Last weekend at the Nourse Theater, the audience experienced 250 “heart-throbbers” who compose the “biggest boy band the world has ever seen,” in the words of its artistic director, Dr. Timothy Seelig. The house was packed with an enthusiastic crowd of newcomers and oldtimers, and they were not disappointed.
The “Heartthrobs” evening began with songs from the Chorus celebrating Kool & the Gang, and the Beatles. A Guytunes medley featured selections from the Four Seasons and the Backstreet Boys. “What Makes You Beautiful” from One Direction, and “I Will Wait” from Mumford & Sons were other standouts.
The Chorus has been heard by millions worldwide and is seen as one of the crown jewels of San Francisco arts organizations.
Featured band of the evening was Well-Strung, a delightful New York City based string quartet with a unique blend of vocals and strings, fusing Euroclassical music with today’s pop sounds. The group is composed of Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Chris Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola). They have been called — and last night were described as — beautiful with their chiseled torsos and matinee idol faces, and so they are. One audience member opined out loud, why are you wearing so many clothes? However, once Well-Strung began playing and singing, the mood changed quickly to one of appreciation for their talent as they performed music from Journey, the Beach Boys, Village People, Boyz II Men, NSYNC and Bruno Mars. Lots of audience appreciation when sight gags accompanied the songs onstage. You had to be there.
The musical range and stylistic abilities of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus have garnered enthusiastic fans ever since they were founded in 1978. The Chorus has more than 275 singers in the large chorus and has four outreach vocal ensembles composed of about two dozen singers each: the lollipop guild, swag, vocal minority, and homophonics. The Chorus has been heard by millions worldwide and is seen as one of the crown jewels of San Francisco arts organizations.
Dr. Tim Seelig is their conductor and artistic director as well as a singer, teacher and motivational speaker. Among other accomplishments, he co-founded the Women’s Chorus of Dallas and taught on the faculty at Southern Methodist University for 14 years. For the last 25 years, Dr. Seelig has conducted regularly at Carnegie Hall.
After intermission, the group Well-Strung returned with selections from Broadway musicals. Then each of the vocal ensembles rocked the audience with: Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons [lollipop guild]; classics from Chicago [vocal minority]; “It’s Raining Men” [homophonics]; and a medley of contemporary hits [swag]. And then the combined SF Gay Men’s Chorus continued to impress with a boy band medley. It was amazing how many performers could sing and dance skillfully on a packed stage without a mishap.
There was one mishap, though – the lighting. During intermission many attendees spoke with the artistic director about the lighting, primarily asking “what in the world?” It was suggested that the lighting designer be punished onstage with a public spanking, among other proposals. An otherwise enjoyable evening with perfect acoustics was marred by lighting which was bizarre – flashing blue LEDs which caused audience members to cover their eyes when they would have preferred to watch the dancing.
A pleasant evening at the Nourse, with the “biggest boy band ever.” Just remember to bring shades for the flashing LEDs.