Today in My History
2000: World AIDS Day
IN MY OPINION
(The review) Books Read in 2008
"Keeper of the Bride"
FUNNY THE VLOG
New World Waking from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.
2 December 2008
I'm trying to decide how best to "review" the premiere of Steve's Song Cycle, "New World Waking" by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, this evening, but all that seems to fit is....wow.
We left here in the mid afternoon and got to Davies Hall a little before 5:30. Steve had said there was a reception before the concert and that we were invited...and that there would be food.
I ran into Gabi Clayton (and her husband Alec) and Carolyn Wagner almost immediately.
Both women had been the inspiration for separate songs in the cycle. Gabi's son Bill committed suicide after a gay bashing incident, and Carolyn sued her Arkansas high school after they refused to protect her son William from being bullied by other kids. Bill's death inspired "Gabi's Song," which Steve played for the very first time in the year 2000, in Washington, D.C., just after we had all met Tipper Gore. Gabi and I sat, holding hands, and both of us crying. I met Carolyn on that trip too and sat at a dinner table with her son.
Steve, of course, was perfectly calm.
(And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you. Actually he looks more numb than anything else.)
At 6:30, Steve gave a pre-concert talk, explaining how the piece had come to be written. He did it sitting at the piano...
...and he played a little bit of one or two tunes. He didn't need to do that, but I think he couldn't pass up the chance to sit on the Davies Hall stage and sing for an audience! There was sparce attendance for the talk, but as it got closer to start time, I looked behind me (we were sitting in the third row) and the place was packed. In fact, they held the start of the show by about 10 minutes because the Will Call people were lined up out the door and down the sidewalk. (Ned and his friend K.C. were in that line; Steve had invited them and left tickets for them.)
My little pocket camera doesn't do well at all in low light situations, so I concentrated on taking video snippets, which I've tried to weave together into something somewhat coherent (see Video of the Day--it's long--10 minutes--but it will give you the flavor of the concert). They usually tell you ahead of time that you can't record, but they didn't and so as the concert went on, I got braver and my video snippets got longer!
I cannot tell you how amazing the whole experience was. All of Steve's familiar tunes with Dr. Kathleen McGuire's magnificent arranging--it was a marriage made in heaven. Or at least in the LGBT community. I cried all the way through "Gabi's Song," which was the first in the cycle. The songs that followed were either moving or funny or both. In the "war/peace" section, Steve's friend Piper Laurie did a brief reading.
And then Jennifer Holliday (from the original cast of Dreamgirls) came on to do "My Rising Up," which closed the cycle. She was explosive and at the end of her number, and the entire piece, people leaped to their feet for a standing ovation. Usually standing-o's bother me because they are rarely deserved. This one was deserved.
I've been watching (and hearing) these songs come together for eight years now, watching Steve struggle to get them written and then wondering what exactly he had. I cannot tell you how many times he said he just wanted to hear people sing his songs.
Well, he certainly got his wish. Over 250 men sang his songs today to a house that probably held over 2,000 people. At the end he was given a standing ovation. I would call that a very good day!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Davies Hall holds 2700 people
MILES TO NOWHERE: 88.5 miles