Greetings to all of my faithful readers and any new readers out there, welcome. I have been going through more of the chorus archives that I had received from Kim Hargreaves. I came across the spring concert series program as well as flyers from our concerts that year and a program from the Gay People's Union of UC Berkeley Gay Awareness Week in November, 1980 in which we performed for them. This material is something new to me as I have never seen it before now. I thought what a way to celebrate our 40th birthday on January 23 than to bring you this history.
This is from the Golden Gate Performing Arts (GGPA) Spring Concert Series program. In the beginning, 1980, there was the Golden Gate Performing Arts which was the umbrella organization for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps (yes they had baton twirlers at the front of the band every time they marched and played), the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus and Lambda Pro Musica. The primary purpose for GGPA was to provide support for these musical organizations in the areas of fundraising, legal, insurance, and public relations services to these groups.
The Band presented its concert "A Night at the Movies" on April 18 and 19, 1980 at Mission High School. They played music from the movies from all genres including "Citizen Kane," "West Side Story," a Space Medley, a Symphonic Fantasy from the Wizard of Oz, a special guest appearance by local cabaret star Ruth Hastings with the Varsity Drag subgroup of the Band. You get the idea of this concert.
Next in the season was the SFGMC presenting their concert "Let There Be Music" on April 23 and 24, 1980 at the Herbst Theatre, then on April 30 at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University and on May 3 at First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. They sang a mixture of classical choral music. The small group, Men About Town, sang some pop and Broadway songs and the chorus ended with "You've Got a Friend" by Carole King, "Dangling Conversation" and "The Boxer" by Paul Simon, "Water Music" by Terence Allbright and "Tarantella" by Randall Thompson.
Next this spring was the premiere concert of us, the San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Men's Chorus with Lambda Pro Musica on May 17 at Mission High School. Our director was Robin Kay and the program was one of classical music and we ended with a medley from "Porgy and Bess." The orchestra opened with Mozart's Symphony No. 29, A major followed by Vivaldi's Concerto in C Major. The chorus sang "Two Folksongs" by Johannes Brahms and "Cantique de Jean Racine" by Gabriel Faure. With the orchestra we sang Sacred Cantata No. 4 by J. S. Bach.
In reading through the history of these two organizations our chorus' first rehearsal was on April 23 and Lambda Pro Musica's first rehearsal was on April 24. At this rehearsal a dozen string musicians cautiously entered a rehearsal room that became a musical/personal/social space none had experienced before. They created not only beautiful music, but also a uniquely safe context in which to be who they were. I can also truly say that the rehearsal spaces that the chorus has sung in over the years since I joined in 1984 became a safe space to be who I am and hopefully everyone else who came to sing with us.
We next sang at the Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral on June 27 along with SFGMC, the Band and Lambda Pro Musica and John Renke who was the Assistant Organist and Choirmaster of Grace Cathedral. I am sure it was a glorious experience for the musicians as well as the audience to perform in that beautiful sacred space.
Next came our fall concert "Together in Harmony" which we presented on September 27 at Mission High School. This concert was also the debut of our two small ensembles - the Chamber Singers and the Vocal Minority. We performed the music of William Byrd, J. S. Bach, Voltan Kodaly and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Next for us was a chance to sing in Berkeley as part of UC Berkeley's Gay Awareness Week and we sang on Tuesday, November 11 in Wheeler Auditorium. I am sure any of our singers now who have attended UC Berkeley would know where that is.
For the finale of the year 1980 we sang with SFGMC in their concert Now Sing with Hearts Aglow at Nourse Auditorium on December 21. From the program it sounds like it was a very beautiful and gorgeous evening of music from both choruses and their respective Chamber Singers. One last thing - there was a memo from the Women's Outreach Group of the chorus going out to various individuals and businesses to recruit more sopranos and altos for the chorus.
Next week I will be writing about our adventures in 1981 as I look through the programs and material which is helping me fill in the gaps from the early years so please indulge me.
Happy reading and always in harmony, Michael Lucero
"Life without music would be a mistake."