As the year began, again we were without a director as Rodger Pettyjohn stepped down because he was dealing with HIV and he moved back to New York to be with his family. After another search for a Director, Pat Parr was selected by the membership. He had been a musical director of shows in San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Clara and Yosemite National Park, accompanist for the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Contra Costa Chorale. Dwight Okamura stayed on as accompanist so with these two leading us I call this time of the next ten years the Pat Parr years.
Our first performance with Pat was the 9th Annual Gay Musical Celebration, which we produced. This concert featured Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale, San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps, SFGMC, Vocal Minority and us. We also premiered our new small group, Menage. One of the songs we sang was Hand in Hand written by one of our members, Jesse Kane. The concert was reviewed in The Advocate and part of the review said: The singing of Jesse Kane's "Hand in Hand" provided one of the most moving moments in choral singing I've seen." On the last line, "We're hand in hand reaching out for one another, hand in hand," the chorus sang and signed the words.
Our next performance was San Francisco Lesbian Gay Chorus Rides Again, a show of country and western songs. We had many guests in this show, including Barbary Coast Cloggers, Fiddlesticks, another small group of LGCSF, Foggy City Dancers, Men About Town, Rawhide II Saddle Tramps, South Bay Stompers and our emcee Danny Williams. Yahoo and we had lots of fun.
Our next performance was as a guest of Joan Baez at her Christmas Concert at the Warfield Theatre on December 17. We opened the concert with SFGMC. Joan and her sister, Mimi Farina, sang and Linda Tillery, Teresa Trull, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia and John Kahn of the Grateful Dead, and Emmit Powell and the Gospel Elites also performed. I remember as we were waiting for the curtain to go up we could hear members of the audience yelling for the Grateful Dead. This concert was also broadcast live on KQED. This was quite an evening for us as we sang to a whole new audience.
As 1986 began, we had good news - a new Musical Director, Rodger Pettyjohn. He was the founder of Die Maennerstimmen, a Bay Area men's chamber chorus in 1980 and was a co-founder and member of the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers. Our new accompanist was Dwight Okamura, who had been a pianist with the San Francisco Symphony and the Symphony Chorus, as well as doing arrangements for film and television scores.
The first concert with Rodger Pettyjohn was called This is Our Country, and a portion of ticket sales was donated to the Statue of Liberty Restoration Fund in the name of the Lesbian and Gay Community of San Francisco as a positive statement to the people of our country regarding the contribution we are making to society. We sang selections from West Side Story and A Chorus Line, a couple of traditional spirituals, two folk songs and music of Simon and Garfunkel. Featured was a quartet of the chorus named Muni Transfer, which sang two Manhattan Transfer songs.
The next concert was the 8th Annual Pride Concert. It was called A Little Guts and Lots of Glitter. There were two concerts and we sang in the Friday night concert. There were lots of performers so that is why there were two concerts. They included the San Francisco Lesbian Chorus, Barbary Coast Cloggers, Men About Town, the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band, Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers, SFGMC, Liedermann Gay Men's Chorus of San Jose, Foggy City Dancers, and City Swing and Vocal Minority.
Our next performance was the Inaugural Concert of Gay Games II Cultural Week. This featured us and the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers. This was held at First Unitarian Church on two nights, August 1 and 5. We also sang as part of the mass chorus for the closing ceremonies of Gay Games II at Kezar Stadium.
Our final performance this year was as guests of SFGMC in their Now Sing With Hearts Aglow at Mission High School.
1985: a lengthy leadership transition
1985 was another year of change for the chorus. Our director, Matt O'Grady, stepped down when he announced he was going to Ireland to search for his family's roots. After this, the chorus membership shrank to about 12 to 14 core members who kept on rehearsing at Russell Kassman's piano store. (By the way, Russell has been a great supporter of the chorus over the years, and continues his trade today as a "purveyor of fine pianos.") We sang at small gigs like at the SF General Hospital's AIDS ward, at other hospitals and senior centers. The board of directors led the search for a new director.
The only actual program I have from this year is for a Candlelight Vigil which was held on May 27 at the United Nations Plaza. The Reverend Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church was part of this event and we provided the music for it.
Matt O'Grady began his first full year as Director. We sang at the Cable Car Awards show along with the SFGMC and the Band. We stopped the show with "I Am What I Am."
Next was another cabaret fundraiser at Fanny's. Then, after the San Francisco premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, we performed at a post-show reception in City Hall. This year in June there were two Pride concerts and I do not know the history behind this. The first was called Back in Grace, a triumphal return to Grace Cathedral along with the Band and SFGMC. The second was held in Nourse Auditorium with SFGMC. After that the chorus sang at the AIDS ward of San Francisco General Hospital.
This is where my time with the chorus begins. After LGCSF's performance in Nourse, I really liked what I heard and the Director announced that the chorus would be auditioning new members in August. I went to the audition and have been a member ever since. My first time singing with the chorus, a few weeks after I joined, was at the memorial service for Jon Sims at Grace Cathedral. Jon Sims was the person who founded the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps, today known as the Freedom Band. Jon also founded SFGMC and with Robin Kay, worked to create LGCSF. The Band and SFGMC also took part in this service. This was a tribute to Jon by the musical groups that are part of Jon's legacy.
In November we performed Lullaby of Broadway at the Victoria Theatre. Our guests were the Tap Troupe, the S. F. Lesbian Chorus, and Vocal Minority. This was something to see with costumes, makeup and movement. We also gave a special performance as part of Gay/Lesbian Outreach to the Elderly. We also took part in Berkeley Lesbian/Gay Awareness Week, we were guests of the Band in their Canteen show, a 1940s big band show, we sang at the Gay Father's Holiday Party and were guests of SFGMC in Now Sing with Hearts Aglow (V). As you can see this was a busy year for us.