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.
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.