Longtime member, Paul Nelson, shares memories of several songs from SMC’s repertoire that will be performed during the Encore! concert, June 24 & 25.
Notes on “Never Ever”
NakedMan, a 16-movement song cycle about the lives of gay men, was created by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and performed by them at the 1996 GALA Festival in Tampa, an event showcasing and celebrating the works of LGBT choruses from around the world. It was an instant hit, has since been performed by many choruses, and will be honored at Festival 2016 with a 20th Anniversary performance conducted by the original conductor.
At SMC, we ran right home from Festival that year and programmed it for our March 1997 show. Our program notes state that it "grew out of the desire of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus to create a dramatic choral work based on their shared experiences. Librettist Phillip Littell interviewed sixty men in the Chorus and, with composer Robert Seeley, created a sixteen movement work. In this performance, Seattle Men's Chorus has excerpted ten movements."
The following year, in August 1998, SMC made its first European tour, together with New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. NakedMan’s “Never Ever” was among the pieces our two choruses performed together. When that tour wrapped up in London, the two choruses had a farewell buffet at our hotel, where there was an electric piano set. After the food had been consumed and speeches made, Evan Stults, SMC’s longtime accompanist, sat down at the piano, the NYC Assistant Conductor hopped up on a chair to conduct, and the entire group, partners and staff and everybody, sang "Never Ever" just for our own pleasure.
Notes on “Eulogy”
"Eulogy" was written by Scott Warrender, in 1985. Warrender had been a member and the accompanist of the Chorus in the early 1980s. The program notes said it "was commissioned by SMC as our musical statement addressing the health crisis in the gay community. The text, written by the composer, is a positive statement, looking onward with a remembrance of shared visions."
To this day, text from “Eulogy” is included in the In Memoriam list of our printed programs.
At the June 1985 premiere, we segued without applause from “Eulogy” to “Sometimes When We Touch,” to intensify the sentiment. At the July 1986 GALA Festival, we ended our set with “Eulogy,” and then made a segue without applause to Dennis's exquisitely harmonized arrangement of “Not While I'm Around.” Not a dry eye in the house.
Notes on “Diversity”
The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles was founded about 6 weeks before SMC, in 1979. In 1989, they were, like SMC, celebrating their 10th anniversary. At that year’s GALA Festival, GMCLA performed three newly-commissioned works that had been created for the anniversary.
They opened their Festival set with “Diversity,” "by our own members Bob Daggett and Scott Henderson...In words and music it celebrates the many faces and facets of the Gay Men's Chorus."
It was a big hit at Festival, and we included it in our June 1990 show, Radio Craze, which was broadcast on Channel 9 and in many other cities across the country. “Diversity” was performed almost at the end of the show, and when we got to the lyrics "and join hand in hand,” we joined hands, and the video cameras moved to belt level to show them (in case there were viewers who didn’t get the message).