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.

OUR MISSION

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

Jon Reed Sims (October - December 1978) Founder

Dick Kramer (December 1978 - January 1982)

Ernie Veniegas (June 1982– December 1985)

Greg 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

Tim Seelig is a conductor, singer, teacher, and motivational speaker. In addition to being Artistic Director and Conductor of San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, he continues an extremely busy guest-conducting schedule throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

He is Conductor Emeritus of the Turtle Creek Chorale, based in Dallas, Texas, which he conducted for 20 years. Tim was the first Artistic Director in Residence for the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA).

Known for his enthusiasm and sense of humor, the New York Times calls Seelig an “expressive performer,” and the Fort Worth Star Telegram quips, “Seelig slices a thick cut of ham.”

He is the proud father of two wonderful children and celebrated the recent arrival of his first grandchild.

Artistic Staff

Lynden Bair

Artistic Coordinator

Carl Pantle

Principal Accompanist
Music Director, Vocal Minority

Volunteer Staff

Eric Carlson

Music Director, The Lollipop Guild

Sanford Smith

Music Director, SWAG

Steve Valdez

Production Coordinator
Choreographer

Administrative Staff

Thom Vindiola

Managing Director

Wil Wright

Administrative Coordinator

Barbara Keller

Accounting Manager

Miles Walls

Development Coordinator

Peter Zimmerman

Marketing Manager

Tony McIntosh

Merchandise Manager

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
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Justin Taylor

Chair

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Dennis Stradford

Vice Chairman

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Sal Baglieri

Secretary

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William Vigna

Treasurer

Community Members
  • Mark Delgado
  • Melané Ali
  • Craig Brennan
  • Peter Drake
  • Trudi Loscotoff
  • Cynthia Cooper
Singing Members
  • Steve Burton
  • Dan Aaron
  • Steve Huffines
  • Mike Bernard
  • Jeffrey Huang
  • Gregory Marks
Leadership Team
  • Steve Gallagher
    Chorus President
Executive Members
  • Dr. Timothy Seelig

The Lollipop Guild

The Lollipop Guild was founded in 1979 and is recognized as the world’s first openly gay vocal ensemble. Known for its light-hearted and upbeat style of a cappella singing, The Lollipop Guild has grown from a Barbershop Quartet into an ensemble that features over 20 of SFGMC’s finest singers.

In addition to touring and concerts, the Lollipop Guild has a long history of outreach performances in our community. They’ve sung at countless hospice events, helped raise money for local HIV/AIDS support organizations, and have performed with Donna Sachet in her holiday show. In 1996 they performed the National Anthem at the San Francisco Giants “Until There’s A Cure” game, making the Lollipop Guild the first gay chorus to ever sing at a Major League Baseball event.

Vocal Minority

Vocal Minority was founded in 2003 during the Chorus’ landmark 25th anniversary season in honor of the vocal ensemble Vocal Minority that began in 1980. A select group of performers, Vocal Minority members guarantee to sing, dance, and–most importantly—smile their way into everyone’s hearts. With a repertoire ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, their unique brand of fun, quality entertainment is second to none.

SWAG

Formed in 2013, SWAG is the newest vocal ensemble to emerge from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and made their debut at the world premiere of I Am Harvey Milk. Their focus on the gospel, R&B, and pop genres brings a unique soulful beat to their performances that revels in the memories and music of the past 35 years of the SFGMC history while looking to the future with these energetic & uplifting performers!

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.

Recently, the Independent Music Awards (IMAs) named the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus the winner in the Soundtrack / Cast Recording category for I Am Harvey Milk.

I Am Harvey Milk is an emotional celebration of an American icon. Part choral work, part theater piece, it weaves the story of Harvey Milk’s life – from boyhood to his rise as the first openly gay man to hold public office in California and to his untimely assassination.

“The entire two year commissioning process that surrounded the creation of “I Am Harvey Milk’ was transformative for our Chorus,” says SFGMC Artistic Director Dr. Tim Seelig. “The project commemorated the 35th Anniversary of the chorus and Harvey Milk’s assassination. On the day of the world premiere, the Supreme Court made its monumental decisions moving equal rights for the LGBTQ community forward adding enormous significance to the project. The music is amazing and continues to move audiences across the U.S. We are proud to have helped birth it.”

With music and words by Tony® and Grammy® Award nominee Andrew Lippa (Big Fish, The Addams Family, The Wild Party), I Am Harvey Milk features Lippa as Harvey Milk, Tony® Award-winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, NBC’s Go On and The Sound of Music Live) as the Soprano Soloist and Noah Marlowe (Mary Poppins, Fun Home) as young Harvey, along with the 300 men of the Chorus. Recorded live during the world premiere at Nourse Theater in San Francisco, the recording was mixed by multi-Grammy® Award winner Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound and is available now at SFGMC.org, Amazon and on iTunes.

The veteran artists and rising stars named as 13th IMA Winners in more than 80 Album, EP, Song, Music Producer, Music Video and Design categories were selected from thousands of submissions from around the globe, and were determined by a panel of influential artists and music industry executives. “While the number of outlets that promote independent artists and new music continues to grow, audiences for these new media entities don’t have the influence of mainstream outlets,” said Martin Folkman, Executive Director of The Independent Music Awards. “The program’s goal is to gain exposure for extraordinary self-released and independent label artists and their recent recordings.”

The 13th IMA Judging panel featured exceptional recording artists including: Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson of Heart, Chiddy Bang, Suzanne Vega, G. Love, Sharon Jones, Laurie Anderson, Jim Lauderdale, Krewella, Shelby Lynne, Joshua Redman, Lunice, Chris Wood & Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers, Hudson Mohawke, Raul Midon, Melissa Auf der Maur, Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Arturo Sandoval, Band Of Skulls, Adam Agee, Dennis Diken, Nathan Currin, Lindz West of LZ7, Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria and Jonathan Steingard of Hawk Nelson.

The world premiere of the choral work, I Am Harvey Milk, concluded the Chorus’s 35th anniversary season at the Harvey Milk 2013 concert. The recording is a perfect culmination of SFGMC’s 35-year history, which began with its first public performance, at the candlelight vigil for slain Supervisor Harvey Milk. I Am Harvey Milk is conducted by Dr. Timothy Seelig, orchestrated by August Eriksmoen, and features the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus accompanied by Carl Pantle on piano and members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. I Am Harvey Milk at Nourse Theater was produced by Bruce Cohen, in association with Robb Nanus and Jessica Leventhal, directed by Noah Himmelstein, and Video and Projection Design by Andrew Lazarow.

Complete track listing is as follows:

01. An Operatic Masterpiece
02. I Am the Bullet
03. You Are Here
04. Friday Night in the Castro
05. Was I Wrong?
06. A Decent Society
07. Sticks and Stones
08. Lavender Pen
09. Thank you, Mrs. Rosenblatt
10. San Francisco
11. Leap
12. Tired of the Silence

I Am Harvey Milk was commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, along with Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, and Heartland Men’s Chorus. Following its World Premiere in San Francisco, the piece has been made available for choruses to perform from coast-to-coast. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will next present the oratorio on July 19 and 20, 2014 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of its 35th anniversary season, along with singers from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Recently, the Independent Music Awards (IMAs) named the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus the winner in the Soundtrack / Cast Recording category for I Am Harvey Milk.

I Am Harvey Milk is an emotional celebration of an American icon. Part choral work, part theater piece, it weaves the story of Harvey Milk’s life – from boyhood to his rise as the first openly gay man to hold public office in California and to his untimely assassination.

“The entire two year commissioning process that surrounded the creation of “I Am Harvey Milk’ was transformative for our Chorus,” says SFGMC Artistic Director Dr. Tim Seelig. “The project commemorated the 35th Anniversary of the chorus and Harvey Milk’s assassination. On the day of the world premiere, the Supreme Court made its monumental decisions moving equal rights for the LGBTQ community forward adding enormous significance to the project. The music is amazing and continues to move audiences across the U.S. We are proud to have helped birth it.”

With music and words by Tony® and Grammy® Award nominee Andrew Lippa (Big Fish, The Addams Family, The Wild Party), I Am Harvey Milk features Lippa as Harvey Milk, Tony® Award-winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, NBC’s Go On and The Sound of Music Live) as the Soprano Soloist and Noah Marlowe (Mary Poppins, Fun Home) as young Harvey, along with the 300 men of the Chorus. Recorded live during the world premiere at Nourse Theater in San Francisco, the recording was mixed by multi-Grammy® Award winner Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound and is available now at SFGMC.org, Amazon and on iTunes.

The veteran artists and rising stars named as 13th IMA Winners in more than 80 Album, EP, Song, Music Producer, Music Video and Design categories were selected from thousands of submissions from around the globe, and were determined by a panel of influential artists and music industry executives. “While the number of outlets that promote independent artists and new music continues to grow, audiences for these new media entities don’t have the influence of mainstream outlets,” said Martin Folkman, Executive Director of The Independent Music Awards. “The program’s goal is to gain exposure for extraordinary self-released and independent label artists and their recent recordings.”

The 13th IMA Judging panel featured exceptional recording artists including: Ann Wilson & Nancy Wilson of Heart, Chiddy Bang, Suzanne Vega, G. Love, Sharon Jones, Laurie Anderson, Jim Lauderdale, Krewella, Shelby Lynne, Joshua Redman, Lunice, Chris Wood & Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers, Hudson Mohawke, Raul Midon, Melissa Auf der Maur, Aoife O’Donovan, Judy Collins, Bernie Worrell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Arturo Sandoval, Band Of Skulls, Adam Agee, Dennis Diken, Nathan Currin, Lindz West of LZ7, Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria and Jonathan Steingard of Hawk Nelson.

The world premiere of the choral work, I Am Harvey Milk, concluded the Chorus’s 35th anniversary season at the Harvey Milk 2013 concert. The recording is a perfect culmination of SFGMC’s 35-year history, which began with its first public performance, at the candlelight vigil for slain Supervisor Harvey Milk. I Am Harvey Milk is conducted by Dr. Timothy Seelig, orchestrated by August Eriksmoen, and features the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus accompanied by Carl Pantle on piano and members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. I Am Harvey Milk at Nourse Theater was produced by Bruce Cohen, in association with Robb Nanus and Jessica Leventhal, directed by Noah Himmelstein, and Video and Projection Design by Andrew Lazarow.

Complete track listing is as follows:

01. An Operatic Masterpiece
02. I Am the Bullet
03. You Are Here
04. Friday Night in the Castro
05. Was I Wrong?
06. A Decent Society
07. Sticks and Stones
08. Lavender Pen
09. Thank you, Mrs. Rosenblatt
10. San Francisco
11. Leap
12. Tired of the Silence

I Am Harvey Milk was commissioned by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, along with Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus, Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus, and Heartland Men’s Chorus. Following its World Premiere in San Francisco, the piece has been made available for choruses to perform from coast-to-coast. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will next present the oratorio on July 19 and 20, 2014 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of its 35th anniversary season, along with singers from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

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