The San Francisco Gay Menâ€™s Chorus hosted a unique brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Crescendo Fundraising Gala event in one of the cityâ€™s most stylish hotels started at noon, a time of the day on Sundays when many are nursing hangovers at home. The chorus drew an amazingly large turnout for a quiche and fruit parfait brunch, with accomplished musical performances and awards for the organizationâ€™s supporters.
Chorus guests who arrived early enjoyed cocktails and hors dâ€™oeuvres on the hotel terrace that overlooks the Contemporary Jewish Museumâ€™s huge tilted blue cube. The chorusâ€™ two ensembles, the Lollipop Guild and the Vocal Minority, kicked off the party and launched the positive mood of the party and impressed the gathering of donors.
The chorusâ€™ new Human Rights Champion Award was given to Harvey Milkâ€™s nephew, Stuart, by chorus board president Michael Tate and executive director Teddy Witherington for his advocacy of LGBTQ rights worldwide. Milkâ€™s day job is working with at-risk youth and he founded the Harvey Milk Foundation to fight hate and discrimination.
From his base near Ft. Lauderdale Milk researches and then visits communities - from Spain to Turkey to San Jose Pride - where he can do the most good. The â€śDear Harvey, Weâ€™ve Got Hopeâ€ť project video was introduced by Witherington and then screened. Young people are being asked for their feelings about Milk and their submissions will be formed into musical creations for the chorusâ€™ upcoming 35th anniversary season. Board president Tate then spoke about funding for the organization for the future.
A unique talent, countertenor Jacques Snyman then performed, impressing the audience with his masculine look and high notes. Diageo Americasâ€™ (a subsidiary Sterling Vineyards) Phillipa Jones said that their commitment to the LGBTQ community is sincere when she accepted a Corporate Champion Award. The Bay Area Reporter received a Media Champion Award.
The guests were thanked by event co-chairs Paul Olsen and Sean Livingston, and there was talk from table to table about the chorusâ€™ altruistic tours through small California cities that also finance their local LGBT groups.
The Gay Menâ€™s Chorus has managed to prosper during a time of financial uncertainty, and much of the credit is due to not only the staff and board, but also the advisory board, which includes Marriage Equalityâ€™s Molly McKay, the Bay Timesâ€™ Dr. Betty Sullivan, Horizons Foundationâ€™s Devesh Khatu, and the Human Rights Commissionâ€™s Cecilia Chung. Dr. Timothy Seelig, the new Artistic Director and Conductor was welcomed by donors.
Hardworking Artistic Operations Manager Mike Holland also deserves credit for presenting professional light and sound in spaces where it never existed previously.
The chorus is also thriving thanks to the monumental talents of Paul Saccone, the music director of the Lollipop Guild and Carl Pantle, the Associate Artistic Director, Principal Pianis, and the musical director of the Vocal Minority. A wonderful event ended with musical interludes from both.