Celebrating 34 Years
in the San Francisco Bay Area and Providing Social Fellowship for Our Members
The Golden Gate Men's Chorus is committed to excellence and joyous music-making; providing a supportive and nurturing atmosphere for our members' artistic and social self-expression; and sharing and expanding the rich and continuing tradition of male choral music.
Entertaining San Francisco for 34 years
The Golden Gate Men's Chorus was formed by Dick Kramer in 1982 as the Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale. Mr. Kramer, one of the founding fathers of the American gay choral movement, envisioned a small men's ensemble reminiscent of university men's choruses of 19th-century Europe. Reorganized as the Golden Gate Men's Chorus in 1988, the GGMC continues to present high quality performances of men's choral music.
Drawing Strength from San Francisco's Diversity
The GGMC does not discriminate by age, creed, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or any ability other than musicianship. Though the GGMC is,by definition, a men's vocal group, the group makes every effort to include women's participation: in the past year, paid consultants such as house managers, vocal coaches, and concert producers have been women. Women have been volunteers for the group and are encouraged to seek
election to the Board.
Though the Golden Gate Men's Chorus has its roots in the gay community, its membership is not limited to gay men, but is made up of both gay and gay-supportive men. The group represents San Francisco's ethnic and social diversity, with members spanning African American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Latino, Vietnamese and Western European heritages and spanning age groups from 20's to 70's.
In August, 1982, shortly after stepping down as music director of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Dick Kramer put out word (and posters) that he was forming an entirely new group, to be called the Dick Kramer Gay Men's Chorale. He envisioned a small men's ensemble of around 40, reminiscent of university men's choruses of 19th century Europe. This was evident in the goal statement of the chorus' first four years: "The goal of the Chorale is to maintain a membership of about 40 male voices to concentrate on serious musical repertoire, and to travel so that the tradition of gay male voices dedicated to musical excellence can carry beyond the San Francisco Bay Area." The chorale performed three sets annually, with each set consisting of 3-4 performances in San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Alameda and/or Contra Costa counties. The chorale also did regular joint performances with the Temescal GMC (Oakland), Liedermann Chorus (now Silicon Valley GMC), Contra Costa Chorale, VOICES Lesbian Chorus, Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF, and San Francisco GMC, as well as participating in the annual Pride Concert. The DKGMC was also a founding member of the new GALA Choruses organization in 1983 (and has been represented in every GALA festival to date).
In recognition of the chorale's achievement, the California Arts Council granted funding in 1985 upon its first application. From its first performances in 1982, the DKGMC was well received by the local press and San Francisco audiences, and received rave reviews for its programming and performances. In addition, the DKGMC was featured regularly at the Cable Car Awards, both as performer and award recipient, and sang for the opening of Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro. After singing patriotic music at a celebratory rally at "Hibernia Beach" in honor of released Middle East hostages, the DKGMC was mentioned in Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" in the local paper. Major performances of the period include: full scale production of Britten's "Burning Fiery Furnace" (winter 84), Verdi "Requiem" (spring 85, with the Contra Costa Chorale), Orff "Carmina Burana" (spring 86, with Contra Costa Chorale), Gay Choralfest (summer 86, in preparation for GALA II in Minneapolis). Most performances were broadcast live by KUSF radio; the Britten performance was rebroadcast nationally, as well as in Europe and Australia. During this time, membership expanded from the original 40 to over 75 singing members. The DKGMC was among 17 choruses at Minneapolis GALA II in 1986, and shared the stage with the Denver Women's Chorus in a special joint performance of Schubert's "Mass in G," the first large mixed choral performance at a GALA festival. After almost six years as music director, in April 1988, Dick Kramer conducted his farewell concert of Weill's "Berliner Requiem."
The DKGMC was reorganized as the Golden Gate Men's Chorus, with J. Stephan Repasky appointed as interim director, until the appointment in January 1989 of Dr. Walter Thomas. In summer 1989, the GGMC acted as corporate sponsor for NorCal GALA Choruses (no other chorus could assume fiscal responsibility at that time), which was chartered to produce the "GALA Preview" concert, including 9 Bay Area and Sacramento GALA choruses, in preparation for the GALA III festival in Seattle, which was attended by 43 choruses. True to its mission statement, the GGMC again presented the only classical music program at the festival. After Dr. Thomas' departure at the end of 1989, William Garcia Ganz was appointed in January 1991. During his four-year tenure, the GGMC produced three full concerts of all-American composers, as well as two concerts in conjunction with the Society of Gay and Lesbian Composers of new works by local lesbian and gay composers. The GGMC also performed joint reciprocal holiday concerts with the Sacramento GMC in San Francisco and Sacramento (1990,1991) and with Slavyanka Slavic chorus in San Francisco and Santa Clara (1994, 1995). In summer 1992, in preparation for the GALA IV festival in Denver, the GGMC was the highlighted performer at the Pride Concert, celebrating its 10th anniversary, and continued to Denver, where it presented a warmly received program of Renaissance sacred music. In January 1995, William Garcia Ganz and Martha Stoddard were appointed as co-music directors. Under their direction, the GGMC performed in the Sacramento Pride Concert (spring 95), Menlo Park (winter 95), and San Jose Pride Concert (spring 96), and the GALA V festival in Tampa in the summer of 1996.
In August 1996, Joseph Jennings was appointed music director. Under Mr. Jennings, the GGMC again achieved a high level of artistic quality, attracted a steady flow of excellent musicians as new members, and expanded its audience and donor base, until Mr. Jennings’ retirement in September 2009. In May 2010, Joseph Piazza was selected to direct the GGMC. We continue to grow under his leadership, with new commissions, including works by Eric Whitacre, Leonard Enns, David Conte, Vytautas Miškinis, Ivo Antognini, and Kirby Shaw, as well as arrangements by Josu Elberdin and Steve Milloy; a successful performance on the international stage at the 2012 GALA Festival; and the release of our new recording, “30” in the few years since his appointment.
The GGMC has released five recorded albums, "Loving Again (2000)," recorded at Skywalker Ranch in Marin; "MASS (2003)," recorded at St. Ignatius in San Francisco, "Tidings of Comfort and Joy (2006),” “30 (2012),” commemorating our 30th anniversary, and "Out of the Deep (2016)" also recorded at St. Ignatius. Since 1999, the GGMC has been supported by annual grants from the San Francisco Grants for the Arts. Included among its regular season performances, the GGMC has produced two major staged productions of cabaret music "Love Changes Everything" (1997,1998); a three-month tour of San Francisco historic sites "Now We Sing the City" (including SF City Hall) (1999); a joint performance to a full house at Grace Cathedral with the London and Paris gay men's choruses after the GALA VI festival in San Jose "International Concert" (2000); seven major orchestral sacred concerts (2000 Durufle, 2001 Rheinberger, 2002 Cherubini, 2003 Bach, 2006 Memento mori: an AIDS requiem, 2007 Stravinsky with the Peninsula Women’s Chorus, 2015 The Coming of the Kingdom with Ancora Girls Chorus and the Jubilate Orchestra); attended the GALA Regional festival in Seattle (2002); hosted the Harvard Glee Club in its first joint performance with a gay men's chorus (2004); performed jointly as guests in New York City with the Gotham Gay Men's Chorus (2004); and attended the GALA VII festival in Montreal ( 2004), GALA VIII festival in Miami (2008), GALA IX festival in Denver (2012), and GALA X in Denver (2016).
In February 2014, GGMC small ensemble Counterpoint sang at the American Choral Directors Western Division Regional Convention in Santa Barbara, CA. In July 2014, GGMC toured the Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia, and competed at the 8th World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, where the chorus was awarded gold medals in the “Musica Sacra with accompaniment” and “Male Choirs” Champions Competitions, and a silver medal in the “Spiritual” Champions Competition. In November 2016, GGMC competed at the Golden State Choral Trophy in Monterey, CA, and was awarded a gold medal diploma and category winner for male choruses. In July 2020, GGMC will travel to Minneapolis, MN for the eleventh GALA Festival. We are proud of our many achievements, and are confident that our history and experience will guide our success in the next 30 years.
Joseph Piazza received his musical degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He is the Music Director of Piedmont High School Acappella Choir and the founding director of ECCO, the alumni chorus of the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir, representing outstanding high school vocalists from the Bay Area.
Under the his direction, the Piedmont Acappella Choir has toured the People’s Republic of China, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Italy, Hungary, and Germany. In 2007, the choir performed John Rutter’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, with John Rutter conducting. In 2008, on the occasion of Handel’s 200th birthday, the choir performed Messiah in Halle, Germany. In 2003 and 2005, the Acappella Choir received Gold Medals at the Musica Mundi International Choir competitions in Budapest, and Venice. In 2002, the choir was one of four featured at the Festival of Choirs under the direction of Vance George, at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and again in 2010 performing with Chanticleer. The chorus again appeared at Carnegie Hall in 2011, 2012, and most recently in March of this year.
Mr. Piazza has served on the faculty of the Jazz School in Berkeley, as former associate music director of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, and is currently the music director of the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus in San Francisco. He has studied choral conducting and rehearsal techniques with Vance George in private study and work with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Mr. Piazza has appeared at the Saranac Lake summer choral festival where he conducted the Gregg Smith Singers and worked with Dennis Keene and Gregg Smith. He has also studied solfège and ear training with renowned master teacher Erzsebet Hegyi.
Mr. Piazza has been teaching at Piedmont High School since 1989, where he has been honored with the Lois J. Rawlings Foundation Award for outstanding teaching. He is also the director of the prestigious music theory and composition program at Piedmont High School, where he teaches Advanced Placement music courses. Mr. Piazza has also studied at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, acted professionally, directed, and choreographed. In May 2010, Mr. Piazza was appointed as Music Director of the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus.
Mr. Piazza conducted GGMC at the American choral director’s Western Division Regional Convention in February of 2014 and at the World Choir Games in July 2014 in Riga, Latvia, where GGMC was awarded gold medals in the "Musica Sacra with accompaniment" and "Male Choirs" Champions Competitions, and a silver medal in the "Spiritual" Champions Competition.
Fred Cummins received his BA in music, MA in music education and MBA from Stanford University. Early in his music career, Fred sang and played bass with Waterwheel, a folk / jazz duo. He and his partner wrote and arranged tunes, recorded an album, and were featured two years at the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra's summer concert series. Fred was the first paid director of The Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View. While there, he established choruses in ten elementary schools and directed in five. He also wrote grants that funded ten “artists in the community” for two years.
Fred is organist and choir director at Foothills Congregational Church in Los Altos. He has written and arranged several pieces for the church's singing and bell choirs and actively recruits musicians to sing and play during church services. The result is a broad mix of styles including classical, bluegrass, gospel, praise, jazz, and what might be called “fusion.” An active chamber musician, Fred often plays recitals in the Los Altos area.
Fred has sung baritone with the San Francisco Choral Artists, the San Francisco Bach Choir, Stanford Early Music Singers, Stanford Memorial Church Choir, and Stanford Mendicants, which he also led for two years. He joined the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus in January 2010 as a baritone. In August 2010, he was appointed as Accompanist of the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus.
Albert Sammons, Jr.+
* On leave
Board of Directors
The Golden Gate Men's Chorus is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3)
of the IRS code (EIN 94-2916441). Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
($5,000 or more)
Kenn D. Keitt
Eric Nefstead & Dr. David Priest
San Francisco Grants for the Arts/ Hotel Tax Fund
Fred Cummins & Gary Poe
Chris Miller & Joseph Piazza
Dr. Stephen Simko
Genentech, Inc. matching grant
Zellerbach Family Foundation
($1,000 - $1,999)
Jeff Berry & Eric Politzer
In memory of Jane Politzer
Paul DiSangro & Dr. David Rossi
Roy & Jennie Piazza
Community Thrift Store
William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
($500 - $999)
Haruhiko Ando & Jason Cherry
Dr. Matthew Gubens
Albert Sammons, Jr.
Russ A. Selinger
($250 - $499)
David Baker & Rod Omandam
Chris Garigliano & Satoshi Miyauchi
Dr. Charles F. Hill, Jr. & Christopher M. Olsen
Greg Clause & Shayne Jones
Susan & Richard Jardine
Rocket Fund for Equality of Horizon
Gerard Schulz & Glenn Stover
John M. Shaughnessy
Lost Art Salon
($100 - $249)
Walter N. Barnes, Jr.
Paul Chin & Chuck Street
Raymond Coshow & Mike Blassingham
Ron Davis & Robert Tsuda
Eric B. Dingler & Rob Reinhart
David D. Gracie
David C. Hale
Keith R. Johnson
Richard A. & Barbara Mauro
Mary Lee McCune
In honor of David Parkinson
Stuart & Meg McLaughlin
Valerie J. Parker
Benjamin H. & Roberta A. Rose
Dalton & Marjory Ward
Dr. James E. Watson
William J. Smith Trust
(Up to $99)
Donald & Arla Baker
Marvin & Florence Baker
Raymond & Abigail Brenner
Dr. James M. Campbell
In honor of Glenn Stover
Peter Chandonnet & Timothy Schroeder
Marlene A. Cordova
Sandy and Janet D’Annunzio
Jonathan Bryant Deason
Giacomo DiGrigoli & Emil Wilson
Dr. Bernard & Phyllis Givertz
John & Barbara Hanley
Karen A. Jones
Mrs. A.T. Lunning
Anthony P. Maridakis
Richard John Medina
Marie E. Plumhoff
Dr. & Mrs. James A. Sterenberg