Greetings to all of my faithful readers this week on this first Sunday of December. Are you ready to watch our appearance in the Band's Dance-a-Long Nutcracker this weekend? I know I will as well as trying to watch as many of the choruses in GALA in their virtual holiday cabarets and concerts. This weekend was Chicago Gay Men's Chorus' show and there will be concerts to fill all the upcoming weekends through the end of the month. This week I am continuing my series on our Pride Concert program art and featuring the programs from 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. I have included photos of these four programs for your perusal. One thing I want to say about these programs is that we were able to reach out to the community and they responded by placing ads in the programs which helped us to pay for them.
On Friday, June 26, 1992, was the 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Musical Celebration at First Congregational Church in San Francisco. This Pride concert honored the Tenth Anniversary of the Golden Gate Men's Chorus and featured an art exhibit by CASA, which was a social alternative organization focused on Gay - Bisexual Latino issues. It promoted HIV awareness and bi-lingual/bi-cultural services for its members and the Latino community at large. The MCs for this concert were Roberta Achtenberg and Tom Nolan, who were local politicians and great allies and supporters of the LGBTQ community in the 1990s. I want to recognize Tim O'Bayley who I worked with on the Production Committee during this time and he was the one who designed the programs for us.
The first chorus onstage was the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus who were followed by Vocal Minority. Next were VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble directed by our friend, Melanie DeMore. They were followed by Golden Gate Men's Chorus. After intermission the San Francisco Winds of Freedom took the stage who were followed by Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Men's Chorus. Then LGCSF came on and presented our GALA Festival set that we would be performing in Denver that following July. For the finale, the combined choruses and band performed "In This Moment" by Gary Simmons which was a GALA Choruses Festival IV competition winner.
On Friday, June 25, 1993, was the 15th Annual Pride Concert at the Herbst Theatre. From Pat Parr's welcome he wrote, in part, "Tonight's Emcees are legends in their own time both as entertainers and as supporters of Lesbian and Gay rights. Gail Wilson has charmed audiences with her fabulous vocal stylings, and she has devoted endless energy and time as a past Co-Chair of the AIDS Emergency Fund and endless fundraisers. Jose Sarria, Empress I of San Francisco, the Widow Norton, was fighting for Gay rights as a performer at the infamous Black Cat in San Francisco long before Stonewall was designated the beginning of the Gay rights movement. I am pleased to have worked with both of them in the past and am very grateful for their presence tonight.""
First onstage for this Pride Concert were Gail, Jose and LGCSF singing "You're the Top". We were followed by VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble, then came our own Menage, and the Winds of Freedom blew us away as they closed the first act. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus were on to kick off the second half and they were followed by our special guests, The Rhythm Method, a talented quartet of women from Denver who had wowed us with their performance at GALA Festival the previous July. Then LGCSF were on with their set and one of the pieces we sang was written for us by John-Michael Albert called "Survivors". The concert came to a grand finale as all the performers joined onstage to sing "We Shall Be Free" by Garth Brooks and Stephanie Davis. Once again this was another wonderful night of singing with our talented Bay Area friends and neighbors and our visitors from Colorado.
On Friday, June 17, 1994, was the 16th Annual Pride Concert at the Center for the Arts Theatre at Yerba Buena Gardens. In his welcome, Pat Parr wrote, in part, "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco is proud to present this evening of music in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Stonewall. It is appropriate that the three oldest self-identified lesbian and/or gay musical organizations in the U.S. have combined with one of the newer (four years old) organizations to bring you this concert of music reflecting the diversity, solidarity, and strength of our community. We are also proud to bring to our San Francisco audience for the first a chorus of mixed voices from the GALA network - the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus". The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band presented pre-concert entertainment in the Howard St. Courtyard of Yerba Buena Gardens.
The concert began with LGCSF and Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus onstage singing songs of protest and praise from South Africa. Then we left the stage to Seattle as they performed excerpts from their most recent concert "Boys and Girls with Stories". They were followed by SFGMC who closed out the first half. We came back for the second half with our set in which we sang a song composed by a member of the chorus, Rick Weaver, called "Portrait of Me" with its message "our portraits hang in every hall, every shape, color and size . . ." reflecting the universality of lesbians and gay men within all segments of society. The concert ended with the combined choruses performing "Circle of Love" which was written by Rick Weaver and Pat Parr especially for this 16th Pride Concert to unite the approximately 300 voices of the three choruses performing on this night. Needless to say we all had a great time as we rehearsed together with and spent time this weekend with these beautiful and talented singers. This program was put together by Leslie Steere.
On Friday, June 16, 1995, was the 17th Annual Pride Concert and we were back at the Herbst Theatre. Pat Parr put this program together and wrote, in part, "The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco is proud to present our 15th Anniversary Season. As the oldest continually singing, lesbian and gay chorus in the country, we celebrate the life, energy, and strength of our community in all our endeavors: our concerts, fundraisers, outreach programs, and performances at many and various San Francisco events. In 1994 we were honored to be the first lesbian and/or gay-identified group ever to receive the prestigious Arts Excellence Award from the Business Arts Council of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce."
We had as our special guests for this concert the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington, D.C., marking the second Pride Concert where we had choruses joining us from outside California. We joined them onstage to open the concert with "We Shall Be Heard" and then we left the stage for Washington to sing their set. They were followed by SFGMC who performed selections from their summer extravaganza "KGAY FM: Sounds of the Sixties" with their special guest star Florence Henderson. Following the San Francisco Winds of Freedom were on with their spectacular sound. Then LGCSF followed with our set and then Washington joined us to sing "Behold the Hills of Tomorrow" by Stephen Sondheim and then came the finale with SFGMC joining all of us with the band to perform "Words Like Freedom" by Langston Hughes. Once again this was another wonderful and beautiful of music, laughs, friendships begun and the chance to hang out with our siblings from Washington in rehearsals and performance. There really has been nothing quite like a Pride Concert where the musicians involved come together for this one night, this one moment in time.
I hope you are enjoying this series of History Corners about our Pride Concerts, the program art and a bit of what happened during the concerts. Please let me know what you think. See you all next week here and please check out all the virtual holiday concerts of our sibling choruses this month.
In love, harmony and peace, Michael Lucero