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