Greetings and hello to all of my faithful readers,
This week as I have gone through my archives from 1990 I thought I would write about three chorus-related events that occurred that year.
On December 28, there was "An Evening to Remember Bob Cramer". This was held in the City Hall Rotunda. Bob was the founder of the Cable Car Awards which began in 1974. A couple of weeks ago at rehearsal Calliope asked what the Cable Car Awards were and Jesse Lanou and I explained what they were. They were an annual awards show honoring accomplishments within San Francisco's lesbian/gay community. The show had been acknowledged and gained respect as the largest gay awards show anywhere. It started out in Bimbo's nightclub then moved to the Japan Center Theatre and then to the San Francisco Giftcenter. As Chair of the Awards Bob is credited by many for bringing together the emerging lesbian and gay men's communities. As the show was presented each year, he insisted that gay women be included in every area of planning, production, award judging and as recipients of the awards. Mayor Art Agnos, Supervisor Harry Britt, Jose Sarria, State Senator Milton Marks and Richard Hongisto were some of the dignitaries who participated. Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco sang "Hand in Hand" by our own Jesse Lanou. One more historical note is that Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow flag, did the building lighting and donated the flags. I included a photo of the cover of the program with a photo of Bob Cramer.
The second item I want to talk about is fundraising booklet of discount coupons from businesses that join with you in supporting community and AIDS-related organizations. The trio that put this together were known as MxIII, R. Guy McGinnis, Gary Menger and our own Rose Mary Mitchell. They did the outreach to the businesses in the booklet and they note that they had personally visited every business advertising in the book so they gave their three thumbs in recommending these businesses. All proceeds from this equally benefitted Project Open Hand, Gay Rescue Mission, the SF Band Foundation, the AIDS Emergency Fund and Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF. I included a photo of the cover and one of Guy, Gary and Rose Mary.
The third item to talk about is our inclusion in the Old First Concerts which were held at the Old First Church on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. The chorus was part of their Spring 1990 season. We sang on April 20 and presented our classical concert, Brahms and Bernstein, which was part of our 10th Anniversary season of making music and creating community. Under the direction of Pat Parr and with guest soprano, Teresa Cardinale, we present Brahms "Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103", "Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53" and Leonard Bernstein's "Gloria" from "Mass" and the "Chichester Psalms". This was challenging music for us but we were inspired by singing in this beautiful church. I have included two photos, one of us and one of the program. Please enjoy all of these photos and thank you for coming along on my journey through the history of our wonderful chorus. Please give me any feedback you have and let me know what you enjoy or anything you might want to learn more about. See you next week with more of our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and have gotten your vaccinations or are planning to get them. The more who do this the sooner we can be back together in person again.
This week I thought I would do something a little different, because I can, and write about some of what went on behind the scenes in 1992 which was a busy year for us.
The chorus was going to the GALA Choruses Festival IV in Denver in July, 1992. Jack Hamilton, who was the GALA liaison at that time, presented a memo on July 25, 1991, a year in advance, to all chorus members of what to expect at Festival. This included the cost of everything, including airfare, the GALA registration fee, food and lodging. Jack wrote that the cost to attend Festival would cost a minimum of $700 per person. He said that the chorus hoped to raise enough money to subsidize some of the cost for everyone, and most of the cost for people for whom paying $700 would be a hardship. We wanted as many people to go to Festival as possible, so it was important that everyone participate in fundraising activities. The breakdown of the projected costs were:
Air fare $350.00
GALA registration 65.00
The chorus had set up a savings plan to help members put away money in advance, and to make it easier for them to handle payments to airlines and hotels. We encouraged everyone who plans to go to put as much money in as soon as possible.
As far as travel and hotel arrangements went for this Festival, the chorus was planning to travel and fly together to Denver and stay in the same hotel. The chorus would be making the arrangements for all of us. The dates for the Festival were June 28 to July 5. The Festival Committee was asking all attending choruses to arrive on Saturday, June 27, to have a day to settle in before Festival began and to also participate in their Pride Parade. This is what we did as well as many other choruses to the great joy of the people all along the parade route which ended at the park in front of the Colorado Capitol building. This was a great way for us to begin our week at Festival and we had a 4 pm rehearsal and the Opening Concert that night at 8 pm. We also had another rehearsal at 9 am Monday morning and there would be three blocks of concerts Monday through Friday and small groups concerts late nights. Obviously this was our biggest event for the year and most, if not all, of the chorus went to Denver and we all had a great time enjoying the music, the people we met from the other choruses, the food, and of course the socializing.
Next I would like to share some of what our PR committee was up to in 1992, what they were planning for the year which included a three year plan for chorus goals through 1994. They would be preparing calendar notices for the gay papers. One of the members had all the necessary information for this, including the deadlines for the papers, copying the information of upcoming concerts and events, and contacting concierges at various hotels in town. Another would supervise development and distribution of a monthly or quarterly calendar to send out. They also talked about our involvement with the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). As far as the three year plan went, in 1992 would be a nurturing and wooing year to make inroads into CVB and the press, especially the straight press. They would be getting more photos of the chorus for publicity and would promote Menage. Also they talked about producing a video for publicity. The concept was to develop an 8- to 10 minute videotape to use for fundraising and audience development. This would include archival stills with voiceover, show clips and talking heads who will talk about the history of the chorus, and the members talking about being "Together in Harmony" as men and women working together. There was more detail about what it would take to get this project done. As far as I know and for whatever reason this video unfortunately never got made.
For 1993 they would develop and produce a first class brochure of the chorus. We will look at doing some cooperative pieces. They would continue to promote Menage. They were pursuing getting a regular TV show on CATV (cable to you) developing this idea with the Outreach and Fundraising committees. And for 1994 they were looking toward developing the PR support for a national tour.
Our Administrative Director put out a year long calendar in January. As I looked through this we were busy with rehearsals, which included chorus socials before rehearsals from 7 to 7:30, meetings of the Board of Directors, the Board retreat, dress rehearsals for our spring concert and the concert in April, an Eagle beer bust, rehearsals both regular and dress for the Pride concert in June, off to Denver and Festival, Folsom Street Fair beer booth in September, another Eagle beer bust in October and an in-town retreat to get ready for our fall concert, rehearsals for the Holiday Concert with SFGMC in December and we finally had time off after that concert. I included two photos, one of the cover of the Denver GALA Festival program and the cover of our 1992 Pride concert so enjoy those. That is it until next week so be on the lookout for the next History Corner. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones until then.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
LGCSF History Corner: Some Musings on GALA Choruses Past and Present and Three Concerts I Watched This Weekend
Greetings to all of my faithful readers, I hope you are all well and getting vaccinated as you are able. Phil and I both have been fully vaccinated so we are now just waiting until the time comes when we can all be together again.
This time I want to share some musings on GALA Choruses past and present. In my archives I came across a couple of GALAgrams which were the way news from GALA was presented to all choruses in the 1990s and 2000s before social media and the Internet. In the one from Spring 1998 the cover story was about the second Singers Weekend and Leadership Conference to take place in Dallas over the Labor Day weekend. At that time when there were fewer choruses in GALA the Singers Weekends were offered for singers to come together and take part in either a mass SATB, SSAA or TTBB chorus under the direction of directors of a GALA chorus. Singers will be rehearsing, attending masterclasses and clinics and seeing old friends and making new ones.
In May/June of 2002 we received the 20th Anniversary Supplement of the GALAgram which talked about Why We Sing, Our History and Our Legacy - Twenty Years Together and Counting. What that meant then with the growth of GALA came the demand for more sophisticated education and training and strong artistic and social change leadership for GALA Choruses leadership. The GALA Choruses Board of Directors committed to the strategic questions that will strengthen choral relevance in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community and beyond.
During this time in the early 2000s there were two regional festivals which were held between the the GALA Festivals in 2000 and 2004. There was a Western Regional Festival in Seattle in May, 2002 and an Eastern Regional Festival in Cincinnati in July, 2002. At the Western Regional the first gay youth chorus in GALA, the GLASS Youth Chorus from Vancouver, B.C. performed for the first time. Also in 2002 the Gay Games were held in Sydney, Australia, on October 25 - November 9. Members of any of GALA Choruses were invited to come to be part of the Cultural Festival that was occurring at the same time and to sing in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and to sing in the big concert in the Sydney Opera House. Some members of LGCSF went to Sydney for this amazing experience and came back with great stories to share with us. Unfortunately I was not able to go to Sydney.
The third GALAgram I want to highlight is from Fall 2007 and was the Special 25th Anniversary issue. Robin Godfrey, the General Manager of GALA at that time, wrote, in part, "GALA Choruses is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What began as a network of support for GLBT choruses beginning to form in the early 1980s has evolved into an association of over 120 member choruses on three continents involving more than 7,500 singers. GALA Choruses produces the largest GLBT performing arts festival in the world with more than 5,500 delegates in attendance at Festival VIIe in Montreal in 2004 and a similar crowd expected for Festival 2008 Miami next summer". There was also a great article entitled "Mixed Choruses Play a Unique Role within GALA" which talked about the growth of LGBT choruses and the music they bring to share with the world.
Next I want to share with you that I spent my weekend watching three concerts from four GALA choruses. First up were the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus and Atlanta Women's Chorus presenting their show "Never Turning Back". It was the first time in nine years that the two choruses had performed together. It was really amazing as each song was performed in a different place either outside in Piedmont Park or around a pool where the women sang "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips and it was so much fun as they were wearing long gowns and dresses. The most moving song was "Angel Down" by Lady Gaga and sung by Panache, the men's chorus small ensemble, against a wall with George Floyd's name written many times. The most fun was a mash up of "I Will Survive/Survivor" which was filmed in a roller rink called the Golden Glide.
The next one was the Cincinnati Men's Chorus in their 30th anniversary show "String of Pearls". The pearl is the traditional gift for a 30 year anniversary so the title was totally appropriate. The men sang a great arrangement of "Fever" and "Moon River" and these were the highlights for me. Another highlight was "Take the A Train" by Billy Strayhorn and was presented with four dancers in what looked like a subway station as they went through their dance which was amazing.
The third one I watched was the South Coast Chorale from Long Beach in their 31st anniversary cabaret "How Can I Keep From Singing". Each singer introduced their song and talked about what was behind their choice to sing it and there were some funny and some very moving reasons shared. One highlight for me was the song "Mamma Said" which is by an artist who I had never heard of before, Mica Paris. I looked her up on iTunes and found she is British, a beautiful woman of color who had been in a couple of gospel groups so she has that background. Look her up and you will be amazed.
I know that the Cincinnati Men's Chorus video is still on YouTube so look for it. I am not sure if the videos of the other shows are still available but look for them. I will be looking for move concerts and cabarets throughout the spring and into summer of the amazing choruses that make up GALA Choruses. I suggest that you join the Facebook group GALA Chorus Members to see the schedule of upcoming concerts. Watching these concerts is a way that I am staying connected to these choruses until we can all be together again in person. Please let me know if you do watch these choruses and what you think about them.
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will be back next week with more on our history.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero