Recordings: To Friends and To Life

To Friends and To Life
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston Celebrates Its Fifteenth Anniversary

Produced by John-Michael Albert
Recording Engineer: John M. Proffitt
Graphic Design and Composition: Edward F. Gumnick

Recorded June 4, 1994, at First Unitarian Universalist Church, Houston, TX, and March 4, 1995 at Lillie Duncan Recital Hall, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
(c) 1995 The Montrose Singers. All rights reserved.

01. “The Star Spangled Banner,” tune by John Stafford Smith, “To Anachreon in Heaven,” words Francis Scott Key, arranged for men’s chorus by John-Michael Albert
Track sponsored by Tim Baker and Steve Edwards for James E. Baker, father and friend.

02. “The Rose,” words and music by Amanda McBroom, arranged by Jerry Nowak
Track sponsored by Thomas R. Chelena and Daniel Malachowski in joyful memory and bequest of Tom’s mother, Helen D. Chelena.

03. “For Men Only,” a setting for men’s voices of the (9) outstanding male choruses from the operettas of Sigmund Romberg , arranged and adapted by Douglas MacLean, Glen Edwards, piano [1. "Introduction"; Student Prince: 2. "Students Marching Song", 3. "Student Life," 4. "Drinking Song"; 5. "Gaudeamus Igitur," The Desert Song: 6. "Riff Song"; 7. Rosalie, "West Point Song"; 8. New Moon, "Stouthearted Men"; 9. My Maryland, "Your Land and My Land."]

04. “The Rhythm of Life” from Sweet Charity, music by Cy Coleman, words by Dorothy Fields, arranged by Richard Barnes, Glenn Edwards, piano
Track sponsored by Randy R. Reddemann.

05. “Possession of the House,” words and music by John-Michael Albert, commissioned by GMCH 1993
Track sponsored by Metropolitan Community Church of the Resurrection.

06. “Gloucestershire Wassail,” traditional words and music, adapted and arranged by John-Michael Albert for GMCH 1982
In loving memory of two wonderful friends, Wes Rogers and Rob Awanessian. We miss you both.–Maddie and Alan

07. “A Season for Lovers,” words and music by John-Michael Albert, GALA Festival IV Competition Winner 1992
In memory of Robert Allen Mitchell, my one love, my best friend. I miss you more than words can describe.–Jeffrey Wade

08. “Love Is All It Takes,” music by Ron Romanovsky and Paul Phillips, words by Ron Romanovsky, arranged b John-Michael Albert
Track sponsored by Gayle Goddard and Lynne Weynand in celebration and gratitude for loving friends and chosen family.

09. “The Last Words of David,” music by Randall Thompson, words II Samuel 23:3-4, Glenn Edwards, piano
Track sponsored by David Weber in memory of Perry Fleming and Marco Senna.

10. “Regina Coeli” from Cavaleria Rusticana, music by Pietro Mascagni, words by G. Targioni-Tozzetti and G. Menasci, adapted by Alfred Boyce for the Apollo Club of Brooklyn, Glenn Edwards, piano, John Kemp, organ, Jeanette Matley, soprano
Track sponsored by David Opheim and Rex Gillit in honor of our parents.

11. “Everything Possible,” words and music by Fred Small, arranged for a cappella men’s chorus by John-Michael Albert
Track sponsored by Donald Wilson and Ken Hansen with all our love to Louis and Phylis Wilson.

Though Much Is Taken, Much Abides

12. 1. “Dennis Dunwoody,” text “Standing There Immured” No. 28 from Les Nuits d’Été (1978), words and music by John-Michael Albert, David Gebo, tenor
Track sponsored by Mike Salvarria in memory of Fred Flores.

13. 2. “Jeff Cothran,” music by John-Michael Albert, text “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, composed for the “Celebration of the Life of Jeff Cothran” 1993, Keith Chapman, piano
Track sponsored by the bass section of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston in memory of all deceased basses of GMCH.

14. 3. “To Friends and To Life,” music and text by John-Michael Albert, Alan Austin, violin; Glenn Edwards, piano, Steve Estes, ‘cello; commissioned by Michael Nelson in loving memory of his friend, lover and lifelong companion, Wesley James Perrin (1952-1992)
Track sponsored by the members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston in loving memory of our brothers who worked on this recording bit did not live to see its completion. Ron Chesmore, Bob Dicker, Javier Gutierrez, Hughes Hardy, Maurice Jones, Robert Seiler and Bruce Wood.

15. 4. “Behold! How Good!,” music by John-Michael Albert, text adapted from Psalm 133
Track sponsored by the families and friends of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston in honor of our loved ones in the chorus.

NOTES: What a great project! I had long wanted to make a polished, professional recording of the work done by the men in the chorus, other than the rough cassette tapes that were in circulation, but the opportunity never presented itself. Then, in the spring of 1994, the venue scheduled for our spring concert canceled the contract. This was our opportunity. I decided to rehearse the chorus in an array of works they’d done since their formation in 1979 and we set up a day-long recording session on June 4 in the acoustically spectacular nave of the First Unitarian Universalist Church. We recorded half of the 15 cuts, symbolic of the 15th anniversary of the chorus, that year and the other half, in the new Lillie Duncan Recital Hall at Rice University, the next.

We had selected a quiet Saturday for the first, high spirited recording session, unaware that it was Armed Forces Days and we’d have to be making multiple takes between Air Force fly overs and marches past by current and former members of the US military, complete with bands. Fortunately, we had enough takes to splice together and only one “boom,” during a sudden thunder shower (on track 10), escaped our notice.

The chorus had never done any fund raising on the scale required by the recording project before. We put our collective professional heads together and the then treasurer (and future president) Ed Gumnick, came up with a brilliant–but frightening!–solution. We’d sell sponsorships to the tracks, at $1,500 each. The amount scared me to death. But slowly and ingeniously sponsorships started coming in: individuals, couples, the Bass section, donations from families who had lost sons to AIDS, community supporters. An amazing array. In the end, to my complete amazement, we had track sponsorships for all but one of the tracks, putting enough money into the chorus’s coffers to pay for the project in full AND to finance a second CD in the future. Funds raised from sale of the CD were pure gravy.

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