Hello to all my faithful readers out there. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy and if you are going out to eat or see friends that you are careful in what you do. This week I was inspired by an email from Kelly Sundin. Kelly wrote that they were doing archival research in their university's newsletters and came across an advertisement for LGCSF's "Music by Women Composers" concert from November of 1995. That was the year of LGCSF's Crystal Anniversary - 15th year - and we had a season brochure. Our three concerts for this year were "A Grand Night for Singing!" which celebrated the 100th birthdays of Lorenz Hart and Hammerstein in March. In June, we presented the 17th Annual Pride Concert and the concert I will concentrate on was "Music by Women Composers." We did two evenings with the first on November 3 at First Congregational Church in Oakland and November 4 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I have included four photos, one of a flyer for the concert, one of our season brochure cover and the other two are of the program cover and the program itself.
Our artistic director, Pat Parr, made it his mission to feature music by living women composers as well as music by gay men and lesbians to share with our audience the wonderful music these composers were writing. The women whose music we performed were Emma Lou Diemer, Gwyneth Walker, Felicia A. B. Sandler, Libby Larsen, Jane Marshall, Alice Parker, Ysaye M. Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Holly Near, Joan Hoffman, Crystal Juelson, and Naomi Judd. May I suggest that you research some of these women to learn more about them. I think it always helps to know more about the composers and their music you are singing.
The first half of this concert featured more serious music as we sang madrigals by Emma Lou Diemer, a song titled "I Will Be Earth" by Gwyneth Walker, a set of five songs titled "A Creeley Collection" by Libby Larsen, and a set of three songs by Alice Parker titled "Stars & Stones," among others. This was the first concert we produced that featured orchestral accompaniment with violins, cello, string bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon and percussion.
The second half of the concert featured more popular and fun songs. We sang "On Children" by Ysaye M. Barnwell, Joan Hoffman's "Chocolate Lover's Song," which had the audience and us wanting chocolate, as well as a beautiful arrangement of "Shenandoah" by Gwyneth Walker. We also performed "Change of Heart" by Holly Near, "Pulse" by Crystal Juelson and ended the concert with "Love Can Build a Bridge" by Naomi Judd which was the title of Naomi and Wynonna's 8th album which went to number 13 on the country charts and won a 1992 Grammy Award.
From what I remember as we rehearsed these songs and really learned this music and learned about the composers was a strong feel of accomplishment and pride that we were presenting this music to our audience who were very appreciative of what we performed.
If there are any other concerts or accomplishments that the chorus has done over our 40 years please let me know as I always like to hear from you and welcome any feedback. Our chorus has such a rich history and I will bring more to you next week. Take care of yourselves and send love and hugs to your friends and families.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
LGCSF History Corner: Spring 1982
Greetings to all my loyal readers. May 16th is the day to honor our LGBT elders so think of those who have come before us to pave the way to what we all enjoy today. This week I am writing about what the chorus was doing in Spring of 1982. At that time we were still part of Golden Gate Performing Arts and they had a full schedule of concerts from March through June. Our concert “Romance ’n Rhythm” was held on Saturday, March 27, at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. As a bit of history, in the program notes it said in part, “On January 23, 1980, thirty-four men and seven women met for the first time to form the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Chorus. Two years later, Robin Kay, artistic director of the chorus, stood on the stage of the Japan Center Theater and accepted the Cable Car Award for Outstanding Concert of 1981 on behalf of the Mixed Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. In that short span of time, the Mixed Chorus has become the largest mixed gay chorus in the country - an indication of the potential unity and strength among lesbians and gay men. And we’re only beginning.” One more thing about Robin - in June, 1981, she became the first lesbian conductor to perform at Louis M. Davies Symphony Hall in “A Gay Musical Celebration.” In December, she appeared as guest conductor of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus at Carnegie Hall.
For this concert we were 100 strong and the program consisted of the full chorus singing “Messa di Gloria” by Giacomo Puccini, “Missa: Papae Marcelli” by G. P. Da Palestrina. The Chamber Chorus was conducted by Gary Miller, guest conductor from the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and performed “Hymn to St. Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten, “Fascinating Rhythm” by George and Ira Gershwin, “If It’s Magic” by Stevie Wonder and a Tribute to Louis Armstrong. So you can see there was the balance between the romance of the classical pieces and the rhythm of the popular music. Then our other small group, Vocal Minority, directed by Bill Ganz, sang four more romantic and rhythmic songs. The first was “All the Things You Are” by Jerome Kern, “Song to Celia” by P.D.Q. Bach, “I am the Monarch of the Sea” by Gilbert and Sullivan and finished with “The Rhythm of Life” by Cy Coleman.
I just want to share a little more about what Golden Gate Performing Arts did in the Spring of 1982. There was the premiere performance of the Falcon Dance Theater in a concert “Rites of Spring” on May 14 and 15 at the Nourse Auditorium. Yes there was a dance group as part of GGPA then. They were joined by the Barbary Coast Cloggers in this celebration of gay spirit in a diverse mosaic of dance styles.
The SF Gay Men’s Chorus performed “From Ops to Pops” on May 7 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University and May 9 at Davies Symphony Hall. They performed rousing opera chorus to familiar Cole Porter and Disney songs.
The small groups of LGCSF performed in “Love Songs” on May 16 at Albion Hall. Robin Kay conducted the Chamber Chorus in madrigals and music by Brahms and Bill Ganz led Vocal Minority in a program of American music.
And lastly on June 25 was the Fourth Annual Gay Musical Celebration at the Civic Auditorium (now Bill Graham Auditorium). We were onstage with SF Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps. Tickets for these concerts ranged from $5 to $16. What a bargain! This flyer also mentions that the Gay Musical Celebration is an event of the San Francisco Summer Festival. I have included two photos, one of the cover page from “Romance ’n Rhythm” and the other of the flyer for Spring 1982 so please enjoy.
See you next time with another look back at our shared history of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco as we all get ready to celebrate Pride next month.
In love and harmony,
Greetings to all of my faithful readers out there and for any mothers I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. This week I thought I would share some highlights from our Leadsheet in 1994 to give you a taste of what we were doing then. In our first Leadsheet of the year edited by "A Lesbian with a Sense of Humor," Karen McMickle, there was an item for a get together to welcome all the new members at the home of our Administrative Director, Phill Barber. There was also the first notice for our spring retreat to prepare for our spring concert "It's About Love." It was held on March 4-6 at Camp Lomamar in the Santa Cruz mountains. For the new members, retreats are where we "bond" with each other on a VERY personal basis, where we perfect the music, and where we learn the choreography for the upcoming concert. The cost for the retreat was $75 and Eve Benton was the retreat coordinator.
There was also information about our trip to Seattle to sing with the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus and the Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Choir on Saturday, April 16. We will be flying to Seattle and all the actual costs and registration forms for those going will be forthcoming. By the way this was a really fun weekend meeting and spending time with these singers and a great opportunity to perform for a new audience. Also in the calendar were the dates for our regular rehearsals, our retreat, our tech and dress rehearsals and for two Production Committee meetings in January and February. In the calendar in following Leadsheets there was notice for our gig with the Widow Norton's (Jose Sarria) visit to the gravesite of the Emperor Norton. Also included in the Leadsheets was our mission statement - "To provide education and affirmation regarding the positive contributions of lesbians and gay men through the universal language of music as reflected in our motto 'Together in Harmony.'"
In the next Leadsheet there was a column by Tim O'Bayley, the chair of the Production Committee, talking about our upcoming show "It's About Love" and what he and Pat Parr had envisioned for it. It took place at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason and would mark our fourth time in this venue. Publicity would include our new season brochure as well as posters and flyers, as well as paid ads in the local lesbigay press. We would be going minimalist with both set and costumes, with costume changes simplified. Paul Ellis is desigining the set along with Pat to be abstract, minimalist colorful and portable to go with us to Seattle. We will be selling ads for our program to help cover that cost and to make a little extra money for the chorus. One more thing that was included in these Leadsheets were the lyrics for the music that we would be singing in the upcoming concert. We also had rehearsal tapes to listen to that helped with our memorization of our music. Pat was also putting out the word for ideas for music for the Pride Concert.
AS of July 28 we had a new Leadsheet editor, Sam Pizalato. He asked that we return our vests which we wore in the Pride Concert to our Wardrobe Warden Mary Cantrell. Again it was time for our fall retreat to take place on the weekend of September-October 2. It would be at Camp Harmon in the Santa Cruz mountains and Eve Benton was once again the retreat coordinator. In the calendar Sam included the birthdays of members so we would know who to celebrate. There was also a performance schedule starting with the Mr. & Ms. Cheeks & Chaps fundraiser on August 19 at the Eagle, a tree planting for Don Killam at the AIDS Memorial Grove on August 20, the P-Flag Convention at the Hyatt Regency Ball Room on September 4, the retreat, our dress rehearsals at the venues in Oakland and San Francisco on October 19 and 20 and concerts on the 21 and 22, the Persons with AIDS Thanksgiving Day dinner on November 24, the Castro Tree Lighting on December 3, the Godfather Service Fund caroling on December 11 and the Persons with AIDS Christmas Eve dinner on December 24. So as you all can see we had a very busy year in 1994 and we all grew closer as we prepared for all of these performances and shared our love of music with our audiences.
Well my lovelies, that is all for this week so I hope you enjoy this blog and I will be bringing you something new next week. Take care of yourselves, hug your loved ones now that we can, please let me hear your feedback and your ideas about future History Corners.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Greetings again to all my faithful readers and friends,
I hope you are all well and staying safe and getting vaccinated so we can all get back together and sing. This week I want to write about early 1998 when we were under the artistic direction of Trente Morant. We were preparing for our Spice It Up! concert with two dates on March 13 and 14 at the Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason. This was the beginning of our 18th Anniversary Theatre and Trente wanted to bring together several styles of music to this concert. We had three special guests, Jill Togawa of Purple Moon Dance Project, Jackeline Rago of Crosspulse and Jonnie Pekelny, who was a friend of Jill Tallmer. The chorus at this point was at 48 strong and three of our altos, Deb, Yolanda and Linda were on the roster and Deb was part of a solo ensemble who sang "Oughta Be a Woman" by Sweet Honey in the Rock. The chorus also sang another Sweet Honey in the Rock song "Breaths" which was arranged by Trente. He also wrote and arranged a "Gloria" for us, and arranged a song by Oscar Peterson, Jr., called "Afro Blue". Jill Togawa danced and choreographed for us "Una Like No a Like" and Jackeline gave us excerpts from her "Spiritual Procession", which were "Sangueos" and "Calypso" so we were all moving to these rhythms as we sang. This is just some of what we sang. In our rehearsals for this we really worked on learning not only the music and words and also the rhythms for the various songs. We had a really great out of town retreat weekend where we worked hard on all of this along with the memorization of everything so we would be ready for the concerts. These concerts were advertised in the Fort Mason March 1998 newsletter and we also had flyers that we distributed throughout the City.
In the Leadsheet that came out on March 26 after our concerts, Trente thanked all of us for a fun concert. He said there were many former members of the chorus in the audience who said they were pleasantly surprised. He said that we all did a very good job with all of Jackie Rago's compositions. The only sort of negative thing Trente mentioned was where was the audience? Even with all of our efforts and advertising we all agreed that we need to do more. So with our preparations for the upcoming 20th Pride Concert we had tickets to sell the first week of May. The mailing list will be worked on and flyers and information will be sent out the last week of May. Flyer and poster distribution will begin the first week of June and we will have all the information for Chorus members to sell ads in our program.
The point of all this I think is that we as a chorus have struggled to sell and get a full audience to our concerts on a consistent basis. And I am wondering going forward how will we be marketing our concerts to get our audiences back and to let them it is safe to be in our performance venues to hear us and of course for all of us to feel safe. Let's all think about this and work together to show that we are strong and ready to lead with love. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will have more on the glorious history of our Chorus.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucer