Entertaining San Francisco for 40 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, 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, paid consultants such as house managers, vocal coaches, and concert producers have been women. Women have also 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 includes 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 20s to 70s.
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."