Greetings to all my faithful readers. I hope you are well and staying safe and I want to wish a Happy Fathers Day to any dads out there. This week I decided to write about my experiences at GALA Festival IV which was held in Denver from July 28 through July 4, 1992. This turned out to be a big and very busy week for us. We all flew together out of SFO and arrived on Saturday, June 27 and after checking into our hotel rooms and getting our Festival badges and official merchandise and ate, we attended the Denver Pride Concert that evening. We heard and enjoyed the music of our three host choruses, Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Denver Women's Chorus and Harmony: A Colorado Chorale.
The next day, Sunday morning, LGCSF along with many other choruses marched in the Denver Pride Parade and relaxed afterward in the park in front of the Colorado State Capitol. All along the parade route we received cheers and applause from the people watching and we also saw tears on many faces in gratitude that we were there. In 1992 there was a national movement designed to ban civil rights for gays and lesbians and Colorado was one of the first states to be targeted. We saw many signs to vote NO on the measure that was on the ballot in an upcoming election.
This was the second Festival that Phil and I were part of and we thought "Wow what a way to start our week with music and then marching in their Parade." For this Festival there were 64 performing choruses and representatives from 17 other choruses to make up the 3,500 delegates who were there to sing. These singers were from all over the U.S., Canada, England Germany. That Sunday evening we went to the Festival Opening Concert to hear our three host choruses again and to see all of the other choruses that had arrived that day as each chorus stood and shouted their name to thunderous applause from everyone. Then we went to bed and tried to sleep but it was not easy as we were thinking about everything that we had heard and seen and been part of.
Monday morning we were up and on to the first block of concerts starting at 9 am! We learned that each chorus would be performing twice in each of the two theatres that were open for us - Boettcher Concert Hall and the Temple Buell Theatre. So between 9 and 2:30 pm with an intermission we saw ten choruses perform. Then at 4 pm there was a Mixed Choruses Reception where we got to meet and mingle with people from the other mixed choruses. That was a lot of fun and we saw singers who we had met in Seattle. Then we had dinner and at 7 pm we went to the evening concerts featuring four choruses. Then at 9:30 there were small group performances but we went to the hotel and to bed.
Tuesday morning was the time for our onstage rehearsals at the two theatres. Also there were rehearsals for singers who were participating in the Festival Choruses - men's, women's and mixed - who would be singing the music that was commissioned by GALA in the Closing Concert on July 4. Then we had time for lunch and then it was show time for us Tuesday afternoon. In our concert block were Seattle Men's Chorus, West Coast Singers, Great Lakes Men's Chorus, LGCSF and Philadelphia Men's Chorus. We first sang in Boettcher then when we finished we dashed to Buell for our second set. In our set we sang a "Most Unusual Day Medley" - "It's a Most Unusual Day," "The Trolley Song," "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," "I Said No," and "Georgie Girl." Then Menage sang "Let the River Run" and we ended with "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" which was complete with the banana ballet with both sexes in native attire and the beautiful and talented Beth Yates as the Lady with the Hat. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that the militant lesbians at the time were incensed with us as they thought the bananas were too phallic. But it was lots of fun for us and we did not think it was offensive at all. That evening there were more small group performances and after we ate we relaxed and went to bed.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were easier for us since we had performed and were now able just to enjoy all the performances of the other choruses. We skipped the small group performances one night and went to one of the big country and western gay bars. Also this week the Gay Rodeo was in town so there were lots of handsome cowboys and cowgirls there to line dance. That was lots of fun.
Friday we went to the concert blocks starting at 11 am. That evening there were two special concerts. The first was "A Time for Remembrance" as we listened to some beautiful music and thought about singers and friends that we had lost to AIDS. And now for something completely different the second concert featured the Flirtations, an acappella group of five men who with their blend of humor and flirting with each other and the audience lifted our hearts and spirits.
On Saturday were the onstage Festival Choruses rehearsals as the singers in these choruses prepared for the Closing Concert which was held in Boettcher. Afterward there was the big closing party hosted by SFGMC in the Galleria of the Performing Arts Complex where we had all sung together, made new friends, laughed and cried and felt renewed as we all went back to our home cities and carried the GALA spirit on as we prepared for a new season of music. This was another eye opening week of wonderful music, dancing, love and making new friends and seeing old ones. Please enjoy the five photos I included of the Festival book and the concert programs and a picture of the chorus on the steps of parking garage across from the theatres. Next week will be all about my experiences at Festival VI in San Jose in 2000. See you then.
In harmony and love, Michael Lucero