LGCSF History Corner - 1981 Part 2
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and to any newcomers to LGCSF and our glorious history. This past Thursday, January 23, the chorus celebrated its 40th birthday. Yes we have hit the big 40!! Any readers out there who have any photos or memories of the chorus please post them on our Facebook page.
This week I am writing about what the chorus did in the second half of 1981. We were part of the Golden Gate Performing Arts "A Season of Note." GGPA produced a season brochure listing the performances of our chorus and SFGMC. One surprise for me is that SFGMC produced a concert entitled "Instrumentalists of the Chorus," which the men of the chorus shared their instrumental talents with their audience. This was held on November 22, 1981, at Trinity Episcopal Church.
On October 2 at Trinity Episcopal Church, the LGCSF performed "Sing! The Rhythm of Life." For this concert we were at 82 strong. This concert featured more of the classical repertoire that Robin Kay brought to us. We sang music by Johannes Brahms, Orlando di Lasso, Samuel Barber, J. S. Bach, and the Gloria from "Mass in G" by Franz Schubert. We were joined on these pieces by members of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. Our Chamber Chorus sang four madrigals and the Vocal Minority sang some pop music - "A Sentimental Journey Through the Forties" including "People Will Say We're in Love," "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "You Are My Sunshine" and "Over the Rainbow." They finished with "One" from "A Chorus Line." The full chorus ended the concert with their versions of "I Sing the Body Electric" from "Fame" and "The Rhythm of Life" which the chorus has sung many times since then at various concerts.
On November 15 at Albion Hall at 141 Albion, Vocal Minority and the Chamber Singers performed twice in "Musical Fun & Games." The Chamber Chorus continued a musical recreation made popular in the sixteenth century: the art and fun of madrigal singing. Vocal Minority were united in their love of the American popular song and they featured two medleys: One was of Jerome Kern hits and the second they reprised "A Sentimental Journey through the 40's." These concerts benefitted the Mixed Chorus and the Lesbian/Gay Olympic Games which were held in San Francisco in 1982. Two members of the chorus, Rose Mary Mitchell and Michael Clarke, were part of the organizing team of what has become known as the Gay Games.
To end the year on December 20 and 24 at the Nourse Auditorium, LGCSF and SFGMC joined forces to sing in "Now Sing Again with Hearts Aglow." The two choruses sang two pieces together to open the evening with "Masters in This Hall" and the "Coventry Carol." Then we sang music by Brahms, then "O Magnum Mysterium," "Gesu Bambino," "Carol of the Bells," "Ya Viene La Vieja," "How Unto Bethlehem," "Fum, Fum, Fum," then something fun by P.D.Q. Bach "Throw the Yule Log on Uncle John" and "The Twelve Days After Christmas." We joined the men at the end of the concert to sing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Song of Galilee" which was followed by an audience sing-along.
One more item of note: our director, Robin Kay, was invited to conduct the New York City Gay Men's Chorus in their holiday concert at Carnegie Hall. This was quite an honor for her and us. Enjoy the attachments of the concert program covers and the want ad for more sopranos and altos. See you next week with the first half of 1982 in the life of our chorus.
Keep on singing, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
Greetings to all my faithful readers. There is one more thing I want to add from last week's blog. As I said at our Premiere Concert we were accompanied by Lamba Pro Musica. This orchestra was founded by Jon Sims, the godfather of all gay musical organizations, and held its first rehearsal on January 24, 1980, the day after our first rehearsal.
As I have been going through the early archives of the chorus I keep discovering materials that I have never seen before. One thing was the Golden Gate Performing Arts spring concert series brochure. Our first concert was titled "Our Time and Place" which was held on May 30 at the Trinity Episcopal Church and May 31 at the First Congregational Church at Post and Mason which became our sort of home performance space through the later 1980s and 1990s. We sang music by Schubert, Liszt, Faure and Scott Joplin.
I would also like to write about the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. The next concert in the series was the "National Tour Concert" of the SFGMC and was held on June 4 at the Warfield Theatre. This was the kickoff concert for their tour which took them to Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York, Washington, D.C., Lincoln, Boston and Seattle. This tour encouraged all the audiences in these cities to think about starting a queer chorus in their city. The tour was an historic first: the opportunity to proclaim from coast to coast the talent, the joy, the love and the resourcefulness of the national gay community.
The next concert that LGCSF performed in was the "Gay Musical Celebration at Davies Symphony Hall." This was held on June 26 and featured the two gay choruses of San Francisco. We were supported by the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and the Bay Area Women's Brass Quartet. With SFGMC, the concert was opened with "Gloria in excelsis Deo" by Joseph Dreschenmeier and "Song of Galilee." Then our set began with "Somewhere" from "West Side Story." This was the first time we had performed this and it became our signature song for many years to follow. We also sang excerpts from "Treemonisha" by Scott Joplin. Our director, Robin Kay, whose photo I included, was considered a leading interpreter of Scott Joplin's work and had performed them widely in person and on radio. We ended our set with "Budavari Te Deum" by Zoltan Kodaly.
Two days after this concert, we marched and rode in the Pride Parade on a float which was sponsored by the Sutro Bath House. Next week I will write about what we did in the second half of 1981.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and any new readers out there, welcome. I have been going through more of the chorus archives that I had received from Kim Hargreaves. I came across the spring concert series program as well as flyers from our concerts that year and a program from the Gay People's Union of UC Berkeley Gay Awareness Week in November, 1980 in which we performed for them. This material is something new to me as I have never seen it before now. I thought what a way to celebrate our 40th birthday on January 23 than to bring you this history.
This is from the Golden Gate Performing Arts (GGPA) Spring Concert Series program. In the beginning, 1980, there was the Golden Gate Performing Arts which was the umbrella organization for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps (yes they had baton twirlers at the front of the band every time they marched and played), the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus and Lambda Pro Musica. The primary purpose for GGPA was to provide support for these musical organizations in the areas of fundraising, legal, insurance, and public relations services to these groups.
The Band presented its concert "A Night at the Movies" on April 18 and 19, 1980 at Mission High School. They played music from the movies from all genres including "Citizen Kane," "West Side Story," a Space Medley, a Symphonic Fantasy from the Wizard of Oz, a special guest appearance by local cabaret star Ruth Hastings with the Varsity Drag subgroup of the Band. You get the idea of this concert.
Next in the season was the SFGMC presenting their concert "Let There Be Music" on April 23 and 24, 1980 at the Herbst Theatre, then on April 30 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University and on May 3 at First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. They sang a mixture of classical choral music. The small group, Men About Town, sang some pop and Broadway songs and the chorus ended with "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King, "Dangling Conversation" and "The Boxer" by Paul Simon, "Water Music" by Terence Allbright and "Tarantella" by Randall Thompson.
Next this spring was the premiere concert of us, the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus with Lambda Pro Musica on May 17 at Mission High School. Our director was Robin Kay and the program was one of classical music and we ended with a medley from "Porgy and Bess." The orchestra opened with Mozart's Symphony No. 29, A major followed by Vivaldi's Concerto in C Major. The chorus sang "Two Folksongs" by Johannes Brahms and "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure. With the orchestra we sang Sacred Cantata No. 4 by J. S. Bach.
In reading through the history of these two organizations our chorus' first rehearsal was on April 23 and Lambda Pro Musica's first rehearsal was on April 24. At this rehearsal a dozen string musicians cautiously entered a rehearsal room that became a musical/personal/social space none had experienced before. They created not only beautiful music, but also a uniquely safe context in which to be who they were. I can also truly say that the rehearsal spaces that the chorus has sung in over the years since I joined in 1984 became a safe space to be who I am and hopefully everyone else who came to sing with us.
We next sang at the Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral on June 27 along with SFGMC, the Band and Lambda Pro Musica and John Renke who was the Assistant Organist and Choirmaster of Grace Cathedral. I am sure it was a glorious experience for the musicians as well as the audience to perform in that beautiful sacred space.
Next came our fall concert "Together in Harmony" which we presented on September 27 at Mission High School. This concert was also the debut of our two small ensembles - the Chamber Singers and the Vocal Minority. We performed the music of William Byrd, J. S. Bach, Voltan Kodaly and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Next for us was a chance to sing in Berkeley as part of UC Berkeley's Gay Awareness Week and we sang on Tuesday, November 11 in Wheeler Auditorium. I am sure any of our singers now who have attended UC Berkeley would know where that is.
For the finale of the year 1980 we sang with SFGMC in their concert Now Sing with Hearts Aglow at Nourse Auditorium on December 21. From the program it sounds like it was a very beautiful and gorgeous evening of music from both choruses and their respective Chamber Singers. One last thing - there was a memo from the Women's Outreach Group of the chorus going out to various individuals and businesses to recruit more sopranos and altos for the chorus.
Next week I will be writing about our adventures in 1981 as I look through the programs and material which is helping me fill in the gaps from the early years so please indulge me.
Happy reading and always in harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."
Hello and greetings and Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all had a wonderful and peaceful and musical holiday season. For my first History Corner post of 2020 I want to talk about some of what goes on in the background. From the beginning the chorus has always had a Board of Directors and as part of their obligations is to work with the greater gay community to promote the chorus.
We also had a Community Advisory Board which I believe first started in 1988. Here is more on this Board. Among the archives I found a memo dated January 6, 1992, from Rosemary Mitchell to the Board of Directors stating that she had sent a letter to all Advisory Board members asking for their commitment for another year of service. What I found to be most interesting in reading this is what the duties of the Advisory Board were.
1. Attending our concerts and fundraising;
2. Purchasing sponsor tickets;
3. Cash contributions;
4. Offering services at various chorus-sponsored activities;
5. Helping to procure both paid and non-paid (benefit) performances for both the chorus and the small groups; and
6. Developing and coordinating chorus fundraisers.
At this time there were 13 persons who were on the Community Advisory Board and I remember when they were introduced to the chorus and I remember seeing them at various times at our concerts. I am sure that they also helped to get gigs for Menage, our small group ambassador, since it seemed they were always performing and representing the chorus at various events. As we all know things do change and as far as I can deduce the Community Advisory Board ended at the end of 1994.
I am looking forward to seeing and singing with you all at our first rehearsal as we begin this year of new music, collaborations with other choruses in our concerts and singing at the GALA Festival in Minneapolis. Next week more of my personal memories of being in our wonderful chorus.
In harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."