Making music.

Making history.

During the fall of 1978, a call went out to men in and around the Castro who liked to sing inviting them to a gathering with the purpose of possibly creating a chorus.  The driving force was Jon Sims, the conductor of the Freedom Band.  October 30 was chosen as the date of the first “rehearsal” to be held at Everett Middle School.  The word went out, flyers posted around the neighborhood.

Interest mounted leading up to that first gathering held at Everett Middle School.  Around 100 men showed up on the first night.  The atmosphere of excitement was described as palpable.  The men sang “If They Could See Me Now” and “Stouthearted Men”!

Jon Sims conducted the first couple of rehearsals, planning to call the group “Men About Town.”   Other suggested names for the group (seriously) were Foggy City Chorus and Homosexual Choir (“gay” was still considered denigrating).  After a few weeks, Dick Kramer was brought on to conduct the new group and, thank goodness, they settled on the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.  It turned out to be a fortuitous decision.  One of the small groups did keep the name “Men About Town.”  By the way, the original name of the SF Gay and Lesbian Freedom Band was the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps.

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The rest of the story is now legendary and suitable for movie scripts.  At the 4th rehearsal, on November 27, having spent the day with the news of Harvey Milk and George Moscone’s assassinations, the singers showed up to rehearsal grief-stricken and in shock.  Dick Kramer passed out Mendelsohn’s “Thou, Lord our Refuge.”  They all went from there to City Hall steps for the candlelight vigil where they performed for the very first time.

Little did the men who gathered those 35 years ago know they were actually giving birth to a world-wide LGBT Choral phenomenon that now boasts hundreds of choruses around the globe.

In November of 1978, from the steps of San Francisco City Hall, the world's first openly gay men's chorus sang in public for the very first time. It was at a candlelight vigil for Harvey Milk, the day he was murdered. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus toured the country, inspired thousands, and helped to ignite the worldwide gay and lesbian choral movement. The complete history of the Chorus can be found on Wikipedia.

OUR MISSION

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus creates extraordinary musical experiences that inspire community, activism, and compassion.

OUR VISION

We envision a world inspired and unified by the music we create.

OUR VALUES

We believe in the transformative power of music to heal, to enlighten and to foster unity.
We embrace the life affirming changes we create within and beyond our chorus community.
We evolve society’s views toward LGBT people through our commitment to excellence.
We honor all who came before us and whose sacrifices made it possible for us to raise our voices.
Artistic Directors & Conductors

Jon Reed Sims (October - December 1978) Founder

Dick Kramer (December 1978 - January 1982)

Ernie Veniegas (June 1982– December 1985)

Gregg Tallman (August 1985 - June 1989)

Dr. Stan Hill (July 1989 - July 2000). Conductor Laureate, July 2012

Dr. Kathleen McGuire (August 2000 - December 2010). Conductor Laureate, January 2011.

Dr. Timothy Seelig (Guest Conductor February - June 2009, Artistic Director January 2011 – Present)

 
Discography
  • Tours America '81 (Golden Gate Records LP 1981, CD 1992)
  • How Fair This Place (1991)
  • Brahms, Bernstein, & the Boys! (1993)
  • Our Gay Apparel (September 1995, December 2003)
  • NakedMan (July 1996)
  • ExtrABBAganza! (April 1997)
  • Q (1998)
  • Our Boys Will Shine (1998)
  • Misbehavin' with Nell Carter (May 1999)
  • Sing Me to Heaven (July 2000)
  • Exile (June 2000)
  • Best of SFGMC (June 2001)
  • I Dream of a Time (November 2001)
  • SFGMC Does Queen (June 2002)
  • Closer Than Ever, 25th Anniversary Concert (May 2004)
  • Oh, Happy Day! (July 2004)
  • Home for the Holidays - Live at the Castro Theatre (June 2005)
  • Divas' Revenge: Opera & Broadway Our Way (November 2005)
  • Cowboys, Boas and Bears! Oh, My! (June 2006)
  • Why We Sing (DVD June 2007)
  • USS Metaphor (DVD, May 2008)
  • Creating Harmony: 30th Season Highlights and New World Waking (double CD, Dec. 2008)
  • A Few Licks (February 2009)
  • Tune In, Turn Up, Sing Out (June 2009)
  • California Freedom Tour 2010 (May 2010)
  • Words (April 2011)
  • Testimony (DVD March 2012)
  • Enchantingly Wicked (June 2012)
  • I Am Harvey Milk (October 2013)
  • Illuminate: Live at 35 (July 2014)

Artistic & Administrative Staff

Dr. Timothy Seelig
Artistic Director & Conductor
Dr. Timothy Seelig is a conductor, singer, teacher and motivational speaker. In addition to Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, he continues a busy guest-conducting schedule throughout the U.S. and across the globe. He is Conductor Emeritus of the Turtle Creek Chorale, which he conducted for 20 years, co-founded The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and taught on the faculty at Southern Methodist University for 14 years.

To read Dr. Seelig’s full bio, click here.
Kate Akos
Interim Executive Director
Katherine Akos is a highly accomplished and skilled arts executive and fundraising professional with over 30 years experience in leadership and consulting roles for prestigious arts, cultural, educational, civic, and community organizations across the country. She has helped organizations achieve dramatic revenue growth; increase local, regional, national and international visibility and acclaim; enhance organizational effectiveness and capacity; and develop robust artistic, educational, and community engagement initiatives.

To read Ms. Akos’ full bio, click here.

Artistic Staff

Lynden Bair

Artistic Coordinator

Carl Pantle

Principal Accompanist
Music Director, Vocal Minority

James Eakin III

Composer-In-Residence

Eric Carlson

Music Director, The Lollipop Guild

Sanford Smith

Music Director, SWAG

Mitch Galli

Music Director, HomoPhonics

Team SFGMC

Thom Vindiola

Operations Director

Wil Wright

Development Manager

Peter Zimmerman

Marketing Manager

Tony McIntosh

Merchandise Coordinator

Melvin Fujikawa

Member Services Coordinator

Ryan Nunez

Interim Administrative Coordinator

Volunteer Staff

Steve Valdez

Production Coordinator
Choreographer

Board of Directors

The role of the Golden Gate Performing Arts Board of Directors is to support the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in its mission to create extraordinary musical experiences that inspire community, activism, and compassion. The Board maintains oversight of the mission, financial and fiduciary management, maintaining public trust in the institution, hiring and evaluation of Executive staff, and support for Executive staff. Through appreciation and respect for the organization’s history, the Board leads the organization as visionaries for the future.

Executive Committee
Dennis Stradford

Chair

Steve Huffines

Vice Chair

William Vigna

Treasurer

Sal Baglieri

Secretary

Community Members
  • Deborah Boccuzzi
  • Peter Drake
  • John Ybarra
Singing Members
  • Glenn DeSandre, Chorus President
  • Dan Aaron
  • Mike Bernard
  • Steve Burton
  • Andre Farris
  • Gregory Marks
  • Paul Saccone

The Legacy Society

Laying The Groundwork For The Future Of The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

The Legacy Society of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is an illustrious group of patrons, donors and singers who, through their visionary philanthropy, have made a commitment to ensuring the Chorus’ future by remembering the Chorus in their estate plans.

In particular, we are thankful to have been the recipient of generous gifts in recent years through the visionary estates of Michael Ancil Clark Living Trust, Robert Roy Emery Trust, Jerry Geller and Ken Sullivan, James H. Jones Asset Trust, William G. Stephens Revocable Trust, and Archibald Wilson.

Our Legacy Society members ensure that the transformative power of our music will continue to heal, enlighten, and foster unity. Together – we dream of a world where people are drawn together by the extraordinary musical experiences the Chorus creates.

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus expresses its deep appreciation to the following Legacy Society members who have contributed to the Chorus’ future through an estate gift:

  • Daniel P. Aaron
  • Al Abramowitz
  • Norman Abramson + David Beery
  • Neil Austin + Tom Burtch
  • Sal Baglieri + Peter Cirincione
  • Michael Bankert
  • Joseph Bondi
  • John H.J. Cashman + Jack J. Ledbetter
  • Joe Castrovinci + Gordon Smith
  • Mrs. Pansy Chan
  • Terrence Chan
  • Rick Crane
  • Joe Czuberki
  • Brent Dawson
  • Bud Dillon
  • Dr. Mark L. Hamner
  • Howard Hart
  • Dan Joraanstad + Bob Hermann
  • Rich Lang
  • Michael Levy + Michael Golden
  • Johnny Lewis
  • Gregory J. Marks
  • Bob Michels + Stephanie Daffer
  • J. Robert Mitchell + Jaime L. Caban Jr.
  • Mark Short + Carl Ray

Together – we honor the legacies of those who have come before us and continue to empower us to raise our voices.

To learn how you too can include SFGMC in your estate planning, or to complete a Declaration of Intent, please contact Wil Wright, Development Manager, at (415) 865-3650 or wil.wright@sfgmc.org. Thank you.

The Lollipop Guild

The Lollipop Guild was founded as a barbershop quartet in 1979 and is recognized as the world’s first openly gay vocal ensemble. Since then, The Lollipop Guild has grown to an ensemble that features light-hearted and upbeat styles of singing, with rich harmonies and dazzling choreography.

Vocal Minority

Vocal Minority was founded in 2003 during the Chorus’ landmark 25th anniversary season reviving an ensemble Vocal Minority that had began in 1980. Vocal Minority guarantees to sing its way into everyone’s hearts. Their repertoire ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, with luscious choral sound as its backbone.

SWAG

Formed in 2013, SWAG brings a unique soulful beat to their performances. Focusing on gospel, R&B and pop genres, SWAG was formed to focus on outreach to underserved and minority communities, especially youth. Performances have included San Francisco’s Martin Luther King commemorations.

HomoPhonics

SFGMC’s newest vocal ensemble, HomoPhonics, began as a result of the recent a cappella craze. Focusing on musical cohesion without instruments, the group uses arrangements that feature tight, dynamic harmonies and vibrant, upbeat rhythms.

With nearly 300 active members, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is a wealth of talent, but this group of men is also a family of love and support, celebrating our gay pride through musical excellence.

SFGMC is a great place to meet people while doing something enjoyable and worthwhile. In addition to our regular concert series, we have appeared with celebrities, on television, for benefits, parades and fund-raisers, and we have toured to other states and countries. There is always a lot going on, and you are encouraged to become as involved in as many additional activities and performances as you are able.

Our family is always growing and welcoming new members, so feel free to audition if you would like to join the fun.

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Tickets are on sale now for our spring concert – “Tale of Our City: Our Lives, Our Heroes” – April 14 and 15, 2016 at Davies Symphony Hall. Our featured guest artists for the show are world-renowned author and LGBT activist Armistead Maupin and the magnificent 50-piece Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.

Please join us for these nights of stunningly beautiful music!

BUY TICKETS


About the show

40 years ago, Armistead Maupin began chronicling the magical world of San Francisco in what would become the worldwide phenomenon known as “Tales of the City.” The Chorus celebrates Maupin’s history as a literary trailblazer and LGBT activist with an evening of music and stories woven together. As Maupin shares memories of the city, the Chorus presents a breathtaking adaptation of “Michael’s Letter to Mama,” taken directly from Maupin’s renowned literary series.

“Tales of Our City” includes highlights from two of SFGMC’s most significant world-premiere commissions – the 20th Anniversary of 1996’s groundbreaking NakedMan and SFGMC’s 2013 blockbuster hit, I Am Harvey Milk, which recently debuted at New York’s Lincoln Center.

“Tales Of Our City ” also presents a world premiere by SFGMC Composer-In-Residence James Eakin. The evening is presented in collaboration with the magnificent 50-piece Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.

“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” – Armistead Maupin

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