Role Playing, March 1, Cafe du Nord. This was the start of the first full year for our new director, Stephanie Smith. In time she would be known affectionately as "Miss Smith." Our accompanist and assistant director was Vincent Peterson. This show was a cabaret evening for the chorus to showcase the talents of our singers. We were 38 strong as we began this year and we had great fun with this show.
Honor Our Heroes: 8th Annual HIV Prevention Awards, April, Ruby Skye. This was an outreach event for us and the chorus was honored to be part of the entertainment at this event. This evening was to honor four persons from the community who had done outstanding work in HIV/AIDS prevention. This was fun and easy for us and a way for us to be in front of a new audience. Alan Cumming was the honorary chair for this evening and Connie Champagne, Spencer Day and the Kent Strand Trio were the other performers that night.
Hope: Spring Concert, May 10 & 11, First Unitarian Church. These concerts took place on Mothers Day weekend and in the program Stephanie thanked all the mothers who were there to support their children. She also said "It is our hope that the music today will uplift, inspire, and offer you some comfort in these unsettling times." We sang "Dona Nobis Pacem," some South African freedom songs, John Lennon's "Imagine" in which our Yolanda DeByle sang the solo, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "How Can I Keep From Singing." Yes the music did uplift and inspire us and hopefully our audiences as well.
The 25th Annual Pride Concert, June 27, Mission High School. Last week I mentioned that the Pride concert was coproduced by both us and SFGMC after all the previous years where we were the sole producer. This Pride concert was the first one produced solely by SFGMC. This concert featured us, SFGMC with director Kathleen McGuire and the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band with Jadine Louie as director. Just think, at this point these three organizations were all led by three strong women.
The Band was started in 1978 with their first concert in 1978 of that year. Later the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus was founded and following the assassinations of Harvey Milk and George Moscone they sang for the first time that night on the steps of City Hall. In January 1980 our chorus was formed and tonight these three historic organizations celebrated this quarter century of music making and making change. The big musical piece we all sang that evening was "Oliver Button Is A Star!" and this was the San Francisco premiere. The final three songs for the evening we all sang together were "Don't Laugh At Me," "Everything Possible," and "Land of the Free." What a great way it was to begin Pride Weekend.
Night Falls Singing, December 6, First Unitarian Church. This concert came about as a way to celebrate the spirit of the deep winter moonglow to represent the changing of the seasons and our lives. We sang two times this day, at 3 pm and at 8 pm. As we began our own birthday season, we embarked on a journey and looked ahead. We started the night with Brahms "In Stiller Nacht," and there was music by Samuel Barber, Randall Thompson, "Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael, "Turn the World Around," by Harry Belafonte and we closed with "The Long Day Closes" by Arthur Sullivan.
Home for the Holidays, December 24, Castro Theatre. Again we were the guests of SFGMC in their annual concert at the Castro which is their gift to the community. We sang at the 9 pm show that night. Also is there something going on between Stephanie and Kathleen, director of SFGMC? Hmm.
Afterglow, a Castro Cabaret, Cafe du Nord, February 22 & 23. This cabaret was an opportunity for the chorus to showcase for the community some of the individual talents that make up the world's oldest (and finest) lesbian/gay choral ensemble. Our special guests were Opus Q, which our director, J. R. Foust, also conducts. The show started of course with "Cabaret." There was music from Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim and "Beauty School Dropout" from Grease. The full chorus ended the show with "My Funny Valentine" and "A Handful of Keys."
The Promise of Living, St. Francis Lutheran Church, March 23 & 24. This concert featured music by some of our country's most prolific composers - Copland, Bernstein, Barber, Waller and Sondheim. Again our guests in this concert was Opus Q. This was challenging and educational for the chorus to learn this important music from these great composers. Also St. Francis Lutheran was our rehearsal space and would be for the next several years.
The 24th Annual Pride Concert: You're a Grand Old Flag, Everett Middle School, June 28. This Pride concert was the first time we shared production with the SFGMC. It was also the first time that the concert was an official event of San Francisco GLBT Pride. Our emcees for the evening were Sharon Gless and Sir Ian McKellen. This concert was also a reunion of sorts - the two choruses and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, started in 1978, 1979 and 1980 as the brainchildren of Jon Sims. His vision was to bring something from the gay community to the mainstream, promoting tolerance and awareness of LGBT life. The music performed was by John Williams, Aaron Copland, Rodgers and Hart, George M. Cohan. This was also the first time that we sang "Harriet Tubman." This was the final performance with J. R. Foust as he stepped down as director.
Full Moon Full of Love, Cafe du Nord, September 21. This cabaret was our first show under the direction of our new Artistic Director, and former accompanist, Stephanie Lynne Smith. Our new accompanist was Vincent Peterson. Joining us for this cabaret were the Emperor Berlin, Empress Sheba!, Empress Chablis, and Coley Grundman. This was a fundraiser with the money going to our Australia contingent who will be singing at the Gay Games in Sydney, Australia.
Bay Area LGBT Choral Festival and Singin' for Our Supper, MCC, October 5. This festival was co-hosted by SFGMC and LGCSF. This was a wonderful day long event that brought together participants from the following choral organizations: Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Santa Cruz, LGCSF, Let's Do It!, Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus, Opus Q, Sacramento Men's Chorus, Sacramento Women's Chorus, MCC of San Francisco Morning Choir and their Worship & Praise Choir, Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, Rainbow Women's Chorus (San Jose), SFGMC, Transcendence Gospel Choir, VOICES: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble, Voices for Diversity, Silicon Valley's Community Pride Chorus. We all had a great time getting to know all these wonderful singers and learning many things that would be helpful to all the choruses and their singers. The day ended with a concert, Singin' for Our Supper, featuring all the singers and a Festival Chorus, who sang "The Promise of the Future" by Gustav Holst, and "Watch Me Shine" by Richard Link. "Watch Me Shine" was composed for the 2002 Gay Games and will be sung by members of Bay Area choruses at the Games in November, 2002, in honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Gay Games.
Fall Concert 2002, St. Francis Lutheran Church, October 18 & 19. This was our first full concert under the artistic direction of Stephanie Lynne Smith. This concert was short and sweet as we only sang eight songs which ended with a song that was our trademark, "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Again the chorus is on a new journey with a new director and we all look forward to what she will bring to us. I was on the Artistic Advisory Committee at this time so it was a great chance to work with Stephanie.
Home for the Holidays, Castro Theatre, December 24. This was the 13th annual version of this show and our second time as guests of SFGMC at their annual gift to the community. It is always a good thing when the two choruses can sing and perform together. This was lots of fun and of course the audiences loved everything about the show.
2001 - Holding Court at the Palace, 23rd Pride, Building a World Together, Let Music Live!, Home for the Holidays
In keeping with our traditions of free concerts, in the spring of 2001 we traveled to Colma Cemetery on March 4 to take part in annual pre-burial wake of the Widow Norton, the First Empress of San Francisco. On March 17, we would again sing at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park for the Grove volunteers and caretakers and visitors.
Holding Court at the Palace. This concert was held at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in the afternoon of February 11. It was an eclectic mix of choral works, small ensemble pieces and solos. I think that this was the first time we performed "How Can I Keep From Singing?" Other music we sang was "You and the Night and the Music" with Joan Goldman as soloist. We also sang "If I Loved You" from Carousel, "Of Crows and Clusters," a piece by Wolfgang Mozart called "Non So Piu Cosa Son" and we ended the concert singing "With One Voice." Stephanie Smith, who had filled in as accompanist at the GALA Festival was now our full time accompanist.
23rd Annual Pride Concert. This Pride concert was held in June at the First Congregational Church, SF. Our guests for this were the Lesbian & Gay Freedom Band, the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus, Opus Q and the Lollipop Guild of SFGMC. This was another wonderful collaboration with these great Bay Area singers and musicians. The music we all shared with our audience was as diverse as the five groups performing. At the time, Opus Q was the new kid on the block as they had formed earlier in 2001. Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus was formed in the fall of 1999 by Dick Kramer and their accompanist on this concert was our own Thaddeus Pinkston.
Building a World Together. On this concert, we were guests of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus in their Second Anniversary Pride Concert. It was held on September 8 at the First Congregational Church in Oakland. The other groups in the concert were Opus Q, Out on a Clef, SDK, and the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus. Again this was another collaborative effort by all of the singers and we all had fun together and the time spent with these singers helped strengthened the bonds we had developed in the past. Also this was a benefit concert in support of the Center for AIDS Services, Oakland, Lighthouse Community Center, Hayward, Pacific Center for Human Growth, Berkeley, and Rainbow Community Center, Concord. This was the first time we had shared a stage with Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus and SDK. SDK was the newest ensemble in this concert having been formed in spring 2000. They were a male trio and performed an eclectic mix of pop, jazz, folk and showtunes. Thaddeus was also their accompanist. This was also the last time we were led by Michael Carlsen as our director.
Let Music Live! On this concert, we were guests of Opus Q in their first ever Peace Concert. This was held on December 8 and 9 at the University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley. The director of Opus Q was Jerry "J.R." Foust and also our newest director, so this was our first performance with him. We sang just two pieces, "The Long Day Closes" and "Shir L'Shalom." So this was the beginning of a new journey with a new director. J. R.'s musical hero was Leonard Bernstein so we were sure to be singing his music in the future.
Home for the Holidays. We were guests of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus on their annual holiday show at the Castro Theatre, which is held every Christmas Eve, December 24, with three performances. This concert is SFGMC's gift to the community for all people who may not have had a home to go back to for Christmas with their families because they were gay. It was fun to sing our set and with SFGMC in this concert which always concludes with everyone singing "Home for the Holidays" and singing to a full house of people who really appreciated what we all were doing.
Before I get to telling you about the concerts we were a part of in 2000, I want to write about a couple of community events that we were participated in. In March, we sang as part of the entertainment at the Academy of Friends Oscars gala. We were all in our best glamorous dresses and suits and tuxes and after we sang got to stay and watch the Oscars. In April, on a Saturday morning, we took part in a clean up day at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park and sang for the crowd who showed up for this event. We also took part in the Pride Parade with the folks from the Best of Broadway and the musical Titanic. One last thing - we released our second CD "Wish You Were Here", a collection of live recordings with Michael Carlson. And we
Mission: ImPOPSible! This concert was held in late April at Mission High School. This was the kickoff concert for our 20th Anniversary season. The first concert of the chorus on May 17, 1980, was held in Mission High School. The music was some of the best 20th Century pop, rock and musical theatre. The concert ended with three big anthems, "A Chorus of Lovers and Friends," "With One Voice," " and "You Are The Light."
22nd Annual Pride Celebration. This concert was another one in which we invited some of our LGBT performing ensembles to join with us in song and celebration. This was held on June 17 at First Unitarian Church. The groups who our guests this night were Out on a Clef which our accompanist, June Bonacich, sings baritone. We performed June's "The Second Harvest" as part of our set. Also the SFGMC sang a preview of "Exile" which was written for them by Robert Seeley. Rounding out the lineup was the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.
Across the Ponds. The theme for this concert was diversity in style and content and yet it was all wonderful and funny and stirring music by lesbians and gay men. The show was held on July 20 at First Unitarian Church. Our guests were VOICES: Lesbian Choral Ensemble and Schola Canotrosa, Gay Men's Chorus of Hamburg, Germany. Our chorus hosted the men from Hamburg so we got to know them. This concert was a preview of what these three choruses would be singing in San Jose at GALA Festival VI. Let me tell you about Schola Cantorosa. All of their shows are fully staged, costumed with makeup, choreographed - in other words they just like to have fun and make wonderful music as well. Their show on this night was "Dressed to Kill." From their program "Will those Divas ever learn to make their exits? Do they know that their lives are just one big intrigue? Have they ever met their ballet troupe rivals? ...and if, God forbid, something horrible should happen to them ... This question must be asked! Who will be the new Diva??? Needless to say they brought down the house.
GALA Choruses Festival VI. The chorus trekked down to San Jose to participate in and perform in this GALA Festival. Our future director, Stephanie Smith, filled in as accompanist for the chorus. One of the pieces we did was something new - "Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun." I remember there was some conflict since our director signed extra musicians for this without consulting the board. Oops. Anyway, we persevered.
Our former director, Trente Morant, was commissioned to write music for the TTBB Festival Chorus. This was obviously quite an honor for him and for the chorus. The piece was called "Ache3" and is described as a mini musical triptych. The first movement, "Look Into the Mirror," talks about accepting and feeling comfortable with yourself, and having fun while making improvements. The second movement, "Live All Your Joys," reminds us that time is a luxury so treasure the good stuff. The last movement, "Look Ahead," reminds us not to carry excess baggage. Give honor to the past and learn. Be conscious of the present, and move toward the future.
There were 110 choruses with 4,000 singers there for the week of July 22 to 29. Each chorus performed twice, once in the Civic Auditorium and again in the Center for Performing Arts. It seems at every Festival there is a chorus that everyone talks about and wants to hear. This time the chorus to hear was Lavender Light: The Black and People of All Colors Lesbian and Gay Choral Choir. They were amazing, awe-inspiring, moving, and everyone in the audience was on their feet the whole time and we were all exhausted after their performance. This is what GALA Festivals are all about - to hear choruses you might not hear again, to hear new and exciting music by lesbian and gay composers, to come together with singers and make connections. A GALA audience is the best to perform to because they know what it takes to get up on stage and sing.
joined the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in August of 1984, after seeing them sing in the Pride Concert the previous June and their director, Matt O'Grady, announced that if anyone in the audience wanted to join the chorus that auditions would be coming up so he joined. During his time in the chorus he has always sang in the bass section. He has served as Music Librarian, on the Production Committee, the Artistic Advisory Committee, as a bass section leader, as the GALA liaison and currently as chorus historian. He is glad to create this blog for the chorus to get the history out to anyone who looks at our website.