Hello and greetings to all my faithful readers and hopefully to any new readers. I hope you are all doing well and staying healthy and sane as we all wind down to Election Day a week from Tuesday. This week I thought I would get back to writing about the art of the Pride concert posters and programs starting with the first one from 1979.
Please see the first of four photos I included. This was called "A Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral" and was held on June 22, 1979. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band along with the Great Organ of Grace Cathedral were the performers who shared their music and began a tradition of annual Pride concerts that continued until 2016. As you see on the poster tickets were $5 through Bass ticket outlets. I really like the script that was used for this poster.
The second one I want to share with you is the cover of "A Gay Musical Celebration at Davies Symphony Hall" which was held on June 26, 1981. The performers who shared their music this night were the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus, which is what we were called in those early days. One of the songs we sang that night was to become our signature for the following years, "Somewhere" from "West Side Story".
The third photo I want to share with you is the cover of "The Fourth Annual Gay Musical Celebration" which was held at the Civic Auditorium, now known as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium across from City Hall. This concert was significant because it was the first time, I believe, that an American Sign Language interpreter, Elise Webster, was onstage with all of us. This evening of music presented the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching and Twirling Corps who opened the festivities with "Coronation March" by John Williams. Next the two choruses, as above, were on together. Then each chorus had their own times in the spotlight. There was a special appearance by the San Francisco Tap Troupe. The SFGMC were joined by the Bay Area Women's Quartet performing the "Coronation Scene" from "Boris Godunov" by M. Musorgski. Next were the two choruses again with the Tap Troupe and the 1982 Gay Olympics Color Guard performing a "San Francisco Medley". The grand finale for this glorious night of music was "California Here I Come" and we invited the audience to sing along with us.
The fourth photo I have is an ad promoting the "Fifth Anniversary of the Gay Musical Celebration" which took place on June 24, 1983 at the Warfield Theatre. There were two performances that night at 7:00 and 10:00 pm with San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Chorus and Friends. Unfortunately I do not know who the "Friends" were because I do not have a program for this event. If any alumni out there have this program or remember any of what we performed please let me know.
That is it for this week and I will be sharing more of our beautiful Pride poster and program art with you. Take care of yourselves and see you next week.
And don't forget to vote.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers wherever you may be. I hope you all had a good weekend and that you have voted or are making your plans to vote. This week's editions will be about two more events we participated in with Michael. The first was that we were asked to sing in the SF Singfest by Mark Growden who is the festival founder. This was held in November, 2017, in the Mission Dolores Basilica which is a beautiful space to sing in. This event featured five regional community choruses so it was a great way to meet these singers and to listen to their music. The Bay Area has so much talent and it was good to share ours with these musicians.
The second event was our spring concert, "Passages - A Musical Journey Through the Stages of Life". This was a collaboration with the Lick-Wilmerding High School Choir and the USF Classical Choral Ensembles. This was also part of USF's Performing Arts and Social Justice program which we found out that Michael is very passionate about as we learned and rehearsed the music performed here. The singers from Lick-Wilmerding were on first and sang two songs - "The Hills of Tomorrow" by Stephen Sondheim and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror". The USF singers then came on and performed "Der Tanz" (The Dance) by Franz Schubert and a modern classical piece by Jocelyn Hagen called "Sofdu, unga astin min" (Sleep my young love) and this was sung in Icelandic which was very impressive and beautiful.
LGCSF was then onstage as we performed 3 selections from Kirke Mechem's "BIRTHDAYS: Round Numbers - Bridget at Ten - Turning Twenty - Is Seventy Old?" One aspect of this concert that Michael brought to us is that we should be singing about things that happen to people throughout their lives. He brought us music that dealt with Alzheimer's disease both with a song written by a composer who was developing Alzheimer's and then a cantata in which the lyrics were written by people whose family members had gone through the various stages of Alzheimer's and how they coped with their loved ones.
We sang "Melancholy Flower" by Steve Goodwin who was going through the early stages of Alzheimer's and knew he had more music to compose but was not able to do it. A friend and fellow musician, Naomi LaViolette worked with him on this piece and provided the lyrics to his beautiful music.
The cantata we performed "Alzheimer's Stories" was composed by Robert Cohen after receiving a commission from the Susquehanna Valley Chorale on the subject of Alzheimer's disease to honor the lives of the family members of the singers of this Chorale who had suffered and died from this disease. The lyrics came from stories the singers had posted on a blog they created. There are three parts to this beautiful and poignant and humorous work. The first is "The Numbers" about the numbers of people who have contracted Alzheimer's since it was first diagnosed 1901. The second is "The Stories" recounting the stories the singers remembered being told by their loved ones. The third is "For the Caregivers" which gave honor to all of those who gave care and love to their loved ones and which was the most poignant and emotional part to sing through. I just want to say many thanks to Michael for bringing this beautiful music to us and that we got to perform it with the other two choirs and to sing in St. Ignatius Church on May 4, 2018 on a beautiful spring evening.
Take care of yourselves and I will be back next week with the next installment of the LGCSF History Corner.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero
Photos by Katharine James
Hello and greetings to all my faithful readers out there in the world. I hope you are all well and staying sane and healthy through all the ever changing news of the world. Getting back to a simpler time, more or less, to February 2018 and Michael's first Love Bites show with us. He decided to go with a Shakespearean theme naming it "Love Biteth. A true and most dreadful discourse by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco". During our rehearsals for this, Michael brought several songs for soloists, duets, etc., to us for us to choose. I have included photos of the program cover and our set list.
The shows were held at Martuni's over four nights, February 11, 12, 14, and 15, 2018. The chorus had several songs as we opened with "Comedy Tonight" and then our cher sang "The Stages of Love Medley" - "Cupid, This Magic Moment and You Don't Own Me". And the audience went crazy. The other pieces the whole chorus performed were "Sh-Boom" - "sh-boom sh-boom yatta yatta yatta yatta sh-boom", etc., "Ye Spotted Snakes" our first piece by William Shakespeare, "Weep, O Mine Eyes" by John Bennet who I believe was a contemporary of old Will, then later came "If We Shadows Have Offended", also by old Will and we closed with "You Will Be Found" from "Dear Evan Hansen". Asher, Birgit, Dr. Mark, Evan, Emma, Janice, Joe and Will all had solos on the different days of the shows.
Annie put her all into "Glitter in the Air", Asher and Emma crooned "I'm Only Thinking of Him", as they put on their best wistful looks. Lisa E. then offered "This Could Be Love", which was followed by Pax and Catalina singing "What a Piece of Work is Man". Catalina then soloed on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love", which is a good question for Love Biteth. Then Joan came on with her usual flair with "I Put a Spell on You" as she weaved her magic spell over the audience. Then Pax performed "The Ouzel Cock", another ditty by old Will. Dr. Mark followed with his best Etta James on "At Last". Next the quintet of Dale, Robert, Annie, Janice and Joe performed "This Bottom's Gonna Be On Top", and it was anyone's guess as to who it would be. Then the beautiful and talented Sabine did her best Aretha and Carole on "A Natural Woman" and Robert followed with "One is the Loneliest Number" with tears in his eyes. And then the talented and beautiful Evan performed the wistful "Everybody's Fucking But Me", and by the end of this he had gotten several potential dates. Then the irrepressible Janice sang the Four Tops hit "I Can't Help Myself", as she introduced several sexual toys. Next was Eliza Speece singing and asking to "Bring On the Men!" and Kobi Dwek crooned "Only You". After Kobi sang, as stated above, the full chorus was on with "If We Shadows Have Offended" and "You Will Be Found". One thing that I want to say about this last song is that as we rehearsed all of us really came to love and believe in the lyrics and heart of this song.
As we finished this version of "Love Bites" we were preparing for a really creative and challenging season ahead as we all prepared to go on this journey forward with Michael. Next week will be all about our next concert and musical journey with our cher. See you all then and remember to vote!
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero
(Gallery photos by Ziggy Tomcich)
Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope you are all finding ways to stay sane and healthy in these crazy changing times. My favorite way to stay sane is to listen to all of the wonderful choral music from GALA Choruses on their YouTube channel so please check this out for yourselves. I promise you will find something to cheer you up and lift your spirits.
Since I have written about all of our past Artistic Directors in past editions, this week I decided to write about our current AD, Michael Reilly. In mid-2017, after our then AD, William Sauerland, stepped down, there was a search on for a new AD. We picked Michael. He and his husband, Robert Haerr, had both sung in the Denver Gay Men's Chorus. They currently live in Vallejo and Michael serves on the music faculty of Solano Community College (Chorus, Voice, and Theory) as well as the Director of Music at Community Presbyterian Church and Artistic Director for the Georgia Street Singers of Vallejo.
Before his first rehearsal with us, there was a get together with Michael to get to know him which was held at Dale Danley's house. I brought a notebook with chorus posters and season brochures for him to view to give him a bit of the background of the chorus. As we discussed what might be our first concert with him he suggested "Nightmare on Polk Street". For our first concert with Michael, we were at 28 strong.
As Michael wrote in his program notes, "Welcome (or should I say Beware?) to LGCSF's Nightmare on Polk Street! For the next hour and a half, we are going to explore nightmares, real and imagined." This was held on October 27 and 28, 2017 at MCC on Polk Street. Of course we were all in our best Halloween drag, whatever spoke to each of us. Some of the music that Michael brought to us to learn was new and diverse to say the least. We began the concert with The Invitation "In the Sorcerer's Hall", then "Things That Go Bump in the Night". Other music was "The Milkman", "La Llorona", "Old Abram Brown" by Benjamin Britten. Then the tenors and basses sang "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and the sopranos and altos sang "I Have a Million Nightingales". Then we performed two songs from "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Sweet Transvestite", and "The Time Warp", in which we asked the audience to get up and dance the Time Warp with us.
For the second half, we performed "A Nightmare Wedding Horrortorio" by Joseph Horovitz and Alistair Sampson, which featured a wedding between two monsters. We followed this with "Love is Love is Love". We ended the concert with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with the chorus trying to imitate Mr. Jackson's moves as much as we were able to do. We all had a great time with this music and the audience loved it as well.
As we went through the rehearsal process for this concert with Michael we got to know him and he got to know us. As he said in the notes, "We have dreamed, rehearsed, labored, and loved this concert into existence."
Next week I will be writing about Michael's first Love Bites cabaret with us which was called "Love Biteth". See you all then. Take care of yourselves and all of your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero