Part II of the Pat Parr Years - 1992-1997
Hello to all my faithful readers. This week I will be writing about my memories of our Artistic Director, Pat Parr, from 1992 through 1997.
But first I would like to go back to 1988 and our spring concert "A Touch of Classics." In the program notes, Pat tells of what he would like to have the chorus perform and his answer was "Gabriel Faure's Requiem" which we sang in this concert. We also performed outside of San Francisco for the first time in Berkeley. This was an example of what we would learn was how Pat thought outside of the box.
By 1992, Pat had over the past couple of years had established that we would do a big production show in spring, the Pride concert in June and a more typical classical style concert in the fall. Our big spring concert in 1992 was called "Five Years of Madness." In the program notes, Pat wrote "Tonight's concert is a compilation of some of my favorites from our past 'production' concerts. While it is great to do Brahms and Bernstein, it is equally exciting to get on stage and put on a 'show.' Many Lesbians and Gay Men in the legitimate theatre (and on screen) never have a chance to sing a love song to or about the person of their dreams. The five productions represented tonight have allowed us not only to camp it up and laugh, but also to share some of our deeper emotions." The picture of the chorus on stairs was taken at the 1992 GALA Choruses Festival in Denver. Don't we look fabulous.
Some of the madness that we presented onstage was to bring what we did backstage onto the stage. There were panels located on the stage behind which we did quick costume changes in preparation for the next songs. The shows we sang music from were "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus Rides Again," "The LGCSF Goes to the Movies," The LGCSF Goes to Broadway," "Radio Daze," and "Bobby Sox to Beatles." As you can imagine, each of these shows required different sets and costumes and of course all of the music for these shows was memorized. There was lots of hard work but it all paid off for us and for our audiences. For this concert, we had 76 members and Pat worked with Gregg Tallman as stage director and Gene Russo as choreographer. Pat's dedication to the chorus and his vision for it is what motivated us as singers to give our all to be the best we could be.
In 1994 and 1995 we had season brochures and the fact that we were able to do this was in large part due to the vision of Pat and our Board of Directors. In 1994, the chorus received the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Arts Excellence Award. 1995 was our Crystal Anniversary year and it was called "A Season of Stars." We also had a Community Advisory Board up until 1996 and among the people on this board were a number of financial angels that helped the chorus behind the scenes.
In April of 1994, we travelled to Seattle as guests of the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus to sing in their concert called "Boys and Girls Together." The Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Chorus were also on the concert. This was a great time for us to be able to meet and perform with these other wonderful singers. Also in March 1994 we recorded and released our first CD "Together in Harmony" featuring music that we had performed with Pat up to that point. One of the attachments is a copy of the order form for the CD we used. As you can see, 1994 was a busy year for us.
Also during these years, we were the producer of the Pride Concert so this meant arranging to have guest performers like the SFGMC and the Freedom Band, the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Voices Lesbian Ensemble and other groups to share the stage. This also meant many meetings with representatives from all of these groups to have all of their program information and whatever staging needs might be needed. During this time, I was a member of the Production Committee. Pat always had big ideas especially for the production shows and we had to somehow rein him in and say this is our budget and we have to stick to it. I remember at that time all of the chorus committees worked closely together and there were monthly committee chair meetings to keep abreast of what we were all doing. Pat insisted that all of this coordination was happening to make things go as smoothly as possible as concert dates approached.
The big production concert of 1996 was a "Tribute to the Music of Elton John." Our accompanist, Dwight Okamura, was a big Elton fan and he really showed his piano chops during the concert, especially on "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which opened the second half of the show. We had lots of fun at our weekend retreat decorating our big Elton glasses, and working on our costumes as well as the choreography and music for the show.
In 1997, we did a switch in our former concert order. Pat had always wanted to conduct "Carmina Burana" and the opportunity came up in conjunction with the Peninsula Ballet. We did two shows, one at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and at a theatre in Los Altos. The 1997 Pride Concert was Pat's last time conducting us and we gave the songs we sang and gave our all for him. It was a great sendoff for him but also a sad time for us. But we moved on and I will be writing about our next Artistic Director, Trente Morant, next week. See you then.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Pat Parr, AD, Part 1 - 1987-1991
As I continue the History Corner and writing about the Artistic Directors that I have sung with, I share my memories of the first five years with Pat Parr. After an artistic director search through early 1987, Pat was chosen by vote to be our new AD. As stated in his biography in the 9th Annual Pride Concert program, which was his first conducting the chorus, he came to LGCSF with a wide variety of musical experience. He was a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Oklahoma City University. Pat moved to San Francisco in 1976 and had been musical director of shows in SF, Berkeley, Santa Clara and Yosemite National Park. In 1980 he was accompanist for the San Francisco Girls Chorus and in 1982 became accompanist for the Contra Costa Chorale. He also sang with the Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale prior to becoming our AD.
I received a response from a former tenor in the chorus, Tim O'Bayley, saying that he had read my recent blog about Matt O'Grady and how much he enjoyed it as it brought back memories. Tim also said he was wondering what I would be writing about Pat since Tim joined the chorus in 190. As the chorus got to know him and Pat began to know the chorus through our first rehearsals, it was obvious that he was a good fit for us. With his blonde good looks and outgoing and welcoming personality, soon half of the men of the chorus had fallen in love with him.
As Pat met with the Board of Directors and the various committees of the chorus, he began to lay out what he wanted from the chorus regarding the types of concerts he envisioned us performing. He wanted to do a "stand and sing" style concert, which were mostly in the classical tradition but also to perform music by gay and lesbian composers. He also wanted us to do big shows with us in costumes and performing some sort of "choralography." And he wanted us to produce the Pride Concerts and also to sing in holiday concerts.
One thing that I remember about the first Pride Concert that Pat conducted was that was the first time we sang "Hand in Hand" by a member of the chorus, Jesse Kane. We sang this as the finale to the concert. In August, there was a review of this concert in The Advocate, and it said in part that "the surprises of the show were the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco and its pops offshoot Menage, both under Pat's direction. Under the leadership of Parr, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus has discovered a new fullness and balance that previous concerts had not revealed. The group's singing of Jesse Kane's "Hand in Hand" provided one of the most moving moments in choral singing I've seen. On the last line, "We're hand in hand reaching out for one another, hand in hand," ASL interpreter Stefan Lazar stood still and sang while the chorus sang and signed the words." To me that was the signal that Pat would be taking us on a great and wonderful journey of really finding out who we were as singers and interpreters of the music we sang.
Our first big show was LGCSF Rides Again, a country western music themed show. We featured four country music dance groups from around the Bay Area and they were all big hits. Next for us in 1987, we were honored, along with the SFGMC, to be invited by Joan Baez to sing in her Christmas concert held at the Warfield Theatre. This was also broadcast live on KQED on that night.
In 1988, we followed the pattern of concerts that Pat had designed. Our spring concert was a classical one, in June was the Pride Concert, our fall concert was our big production show. By the time of the fall show, we were at 50 strong and growing. Also that year we were invited to participate in a fundraising show for the AIDS Emergency Fund at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre called "In Memory of Friends and in Support of Those Living with AIDS."
In 1989, again we followed the above pattern of concerts. This year we also went to Seattle to perform over the course of a week in July at the GALA Choruses Festival along with 47 other choruses from the U.S. and Canada. This was an eye opening experience for us to know that there are all these other talented lesbian and gay choruses out there to learn from and share our love of music and to perform in front of our peers. This was held at the University of Washington and all choruses stayed in the dorms for the week. That of course led to lots of fun as we got to know the singers from other choruses who were staying just down the hall or a floor above or below us.
So next week I will be writing Part 2 of the Pat Parr years 1992-1997.
Love, in harmony, Michael Lucero
Rodger Pettyjohn, 9/29/52 - 6/26/91
Hello faithful readers. First I want to make a correction - the person who was our interim director in 1985 after Matt O'Grady left us was Bill Ganz, a member of the chorus and director of a chorus subgroup, Vocal Minority. Those early months in 1985 we were down to a core group of 12 singers. With Bill we continued to rehearse and sing at hospitals and hospices. We were fortunate to have Russell Kassman donate rehearsal space in his piano store for us at that time.
Some of what follows is from an article written by chorus member Karen McMickle and my memories of Rodger Pettyjohn. After an artistic director search, Rodger came to us in September 1985. He had already had a history in San Francisco of making music. In 1980, his first venture into community organizing came as the creator of the men's chamber chorus Die Mannerstimmen and co-founder of the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers in 1981. Based on the ideal of inclusion rather than exclusion, the successful Composers' Society was a daring move at a time when gender separatism ran high within the gay community. Rodger left the Composers' Society in 1983 to spend a year in Germany studying composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen. This mentor impressed upon him the importance of the computer in contemporary classical music. When he returned to San Francisco, he began experimenting with all electronic compositions such as his Electronic Etudes.
As you will see, 1986 was a busy year for Rodger and the chorus. When he came to the chorus, Rodger's firm insistence on bonding the members of LGCSF together into a family succeeded in bringing the group from near extinction. He saw great potential in LGCSF being a highly visible statement of of the positive achievement made possible by men and women working together. After "making LGCSF known to the community" by having them sing on Castro street corners, in April 1986 Rodger led the chorus in a concert whose theme was his most ardent political cause - individual rights and freedom. Proceeds from this successful performance earned commemoration on the Statue of Liberty's plaque for the first openly gay group to donate to the restoration fund.
At the Pride Concert in June, "A Little Guts & Lots of Glitter", LGCSF received the first standing ovation in their history. Caught up in the enthusiasm generated by the audience, Rodger launched into an unplanned, unrehearsed rendition of "I Sing the Body Electric" without music. Halfway through the piece, the entire group forgot the song. Our accompanist, the brilliant Dwight Okamura, vigorously vamped and Rodger conducted with committed determination until the collective memory of the performers returned and, as if on cue, they finished with a resounding "We are the emperors now and we are the czars, and in time we will all be stars." The crowd went wild with another ovation, more for our chutzpah and Rodger than for the technical performance of the song. But that was what he brought to us, that feeling we could do anything.
In August 1986, a landmark performance by LGCSF showcasing works by lesbian and gay composers inaugurated the San Francisco Arts and Athletics Gay Games II Procession of the Arts. The concert featured the premiere of "For Those We Love" by Rodger. It integrated soloists, chorus, instruments and electronic musical and visual media. We also performed "Passengers of Infinity" by Kristin Norderval, which was commissioned by Rodger for LGCSF. This concert won LGCSF their first Cable Car Award for Outstanding Concert and Rodger was featured in the cover article in "The Advocate" magazine.
For the Gay Games proper, Rodger had put the finishing touches on "The Best of Games are Gay," with words by James Broughton. This was the Gay Games II anthem and was performed at the closing ceremonies by a chorus comprised of men and women from all of the Bay Area gay choruses. This was a precedent setting event which impressed Gay Games delegates from around the world with Rodger's idea that unity within the community could become a reality.
That fall, Rodger was busy creating and directing Menage, an octet of professional singers culled from the ranks of LGCSF. The small size of this group allowed him to get his message of gay men and women together out to non-concert goers at bars, cabarets, and private parties. He also had Menage singing outside the gay ghetto by having them perform for more mainstream events.
His last time directing LGCSF was in the SFGMC's show "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow." He had been diagnosed with "severe ARC" and he resigned from his nursing job and LGCSF. He moved back to New York and began the next part of his life showing the world that his new audio-visual works were anything but MTV. He was also one of the original members of the New York organizing committee of the National Leather Conference. He also began giving free AIDS education lectures at the Community Health Project in NYC. He returned to San Francisco for the 1990 AIDS Conference and was an active member of Act Up New York. On June 26, 1991, Rodger died peacefully in NYC at the age of 38. He was an amazingly creative man. In that short time he lived a full life doing what he wanted to do and his many gifts will live on in the hearts of us who knew him and sang with him.
Next week I will be writing about Pat Parr.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
Matthew O'Grady, Artistic Director December, 1983 through early 1985.
Hello my faithful readers. I thought I would do something different and write about our past artistic directors. Matt O'Grady was the AD when I joined the chorus in fall of 1984. His biography in the Lullaby of Broadway program was short and sweet, "Matt was raised in suburban Chicago in a large, artistically-inclined family. He attended Northern Illinois University, where he received a bachelor's degree in music composition and choral conducting."
I will make a confession - I was not really aware of LGCSF at that time until I first saw Matt in action leading the chorus at the 6th Annual Gay Musical Celebration held on June 22, 1984 at the Nourse Auditorium. San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus was the producer of this concert and we were one of the guests on the program. We sang "Fa Una Canzona," "To Be Sung on the Water" by Samuel Barber (which we have performed at different times over the years) and closed our set with "One" from "A Chorus Line." What I remember about our performance was the fun they were all having onstage, more so than SFGMC and their various subgroups. So when Matt announced to the audience that LGCSF was having auditions for singers in August. My partner at that time, who knew I liked to sing and had been singing in the MCC choir, said why don't you go for it and I did.
When I showed up for my first rehearsal at All Saints Episcopal Church on Waller Street in the Haight, I was greeted by the music librarian, Michael Gerding, who handed me the packet of music that we would be rehearsing for the Lullaby of Broadway concert. I was impressed by how organized everything was and the other newbies and I were introduced by Matt and I knew I had made the right decision.
Matt was a great AD and he had an easy going manner and his style of running rehearsals was pretty straightforward. I also soon learned that the chorus had a repertoire of songs which they could sing at outreach events. My first time singing with the chorus was a few weeks after I joined at the memorial service for Jon Sims, who was the founder of the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, SFGMC and our chorus. This was held in Grace Cathedral and all three organizations played or sang music to honor Jon. I remember one of the songs we sang was "Elijah Rock," a great spiritual that was one of the songs in the chorus repertoire. It was easy for me to learn these songs since most of the chorus knew them and helped me and the other new singers to learn them. The spirit of the chorus to include us newbies in the chorus family helped us to get over our nervousness and with Matt leading us and the section leaders lending their talent it was easy for me to feel at home.
There were 48 of us in the chorus at the time I joined and the rehearsals for Lullaby of Broadway went quickly. On November 3, 1984 we were in costume and our dancing shoes and onstage at the Victoria Theatre on 16th Street in the Mission and played to a sold out audience. In the spring of 1985 Matt stepped down as AD because he wanted to go to Ireland and find out about his family's roots. That was a sad time for the chorus and we began the task of finding a new AD.
Next week I will be writing about our next AD, Rodger Pettyjohn. And I have another historic tidbit for you all. I was looking at the program from the 4th Annual Gay Musical Celebration held in June, 1982, and counted the names of LGCSF - there were 103 of us then - and SFGMC had 117 singing in this concert. That to me is pretty amazing to think of all those singers onstage for this.
Have a great week, study your music for "Quiet No More" and let's have a great rehearsal next Thursday.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Autumn Mood Swings, Kelly Cullen Auditorium, November 7 & 8, 2015.
This concert was our second collaboration with the wonderful City Swing 17 piece big band under the direction of Bradley Connlain. In the program, our artistic director wrote "Thank you so much for coming to Autumn Mood Swings with the incomparable Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco! We hope this evening of big band music leaves your toes tapping and your heart singing. It has been a great pleasure to partner with City Swing, and we are grateful to Bradley Connlain and all the instrumentalists for collaborating with us!" We were also joined by guest artist Janese Powell. She is a veteran of the Bay Area Big Band scene and she also sings regularly with two big bands - the Generation Gap Big Band from Vallejo and Dave Alt's Swingtime Band from Alameda.
The evening began with City Swing providing music for dancing as our audience came in and settled at their tables. Then they played the overture "Fascinating Rhythm" by George Gershwin. The chorus joined in singing "Chattanooga Choo Choo" with John Gullotto out front. Next we sang the beautiful "Moonglow" by Eddie Delange, Will Hudson and Irving Mills.
Then Janese Powell sang "Mr. Zoot Suit" by Mark Cally and "Skylark" by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. The chorus was back singing "Stardust" by Mitchell Parish and Hoagy Carmichael. The soloists for this were Jae Szeszycki-Truedell and Johnny G. Next was "Tuxedo Junction" by Buddy Feyne with Wendy Tobias out front. We ended the first half with the chorus singing "Autumn Leaves" by Johnny Mercer and Geoffrey Parsons.
The second half began with more music for dancing provided by City Swing. Our audience, after a few glasses of wine, were up and dancing and swinging their partners. Then City Swing then took us south of the border with "Tico Tico" by Zequinha de Abrua. Our hips were swinging to these rhythms.
Our wonderful guest vocalist Janese Powell was back to enchant us with "Embraceable You" by George and Ira Gershwin and this was followed by her soloing on "Orange Colored Sky" with the chorus backing her. Next we sang "Moonlight Serenade" by Glenn Miller and featuring Liz Wand and Asher Butnik.
Then we sang "I Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren. We finished the evening with Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" and that is exactly did with this tune and the audience was on their feet. Then City Swing provided more music for dancing as the audience danced their way home. This was truly a fun evening of music for the chorus, City Swing and our wonderful audience.
The previous September we went camping with the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band at their band camp at a campground in Cazadero in the Russian River area. It was a fun weekend with the band as we shared meals and music and a "talent show" on Saturday night and two evenings around a campfire sharing stories and singing lots of music.
Next week I will be writing about one of our past Artistic Directors, Matt O'Grady, and sharing some of my thoughts and memories of him. I would like to continue writing about our Artistic Directors if that is something you would like to read about. Please give me your feedback. I will be writing about our 2016 season in the near future.
Cheers, Michael Lucero
37th Annual Pride Concert, Part of the Panama-Pacific Centennial Celebration, Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, June 20, 2015.
This Pride concert was a major achievement for our chorus and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band as this was part of the year long City-wide celebration of the Centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition (PPIE). This was the Worlds Fair of 1915 and ran from February 20 through December 4. Besides the concert taking place, there was a book talk by Laura Ackley called "San Francisco's Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915." There was also a world premiere screening of filmmaker R. Christian Anderson's documentary "When the World Came to San Francisco."
As the two artistic directors, William and Pete Nowlen, said in the program, "It is our honor to welcome to the historic Palace of Fine Arts for our Panama-Pacific Centennial Concert. It is with great joy we are able to contribute to the year-long, city-wide centennial events produced by the California Historical Society.
"The PPIE was celebrated with hundreds of concerts, highlighting music from a wide range of genres. Some of the greatest composers of the day - including Amy Beach, Victor Herbert, Camille Saint-Saens and John Philip Sousa - were prominent figures at the exposition."
As co-producers of this event, the Chorus and Band were joined onstage by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, Camerata California and students from Chabot College.
The concert began with the Band playing the "Panama Pacific March" by Harry L. Alford. Next all singers performed the "Panama Hymn" by Amy Beach. Next the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony (BARS) played the modern premiere of "A Day at the Panama Pacific Exposition" by Mayhew L. Lake. Then the singers along with BARS performed "Inscriptions" by John Karl Hirten. Mr. Hirten was in the audience and was acknowledged by us. Then the Band performed the "Panama-Pacific Expo March" by Al Pinard. The first half finished with the "Organ Symphony" by Camille Saint-Saens.
The second half began with BARS performing "Hail! California", which was also composed by Saint-Saens. Next all singers and BARS performed "Gallia" by Charles Gounod. Next the Band played "San Fran Pan American March" by Joel P. Corin which was followed by "Until We Meet Again" by Victor Herbert. Next all singers, the Band and BARS performed "1915 - San Francisco" by S. and P. I. Jacoby. The Band next played "The Pathfinder of Panama March" by John Philip Sousa and the concert and evening ended with everyone and the audience singing "San Francisco."
"San Francisco, open your golden gate, you let no stranger wait outside your door
San Francisco, here is your wanderin' one saying I'll wander no more.
Other places only make me love you best, tell me you're the heart of all the golden west
San Francisco, welcome me home again, I'm coming home to go roaming no more."
This was a long day for all of us who performed in this wonderful event but it was worth all of the work that went into this event and the audience was with us throughout the whole day.
Next time will be all about Autumn Mood Swings.
Cheers to all of you, Michael Lucero
Music from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition and Symphony No. 4 by Walter Piston, Mill Valley and Berkeley, June 5, 6 and 7, 2015.
In this concert, LGCSF was the guest of the Mill Valley Philharmonic which was conducted by Laurie Cohen. This was a very good collaboration for us and we were able to perform before new audiences. It was exciting for me to be singing with a Philharmonic Orchestra and the musicians made us feel very welcome. The chorus had been rehearsing music for the Pride Concert and this concert was a chance to sing these pieces as sort of a dress rehearsal for Pride. The 2015 Pride Concert was part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Centennial Celebration. More about this next week and now to what we sang.
The concert began with the Philharmonic playing "Cumbia y Conga" by William Grant Still, who was often referred to as "the Dean" of African-American composers. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have one of his symphonies performed by a leading orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major opera company, and the first to have an opera of his performed on national television.
Next we sang "1915 - San Francisco, March Song" which was composed by S. and P. I. Jacoby. Then we sang "Panama Hymn" by Amy Beach who was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. This song was commissioned for the Panama Pacific International Exposition as the official hymn of the exposition.
Next we performed "Gallia" by Charles Gounod and was first performed at the Exposition in November, 1915. We were joined by singers from Chabot College where Billy was teaching vocal music. It was fun to sing with them as they brought their own energy to the chorus.
We ended the first part of the concert with the world premiere of John Karl Hirten's magnificent "Inscriptions." The texts for this were used as inscriptions on the Arch of the Setting Sun, Court of the Universe, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This was the newest piece that we performed. The music that we sang was challenging and it was interesting to note that Some of the pieces had not been performed since 1915.
The last half of the concert was the Mill Valley Philharmonic playing "Symphony No. 4" (1950) which was composed by Walter Piston and it was commissioned by the University of Minnesota for its centennial celebration and had its premiere in 1951 by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati. Again this was a great collaboration between us and the Philharmonic and the audiences were enthusiastic.
Next week will be all about Pride 2015.
Cheers and love, Michael Lucero
Guns and Roses: Songs of War n' Peace, MCCSF Polk Street, April 18 and 19, 2015.
Hello you wonderful singers. Allow me to go back to 2004 again to talk a little more about our first Love Bites show since our latest Love Bites is still on our minds. This show was the crazy and wonderful brainchild of our AD, Stephanie Lynne Smith to present an anti-Valentine's Day program and sing about the down side of love. At that time there were 52 singers in the chorus and the bass section was divided into 9 baritones and 8 basses in the program. This was presented at the Rainbow Room of the LGBT Community Center and we did two shows that February 13. We all knew that the chorus had a good thing in this show and it has continued through this past Love Bites, our 16th annual one. I guess my point in all this is what is the best way to increase our numbers to 50 and beyond? I know that we use word of mouth and social media at this point but what are your ideas on this issue? Please send any thoughts and ideas to the membership committee.
Okay, here we go with Guns and Roses. In his welcome in the program, our AD William Sauerland wrote, in part, "This concert gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the beauty in our lives. In a world with an ever increasing use of electronic devices, we may be forgetting to look at one another and enjoy the simple of a smile. . . . Take joy in the sublimity of our lives, be transported by the power of music, and connect with one another without the use of social media."
On this concert we were joined by the MCC Worship and Praise Team and the Vocal Ensemble of Lick-Wilmerding High School, where Billy also serves as a teacher of vocal music. The program began with us singing "Six Choral Songs to be Sung in Time of War," a song cycle by R. Vaughn Williams with text from poems by P. B. Shelley. This was a challenging piece of music for us but as we learned it in rehearsals and really listened to each other and the beauty of the music, I feel it was taken to heart by us. Next we sang a song that we had sung in the past, the beautiful "Erev Shel Shoshanim" which was sung in Hebrew. This was followed by a 13 person group of the chorus who sang "When Roses Cease to Bloom" by Christopher Enloe. In the group were Dale Danley, Kim Hargreaves, David Hathwell, Sumi Imamoto, Jason LeBrun, Van Mares, Martha Merchant, guest artist Jefferson Packer, Linda Rodriguey, Fernando Ruelos, William Sauerland, Elisa Shore and Noam Szoke.
Then the MCC Worship and Praise Team sang three songs. They were:
"I've Got Peace Like a River," "Gonna Lay Down My Burden," and "Shir LaShalom" with Elisa Shore and Wendy Tobias as soloists.
And to close out the first act the Vocal Ensemble of Lick-Wilmerding High School sang "Five Hebrew Love Songs" by Eric Whitacre. These were "Eyze Sheleg," "Kala Kalla," "Larov," Rakut," and "Temuna." They were accompanied by guest violinist Mike Jones.
We began the second half by singing a medley from the movie soundtrack of "Schindler's List" with Mike Jones on violin. Next we sang "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" by Pete Seeger with Mike Jones on violin and Jason LeBrun on flute.
Next was a trio of songs with the word rose in the titles or written by Axl Rose. The first was "The Rose" by Amanda McBroom from Bette Midler's film of the same name. This was sung by a quintet of our women, Yolanda DeByle, Martha Merchant, Ellen Miller, Elisa Shore and Johnna Walker.
Then came "The Days of Wine and Roses" by Henry Mancini from the film of the same name. This was performed by an octet composed of Dale, Sumi, Jason, Jefferson, Linda, William, Noam and Wendy.
This was followed by the most rocking song in the program "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Axl Rose of the group Guns and Roses.
Then we sang the beautiful acappella song by U2 called "M.L.K." which is a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember as we were rehearsing this song how all of us in one way or another were touched by these words and the memory of Dr. King.
The concert came to a wonderful and uplifting close with all of the singers joining to sing John Lennon's "Imagine." "Imagine all the people living life in peace, and all the world will be as one." I feel our audiences left this concert with a smile on their faces and a little hope in their hearts.
Next week will be about our collaboration with the Mill Valley Philharmonic in three concerts that we performed with them in June.
Cheers and peace, Michael Lucero
Love Bites: Bottoms Up!, February 8 & 9, 2015, Martuni's Piano Bar.
Hello dear readers,
First I want to welcome our three new singers, Stephanie, Shauna and Tim and the return of Kim who is now singing in the alto section after many years in the soprano section.
This is the first entry for the 2015 season of LGCSF with the 12th Annual Love Bites cabaret. This one was with our guest music director and pianist, Cole Thomason-Redus. He was also our interim director the last half of 2010 after Stephanie Lynne Smith left us to seek greener pastures.
This year would be a very busy one for us as you will see in the succeeding entries to the blog.
The show started with the chorus singing "Maybe This Time" from "Cabaret," and was followed by our lovely Joan Goldman warbling "Don't You Leave Me Here" and when Joan says this, you listen.
The next three songs were by the wonderful Cole Porter. The first of these was "You're the Top" sung by Paul Peninger and Noam Szoke. You just have to guess who ended up as the Top. Next was a reworking of lyrics of "Let's Do It" and this was a sing along and instead of "And that's why birds do it", substitute "f*ck" for "do it" and this continued through the song. What a way to get the audience involved. The third Cole Porter song was "Love for Sale" sung by the lovely trio of Yolanda DeByle, Ellen Miller and Laury Rosenthal (whatever happened to her?).
Next up was a funny tune by PDQ Bach called "My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth" which was performed by a quintet consisting of Jason LeBrun, Fernando Ruelos, Billy Sauerland, Alyssa Stone and Scott Turco. Then came a song from "Seussical, the Musical" called "Alone in the Universe" and sung beautifullly by Dale Danley and Van Mares.
Next came a song that was "deranged" by Joan Goldman. This was her take of "California Dreamin" and she called it "California Drinkin" which was performed by Joan, Jason, Tom McElroy and Noam. Then came a wonderful performance by Cole singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Next was Jae Truesdell with Adele's wistful "Someone Like You" and then came the finale with the chorus back to sing about "The Glory of Love." All in all this was another successful Love Bites for the chorus and we raised a good bit of money for the chorus.
My next entry will be about our spring concert, "Guns 'n Roses: Songs of War 'n Peace."
Cheers, Michael Lucero
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