Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are all well and safe and staying healthy as we all go through these trying times. Please stay positive and listen to as much music as you can. That is what I do every day.
I thought I would write a bit more about what the chorus went through in 1985. As I have been reading through the archives from 1985, our Artistic Director, Matt O'Grady, and our accompanist, Jim Murdoch, moved on to pursue other professional concerns. A member of the chorus who was also an arranger, Beth Sanders, stepped up to be our interim director. Our rehearsal space was in Russell Kassman's piano store.
I read through the first few Leadsheets of 1985 and the chorus kept on with rehearsals. January 18 was the production meeting for the spring concert. January 27 was the date for our 5th birthday party. There was an Open Forum meeting on January 30 and a steering committee meeting set for February 3. The chorus was nominated for a Cable Car Award for Outstanding Concert for our Lullaby of Broadway concert from November, 1984. One of the others we were up against was Sylvester at the Castro Theatre show. The Cable Car Awards was held on February 2 at the Japan Center Theatre. Unfortunately we did not win this year. There was a thank you party on February 23 for Jim Murdoch as we wished him well on his new endeavors. To be admitted to the party you must come wearing a crazy hat with the best hat winning a door prize. As always we were recruiting new members in all voice parts. So you see the chorus was busy during the early part of 1985.
For the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Day Parade we put out a flyer inviting current and past members of the chorus to a Family Reunion to "Honor Our Past and Secure Our Future" and to celebrate 5 years of "Together in Harmony" and to sing, dance and be wild in the streets. We had a float with music from our past 5 years of concerts playing as we sang and danced our way up Market Street. We also sang in the 7th Annual Gay Musical Celebration which was held on June 28 and 29 at Mission High School. We performed on June 29 as we sang "Stand Up and Be Counted" which was composed and arranged by Beth Sanders, followed by "Amazing Grace" arranged by a friend of the chorus David Stratton. Next was "Song of the Soul" composed by Cris Wiliamson and arranged by Beth and we closed with ""Rhythm of Life." Please look at the attachments regarding this concert.
Of course there was an ongoing search for a permanent Artistic Director and in August Rodger Pettyjohn was hired and we started rehearsals with him for our new season on September 25. We sent out press releases to the San Francisco gay papers as well as one to GALA Choruses. He spent October through December building us up and we sang on street corners - during Christmas season in front of Macy's, in Union Square and on Castro Street. Here is some of the repertoire we learned during fall 1985 through spring 1986. "Bouree" by Bach, "Fa Una Canzona," "The Greatest Love of All," "I Sing the Body Electric," "The Rhythm of Life," and "Simple Gifts" by Copland.
For our Holiday repertoire it was "Break Forth, O Beauteous, Heavenly Light" by Bach, "Carol of the Bells," Caroling, Caroling," "Deck the Halls," "In Dulci Jubilo," "Let It Snow," and "The Christmas Song" by Mel Torme.
For our Spring concert there was "A Chorus Line medley," "Elijah Rock," "Frostiana" by Randall Thompson, "Shenandoah," "Simon and Garfunkel medley," "There is a Balm in Gilead," and a "West Side Story medley and for Gay Pride "Reincarnations No. 3" by Samuel Barber. The chorus had its work set out by Rodger and we all learned it together in harmony. In the Leadsheet from December 4 Rodger wrote about attendance saying from this date until March 5, 1986 only two excused absences from rehearsal are allowed. Further, more than 2 excused absences or any unexcused absences may result in suspension from the chorus at the discretion of the music director. As you see Rodger really stressed the importance of being at rehearsals to learn the music and as well to bond with each other to become a harmonious unit. What I remember during this time is that we all learned the music and we had fun and were determined to be our best as we were on this new journey with Rodger.
Next week I will dig further into the chorus in 1986 and our musical journey from that year. Take care of yourselves, wash your hands and stay safe and sing every day.
Always in harmony, Michael Lucero
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