Greetings to all of my faithful readers and to any new ones to this blog. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy and sane. This week I am writing about our experiences at GALA Festival VIII which took place the week of July 12-19, 2008 in Miami. Just where we wanted to be - Miami in July - heat and humidity. Oh well there we were although we arrived on July 13 so we missed the Opening Ceremonies. We got settled in our hotel room and got our registration package and then got ready to hear some wonderful music and seeing some new choruses and some of the ones we had seen before.
This Festival marked the 25th Anniversary of GALA Choruses so there were events around this as well. There was a 25th Anniversary DVD called "A Song of Courage", which is a history of our search for freedom through the GALA movement and the GALA Choruses Songbook, "Songs of Courage", which celebrates 25 years of life-changing music. There was a premiere showing of the video for all of us on Friday morning. These were for sale in the GALA Festival store as well as t-shirts, sweat shirts, CDs and DVDs of various choruses and other GALA related merchandise.
There were 5,000 singers for this Festival and we performed at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in the two beautiful concert halls there - the Ziff Ballet Opera House, and the Knight Concert Hall. This Festival there was a concert block dedicated to Youth Choruses. There were six and they were Mosaic Youth Chorus, GLAM, Dreams of Hope, Youth Pride Concert, Diverse Harmony and GLASS Youth Chorus. These youth choruses performed twice on Thursday, July 17 and all the adults were in the audience to see our future as we wept, laughed, applauded and celebrated these wonderful talented kids.
On Wednesday afternoon at the 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Festival Choruses performed as well as music from special guests Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon. The special event for Wednesday evening was a trip to Jungle Island where we were treated to a picnic meal, the No Talent Show hosted by our own Stephanie Smith and Carolyn Eidson as Fifi and Fannie, music by Cris Williamson and time just to hang out with all of the singers there.
As I looked through the program book at the workshops that were offered, I saw two that were just for accompanists - a meet and greet so all accompanists could meet their compatriots of the keyboard, and one called "Accompany Me: a Workshop for Piana Playas" which was participatory with topics such as "Sight Reading is Fun!", "Follow the Bouncing Ball," etc.
LGCSF, under the direction of Stephanie Lynne Smith, performed on Friday, July 18 at 3:30 pm in the Ziff Ballet Opera House. Our included two songs from June Bonacich's "Group Therapy", "Neighbors' Chorus" by Jacques Offenbach, the notorious "Magic Snow" by Jack C. Dubowsky, a piece in Mandarin "Diu Diu Deng," "Ray's Rockhouse" by Ray Charles, and we finished with "Bonse Aba", a traditional Zambian song. We were the fourth chorus in our concert block. First was the First Coast Chorus, then Denver Women's Chorus, Syracuse Gay and Lesbian Chorus, us and we were followed by the Portland Gay Men's Chorus. Please enjoy the photos attached. They are of us in the Mixed Chorus Festival Chorus rehearsal, one of the Florida choruses in their turquoise drag, LGCSF backstage waiting to go on, and a couple of pictures from the closing party hosted by SFGMC and one of me with Robin Godfrey, who is now the Executive Director of GALA Choruses. We all had a good time listening to all the glorious, wonderful, moving music that we all shared with each other as well as seeing old friends and making new ones. This was our fifth Festival and we can't wait for the next one, which I will be writing about next week - Festival VIII, Denver, July 2012. See you all then. Take care of yourselves and stay safe.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero