm of Life," "This Marriage," and "Seize the Day." Vocal Minority then sang "Opera Maxima" and "Rhythm Medley." OEBGMC then came on and performed "Stouthearted Men," "Brand New Boyfriend/Boys Like Me," "What Greater Thing," and "Marry Us." The Band came back on with "The Wizard of Oz," and the combined choruses joined to sing the finale "A New Songs Measure," and "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables/I Am What I Am."
As with all of our past Pride concerts, this was another wonderful evening of collaboration and making and singing wonderful, inspiring music and sharing it with our very appreciative audiences.
Next week's entry will be "We Celebrate."
Cheers, Michael Lucero
Something Foolish, Martuni's, March 31 and April 1, 2013
Hi folks, this is Pax filling in for our historian (and my fellow bass singer) Michael Lucero. I wanted to write about this particular concert as it was my first with LGCSF. I had seen the Love Bites 10th anniversary show, loved it, and joined the chorus right afterward.
The theme of this cabaret show was "Something Foolish", for April Fool's Day. I immediately thought of "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin. I suggested the song to director Billy Sauerland, he found a choral arrangement, and I got to perform lead on it (I was an alto at that time).
But before I got to channel my inner Aretha, we opened the concert with "Socrates, Plato, and Sinatra", a rather whimsical piece. We surrounded the audience on all four sides for this number. As you can see in our group shot, there isn't a whole lot of room at Martuni's for a group of our size!
After "Chain of Fools", the trebles performed "Buy Me This New Chain", which was "Bei Mir Bist Du Schön" deranged by our resident parodist (and alto singer), Yolanda DeByle.
Wendy Tobias and Scott Turco then teamed up for the humorous "The Song That Goes Like This", followed by Andrew Field singing a smooth solo, "Kissing A Fool".
Andrew, Fernando Ruelos, and Dale Danley then beautified themselves with makeup while singing "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story. Ellen Miller and Tom McElroy followed with the duet "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" from Annie Get Your Gun.
Two more humorous solos followed; Howard Miller with "Sara Lee", and Wendy with "The Diva's Lament".
Scott, Tom, and Jason LeBrun then rocked the house in drag with "Three Little Maids".
Closing the show, LGCSF board member Nathan Marken performed "Wig in a Box" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which he was starring in at the time.
I greatly enjoyed this concert, as did our audience. This was the first of many great memories I made performing with our wonderfully queer chorus.
Next week's entry will be about our 35th Annual Pride Concert, Ripped from the Headlines.
In peace and harmony,
- Pax Ahimsa Gethen
All gallery photos by Pax Ahimsa Gethen
A Shameless Show of Holiday Shite: The Sequel, Martuni's Piano Bar, December 16 & 17, 2012.
Unfortunately I do not have a program sheet for this cabaret and I did not sing in it either so I do not exactly recall what we performed. I do seem to remember one of the songs was a parody of The Twelve Days of Christmas with the 12 gifts very different from the original and there were signs that were held up for each of the 12 gifts for the 12 days. As with all of our cabarets at Martuni's we and our audiences all had fun, especially after a Martuni's martini or two.
Love Bites: 10 Years and Still Masticating, Mission Cultural Center, February 8 & 9, 2013.
Yes this was the tenth anniversary show of Love Bites, imagine that! In his program notes, Billy Sauerland wrote "Tonight's show is our 10th anniversary of this show and features some of the most beloved (or most biting, perhaps) songs from a decade of Love Bites. It is a pleasure to welcome back former LGCSF Artistic Director Stephanie Lynne Smith to help me co-emcee tonight's performance. As you may know, the tradition of this anti-Valentine's cabaret began under her direction, and since this year marks a first major anniversary, I am pleased to have her with us."
We were 33 strong for this show. The first act began with the full chorus singing "This Marriage" and "Down With Love." Next was a song from the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" called "Schadenfreude" and was performed by a sextet - Jason LeBrun, Carol Chen, Howard Miller, Tom McElroy, Janice Placido and Scott Turco. This was followed by Jed Herman singing "Beauty School Dropout" from "Grease." Our favorite deranger of songs, Yolanda DeByle, was next with "My Funky Valentine." This was followed by the songs "Closer," "Cruel to be Kind," "These Boots Were Made for Walking," "Taylor, the Latte Boy," and "Pimp You Out" by a guest artist, Mark Etheridge. The tenors and basses sang "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out-a My Hair" and the full chorus ended Act I with "Stacy's Mom" featuring Laura Liscar as the title character.
The second act began with Shane Kroll doing "Ring Them Bells" and his was followed by "Cell Block Tango" from "Chicago" and performed by another sextet - Aaron Brewer, Andrew Field, John Gullotto, Ellen Miller, Howard Miller, and Janice Placido. Cat Dunford followed with "I Hold Your Hand in Mine" and this was followed by Wendy Tobias singing "In Short." Next Noam Szoke sang the torch song "Flush Down the Toilet of Your Heart" and this was followed by another guest artist, Liz Kennedy singing "Sensitive Song." Fernando Ruelos and the chorus sang Jack Curtis Dubowsky's all time love song "Your New Stupid Boyfriend." This was followed by Tom and Scott singing "Relationshit" and Jen Brown, the world famous Holiday Hotdog, gave it her all with "Why'd You Do It?" Next was Aaron Brewer singing "Alone" and the full chorus came on to end the show with "You Give Love a Bad Name."
We all had fun rehearsing this show and going back over these favorite songs from the past nine years of Love Bites shows and our audiences were very enthusiastic and they called out for more.
Next week's entry will be about our following cabaret at Martuni's called "Something Foolish" in honor of April Fool's Day.
Cheers, Michael Lucero
Loving Repeating - A Musical of Gertrude Stein, Mission Cultural Center, October, 2012.
As Billy, our Artistic Director, wrote in the program notes, after our successes with one-act operettas "Trial by Jury" and "Oepidus Tex," we were inspired to try a longer theatrical piece. Loving Repeating was the one we chose. The music is by Stephen Flaherty and the lyrics were by Gertrude Stein. Mr. Flaherty's best known musical was the Tony award winning musical "Ragtime."
The musical is told through a series of vignettes which came from a 1934 lecture Gertrude Stein gave at the University of Chicago. It is the story of Gertrude's relationship with writing and her romance with Alice B. Toklas. Joan Goldman played the part of Gertrude giving the lecture. Wendy Tobias played young Gertrude and Rachyl Underwood played Alice B. Toklas. Some of the other parts were Georgine Skeene played by Dale Danley and Helen Furr played by Daniel Lyons and Andra Kimball as the Dancing Cow. Just so you know, Georgine and Helen were nicknames that Gertrude and Alice used.
Our production was co-directed and choreographed by Michael Mohammed. We were all in costume and yes we all danced at some point during the show. Behind the main players, the chorus sat as a Greek chorus and what we sang were used to move the story along between the various solos and duets the main players had. Some of the songs in the musical were "A Sonatina Song," "Loving Repeating," "There are Many That I Know," "A History of One," "Firefly," "My Wife is My Life," "Men," "Kiss My Lips She Did," "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene," "The Thirteenth of April," "As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story," and "Do As They Do So." We had three other instrumentalists besides our wonderful pianist Paul McCurdy to accompany us. They were a second keyboard, flute and cello.
In addition to our regular Thursday rehearsals, the chorus went on a weekend retreat at the lighthouse and cottages in Half Moon Bay to work hard on the music, the dancing and of course to have fun, eat and bond with each other. All of our hard work paid off with our two performances and our audiences really enjoyed their evenings of live theatre.
Next week will be about A Shameless Show of Holiday Shite: The Sequel.
Have a wonderful week all of you wonderful singers and know that what we accomplished in our Rise concert was one of the best times I have had singing in all of my years in the chorus. You all rock my world, especially the new sopranos and altos.
Love to you, Michael Lucero
joined the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in August of 1984, after seeing them sing in the Pride Concert the previous June and their director, Matt O'Grady, announced that if anyone in the audience wanted to join the chorus that auditions would be coming up so he joined. During his time in the chorus he has always sang in the bass section. He has served as Music Librarian, on the Production Committee, the Artistic Advisory Committee, as a bass section leader, as the GALA liaison and currently as chorus historian. He is glad to create this blog for the chorus to get the history out to anyone who looks at our website.