This week, we mourn and condemn the senseless and cruel murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. Tragically, George Floyd was one of many victims of white supremacy and anti-black racism in the United States. The protests throughout our nation give voice to those who have cried for years that Black Lives Matter.
We stand in peaceful solidarity with the BlackLivesMatter movement. To all black people who are angry, who are hurting, who seek change: We will be your standing stone. We will stand by you.
The Artistic Director and Board of Directors,
Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco
Video: Performance of “I Will Be Your Standing Stone”, featuring Melanie DeMore, November 2018
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you all are having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend and staying safe as you celebrate in your own ways. This week I am writing about what went on behind the scenes with the chorus in 1988. This was a busy year for us as we moved forward under the direction of Pat Parr in his second year as our fearless AD.
Some of the accomplishments in 1988 were Menage singing at the Coronation of the Empress and Emperor of San Francisco and the chorus singing at the Cable Car Awards in February.
In March Menage was at the San Carlos Lions Club event. In April we performed our Classics Concert in Berkeley and San Francisco. We reached a new audience in the East Bay which included many heterosexuals. Menage was nominated for a Cabaret Gold Award and performed at the show in the Venetian Room.
In May Menage performed at the Santa Rosa Lions Club and the BAYMEC dinner in San Jose and performed with Fiddlestix at a fundraiser for the East Bay AIDS Project.
In June we produced and performed in the Decade of Pride Concert, had a float in the Pride Parade and Menage and Fiddlestix performed at the Saddle Tramps fundraiser. There was a staff retreat in July.
In August we performed at the return of the Names Quilt from its National Tour and at our General Meeting we approved our incorporation. Since February 1988 there had been many meetings with staff, chorus members and the Community Advisory Board to work on how we would become incorporated and all the steps we needed to take. Michael Clarke was at the forefront of these efforts. One of the next steps to be taken was to elect a Board of Directors for the Chorus. The deadline for nominations for the Board was in October with the final nomination and election happened in November.
In September Fiddlestix performed at the Gay Rodeo in San Leandro and our "LGCSF Goes to the Movies" concert was a smash success. We all had a great time as we donned our costumes as our favorite actor or actress, dancing and singing our way into the hearts of our audience.
In October we performed in and were part of the stage crew for the second "In Memory of Friends" concert at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. In November the chorus, Menage and Fiddlestix all performed for Danny Williams' Thanksgiving dinner for people with AIDS.
We ended the year with a performance with SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert, we sang at the Venetian Room for Allen White's 50th birthday event and Menage performed at numerous events to raise money for the GALA Festival in 1989.
On December 11, we sang Christmas carols at the Children's Hospital of San Francisco and received a lovely letter from the hospital's staff. On this day we and several other singers were part of a bus tour that also visited St. Francis Hospital, St. Mary's, Coming Home Hospice and Garden Sullivan Hospital.
There is one more thing I would like to share with you before I close this edition to show how much the chorus was connected to the community during our first decade and how important it was to us. One of the members of the Advisory Board, Joseph Taro, was elected as a non-singing member of the new Board of Directors. To quote from his letter regarding this he wrote, "I would just like to say how excited I am about the recent incorporation of the chorus and my future participation as an active member of the Board. I have been a member of the Advisory Board throughout the last few years. I have participated in numerous fundraisers, such as rummage and raffle sales, as well as having been involved in the decision making process leading to the chorus' tremendous musical and financial growth." We in the chorus really appreciated Joseph and all of the other members of the Advisory Board who served in our interest.
Next week I will be writing more about the chorus in 1988 and sharing some of what was in our Leadsheet that helped to keep us focused with our rehearsal and performing schedules. See you then. As always I send my love to everyone so please stay healthy and share your love and sing to people even if it is by virtual means.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and I hope you are all in good health and staying safe and keeping abreast of all the changing guidelines as we go about our lives. I wanted to write this week a little bit more about what the chorus was going through as I observed it. As I said last week we now had a new Artistic Director in the person of Pat Parr. At that time I was the music librarian so I worked closely with Pat as to what music would be passed out at the start of a concert rehearsal time. I included in the attachments to this the cover for our program "LGCSF Rides Again," which was our country western concert featuring us and our own Fiddlesticks and Menage small groups, four different country western dance groups, Men About Town from SFGMC with Danny Williams as our emcee. Also attached are photos of the poster from the first Gay Musical Celebration held at Grace Cathedral in June 1979 and two posters from our 1991 season, "Bobby Sox to Beatles" and "A Not So Silent Night."
I would now like to write about some of what was happening behind the scenes of the chorus. We had a great Board of Directors and also a wonderful Chorus Advisory Board. The people on the Advisory Board were from the gay business community as well as members of the chorus and held quarterly Advisory Board meetings and I read through the minutes from their meeting of March 14, 1987.
At that time the chorus had lots of connections with these gay business owners and they helped us with fundraising and publicity. They talked about insurance for the chorus, the Pride concert which we would be producing for the first time, obtaining corporate grants from large liquor companies, contacting large PR firms for their SF client lists, and contacting Jeff Jones - a professional grant writer who specialized in gay/lesbian grants. Also talked about was growing the chorus to 50 singers and how to maintain the membership. In regard to the Pride concert, we would sending solicitation letters to prospective patrons who would receive a special invitation after confirming and sending their money and having their name and amount in the program as well as being able to attend the reception after the concert.
As for getting publicity for the chorus, Jerry Coletti, one of the members of the Advisory Board, owned the Galleon Bar & Restaurant and would be creating a Cabaret Room and have Menage and other singers from the chorus perform there to promote the chorus. The members also suggested that for any future major fundraiser at a large venue that they plan to spend a year to develop all the plans and details, such as if there would be special guests performing and contacting them for their fees or anything else they would need. Also discussed at this meeting was the participation of LGCSF in the National March on Washington. Money was eventually raised for Menage to go and sing on the main stage.
So as you can see this was a busy and exciting year for the chorus and also we see that some of the important things for us now as then are fundraising and publicity, recruitment and maintaining our membership, advertising for the chorus for any concerts or events that we produce. In the Leadsheets from June 1987 there is a plug for the chorus retreat and the retreat talent showcase as well as the chance to pass out flyers in the Castro for the Pride concert on Saturday afternoons leading up to the concert. Menage sang at one of these Saturday afternoons as part of the fun we had doing this. Besides the Pride concert, the chorus would also be riding a cable car in the Pride Parade.
And as always please provide me with any feedback about my blog and let me know what you like or what you might want to read about in the future. I love you all so take care of yourselves and share your love for the chorus online however you can. See you next week as I write about the chorus in 1988 with more background and what was being talked about in the Leadsheets.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers and Happy Mothers Day. I hope this finds you in good health and somewhat good spirits as we navigate these crazy times. As I have gone through more of my archives which have sparked my memories, I thought I would write more about what happened with the chorus in 1987. This was another year of transition as we embarked on a search for a new permanent Artistic Director. The lovely and talented Bill Ward was the Leadsheet editor for this year and in the first one from 1/7/87, he wrote that at this first rehearsal we would have one of our own, Cal Domingue, step up to direct us. Bill also wrote "As we begin this new year let's all make an effort to show our commitment to the Chorus and its continued growth and quality. As lesbians and gay men working together (and enjoying it) we enjoy a social condition which is not as widespread as I'd like it to be. I want to show the community and anyone else we can how well gay men and lesbians can get along together and just how much we have to offer one another." It has been fun for me to read through the Leadsheets from 1987 which by the way were all typed and printed and copied on paper. There was no email, texting, sharing data, smart phones, and no computers at that time.
The Chorus staff had been working on finding a new AD. At our next rehearsal we got to audition Michael Martin for this. Pat Parr was the next victim to audition for us as he would be directing us in the second half of rehearsal on 1/28/87. As of the date of the next Leadsheet, 2/4/87, Pat Parr had accepted the position of AD for LGCSF - hooray. Bill wrote in part "Pat Parr is eager to begin working with us and I'm looking forward to the association with him. We still have to find a rehearsal space for Thursday evenings in order to begin with Pat." As of 2/12/87, we were looking at St. Francis Lutheran as a possible rehearsal space and this would be our first full rehearsal with Pat and Michael Martin would be our accompanist and backup conductor.
The Chorus would begin working on the music we would sing at the "In Memory of Friends" concert in April. Menage would be performing at the Cable Car Awards at the Eagle at a beer bust for us in February so we were off and running as we began another busy year. The Chorus would be having a retreat at Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville in June to prepare for the Pride Concert. On Valentine's Day, there was a big party for the Chorus at Linda and Jesse's house. The more we socialize and get to know each other will reflect in our performances and progress together. As Bill wrote about his experience in being a part of "In Memory of Friends," he wrote "Being at the Palace of Fine Arts last week was a remarkable experience for me. Being part of the group effort such as this one makes me realize how important we really are to one another and how much our spirits depend upon love and respect for one another. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did."
As we prepared for the 9th Annual Gay Musical Celebration, which was the first Pride concert we produced on our own, I saw us really come together and we all had our own specific jobs to do to have everything go smoothly for us and our guests and audience. There was a strength of purpose helped to keep us on track and we felt we had grown up. We felt the 37 of us were tighter than ever. For Pride, we received a $5,350 grant from PC World Communications and another $1,000 from International Data Group.
Tenor Bill Sanderson said of the Chorus, "It's like a second family. In the rest of the community, the lesbians and gay men have their own places. They don't interact much. But here we can sing together, go on retreats, and have fun." Alto Rosemary Mitchell said, "The women and men of this group obviously search out this kind of experience. I need men in my life, and the men here need women."
Pat said he plans to continue working on the Chorus' blend, dynamics, and overall musicianship. He also wanted to see the group grow in size to 50 singers. On the agenda for the Chorus after Pride was an all country concert in the fall and a classical concert the following spring.
I was really excited by this feeling in the Chorus as we began this journey with Pat as we learned to follow what he was doing on the podium and how he truly was learning to know us and what our individual talents were and how to best use them for moving the Chorus forward. I think next week I will write a bit more about 1987 because this was really an exciting time for me.
Take care of yourselves, give hugs virtually to all around you and spread the love I know you have.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings and happy May to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all staying well both physically and mentally. I find that what keeps me going is to listen to all the music on my iTunes playlist which is over 12,000 songs, especially music of our chorus and other choruses which always inspire me.
As I said last week that I would be writing more about what the chorus did in 1986 under the musical direction of Rodger Pettyjohn. As I mentioned in a previous entry, Rodger stepped down from directing the chorus due to his health since he had AIDS. After working with us in the latter part of 1985 we embarked on learning the music we would sing in our spring concert "This is Our Country!" held on March 5 and 8. Proceeds from this concert were given to the Statue of Liberty Fund and our name was inscribed on a plaque as the first Lesbian/Gay group to have contributed to this fund.
I have a review of this concert entitled "Warm Praise" by Bernard Spunberg where he welcomed and congratulated the chorus under the leadership of Musical Director Rodger Pettyjohn. He wrote "From the opening notes of a medley from 'West Side Story', Pettyjohn and his ensemble revealed a great, big, beautiful sound." "'Maria', sung as a lesbian love song, was sung with inspiring expressivity." There was a new quartet from the chorus, the Muni Transfer, which later in the year become Menage an octet which became the ambassador for the chorus for many years appearing at many small events to spread the word and work of the chorus. We put out a press release after the concert announcing that auditions for all voice parts would be held on March 22. At this point rehearsals were being held at All Saints Episcopal Church on Waller Street.
Our next performance was in the Gay Pride Concert in June in which we sang selections from "Oliver" and received a standing ovation which was the first time for that in many years. Rodger was so excited by this he wanted to sing "I Sing the Body Electric" as an encore. But we had not rehearsed it although most of us had sung it in the past. We got through the first part, mostly forgot the second part but we kept smiling and remembered the final part which we finished strongly. The audience loved our chutzpah and the fact that we stayed with it. Just another moment in the life of the chorus where we all picked each other up to deliver our music.
The chorus received its first Cable Car Award for the Gay Games II Inaugural Concert on August 1 and 5 in which we sang music by gay and lesbian composers. Also on that concert were musicians of the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers which Rodger was one of the founding members. This was a truly memorable concert for me as we were with all these talented musicians and singing to a new audience, the athletes from the Gay Games plus our regular audience. I found in the archives a letter from the Golden Gate Business Association which notified us that they would be giving us a grant in the amount of $1,300 to provide advance production support for this concert.
We also sang in the "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert with SFGMC in December. We also did caroling in various locations throughout this month. Pat Parr, who would become our next Artistic Director, heard us in this concert and was so impressed with us that in 1987 he applied for the position of AD and was hired after we voted him in.
This was a busy year for the chorus. We began with an out of town retreat at the Wildwood Ranch in Guerneville in January, a cocktail party, garage sale and a bake/ticket sale at Castro and Market in February. We had the technical rehearsal for "This is Our Country!" on February 28, a fundraiser at the "N Touch" cabaret on March 2, dress rehearsal on March 4 and the concerts on March 5 and 8. Regular rehearsals began again on March 26. On May 18 members of the chorus sang at a Gay and Lesbian Outreach for the Elderly dinner. June 4 was the date for our "Oliver" music to be memorized for the Pride Concert and June 27 for the concert and June 29 we were in the Pride Parade. July 25-27 we were on retreat at Bishop's Ranch to work on the music for the Gay Games II concert and to bond and have fun and get to know each other and come together as a community. There was a "talent show" on Saturday night - so much talent you wouldn't believe. We had a technical rehearsal and dress rehearsal after we got back from the retreat and then the two concerts on August 1 and 5. We also sang in the Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games on August 17.
Rehearsals began on September 17, we staffed a booth at the Folsom Street Fair on the 21st and staffed a booth at the Castro Street Fair on October 5. We performed at an event at the Green Room in the Veterans Building on Oct. 10 and at 22 on the Red event the following evening. Next we sang at Big Mama's in Hayward. On December 14, we sang at the beer bust at the SF Eagle and finished with the holiday concert with SFGMC. Rodger was one who liked having a seating chart for the chorus at rehearsals and we sat in a mixed voice seating which meant you really had to know your music which was always memorized for our concerts.
Next week I will be writing more about 1987 and our first year with Pat Parr so stay tuned.
In harmony and health and love, Michael Lucero