In Review

Tales of Our City - Our Lives, Our Heroes

5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars - 'Outstanding - Starkie!'
Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus
Artistic Director - Dr. Timothy Seelig
Review by

The difference in program title was almost imperceptible, even down to the letter count. Swap out “the” for a possessive pronoun, and it becomes Tales of Our City. It’s hard to imagine a better name for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus concerts at Davies Symphony Hall, accompanied by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony that took place April 14 and 15. This is our hometown story, with our heroes, our history, and a call to authenticity – or at least fabulousity.

But that might be too tortured a descriptor. Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig and the 300+ SFGMC had the Davies Symphony Hall audience enraptured with a program that offered up everything from “Friday Night in the Castro,” complete with rotating disco ball that sent lights dancing across the entirety of the spacious hall, to a sweetly evanescent “Sunday,” from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George.

The audience was on their feet before raconteur, writer and de facto social historian Armistead Maupin regaled the audience without resorting to the old saw, he said, of “walking ten miles through the snow for a blowjob.” Sitting at a desk at stage right, Andrew Caldwell delivered an thoughtfully unequivocal performance of Maupin’s “Letter to Mama” from More Tales of the City, was set to music by David Maddux and sung by Andrew Caldwell.

The SFGMC acts as our historian remembering those candles that lie in all of our hearts, including the big one for Harvey Milk.

A series of soloists performed selections from the popular Naked Man, including the campy “A Very Very Very Very Very Good Boy.”

Tales of Our City didn’t stop there. A brief intermission was followed by a Bay Area Rainbow Symphony performance of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture in A Major, with its colorful bursts of reeds and brass before SFGMC returned. The SFGMC acts as our historian remembering those candles that lie in all of our hearts, including the big one for Harvey Milk.

SFGMC Armistead Maupin
Armistead Maupin

Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig recalls the stunned silence as thousands emerged from the BART station, and adjacent streets after the news of Harvey Milk’s assassination broke, all headed to the candlelight vigil City Hall, where the SFGMC performed for the first time, singing Mendelsohn’s “Thou, Lord our Refuge.”

The better portion of the second act was given over to sections of I Am Harvey Milk, whose music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, closing with an electrifying “Tired of the Silence,” capping a perfect evening, and leaving many in tears.

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  • John Masters

    We flew from Tampa, FL to see and hear this. We’re not wealthy, but this was money well spent. Two of my favorite things in all the world….Armistead Maupin and SFGMC…Christmas in April.

    • Charles

      As a singing member of SFGMC, speaking only of myself, I am so happy that you enjoyed the show. It was a pleasure to perform and thank you for coming and sharing your enthusiasm for our chorus.

      • John Masters

        I was lucky to be there some years back on a business trip when the Chorus performed, so I got to see you all for the first time then. The husband was dying to attend a SF Pride, so we planned a trip for the 2013 Pride, and our timing couldn’t have been better.

        We attended the Friday evening performance of “I Am Harvey Milk” in at the Nourse Theater. We were in the balcony, and stayed at our seats during intermission, but when I stood to stretch my legs, and turned around, I noticed the word “fag” craved into my seat back.

        Our understanding is this might have been the auditorium of a former high school. We couldn’t miss the irony of the carving, whether by a high school student many years ago, or anyone else, that on that night, a fag was proudly sitting in that chair, witnessing the performance of an Oratorio about the person who maybe did the most to advance the cause of equality for gay people, just a few short days after winning the right to marry who we love. The “Sticks and Stones” piece seemed especially appropriate after finding this.

        Extend my gratitude to your fellow Chorus members for three great experiences.