Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are all alright after the wind storm of last night and all the fires and smoke. This edition of the History Corner is a two parter.
First I want to add a little bit more about our performance at the GALA Festival in Denver in 1992. As you can see from some of the photos there were lots of bananas. One of the songs we performed was "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" from the Busby Berkeley musical "The Gang's All Here." It was sung in the movie by Carmen Miranda and I highly recommend that you check it out on YouTube for a good laugh which we all can use. Anyway our own beautiful and talented Beth Yates was our Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat and we had our own banana dancers who surrounded her as she sang.
In this video, LGCSF singer Pax Ahimsa Gethen shares their thoughts on homelessness in San Francisco and our upcoming performance of Street Requiem.
Hello again to all my faithful readers and the wonderful history nerds who are enjoying my notebooks of our chorus history that I have been bringing to rehearsals. In regard to what was talked about the upcoming Festival next year, this week I am writing about my experience at the GALA Festival 2016 which was held in Denver. This was my seventh Festival and I was blown away by all of the awesome choruses, large and small, and especially the new choruses, who I saw and heard during the five days of Festival. Some of the buzz we heard about prior to Festival were the two international coming to perform - MANO A MANO, a five man group from Havana, Cuba, who had their own set and then joined the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles during their set and many of the singers and dancers of GMCLA were in Latin American costumes with feathers galore which was quite the gay spectacle. The other chorus was the Beijing Queer Chorus and their set was much more subdued but was all the more powerful because of this subtlety. They also performed in the Engendered Species Blockbuster Concert which featured collaborations between various SATB choruses. This concert was to bring the SATB choruses together to form lasting partnerships, friendships, and to create meaningful music!
As with past Festivals, there were a number of workshops during the mornings of the Festival week. One of the workshops was led by our friend and collaborator, Melanie DeMore, and her workshop was "The Art of Gullah Stick Pounding" which we all learned about as we prepared for our concert "Rise" with Melanie. She also appeared in the Opening Concert leading a combined chorus in "Free, Free, Free" which we performed with her. As I have mentioned before, please watch the highlight video from Festival 2016 and you will see Melanie in her workshop and onstage.
Next on my list of highlights were the wonderful, amazing and talented youth choruses and they had their Blockbuster Concert called "Youth Invasion from Gay to Z". The youth choruses performing were Bridging Voices, GenOut Chorus, Diverse Harmony: Spectrum, Youth Pride Chorus, Diverse City Youth Chorus, Ommagio Youth Chorus, and Dreams of Hope. They sang a wide spectrum of songs including some written by youth composers. We in the audience all cried, laughed and applauded these youth choruses and realized these singers are the future of GALA Choruses.
Also other highlights were the Mosaico Blockbuster Concert and the Women's Voices Rising. Mosaico featured and honored the musical traditions of GALA's communities of color. "Rhythm is our heartbeat, Melody our spirit, Diversity our song!" The Beijing Queer Chorus and MANO A MANO also performed in this concert which was led off by the Mu Daiko Taiko Ensemble. The Women's Voices Rising concert featured many of the fabulous women's choruses - Sound Circle, PFLAGG Juneau Pride Chorus, Rainbow Women's Chorus, Denver and San Diego Women's Choruses, Sacramento Women's Chorus, Trans* Voices Festival Chorus and Resonance Women's Chorus of Boulder.
Now onto our performance in Denver. We sang on July 4 in the Buell Theatre and our set was "Hold On," "It's You I Like" by Fred Rogers, "Earth Song", "Time Is My Friend" by Billy Sauerland's favorite Julie Andrews, "One Person" by Jerry Herman and we were joined by the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus performing "Was It The Wind?" which was composed for us by Jack Curtis Dubowsky with lyrics by East Bay poet Ina Coolbrith.
All in all it was a wonderful five days of amazing music, rehearsals, seeing old friends and making new ones, tears, laughter, love from the audience and the stage, everything that can happen when 6,000 queer singers come together and make music and harmony. I can't wait for the next one in Minneapolis, July 4-8, 2020.
Next week I will be writing about our fall concert "All Creatures Great and Small".
Love to you all, Michael Lucero
Again I send greetings to all of you my faithful readers. Thanks to all of you self-professed history nerds in the chorus who have told me they enjoy reading the blog.
The Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco presents the 38th Annual Pride Concert: A Choral Gala at First Unitarian Church on June 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm. For you newbies in the chorus and for those of you who just recently moved to San Francisco, the Annual Pride Concert had been an ongoing event produced in June during Pride Week. They were started and were always a collaborative coming together of the various and talented queer choruses in the Bay Area.
In the program notes, our Artistic Director William Sauerland wrote, in part, "This extraordinary and long-lasting event has been at the center of the pride festivities of San Francisco for 38 years. While over the last three decades numerous other exciting concerts and events have burst forth to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride, the Annual Pride Concert is the singular annual event that brings together multiple LGBTQ+ music organizations to create one community concert."
This concert featured the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and the 4 Vocal Ensembles of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and of course LGCSF. The music that each of these groups performed this night was what they and we would be singing at the GALA Festival 2016 in Denver. In a sense this was the dress rehearsal for all of us to sing our music to the Pride Concert audience and to get their immediate feedback.
The Golden Gate Men's Chorus under the direction of Joseph Piazza led off the concert. Their first selection was "Richte mich, Gott" by Felix Mendelssohn and followed with "Hosanna" from "Words of Paradise, No. 4" by Daniel E. Forrest, Jr. Their next piece was "Gogot" by Sydney Guillaume and followed by the traditional spiritual "I Know I've Been Changed" and this was followed by the traditional Igorot planting and mourning song "Chua-ay" which was sung in the Igorot dialect. Next they sang "Psalm 130: Out of the Depths" by Eriks Esenvals with text from Psalm 130: 1-8 and they ended with "Somebody to Love: by Freddie Mercury.
Next on the program were the four Vocal Ensembles of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. The Lollipop Guild sang a medley of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons songs - "Can't take My Eyes Off of You," "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Let's Hang On." Then Vocal Minority sang a medley of songs by Chicago - "25 or 6 to 4," "If You Leave Me Now," "Saturday in the Park," "Just You 'n Me," and "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?" Then the HomoPhonics performed "It's Raining Men" and they were dressed in yellow rain slickers. Then SWAG came on to sing a medley of contemporary hits - "Rather Be", "What is Love" and "Treasure." The four groups then sang a Boy Band Medley - "Bye Bye Bye", "I Want It That Way'" "Back Here," "I'll Make Love to You," and "I Want You Back." Any of you boy band fans will know which group sang the originals. That was a lot of singing from the guys from SFGMC.
After intermission the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus and LGCSF were on and we both sang the same sets as we performed at the Oakland Pride & Joy in May, 2016. Check last week's blog entry to see the list of songs we sang.
I am not quite sure what I will be writing about next week so stay tuned.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
Thanks to long-time LGCSF member Deborah Cohler for being the dramaturg for our upcoming performance of Street Requiem. This post is based on her research.
During "Gloria, Anthem of Empowerment", the eighth movement of Street Requiem by Kathleen McGuire, a call and response ushers forth from the chorus. "Amandla!" "Awethu!" In the Xhosa language of South Africa, these words mean "Power" and "It's Ours".
Greetings to all of you wonderful readers of this blog. This week I am writing about another of our collaborative concerts we were part of in the first half of 2016. On this concert, which was presented on May 14 and 15, 2016, we were guests of the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus. Also on this program was the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers under the direction of Derek Tam. At this point our artistic director, Billy Sauerland, was also the director of OEBGMC. In the program notes Billy wrote, in part, "I am brand new as the Artistic Director of this organization, and while transitions can be challenging, these incredible men have shown me such joy! I am honored to be standing in front of them." Billy also wrote "We are presenting two new, fabulous, and distinct pieces. The upbeat and gay drinking tune from Jack Curtis Dubowsky is 'A Bacchanalian Song', which celebrates the joy of vino. On a far more serious tone, we present the world premiere of 'Los cinco lunas de Lorca', by the internationally-renowned composer Gabriela Lena Frank, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz."
The concert opened with OEBGMC singing "Sing for Joy!" by G. F. Handel which was followed by "Bonse Aba" a traditional Zambian folk song. Next they sang two songs from "Hold Fast to Dreams" with music by Dave Brubeck, set to poems by Langston Hughes. They ended their set with the two pieces I mentioned above, "A Bacchanalian Song" and "Las cinco lunas de Lorca".
Next onstage were the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers. They opened with "Bonse Aba" which was followed by the "23rd Psalm" with music by Bobby McFerrin. Then came a couple of songs by Stephen Foster - "Hard Times Come Again No More" and "Nelly Bly." They also performed the traditional spiritual "Soon Ah Will Be Done" and ended their se with "For the Longest Time" by Billy Joel.
After intermission, Billy led LGCSF on and we started with another traditional spiritual "Hold On" and we followed this with "It's You I Like" by Fred Rogers - yes Mr. Rogers. Next we sand "Earth Song" by Frank Tichelli and then we performed a song by Billy's favorite singer, Julie Andrews, "Time is My Friend". We then ended our set with "One Person" from the Jerry Herman Broadway musical "Dear World".
Then OEBGMC was back on to sing their final set. They began with "Let the River Run" by Carly Simon, then "Luck Be a Lady" from "Guys and Dolls". They next sang a song which has become somewhat of a gay anthem, "Make Them Hear You" from "Ragtime the Musical" by Stephen Flaherty. To spice things up, their next song was "Smooth" which was recorded by Santana and Rob Thomas. OEBGMC ended the concert with "Proud" by Peter John Vettese and Heather Small. "What have you done today to make you feel proud?"
It was great for us to collaborate again with OEBGMC and we have formed friendships with many of the men of this chorus over the years. It was also great for the first time to be on a concert with the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers. This is one thing I have always looked forward to being a part of as part of all the various Pride Concerts and other times when we have sung with other choruses. That musical connection is something that we all share.
Next week I will be writing about our Pride Concert so stay tuned. As always your faithful historian, Michael Lucero. I recently got from Kim Hargreaves several boxes of chorus archives from the early 1990s. I have never seen these so as I go through them I will be sharing with you photos and stories from that time.
Cheers in harmony, Michael