Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Gay Men’s Chorus Pre-Holiday Concert: Jingling Bells and a Farewell

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

It was a night of jingling bells and a fond farewell at the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus pre-holiday concert the "21st Annual Home for the Holidays: A Soulful Celebration" show on Dec. 16 at the Castro Theatre. Ketel One Vodka provided large sleigh bells that could be purchased to benefit the chorus and shaken at appropriate musical moments, and some guys shook them at men that they wanted to get to know.

Popular conductor Kathleen McGuire announced her retirement from the chorus after ten years of leading and wrangling the varied personalities and talents of the hundred plus men, causing noticeable concern. There were three tribute pages celebrating her leadership as artistic director and conductor in the show program. She received a standing ovation and it is obvious that she will be missed. The show is a wonderful opportunity for fans who will be far from San Francisco on Dec. 24, when there will be three shows at the Castro Theatre, to experience a version of the holiday concert. There is more information at, and the San Francisco Bay Times is a sponsor.

Soloist Ken McPherson

Superb principal pianist and associate artistic director Carl Pantle collaborated with McGuire and the chorus members to create the sound that brought the holiday music to life. Handsome Pantle’s breathtaking physicality as he played while flashing his dazzling smile drew the audience to him, and chorus members feel lucky to be in his presence and work with him.

The featured performer was the amazing dynamic singer Kim Kuzma, and the chorus and fans look forward to her performances and enjoy her new single "I Am Alive." Most of the songs were a celebration of Christmas, and there were also some Hanukah songs, though McGuire spoke to the throng about her belief that the music was not necessarily religious. The chorus members individualized their shawls, and those wearing Christian motifs were next to members wearing Jewish prayer shawls.

Santas Joseph Peralta and Michael Tate

There was an exciting can-can dance number that included Joseph Peralta and Michael Tate as prancing Santas, and there were sing-along numbers that drew waves of applause. Joshua Castellano and Ken McPherson delivered fine solo performances, and there was a steady buzz through the evening about the unique interpretations of holiday music, with anticipation for the Dec. 24 performances. A high point of the evening was reached when executive director Teddy Witherington staged a live auction for an audience member to direct the chorus with McGuire’s baton, and high bidder Steve Gallagher rose to the occasion, with crowd and chorus joining in enthusiastically.

Upcoming show info:
21st Annual Home for the Holidays: A Soulful Celebration
Friday, December 24, 2010 — 5PM, 7PM, & 9PM
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco

To see more of my photos of the event, visit

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