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.

harvey_vigil_012812

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 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.

2016_SFGMC_Tales-Goldstar-Promo

Want the best seats in the house to our April show, “Tales Of Our City: Our Lives, Our Heroes” at Davies Symphony Hall?

We’re running an exclusive presale with Goldstar to offer our patrons these excellent seats for a concert you absolutely do NOT want to miss. Buy your tickets here!


About “Tales Of Our City

It was 40 years ago when author Armistead Maupin penned the very first article that became the international phenomenon of “Tales Of The City,” bringing the colorful life and times of San Francisco to the entire world. Maupin joins SFGMC for an evening full of stories and music about our home and its heroes, while revisiting this magical work of literature.

Act I includes excerpts from “NakedMan” the groundbreaking multi-movement piece originally commissioned and performed by the Chorus in 1996, which chronicled the lives and loves of the men of SFGMC against the backdrop of the AIDS pandemic. Act II includes excerpts from the wildly popular commissioned work “I Am Harvey Milk” by composer Andrew Lippa, which SFGMC premiered in 2013.

“Tales Of Our City: Our Lives, Our Heroes” also presents a world premiere by Mari Esabel Valverde, one of the world’s up-and-coming transgender women composers, as well as a brand-new piece by SFGMC Composer-In-Residence James Eakin. Accompanying the Chorus for the entire evening will be the 60-piece Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.

2016_SFGMC_Tales-Goldstar-Promo

Want the best seats in the house to our April show, “Tales Of Our City: Our Lives, Our Heroes” at Davies Symphony Hall?

We’re running an exclusive presale with Goldstar to offer our patrons these excellent seats for a concert you absolutely do NOT want to miss. Buy your tickets here!


About “Tales Of Our City

It was 40 years ago when author Armistead Maupin penned the very first article that became the international phenomenon of “Tales Of The City,” bringing the colorful life and times of San Francisco to the entire world. Maupin joins SFGMC for an evening full of stories and music about our home and its heroes, while revisiting this magical work of literature.

Act I includes excerpts from “NakedMan” the groundbreaking multi-movement piece originally commissioned and performed by the Chorus in 1996, which chronicled the lives and loves of the men of SFGMC against the backdrop of the AIDS pandemic. Act II includes excerpts from the wildly popular commissioned work “I Am Harvey Milk” by composer Andrew Lippa, which SFGMC premiered in 2013.

“Tales Of Our City: Our Lives, Our Heroes” also presents a world premiere by Mari Esabel Valverde, one of the world’s up-and-coming transgender women composers, as well as a brand-new piece by SFGMC Composer-In-Residence James Eakin. Accompanying the Chorus for the entire evening will be the 60-piece Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.

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