A Shameless Show of Holiday Shite, Martuni's Bar, December 18 & 19. This year's holiday cabaret was a little bit different from the shows under the "Christmas Crap-Array" banner. Billy Sauerland and the Artistic Advisory committee came up with this new iteration of this for the chorus. We had a guest accompanist, Brandon Adams tickling the ivories for us. The chorus and soloists sang mostly basic, traditional holiday songs with a few different and funny ones.
The chorus opened with two songs, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Next a trio composed of Eve Benton, Michael McClure and Billy sang "Carol of the Bells." Next Andrew Fields and Michael McClure sang "What's This" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Then Wendy Tobias sang "A Marshmallow World." Next Mary Cantrell sang "What is Christmas?" The next song was "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme and sung beautifully by Alyssa Stone and Billy. Then came "Coventry Carol" sung by Eve Benton and Michael McClure.
The next three songs were of the silly or fun variety starting with "O Little Town of Hackensack" by P. D. Q. Bach - one of our favorites - better known as Peter Schickele. This was performed by Kim Hargreaves, Jason LeBrun, Daniel Lyons, Linda Rodriguey and Richard Turtletaub. Next was "Atheists Don't Have No Songs" as recorded by Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers and sung by Joan Goldman and Andrew Field. Next Howard Miller gave a moving rendition of "Chinese Food on Christmas." What else would a good Jewish boy sing about?
And then the chorus ended the show with "Bring the Torch Jeanette, Isabella." Then came the sing-a-longs of familiar holiday songs and some had very naughty lyrics - "The Restroom Door Said Gentlemen" and "Walkin' Round in Women's Underwear." It was a fun show and our audience at Martuni's, especially after having a few martinis, loved us and sang along with gusto.
And that was the year of 2011 - Billy Sauerland's first with us. He was already thinking about 2012, which was a GALA Festival year, and what we would be performing for our audiences.
Next week will be all about Love Bites and so did the 80's.
Cheers, Michael Lucero
2011, Part 3: BrokeBACH Mountain
BrokeBACH Mountain, Mission Cultural Center, November 18 & 19. This concert came about, in part, following conversations between Billy and Tim Seelig, the director of SFGMC in regard to "Oedipus Tex" which was Act II of this concert. Tim had sung the role of Oedipus Tex in the past and he wanted to reprise this role with us. So here we go.
One matter I forgot to include in the last entry was that Paul McCurdy joined us as our Assistant Music Director and Accompanist. He really liked playing all of the Bach music we included in this concert.
Act I of the concert was designed like a Bach cantata, full of chorales, chorus numbers, and solos (but includes a line dance). Jim Oerther was the soloist in our opening Bach "Chorale", then came "Bourree." Then we sang two pieces by Jacques Offenbach, "Can-Can" and "Barcarolle." Next we sang and danced songs from the soundtrack of the movie "Brokeback Mountain." They were "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" with Joan Goldman as soloist. Then came the line dance to "I Will Never Let You Go." Next was "The Maker Makes" with Andrew Field as soloist and the fourth piece was "The Wings." We also performed "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and "Stand By Your Man." Paul McCurdy got to show off his chops by playing "Solfeggietto" by C. P. E. Bach. The chorus also sang "Neighbors' Chorus" by Offenbach.
Act II was our performance of "Oedipus Tex" by P. D. Q. Bach, an opera in one cathartic act. We were all in character we picked and wearing our various cowboy drag as we presented this funny story. Chorus members who are still singing were Dale Danley as Old Gimpy/Gimpy Galoot, Dr. Mark Higgins as the Mayor, Wendy Tobias as Madame Peep and Jim Oerther as L. Armstrong Jones. Joining Paul in our band were Jason LeBrun on flute, Daniel Lyons on Clarinet, Jadine Louie on horn, Sue Leonardi on trumpet, Linda Hitchcock on percussion, and Neil Patel on cello. These musicians were members of the Freedom Band and Jason and Daniel had such fun accompanying us that they joined us to sing. This was a really fun collaboration with all of us and our audiences enjoyed it as much as we did.
Next week will be "A Shameless Show of Holiday Shite."
Cheers, Michael Lucero
33rd Annual Pride Concert, Everett School Auditorium, June 24. This Pride concert was an official "In Pride We Trust" event for Pride of 2011. The concert was promoted as "Five Pioneering Ensembles, One Fabulous Performance." Our chorus co-produced the concert along with the Band and the Symphony. In the program welcome it says "This concert is a collaboration that comes together every year thanks to the work of a diverse and dedicated group. Huge thanks to this year's teams for making it happen." The emcee for the concert was the fabulous Trauma Flintstone aka Joe Wicht who is also one of our fabulous Board members. Our special guest was Commander Zoe Dunning, who received the Annual Pride Concert Recognition Award. She was an invited guest at President Barack Obama's signing of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell in December of 2010.
The five pioneering ensembles who performed in this Pride Concert were the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony conducted by Daniel Canosa, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band conducted by Jadine Louie, Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco conducted by William Sauerland, the Golden Gate Men's Chorus conducted by Joseph Piazza and San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus conducted by Dr. Timothy Seelig. What a wonderful and fabulous group of musicians from our fair city who all came together to perform and share our music for our Pride audience.
All singers and the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony opened the concert with the "Star Spangled Banner" and then the Symphony played "The Miller's Dance" by Manuel de Falla and "Danzon No. 2" by Arturo Marquez. Then the Golden Gate Men's Chorus sang "Day In Day Out" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Freddie Mercury. Then the SFGMC Ambassadors sang "San Francisco" - what else? - "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" - naturally - and "She's Got You" featuring Phillip Whitely singing the solo.
Act II began with our chorus singing "Something's Coming/Tonight" from "West Side Story", "You Are The New Day" which was a new song for us brought in by Billy, "Let' Do It" by the fabulously gay Cole Porter, and the world premiere of "If Gays Ruled the Country" by our own June Bonacich. If only that was the case now.
Next the SFL/G Freedom Band played "Yankee Doodle" and "Shenandoah."
Next our chorus and SFGMC Ambassadors and the Band performed "Born This Way" by the fabulous and wonderful Lady Gaga. For the big finale all the choral groups and the Band performed "A Patriotic Salute" by George M. Cohan and "America, the Beautiful" by Samuel A. Ward with lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates. This was a great start to the Pride weekend and again it was a great opportunity to connect with the other singers and musicians and to share our music with our fabulous audience.
Next week I will be writing about "Brokebach Mountain." Please give me any and all feedback about my blog entries for the History Corner.
Cheers, Michael Lucero, your fabulous chorus historian.
Love Bites Off Broadway, February 11 & 12, Mission Cultural Center. This show was our 8th annual anti-Valentine's Day cabaret and the first one with our new Artistic Director, Billy Sauerland. He was young and full of energy and had come from a background of singing with Chanticleer and singing in operas as a child soprano. After a search for this new director the previous fall, Billy was thrust into getting the chorus and himself ready for Love Bites. At the first Artistic Advisory Committee meeting with Billy to talk about this, his first question was "what is Love Bites?" We filled him in on the history of this cabaret that Stephanie and committee came up with. Then came the search for full chorus numbers to fit the Broadway theme. These were "My Funny Valentine" from "Babes in Arms", "What I Did for Love" from "A Chorus Line" and we closed with "One More Day" from "Les Miserables" with alternative lyrics by Howard Miller and naughty lyrics by Billy. Then came the process of Billy working with the various soloists, duets, and small groups. As you can see in the photos of Act I and Act II, Andrew Field sang "Down with Love", then the sopranos and altos sang "Nothin' Like a Dame", John Gullotto sang "This Nearly Was Mine", Lisa Vogt and Molly Aplet sang sang "Loneliness of Evening" and the tenors and basses sang "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair." One of the highlights of Act I was Deb Cohler and Linda Rodriguey singing "Bosom Buddies."
Act II began with Wendy Tobias singing "In Short" from "Edges" which was written by our new favorite composers from earlier this year, Pasek & Paul. Then a sextet sang "Cell Block Tango" from "Chicago" which the chorus had sung in a previous Love Bites and which included some great choreography by Wendy Tobias. Joan Goldman sang one of my favorites, "Send in the Clowns." Tenor Howard Miller then sang "Could I Leave You?" from "Follies" and really gave it his all. Elisa Shore & Wendy sang "Take Me or Leave Me" from "Rent." Then Jim Oerther sang "Show Off" from "The Drowsy Chaperone." Then there was medley of three songs from three of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows. As mentioned above we ended with "One More Day." This was a fun show for us and our audiences and I feel was a good way for us to welcome Billy.
Billy wrote in the program in part "Welcome to the 8th annual Love Bites cabaret of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco! It is my delight to have recently taken over as Artistic Director of this enthusiastic and engaging ensemble. Not only is this my inaugural Love Bites concert, but this is also the first time the LGCSF has had the pleasure of singing in the wonderful Mission Cultural Center. Love Bites 2011 focuses on the bitter and unrequited love songs of the musical theater canon. I hope these songs of Broadway will take you on an anit-Valentine's journey that is silly, sassy and sublime." The chorus at this point was at 27 strong and Billy told us that he would like to grow the chorus to 40 singers. Just to let you know, the chorus really enjoyed performing at the Mission Cultural Center. There were two small and cozy dressing rooms and a generous for us backstage space. The staff there were all very welcoming.
From now on I will be writing about one show per week to extend the life of the History Corner so let me know what you all think of this. I will be able to expand on what I write about and I hope you enjoy this new format.
Next week will be about Pride 2011.
First I would like to share some thoughts about Stephanie Lynne Smith, our artistic director from 2002 to 2010. Some of her accomplishments with us was to have living gay composers write music for us. The results of this were "Woven Together" by Richard Link, who also sang with us for a couple of years. We also performed "Group Therapy", a wacky musical look at group therapy composed by our own June Bonacich. We also took this on the road to Chicago for the Gay Games Chicago cultural week. The third one was "Halloween in the Castro - a Horror Opera", a look at the history of this event composed by Jack Curtis Dubowsky, who has also given us many other songs. Stephanie also went on to become artistic director of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. In 2013 she and her wife, Jen Brown, moved to Portland. She is now the Assistant Artistic Director and Pianist for Confluence: Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus. I just looked at their website and they have a full season of music coming up. Stephanie is also the presenter of "Miss Smith Presents", where she works with performers to help and encourage them to work on and sharpen their skills for public performance.
I was reading Stephanie's greeting in the program for the 32nd Annual Pride Concert which celebrated our 30th anniversary. She wrote in part "we did some spring cleaning and I came across a box of plaques, awards and old programs. The present (2010) chorus of twenty singers had once been a chorus of 150 singers and somebody named Pat Parr was all over a bunch of awards and newspaper clippings. The Cable Car Award? The Academy of Friends? What group is this? My eyes were opened, not only to the history of the group, but to endless possibilities. As I step down from this position (AD), I hold great hope the next somebody will recognize the gem they are holding." I love you Stephanie.
The Music of Dead White Men, First Congregational Church of SF, October 22 and 23. This concert marked the debut of guest conductor Cole Thomason-Redus. The music we sang in this concert ranged from Gregorian chant to music by Brahms, Samuel Barber, George Bizet's "Carmen", Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata", to songs by Jonathan Larson, Freddie Mercury and Arthur Sullivan. It was a challenge to learn all these different styles and genres of music but with Cole's guidance we all learned this wonderful music.
The 4th Annual Christmas Crap-Array, EXIT Theatre on Eddy, December 16, 17 and 18. This was the next edition of our irreverent holiday program that Miss Smith and the artistic advisory committee first cooked up in their fevered brains in 2007. Lots of fun for us and for our audience.
The 21st Annual Home for the Holidays - A Soulful Celebration, Castro Theatre, December 16 and 24. This was the latest edition of SFGMC's musical gift to the community which has become one of the City's most anticipated events to attend on Christmas. There were three shows this year at 5, 7 and 9 pm. We sang at the 9 pm show and performed "Santa Baby", "White Christmas", and "Celebrate Me Home." This is always a wonderful night of making music and to be with SFGMC and to share this music with the audience which always makes this a sold-out evening. This was a good way for us to cap off the year and looking forward to welcoming our next artistic director.