Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all doing well, staying safe, sane and healthy. It is so wonderful to have a President who has an actual plan to put concrete actions into place to tackle the coronavirus and that these decisions are based on science and the facts.
This week I thought I would write about some of the awards and certificates that the Chorus received throughout the years. From the 1970s through the 1990s there were two separate organizations that awarded prizes for excellence in the gay community - the Cable Car Awards with their overall theme of Outstanding - and for excellence in live performance - the San Francisco/Bay Area Gold Awards presented by the San Francisco Council on Entertainment. Any awards given from these organizations were very prestigious.
The Cable Car Awards started in 1974 by Bob Cramer and he always included on stage and in the audience leaders in the political arena joining with entertainers, journalists, athletes, artists, photographers and civic minded persons to celebrate our community. The Chorus and its subgroups, Menage and Fiddlestix, were all nominated in 1989 and 1990. The Chorus won in 1989 for Outstanding Concert for our LGCSF Goes to the Movies. In 1990, Fiddlestix were nominated for Outstanding Performing Group, as were Menage, and as was the Chorus for Outstanding Concert "The Critics' Award". In 1990, the Chorus was awarded a Cable Car Award for the 1989 Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade Outstanding Performing Group. In 1992, the Chorus was awarded the Bob Cramer Award for Excellence.
The San Francisco/Bay Area Gold Awards were started in 1978 by a man by the name of Jack Essex and a group of his friends who mapped out the first Gold Awards to honor cabaret performers, singers, pianists, comedians and the cabarets and the jazz and comedy clubs where they were able to perform. In 1988, Menage was nominated for Outstanding Musical Group. Menage was also nominated in 1989 as well as our own Scott Johnston for Outstanding Male Cabaret/Nightclub Vocalist. So as you can see back in the good old days of live entertainment in San Francisco the Chorus was well represented.
As far as certificates that the Chorus has received in the past, I want to mention two certificates we received in 2005. These were both Certificates of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco and signed by then Mayor Gavin Newsom. The first was awarded on January 20, 2005, and recognized and honored the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco on the occasion of its 25th Anniversary. Founded in 1980 by John Sims as the world's first gay and lesbian choral ensemble, the chorus has entertained audiences throughout the Bay Area and across the world.
The second was awarded on May 7, 2005, and it recognized and honored the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco for 25 years of building and enriching our communities with music. Your voices are helping to transcend the barriers of race and sexuality and unite individuals from all walks of life. Congratulations!
I want to give a shout out to one of our alumni who joined us last Thursday on Zoom, my good friend Jesse Lanou who now lives in Oregon. She was the first to respond to my outreach on Facebook to join us this season and I hope we will hear and see other alumni in the future. One of the memories I have of Jesse is when my partner, Philip, and I helped Jesse backstage at one of the Cable Car Awards shows. It was a long day of work but also a lot of fun and we got to interact with the presenters and the performers.
One last thing before I sign off for this week. There is something a little different that I would like to do for a future History Corner, or maybe two of them. That would be to request any backstage photos that any of you have and that I could use and put captions with the photos as a visual glimpse of what we have done. Please upload your pictures to Dropbox or to my email which is in Chorus Connection. I look forward to seeing your photos. Take care of yourselves this week and see you on Zoom on Thursday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings and Happy New Year to all of my faithful readers out there. I hope you all had safe and healthy holidays however you celebrated them. This first History Corner entry for the new year will be a little different.
First the chorus is coming up on its 41st birthday on January 23. Yes on that day in 1980 we, this group of adventurous and courageous men and women singers came together to sing. This was a whole new territory for us as lesbians and gay men and we all were there for one purpose, to make music and as we that we built community as we became comfortable with each other and of course friendships and relationships were formed.
We were doctors, lawyers, psychologists, funeral directors, engineers, waiters, architects, teachers, sales people, secretaries and bartenders, among other things and in age from 18 to 55. We were part of the Golden Gate Performing Arts and in the spring season concert series program we had 136 singers listed. Our first Artistic Director was Robin Kay who led us through our first three years. From that auspicious beginning, LGCSF along with SFGMC and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps began a musical tradition which came from the mind of Jon Reed Sims who was present at the birth of these three organizations. And we are all still here and thriving, and we need to ask where do we go from here and how do we get there?
One way certainly is survival and LGCSF has certainly survived through changes in Artistic Directors, Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards, changing singing personnel, although one thing I have noticed during my time in the chorus that the new singers who have come to join us and have stayed were people who got and understood who and what this chorus is. There were also changing financial times, a major earthquake, a riot that shut down the City and one of our performances. Then there have two major health crises, the AIDS epidemic and the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been major shifts in the political arena which at times affected all performing arts organizations.
Our chorus was one of the founding members of what is now GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, which now has over 190 member choruses and 10,000 singers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, China, and Cuba. We have performed at eight GALA Chorus Festivals, as well as in our own concerts and in collaboration with many other choruses over the years. We have had music written for us by members of the chorus, we have commissioned or co-commissioned major works that we have presented as world premieres, as well as performed all styles of music - classical, pop, rock, jazz, Broadway, and music from the movies.
We have had a musical written for us by one of our own, June Bonacich, "Group Therapy" that we premiered in 2005 under the baton of Stephanie Lynne Smith with several performances in San Francisco and which we went on the road with to Chicago in 2006 to perform during the cultural week of the Gay Games and some of us sang at the Opening Ceremony there. Some of also sang in the Opening Ceremonies of the first two Gay Games in San Francisco which were called the Gay Olympics in those early days.
This is only a small portion of our history and the question we need to ask ourselves is where do we go from here. I know we will keep on singing and rehearsing in the virtual world, on Zoom for the present and the foreseeable future, as we continue to learn new technology like Soundtrap as we lay down our vocal tracks. I am sure we will be continuing our collaborations with the Freedom Band as we did with them for last December's "Dance Along Nutcracker".
So as this current group of singers and Michael look forward to our new year together let us continue this wonderful and vital community as we learn new music and share it with our audience and the world. I have faith that we will be able to sing together and then to be in front of our audience to sing for them. If there are any alumni out there reading this and would like to sing with us on Zoom, please contact our AD, Michael Reilly, at firstname.lastname@example.org about your interest and he will send you an email with the Zoom link. Hope to see some of you on Zoom. I love and miss you all and so look forward to seeing you on Thursday, January 21, for our first get together and rehearsal and to celebrate our birthday.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero