Greetings and Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you all had safe and healthy holidays however you celebrated them. This first History Corner entry for the new year will be a little different.
First the chorus is coming up on its 41st birthday on January 23. Yes on that day in 1980 we, this group of adventurous and courageous men and women singers came together to sing. This was a whole new territory for us as lesbians and gay men and we all were there for one purpose, to make music and as we that we built community as we became comfortable with each other and of course friendships and relationships were formed.
We were doctors, lawyers, psychologists, funeral directors, engineers, waiters, architects, teachers, sales people, secretaries and bartenders, among other things and in age from 18 to 55. We were part of the Golden Gate Performing Arts and in the spring season concert series program we had 136 singers listed. Our first Artistic Director was Robin Kay who led us through our first three years. From that auspicious beginning, LGCSF along with SFGMC and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps began a musical tradition which came from the mind of Jon Reed Sims who was present at the birth of these three organizations. And we are all still here and thriving, and we need to ask where do we go from here and how do we get there?
One way certainly is survival and LGCSF has certainly survived through changes in Artistic Directors, Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards, changing singing personnel, although one thing I have noticed during my time in the chorus that the new singers who have come to join us and have stayed were people who got and understood who and what this chorus is. There were also changing financial times, a major earthquake, a riot that shut down the City and one of our performances. Then there have two major health crises, the AIDS epidemic and the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been major shifts in the political arena which at times affected all performing arts organizations.
Our chorus was one of the founding members of what is now GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, which now has over 190 member choruses and 10,000 singers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, China, and Cuba. We have performed at eight GALA Chorus Festivals, as well as in our own concerts and in collaboration with many other choruses over the years. We have had music written for us by members of the chorus, we have commissioned or co-commissioned major works that we have presented as world premieres, as well as performed all styles of music - classical, pop, rock, jazz, Broadway, and music from the movies.
We have had a musical written for us by one of our own, June Bonacich, "Group Therapy" that we premiered in 2005 under the baton of Stephanie Lynne Smith with several performances in San Francisco and which we went on the road with to Chicago in 2006 to perform during the cultural week of the Gay Games and some of us sang at the Opening Ceremony there. Some of also sang in the Opening Ceremonies of the first two Gay Games in San Francisco which were called the Gay Olympics in those early days.
This is only a small portion of our history and the question we need to ask ourselves is where do we go from here. I know we will keep on singing and rehearsing in the virtual world, on Zoom for the present and the foreseeable future, as we continue to learn new technology like Soundtrap as we lay down our vocal tracks. I am sure we will be continuing our collaborations with the Freedom Band as we did with them for last December's "Dance Along Nutcracker".
So as this current group of singers and Michael look forward to our new year together let us continue this wonderful and vital community as we learn new music and share it with our audience and the world. I have faith that we will be able to sing together and then to be in front of our audience to sing for them. If there are any alumni out there reading this and would like to sing with us on Zoom, please contact our AD, Michael Reilly, at firstname.lastname@example.org about your interest and he will send you an email with the Zoom link. Hope to see some of you on Zoom. I love and miss you all and so look forward to seeing you on Thursday, January 21, for our first get together and rehearsal and to celebrate our birthday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero