Showing posts from November, 2008

The Enormity Of It All.

Today, I walked around the Civic Center plaza in San Francisco.

It was early in the morning. The streets were almost deserted.

I stood in front of the magnificent city hall and looked across the street. There was the opera house, a gorgeous monument with Greek (or Roman?) pillars. Next to it is another building just like it.

I felt like I was in Greece or Rome. These remarkable institutions just standing there in the sunlight, a testament to the high arts.

Next to them was this beautiful modern building with a large panoramic glass front.

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.

And I was totally overwhelmed to realize that my music would be performed in this building where the usual repertoire is Beethoven, Bach, Ravel, Gershwin, Handel, and all the greatest composers this world has given to us.

I thought back to my high school days in Buna, Texas, a town which consisted of a drug store, a broken down movie theater where the rats would run over your feet, where the only traffic light was a blinking …

My hometown newspaper did an article on me.

This is so Janis Joplin/The Rose. My east Texas hometown newspaper, the Buna Beacon, did a front page article on me in celebration of New World Waking.

by Juliee Beaver.

It has been almost 40 years since lyricist and composer Steve Schalchlin
graduated from Buna High School in 1971. A lot has changed since then,
but much has remained the same.

Roden Theatre closed its doors and the old elementary school has been torn
down, but the infamous Polka Dot House still stands.

Born in Arkansas, Steve Schalchlin, his brothers and parents moved here in
1968. Mother Carolyn worked as a nurse at the Buna Medical Center and his
father, Bro. Neil, pastored at Northside Missionary Baptist for 14 years.

His brother, David, enjoyed playing basketball while Steve worked at the local
Buna newspaper,East Texas News.In addition to taking photos and writing
stories for the paper, he also had a cartoon called"Leafy."

Steve's early musical development was in the church when his piano lessons
began at the age…

One More Day.

We drove to San Francisco only to discover that our car was spouting a huge leak of something. Probably oil.

Find a mechanic open on Saturday night on a holiday weekend? The AAA people said to just forget it and wait till Monday.

Meanwhile, I can't sleep. All I can think of is the 20 minutes they've given me before the show on the stage of Davies Hall, to describe how New World Waking was born.


I'm also glad I don't have to perform the thing. All I have to do is just let go and let Kathleen, the chorus and the orchestra do all the work.


It's the fantasy dream of a lifetime.

Get Devin's CD (with Steve songs!).

I posted about this before, but there's a terrific write-up about Devin Richard's wonderful new CD (with two Steve songs on it!) at BroadwayWorld.

Now go get it!

Seriously. I don't want to have to hurt you.



SF Chronicle on SFGMC and New World Waking.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles the Chorus about Monday's concert:

Like the subject of any great tragedy, Harvey Milk needed his chorus. He got it on Nov. 27, 1978, the day he was assassinated along with George Moscone, when 100 singers joined an impromptu memorial on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall and sang "Thou, Lord, Our Refuge." IMAGESView Larger Images Just months before the slayings, the singers had organized as the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus - the country's first choir to openly identify as homosexual. On Friday evening, the chorus returned to the City Hall steps, joining a vigil memorializing the assassinations, and commemorating its first public appearance.On Monday, a more joyous note will be struck. The chorus is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Davies Symphony Hall in a show with full orchestra and a roster of guest stars."A lot of things were happening in 1978," says Teddy Witherington, the chorus' executive directo…

Harvey Milk Remembrance to Feature "My Thanksgiving Prayer"

Today, in San Francisco, there will be a memorial to Harvey Milk, and the SF Gay Men's Chorus is going to sing one of my songs, "My Thanksgiving Prayer." Nothing could make me feel more proud and humbled all at the same time.

For those who don't really know who Harvey Milk is, go to Jim Burroway's superb recounting of the moments leading to his assassination posted at Box Turtle Bulletin. And if you are anywhere near where the movie MILK is being shown, go see it as soon as you can. It's the best film I've seen all year.

As he recounts,
Thirty years ago today, on November 27, 1978, tens of thousands of stunned mourners gathered in the Castro for an impromptu candlelight march to City Hall. The sea of candles stretched ten city blocks long. At the steps of city hall, Joan Baez led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang a hymn by Felix Mendelssohn.What Jim didn't mention is that this was the first public appearance…

Slumdog Millionaire: A Great Adventure/Romance.

If you're looking for great movies to see over the holiday weekend, please do not miss SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which, alongside MILK, stands heads and shoulders above anything I've seen all year long.

The sheer scale and scope of Slumdog is staggering, especially for a smaller budget indie film which almost didn't get released until it started winning audience favorite awards at the film festivals -- and has now debuted to universally great praise. If it's not nominated for and Oscar for Best Movie, it not be because it doesn't deserve it.

The story, which takes place in India, but which is spoken mostly in English, is about a boy from the slums of India who is one question away from winning the top award on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." At the beginning of the movie, he gets arrested by the police and tortured to confess that somehow he's cheated the system.

But, see, as we learn about the boy and his life (through an ingenious plot device I…

My Thanksgiving Prayer

In this time of my thanksgiving as my song begins to rise.
Listen to the prayer within me. Look into my grateful eyes.

May I humbly stand before you, as I reach out with my hand.
May the music bring a healing to this cold and troubled land.

As I face the burnished off'rings to the gods of pow'r and fear,
Make of me a living off'ring. Let me be your servant here.

Give us grace to face the struggle which the world yet holds in store.
Walk beside us ever loving; grant us peace for evermore.

"My Thanksgiving Prayer"
Lyrics by Rev. Peter J. Carman
Music by Steve Schalchlin

"Steve, Can We Sing Songs From 'New World Waking'?"

Q: Can I sing songs from "New World Waking" and do I need an orchestra and 200 voice chorus in order to do so? A: Yes, you can sing these songs. They were written so that people could sing them. No, you don't need a chorus and orchestra. The songs are very simple and can be sung solo or by smaller groups, and they sound just fine with only a piano or guitar accompaniment.
Q: How do I get copies? A: The SF Gay Men's Chorus intends to have the live recording ready by Christmas, believe it or not. They will make a recording that night, and then mix it, master it and package it in time for the holidays. How's THAT for instant gratification? Q: But what about sheet music? Where do I get that? A: After we have the recording and Kathleen has finalized all the score, we will submit it for publishing so that it can be available to high schools, universities, church choirs and civic choruses. If we don't find a publisher interested, then I'll hit the Xerox machine and m…

Wait. "Broadway Gospel Musical King?"

You know, sometimes you read things about yourself and you just go, HUH? But, hey, as they say, the only thing worse than being talked about in show business is not being talked about. The San Francisco Guardian did a blurb about our concert on their events page and this is what they said:
San Francisco Gay Men's ChorusRemember AIDS? That insidious disease may have been pushed off the homepage of late, but it's certainly still raging. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day — and the super-talented, penguin-suited songbirds of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, on that seminal organization's 30th birthday, have a whole lot of dazzling gospel going on to remind us of that fact. Joining the chorus to clap her hands and say "Yeah!" will be the gayest dreamgirl of them all, Jennifer Holliday, and she is telling you to just try not getting inspirational tingles as she and the singers perform Broadway gospel musical king Steve Schalchlin's specially commissioned, John Lennon-…

Bay Area Reporter on "'New World Waking!"

Just posted: A terrific article by Richard Dodds in the Bay Area Reporter on New World Waking! When we did the interview I wasn't sure I was making any sense at all. It was my first time to discuss the piece and I felt completely inarticulate. But, happily, Richard managed to make sense of my ramblings and actually made me sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about.

Go to the website, but just in case it doesn't stay on the website forever, I'm copying it here.

Music as an alternative to violence'New World Waking' premieres in a
World AIDS Day concert Published 11/27/2008 by Richard Dodds
Steven Schalchlin sitting at John Lennon's piano, with a picture of Bill Clayton, who inspired one of the songs in New World Waking. Photo: Caroline True

Somehow, it was the cigarette burns on the piano that made it real for him. Steve Schalchlin was sitting at the piano at which John Lennon had written "Imagine," but the context – a suburban front-yard in…

From A Member of the Chorus...

On his blog, Rey says this about New World Waking!
I cannot tell you how much heart and soul that we have poured into this event, and you really have to be there to experience the emotions from the sounds, music and words. When I first heard and sang some of the songs we will be performing, I literally cried, not out of sadness, but out of sheer joy and touching emotion. The works are beautiful, fun, emotive, and life-changing.I honestly, hope you can join me on Dec 1 for this unique event. With all of the hatred in our world these days, especially against homosexuals as we saw with the passage of Prop 8, this concert is a spiritual reminder for our community that we can and will rise up. I guarantee you will be moved.With love and light,

Breakfast with Ernie & Steve.

I've talked a lot about my friend, Ernie, but I've never put him on youtube. We usually try to have breakfast together about once a week. So this past week, I grabbed the camera and, over a Mexican breakfast, told him to interview me about the upcoming New World Waking! Since Ernie laughs at all my jokes, I told him we'd have to do this more often.

Backstage with Ed Asner & Monty Hall.

Jim & I appear at a benefit fundraiser for the West Coast Jewish Theatre. Backstage, some jokes start flying around with Ed Asner and Monty Hall. I also took some footage of the performances. Jim & I were the headliners.

Why "Twilight" is BAD for girls but GREAT for guys.

I just finished reading the first book in the "Twilight" series. I can summarize it easily:

Girl moves to new town.
Meets vampire boy.
Describes (endlessly) how beautiful vampire boy is.
The end.

So, as a reading experience, I found its crimson prose to be dull and obvious. However, given its sensational popular amongst young teen girls, it provides a valuable insight into the emotional, romantic and sexual fantasies of estrogen-based life forms (and that's not a put-down; I'm just stating a fact).

So, if "Twilight" is an accurate mirror, girls wants a guy who:
1. first eye contact, forgets that he ever knew or met another living female. His life didn't START until he sees her.

2. ...a guy who is a loner, doesn't hang with the locker room crowd and has no friends... until he sees her.

3. ...has great breath. (This was one feature of the book that mystified me. She had to mention that he has great breath? Fascinating. A dead person with great breath.)


New World Waking! Press Release

MEDIA STATEMENT 11.21.08 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New World Waking- World’s First Gay Chorus Connects With Its Roots In Landmark 30thAnniversary Concert San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the first chorus with the word “gay” in its name, takes center-stage at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall on December 1, in celebration of its thirtieth anniversary and to mark World AIDS Day. Setting a high-water mark for the gay choral movement, award-winning Broadway composer, Steve Schalchlin, has writtenNew World Waking! Songs on the road to peace - inspired by John Lennon’s Piano especially for the occasion. Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Kathleen McGuire, says:“New World Waking!is truly a piece for our time and captures, in music, stories of incredible power, pathos and hope.”

In thirteen emotional, genre-transcending songs,New World Waking!explores violence in our community and in the world and celebrates the individuals who stand up to it and change the world in the process.New World Waking!The Com…

New World Waking! CD plus other news updates.

1. Yes, these will be a CD. The chorus is going to issue a double-disc 30th anniversary CD featuring selections from the entire year of chorus concerts. One of those discs will be New World Waking!

2. Yes, there will be a "composer chat" on the stage of Davies Symphony Hall from 6:25 to 6:45 where I will be at the piano talking about the making of New World Waking!

3. Yes, Piper Laurie will have a part of New World Waking! No, she doesn't sing, but luckily I wrote some text in the middle of one of the movements. She'll be handling that.

4. Yes, they're calling each song a "movement." (I love that!)

5. Yes, the lyrics from the full piece will be reproduced in the program that night.

6. Yes, it's a week from Monday.

7. Yes, I'm so excited I can barely contain myself.

Amancio's Theme.

This is a theme I have written and dedicated to Amancio. It's actually the second movement of a piano piece still in progress.

But I was approached by documentary filmmaker Tom Murray about writing a theme for what was then called the Amancio Project, about a transgender performer who was killed in Yuma, Arizona, I couldn't get this theme out of my head. So I went to a website filled with pictures of Amancio and cut them together with my piano theme.

I don't know whether they'll actually use this for their film, but on this day, which many people have set aside for remembering transgender people who've been victims of violence, I thought it was appropriate.

You'll notice in the video I have not captioned anything. It's just music and images. But I'll tell you that there is a small portion of video of a very peaceful water basin -- a run-off from the farms. That's the place they found Amancio's body.

The flim is now called "Amancio, Two Faces on…

Health Resources from the FTC.

Hi, Steve –
I work for the Federal Trade Commission. I’ve noticed you that you cover a lot of ground – including health topics – in Living in the Bonus Round, and I wanted to let you know about a new booklet and website – announced just this morning – that you and your readers may find informative and helpful.Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Servicesis a resource guide from the Federal Trade Commission that points older consumers and their caregivers, family, and friends to reliable sources of information on a variety of health topics, including alternative treatments, generic drugs, hiring caregivers, hormone therapies, and medical ID theft. For more information, check out our news release at As mentioned in the news release, you can readWho Caresonline All of the information in the booklet is in the public domain, so it can be adapted, reprinted, shared, and linked to freely. And in the P…

Prologue - From Dream to Reality.

This video begins with me singing the "Prologue" from New World Waking! at Kulak's Woodshed. Then it morphs into a rehearsal of the same song, as arranged by Dr. Kathleen C. McGuire, by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. This was one of their first rehearsals and the soloist, Dan O'Leary, is doing it for the first time with the chorus. But you can see how majestic this is going to sound, especially after they add the symphony orchestra.

I Love My Big Cat.


What Minority Groups Have To Say About Prop 8

According to AP:
Five civil rights groups asked California’s highest court Friday to annul the ban on the grounds that Proposition 8 threatens the legal standing of all minority groups, not just gays.The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and two other groups petitioned the state Supreme Court to prevent the change from taking effect. [PDF - 28 pages; links to all Proposition 8 documents here.]The petition is the fourth seeking to have the measure invalidated. But it’s the first to argue that the court should step in because the gay marriage ban, which overturned the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay unions, sets a precedent that could be used to undermine the rights of racial minorities.

Stepping in for Hal Linden.

Ed Asner killing Jim Brochu.

Phone rings. Jim picks it up.

It's Herb Isaacs of the West Coast Jewish Theatre. We were planning to attend their fundraiser tonight, a show featuring several performers. Hal Linden was the headliner.

"Hal can't go on tonight. He's got a kidney stone. Can you go on? Maybe sing 'If I Were A Rich Man?'"

Jim hasn't sung it in awhile. But, how often do you get asked to go on for Hal Linden? (Is this a new marker of our "fame?" That we can substitute for celebrities Hal Linden or below?)

He asked, "Who's the musical director?"

"Gerry Sternbach."

"I'll do it."

Gerald Sternbach is one of the best musician / musical directors / musical minds in Los Angeles. He's a brilliant pianist and a terrific arranger and musical director. Getting to work with him is a privilege. Seriously.

Then Herb asked, "What else can you do?"

He needed to fill more time. He needed 20 minutes. So, they de…

L.A. Join The Impact Protest.

With Joel Mahr:

With Michael Sugar:

Today I Will Be Marching at City Hall.

Join me!

We're meeting at the North Hollywood subway at 9am.

The Playbill Announcement of NWW


Milk, A Movie For Our Times.

Coming right when we needed it -- though I would have loved to have seen it released before the election -- comes a movie that remembers what it used to be like for gay people. It's called MILK and if you are at all interested in seeing how a single person can change the course of history, go.

The film opens with a series of scenes of documentary footage of gay bars getting raided by police. If you were gay or if you hung out with gay people, in the Police State that America can be when it decides "your" people are not wanted, we see normal folks being herded into police wagons.

And why were they being herded into police wagons? Because they were gay.

I remember when we visited the oldest gay bar in New York City. The patrons back then were required to face the wall while drinking because eye contact meant jail time.

This is what our lives used to be like. And it was done everywhere. In San Francisco, when election time rolled around, the police would back the trucks up to e…

The Big Voice Plays Allentown, PA This Week

If you're anywhere near Allentown, PA this week, please visit the Rainbow Players production of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" starring Dean Hiatt and Jim Lamb will play three performances only.

They are super guys. I met them when we were in Philadelphia. Cute, too!

Morning Smile.

Just to bring you a big smile: Hamster on a piano.

Get Devin's CD (with Steve songs!).

Go NOW to Devin Richards site and get his new CD. He sings "I Want To Make Music" from The Big Voice: God or Merman? and a new song, done comedically, called "Lovers In Disguise" with lyrics by Amy Lynn Shapiro.

Pill Panic & Community.

Call it Pill Panic.

It's the sinking feeling bordering on full scale panic you get when you can't find your HIV meds. Sometimes it happens on a trip. Sometimes it happens on the way to the airport -- like wondering if you forgot to turn off the oven.

But from the beginning, we who take these meds have been told that if you miss a day or take them irregularly, the virus will evolve and the pills will become ineffective.

So, we live in a world of clocks and time zone changes and making sure we remember to call the pharmacy at precisely the right day each month to make sure next month's pills arrive in a timely manner so that the supply chain is not interrupted.

One of the many pills that I take during the course of the day is one called Atripla. Atripla is a combination of three HIV medications, the "cocktail" as they've been dubbed. Ever since I've been taking HIV meds -- 12? 13 years? -- I've been absolutely compliant, almost never missing a dose. Being t…

"The Craving" at Kulak's Woodshed

This is a song about addiction. First public performance.

Why SoulForce Marches.

New World Waking! is a musical call to recognize the effects of violence in politics, religion and society in general. But if you don't intend to ever use violence (of the heart, tongue or fist), then what can you do to express your profound disapproval at an oppressive system? SoulForce, which is a GLBT advocacy group that uses the principles of non-violence as taught "by Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr." outlines the reasons for street action and what they accomplish in the overall struggle for freedom and equality before the law.

I bolded several parts I found especially illuminating.
Time to Take It to the Streets

A national call for nonviolent direct action
in the struggle for marriage equality

Jeff Lutes, M.S., L.P.C.

Last week thousands of lesbian and gay people and their friends filled the streets of California in peaceful protest. Outraged, these upright Californians chose to take action and publicly march against Proposition 8 and the LDS Church for financing…