Greetings to my faithful readers and welcome to any new ones. I hope that you all are well and staying safe and healthy and sane through these trying times. This week I am writing about my experience at GALA Festival VII which was held in Montreal, Quebec in July of 2004. This was the first Festival to be held outside of the US and we all were welcomed by the citizens of Montreal as we gathered to sing for each other, to see old friends and to make new ones. There were 6,000 delegates, families, and friends representing 175 choruses with 171 choruses performing for each other over the seven days we were there.
On our way to Montreal, we changed planes in Cleveland. Phil, Stephanie, our director and I missed our connecting flight so we spent the night in Cleveland. We were put up at the Hilton and the three of us had a nice dinner and several Cosmos so it wasn't too bad. It was a good thing that we left San Francisco a day early so we were able to arrive at our hotel, and register and go to the Opening Celebration in the Place des Arts on July 17. We were entertained by our emcee, Kate Clinton, our host choruses and we all went through the introduction of the attending choruses with applause for every one of them.
The beautiful Place des Arts houses two great theaters, the Theatre Maisonneuve and the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Sunday, July 18, we rehearsed in the morning at the apartment that Stephanie and Kathleen McGuire had rented and we performed in the first block of concerts that afternoon. We sang three pieces written by Jack Dubowsky, our composer in residence at that time, a four part cantata composed by bass Richard Link entitled "Woven Together" and ended with "We Shall Overcome" which was arranged by Kathleen McGuire for us. After our performance we were free to enjoy all the other choruses. Some of our favorites were Ottawa Gay Men's Chorus (we met a couple of singers from this chorus while we were eating lunch), the London Gay Men's Chorus, Gloria from Dublin, the Pink Singers from London, the New Wave Singers from Baltimore, New York City Gay Men's Chorus and their sendup of music from "Hairspray," and our friends from Hamburg, Schola Cantorosa. We also particularly enjoyed Ensemble Vocal Extravaganza from Montreal who hosted a party for all the mixed choruses so it was a great time for us to mingle with singers from the mixed choruses.
There were also Festival choruses - men's, women's, mixed and for the first time a Transgender/Gender Queer Festival Choir who all performed in a concert block on Saturday, July 24. The commissioned pieces that had been written for these choirs were all wonderful and moving. Two other special events were an evening with Lily Tomlin on Wednesday, July 21 and the World's Greatest No Talent Show on Friday afternoon. Of course San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus was fabulous and they also hosted the closing party in the Sheraton Hotel ballroom.
Of course we took time to explore the Gay Village of Montreal and spent a bit of time in the bars and restaurants there as we partied and shopped during the week with our new found friends and our old ones as we exchanged phone numbers and addresses and promised to keep in touch. Please enjoy the photos I have attached here, the Program cover and the page with our set, pictures of Deb and Joan as they arrived, the group going for our tech rehearsal, onstage and prior to our group photo, the guys from Ottawa and London Gay Men's Chorus and Stephanie dancing at the closing party.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our week in Montreal at Festival. It was another wonderful and moving time as we gathered together with all of the talented singers in our choruses from all around the world. Next week I will be writing about our time in Miami in 2008 at GALA Festival VIII. Take care of yourselves and each other and stay healthy. I send my love to all of you.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero