Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and washing your hands and staying home as much as possible. I thought I would continue a bit more with what I wrote about last week - the fundraising the chorus did for various AIDS organizations in the 1980s and fundraising that was done for us.
In the chorus archives I discovered two letters from Gary Menger dated November 4 and 5, 1986 that were the beginning steps of planning for the first "In Memory of Friends" concert fundraisers that LGCSF was involved in. He wrote in part "there's a need to mourn our dead, confront our loss, allow ourselves a moment to slow down and feel a catharsis." Gary also included a first draft of music he would like in the show with the music flowing to form a narrative from more innocent times to what was happening in the 1980s. This went through several changes before the final script was finished and I seem to remember that everyone involved thought the music selection was exceptional.
On March 2, 1986, there was a Comedy & Cabaret show to benefit LGCSF at the 'N Touch cabaret and bar on Polk Street. One of the comedians on this show was Tom Ammiano, who was a teacher and later was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the State Assembly. The other comic in this event was one who seemed to be everywhere at this time, Danny Williams. For those of you too young to remember these men, just Google them. The chorus also performed for the crowd.
Another benefit for LGCSF was held at the New High Chaparral bar on Market Street in the Castro on April 5. This event featured four different country western dance groups, the Savoy South Bay Stompers, the Foggy City Dancers, the S. F. Saddle Tramps and the San Jose Spurs. Of course Danny Williams was part of this show and our own Jene Bombardier entertained the crowd with her music.
On October 4, 1987, at Glide Memorial Methodist Church in the Tenderloin the chorus and Menage along with the Glide Ensemble and their musical director, Richard Dorsey, performed in a benefit for the S. F. AIDS Emergency Fund. I remember this was a really fun and uplifting event as we were able to perform before a new audience who really liked us.
Finally on December 18, 1987, the chorus presented a Christmas Concert and Carol Sing Along. The reason I mention this concert is that half of the proceeds from ticket sales went to the Larkin Street Youth Center and I believe this was the first time that we partnered with this wonderful organization.
That's it for this week and next week I will be digging more into what we did in 1985 which was a transitional year for the chorus. Stay well and stay positive - we will get through this. For those of you who maybe missed my latest Chorus Connection post the GALA Festival will be taking place next year July 7 - 11, 2021 in Minneapolis and after all this time away from each other I expect this will be the best one ever.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
In Memory of Friends...and in Support of Those Living with AIDS
The 1980s was a decade when AIDS hit our community at large and our chorus community. Many volunteer organizations were created to help people deal with all the different aspects of this disease. One of these was the AIDS Emergency Fund. The AEF was established in 1982 and provides immediate financial assistance to people with AIDS and disabling ARC. The idea for the concert production "In Memory of Friends ... and in Support of Those Living with AIDS" to raise funds for AEF came from the minds and hearts of Gary Menger who were a concert producers and good friends of LGCSF.
The concert was at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre on Thursday, April 9, 1987. In the Welcome page in the program, producer Gary Menger wrote in part "Everyone in this concert and everyone involved in the technical or promotional aspects of making it happen are willing volunteers because we've all lost people we loved to AIDS. This evening is offered in memory of those people. The best way we know to honor the memory of friends no longer with us is to contribute in whatever way we can toward the ease and comfort of those now living with AIDS." Then he goes on to thank all of the people, musicians and businesses who helped bring this concert to life.
LGCSF started the show with "Corner of the Sky" from "Pippin" and Menage followed with "The Greatest Love of All." The other performers in the show were local cabaret entertainers and singers such as the wonderful Weslia Whitfield, Tom Anderson, Pamela Brooks, John Lusk, and Tom Vetrano. In the middle of Act I LGCSF also sang "The Way We Were." This was followed by the San Francisco Tap Troupe and Gail Wilson performing "You and the Night and the Music." Men About Town from SFGMC performed "Mood Indigo/ Puttin' on the Ritz." The first act closed with Pamela Brooks and Company singing "San Francisco."
In the second act, the SF Gay Freedom Marching Band performed a medley from "West Side Story" and this was followed by the Vocal Minority with a medley from "The Wiz" and "The Wizard of Oz" ("Somewhere Over the Rainbow"). The entire company joined together to end the evening with "If We Only Have Love/Not a Day Goes By." This finale was arranged and conducted by Wayne Love.
On October 9, 1988, a second "In Memory of Friends" concert was held again at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. It was produced again by Gary Menger along with his producing partner Don Johnson. The executive producers of the show were Jerry Coletti and Pat Montclaire of the Galleon restaurant. They provided all the initial funds required, agreed to cover stipends for all the participating non-profit performing groups, paid for much of the advertising, gave us free use of their meeting rooms and sent lunch to the entire company the day of dress rehearsal and provided a cast buffet after the show.
This show was a little different from the first one in that it was a "book show" meaning that members of the cast played parts and there was a story line. Gary and Don wrote in the program "We agreed to team up again for this project, and agreed on the new form it would take. Kind friends told us it was impossible to create a "book show," borrow music from other shows to fit our intent, have relatively few rehearsals, and get the whole thing right in just a couple months. We saw that the only to prove them wrong was to forge ahead and do it ... we hope you'll be pleased with the result."
Act 1 was titled "Summer, Last Year." The cast included two members of LGCSF who had gone on to be cabaret performers, Scott Johnston and Morgen Aiken. Jose Sarria, the first Empress of San Francisco, was also part of the cast. One of the scenes was set in the garden behind Jose's Upper Market fourplex. Some of the music performed was "Take Me to the World," LGCSF sang "It's a Most Unusual Day." Other songs were "Beautiful Girls," "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore," and "Wherever He Ain't" at the grand opening of Jose's New "Black Cat" bar. The Band, Twirling Corps and Flag Corps performed "Before the Parade Passes By" as part of the Gay Freedom Day Parade ending the first act.
The chorus and Scott sang "Another Hundred People" and "Lonely Town" to open the second act. One of the highlights of Act 2 was "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and the finale "Today/Tomorrow/Yesterday."
This show raised $32,000 for the AIDS Emergency Fund and Allen White wrote a glowing review of the concert in the Bay Area Reporter. As I said at the start this decade saw many fundraisers and benefits. One of these was for the San Francisco Band Foundation called "You and the Night and the Music" held on August 24, 1988 at the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel. Our wonderful jazz octet, Menage, performed in this show to represent LGCSF. Just so you all know, the Venetian Room was the premier venue for all the jazz singers and players to play in San Francisco.
Another fundraiser in 1988 was "22 on the Red," a night of gambling and entertainment, which was presented at Pier Two at the Fort Mason Center. This was the annual fundraiser for the Golden Gate Business Association.
That's it for this week. I included photos of advertising for the first In Memory of Friends as well as program covers of the various events listed and photos of the presentation of the $32,000 to the AEF and LGCSF onstage in the second show. Take care of yourselves as you stay at home and remember to wash your hands. I love you all and miss singing with you more than I can say. Not quite sure what I will be writing about next week as I continue going through the archives.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope that you are all well and doing your best to stay healthy. This edition of the History Corner focuses on what we were doing in the second half of 1984. As I had written in probably my first post, I joined the chorus in July 1984 after seeing the chorus in the SFGMC's Pride Concert at Nourse Auditorium. All of us in the San Francisco gay musical community heard that Jon Reed Sims, the founder of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps and SFGMC and LGCSF, had died of complications due to AIDS on July 16. Of course, throughout the 1980s we all would lose friends and lovers as a result of this disease and we would attend too many memorial services as we honored the lives of our loved ones.
Because of his inspiration, we now have queer marching bands and choruses all over the world. The memorial service for Jon Sims was held at Grace Cathedral on August 3 and this was the first time I sang with the chorus as part of this service. We sang "Soon-ah Will be Done" and "Elijah Rock." I attached photos of the cover of the program and the article in the Bay Area Reporter about Jon's life.
I have also included a photo of a recruitment flyer and one for a benefit for LGCSF at Buckley's Bistro & Bar which was at 131 Gough Street.
There is a photo of the program of our "Lullaby of Broadway" concert held on November 3 which I described in detail in a past History Corner. A week later we were guests of the Freedom Band in their "Hollywood Canteen" show at the Japan Center Theatre which was an evening of entertainment inspired by the big band era. Costumes and uniforms were encouraged, there was a Betty Grable Look Alike Contest and there were taxi dancers for hire. We ended the year as guests of SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert at the Nourse Auditorium on December 16 and 24. We sang "Coventry Carol," "Silent Night in Contempora," "No. 3 from Three Carols of the Season" and finished with "Twelve Days After Christmas."
Among other papers in the archives from 1984 I came across a commentary on 1984 being an important year for the chorus. We had gone through a year of searching for a new director, and we decided to leave Golden Gate Performing Arts. It was time to stabilize our membership and make our presence more widely known in the community. It was our goal to increase our membership to its former size and to follow our former schedule of four concerts and several public appearances.
1983 had taken its toll on us and we found that changes in the chorus's energy and the community interests limited the rapid expansion we had planned. We altered our approach and decided to cancel the spring concert, stabilize with a smaller membership, and place more emphasis on community appearances.
Throughout 1984 our membership averaged 35 members of which 25 were considered a solid core group. By the time we got to "Lullaby of Broadway" we were at 48 members and it was sold out and nominated for a Cable Car Award. It seemed that our community appearances were the most successful manner of recruiting new members.
In reading through the Leadsheets starting in August we had a retreat in Guerneville the last weekend of August, commitment forms were handed out to everyone to ensure that we attended rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances for the fall season. We also held Open Forums once a month on the third Wednesday during the last half hour of rehearsal. Chorus t-shirts (5) and bow ties ($7) were on sale from our music librarian Michael Gerding. Also tapes of our "Back in Grace" concert were available for $6.25. Chorus dues were $7 per month. This August the Leadsheet had a new editor in the person of Kate Lynn. Also the chorus had a booth at the Castro Street Fair on August 19.
In the next History Corner I will be writing about the life of the chorus in the first half of 1985 and the changes that happened then. Until then please stay healthy all of you.
All my love, Michael Lucero
Happy March to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and staying healthy and remembering to wash your hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze and staying home when you are sick. Anyway this week I am writing about the first half of 1984 in the life of the chorus. As I mentioned last week, and in the archives I have, I found a letter dated November 15, 1983, to the Capp Street Foundation regarding our application for fiscal sponsorship under their umbrella. To quote from this letter, "There is a myth that lesbians and gay men can not work together. The Mixed Chorus combats this myth and provides a positive role model for the lesbian and gay communities through its music and its community service."
The chorus announced its new Artistic Director in the person of Matthew O'Grady and our Accompanist in the person of James Murdock. Matt made his debut as our AD at the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert. In our first Leadsheet of 1984, it was announced that under Matt's direction and with the help and support of our returning and incoming members we were looking forward to an exciting and eventful year. We would be celebrating our 4th Annual Birthday Party which was a Tea Dance at Clementina's Baybrick Inn at 1190 Folsom Street on January 22. We were also looking for a new editor for the Leadsheet. Jesse Kane (now Lanou) stepped forward to take on this extremely fun task.
Our first gig of the year was at the Cable Car Awards on February 4. We would be finding out if the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert would win an award for the third year and thus becoming eligible for the coveted "Hall of Fame." We were also deciding on a new logo for use on our correspondence and T-shirts. Also there was a call from GALA for someone who would be interested in putting together the next GALA Directory. Our editor, Jesse, asked for help in sending out the Leadsheet to all participating GALA choruses. So you can see that we have been involved in GALA for quite awhile.
In March we were advertising the Temescal Gay Men's Chorus performances. Valerie Igl, a soprano, was hosting an April Fool's party/talent show on March 31. Vocal Minority would be performing at Valencia Rose on April 8. Our editor, Jesse Kane, along with Alternative Measures would be performing at Fanny's cabaret the following night and on April 29, also at Fanny's, members of the chorus and special guests would be singing. The chorus was also having a membership drive and we need someone to design a recruitment poster. As you can see, members of the chorus were keeping busy at the various cabaret venues around town.
The next chorus gig was on May 29 which was held in the City Hall Rotunda. We appeared with the Band and SFGMC at the reception following the preview performance of "La Cage aux Folles." This was a benefit performance for Operation Concern, Lesbian Rights Project, S.F. Aids Fund, among other organizations.
The chorus celebrated the first birth of a child to a member of the chorus. The little person, named Mercedes Katherine Navarro, was born to Cindy Navarro, a very wonderful and long time member of the chorus.
Our next performance was on June 15 in the Pride Concert titled "Back in Grace" meaning Grace Cathedral. Again we were with the Band and SFGMC. We performed a couple of spirituals, "Elijah Rock" and "Soon-ah Will Be Done," followed by "To Be Sung on the Water" by Samuel Barber, "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure, "Fa Una Canzona" by Orazio Vecchi, and we ended with "One" from "A Chorus Line" as we kicked up our heels to the music of Marvin Hamlisch. This concert was the sixth anniversary of the Band and they proudly dedicated the concert to its founder, Jon R. Sims, whose vision and dedication have borne fruit in gay musical organizations all across the land and now the world.
We also participated in the SFGMC's Gay Day concert on June 22 which was held at Nourse Auditorium. Yes we did have a very busy first half of 1984 and we were getting our name heard around the City at the different cabaret shows and events. See you next week as I write about the second half of 1984 in the life of our chorus.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to my faithful readers. Hope you are all well and had a chance to enjoy something good this weekend. This week I want to share with you what was happening with the chorus in the second half of 1983.
As I have been reading through the leadsheets for 1983 I am really able to gain an insight into what was happening with the chorus. This is where I read that the chorus would begin its search for a new director. This process was under the guidance of the Permanent Search Committee. The chorus was informed that beginning in April there would be participative interviews with the prospective candidates. Each one would have an hour for warm-ups and leading the chorus in rehearsal and a brief period set aside for any questions from the chorus. The first candidate was Steve Bryant who was from Seattle. The second was Dick Kramer, the former artistic director of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Also during this time there were many meetings of the Permanent Search Committee as they read the resumes and met with the prospective candidates. The next candidate was Richard Soback and as a result of balloting by the chorus on June 15, he was offered the position as director. As of June 22 the chorus had yet to be notified of his acceptance or rejection of the offer. Alas because I do not have any leadsheets between 6/22 and 8/3 I cannot say for sure what happened in this time period. But there is good news as you will read.
What I do know is that the chorus held a couple of fundraisers - one on July 24 called "Bountiful Buffet" and the second on August 22 called "The Toast of the Town" and held at the New Performance Space at 3153 - 17th Street.
"Bountiful Buffet" was a full on chorus participation event. By this I mean that members of the chorus prepared and/or cooked meals - both vegetarian and meat - for 200 guests as well as members of the chorus providing the entertainment in a cabaret style. We also had an auction. Our special guest of the night was Sharon McNight, the well known international cabaret performer.
"The Toast of the Town" was a fundraiser for us and featured many Bay Area performers who generously donated their talents for us. They included Pamela Brooks, Faye Carol, Bob Bendorff, Romanovsky & Phillips, our own Francesca Dubie and Bill Ganz.
The chorus also participated in the Santa Cruz Gay Freedom Day Parade which was held the Sunday previous to San Francisco's Pride Parade. To quote the leadsheet "This is a wonderful opportunity for the chorus to be visible (wear your chorus T-shirts) as well as another chance to participate in our community relations efforts."
Besides these two fundraisers, there were ideas for six other events talked about as follows: 1. Softball Quencher where the chorus would sell hot dogs & beer at the gay softball games; 2. Bar Runs where Vocal Minority would perform at Tavern Guild bars; 3. River Romp where there would be a dance and a mini-concert at Russian River; 4. Let's Make Up with make-up booths at street fairs; 5. Golden Notes which would be singing telegrams; and 6. Holiday Auction which would be a holiday shopping spree auction.
One other thing that happened was an announcement in the July 14 issue of the Bay Area Reporter titled "Mixed Chorus to Jump Ship" which chronicled the decision of LGCSF to withdraw from Golden Gate Performing Arts. To quote "At issue was an insolvent corporate umbrella, whether to hire a conductor, and to what extent this chorus would take financial liability for a financially disastrous concert last month at the Warfield Theatre." The chorus did leave GGPA and went with the Capp Street Foundation as our new corporate umbrella. I have asked two former singers who were in the chorus at that time for any additional memories they may have of this event.
Finally, the last concert of the year we participated in was "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" which was held on December 18 and 24 at the Nourse Auditorium. Listed in the program was Gerard Montana as Artistic Director and Matthew O'Grady as Assistant Director. At this point we were at 36 strong and we were the guests of SFGMC. Also on this concert was the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band. We were conducted by Matthew and we performed two pieces from "A Ceremony of Carols" by Benjamin Britten, "The Sleigh (A la Russe)", "Magnificat" by Pergolesi, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Martin & Blane, and we finished with a fully staged and costumed "Fruitcake" by Philip Hagemann & Penny Leka. I have heard from more than one source - or it may be urban myth - but "Fruitcake" brought the house down and perhaps was a starting point for our future fully staged, singing, dancing, costumed concerts to come. That's it for this week and I know it's a lot but there is a lot of history of this chorus to go through so I am glad for your indulgence. Next week I will be letting you know about the first half of 1984. Take care of yourselves until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are well and having a great week. This week I am writing about what the chorus was up to in the first half of 1983. As I mentioned last week our founding director, Robin Kay, stepped down so we had some decisions to make about our future and one thing was to find a new permanent director so a search committee was formed and the word was put out about our need. In the meantime, soprano Sherrin Lloyd stepped up to be our interim director and she sent a letter on January 5 to the chorus. This was in part a welcome to the Spring Concert Season for us and our first rehearsal with Sherrin would be on January 12. She stated the need for new singers and she asked for help in recruiting new voices. She wrote that an audition would be scheduled for each new singer after they attend one rehearsal.
Our Chamber Chorus will have a new director in the person of Robert Erickson who also the conductor of the Men's Chorus Chamber Chorus. Vocal Minority is continuing under the able guidance of Bill Ganz and there were openings for tenors and basses. The chorus would be celebrating their third birthday on January 29 at Sutter's Mill. Sherrin ended her letter by saying that the chorus had been a healing place for her and she was feeling whole and wanted to share with the chorus all the she had to give.
At this point in the history of the corner for each section there was an administrative section leader and a musical section leader. On February 6 we performed at the Cable Car Awards held at the Japan Center Theatre and we received an award for our participation in the 1982 "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert.
Also at this time the GALA Choruses organization was still in its beginning stages. As I mentioned last week there was a one day Choral Festival featuring the 11 west coast choruses in that concert. In April we learned that tapes of this concert would be available. A member of Portland Gay Men's Chorus would be reproducing these tapes. Do any members of the chorus at that time have any idea where our copy might be, Linda, Tim or Leslie?
In 1983 there was a C.O.A.S.T. (Come Out and Sing Together) concert scheduled for September in New York City. Our Linda Rohde attended a mid-term conference in Denver to meet with representatives from 12 choruses discussed and worked on articles of incorporation, bylaws and a statement of purpose.
There was much discussion in the Leadsheet throughout 1983 about our participation in the Festival in NYC, who would be able to go and if we would have a well balanced chorus to perform there. After all was said and done we did go and sang during that weekend.
Our first concert with Sherrin conducting us was called "Soundwaves" and was held on May 21 at Trinity Episcopal Church and on May 22 at Ollie's in Oakland. We opened the first half of the concert with highlights from "Annie," then followed by "The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee" by Jean Berger. Then the Chamber Chorus performed three pieces, "Round About" by John Bennet, an English folk song "One May Morning" and finished with "Sing Me a Song" by Orazio Vecchi. Then the full chorus song took the audience on "A Sentimental Journey Thru the 40's." Vocal Minority was next singing "In the Mood," "The Rose" and a medley of songs from "Fame" which also featured two dancers.
The second half was a bit more serious as the chorus performed "Gloria" by Antonio Vivaldi. For this first concert with Sherrin we were at 65 strong which was a good sign that we would continue and thrive.
Our next performance was in the Fifth Annual Gay Musical Celebration. This was held on June 24 at the Warfield Theatre with two shows at 7 pm and 10 pm. Unfortunately I do not have a program for this concert so I don't know what we sang. I attached photos of the art for these two concerts so enjoy.
Next week I will be writing about what happened with the chorus in the second half of 1983 and the search for a permanent director.
With much love to all, Michael Lucero
Hello to all my faithful readers and want to wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day. This week I am writing about the second half of 1982 and what we did in our concerts. "Together in Harmony" was the title of our concert held on November 13 at the First Unitarian Church. You will see the cover of our concert program attached. We opened the concert with music from "Nabucco" by Giuseppe Verde. We next sang "Pavane" by Gabriel Faure then the men of the chorus "Invocation" by Debussy and the women sand "Salut Printemps" also by Debussy. Next the chorus was back to sing Brahms' "Nanie, the Chamber Chorus performed "Neve Liebeslieder Walzer" also by Brahms and the chorus ended the first half with the "Echo Song" which we sang a capella.
After the intermission, Vocal Minority performed a "Portrait of Duke Ellington" which included "Sophisticated Lady," "Satin Doll," "Mood Indigo," "Solitude," and "It Don't Mean a Thing." Then the full chorus was on to round out the concert with "All the Things You Are" by Hammerstein and Kern, a "Porgy and Bess Medley" by the Gershwins and we ended with "Beat! Beat! Drums!" by Howard Hanson.
Next for us was our appearance with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in the Third Annual Now Sing With Hearts Aglow which was held at the Nourse Auditorium on December 19 and 24. For our part, we joined forces with the men to open the concert singing "Personent Hodie," from 1360 Germany and "Here We Come a Wassailing." Then we sang another "O Magnum Mysterium" by Tomas Luis de Victoria. Then the women of the chorus sang a piece by J. S. Bach, then the Chamber Chorus performed three pieces, "Lullay My Liking," "My Dancing Day," and "In Dulci Jubilo." The full chorus then sang Ernest Bloch's "Silent Devotion" and a Chanuka song "Mi Y'Malel."
Then our Vocal Minority came on and sang four pieces - "Fa La La Fantasie," "Bless the Beasts and Children," "Jingle Bells," and "Good Christian Friends Rejoice." Then the full chorus again was on stage to finish the first half with "A Christmas Carol" by Tom Lehrer, "Good King Kong Looked Out by P. D. Q. Bach, one of our favorite composers, and of course the "Hallelujah Chorus" by G. F. Handel.
Also one other major event we participated in was the West Coast Choral Festival (C.O.A.S.T. - Come Out and Sing Together) held at Nourse Auditorium on September 4 with 7 other choruses. This was part of the Second Annual Gay Chorus Directors and Business Managers Convention. The registration fee for this event was $30.00.
One of the photos attached is of the cover of The Voice, which was one of the gay newspapers of that time. On the cover is the new director of the SFGMC, Ernest L. Veniegas, Jr., who came on board with them earlier in the fall. The other person pictured is our own Robin Kay, who at that time had announced her decision to step down as our director. Of course this means that 1983 would be a year of change for us as we would begin the search for a new permanent director. This I will be talking about and what happened and how we went forward in next week's installment so please stay tuned.
Keep loving yourselves and stay together in harmony, Michael Lucero
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