Easter Sunrise Service | Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Back in 2009, Reverend Laurie Manning of the Skyline Community Church invited the Oakland East-Bay Gay Men’s Chorus to join her congregation for a rather spectacular event: Easter Sunrise Service at the top of Skyline Ridge. The only challenge was to convince a reasonable number of gay men with a fair distribution of voice parts to make it up that hill by 5:30AM. Oh yes, with an accompanist and an Artistic Director, too!

Thus began an annual tradition, satisfying in so many ways to this UCC congregation, their guests, and the OEBGMC singers involved. Early on, our pastel dress shirts were identified as the Easter Egg outfits, and after coffee upon arrival in the dark, the singers learned to yearn for the Hot Crossed Buns that would always follow Services. Warmth and friendship develops this way, and the tradition gains momentum year after year.

Easter Sunrise Service at Skyline Community Church with OEBGMC

A word about the weather: that perfect light upon which these services depend is not always exactly as anyone might expect. Perched high in the Oakland Hills, a huge expanse of glass frames the view East into Contra Costa County. Sometimes right on cue, the sun rises over clear green hills, nearly dazzling the celebrants; sometimes mist and mystery swirl, presenting a subtle experience of growing light.

In every case, the inspiration is magical. To be singing for such purpose, to be welcomed with such vigorous joy, to be guided through the resurrection experience; all these factors combine to make family and to raise songs of glorious celebration. Do join us this year; all are welcome!

 Join us Easter Sunday at 6:30 AM, Skyline Community Church 12540 Skyline Blvd., Oakland.

Easter Sunrise Service at Skyline Community Church with OEBGMC

Easter Sunrise Service at Skyline Community Church with OEBGMC

A Prairie Homo Companion – A Parody of Everyone’s Favorite Radio Show

A Prairie Homo Companion Concert | Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus | Alameda Berkeley

Join the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus for the whimsical and witty “A Prairie Homo Companion”, a parody of everyone’s favorite radio show.

Artistic Director, William Sauerland, crafts a show that highlights a diverse repertoire, from opera hits of Giuseppe Verdi and Sigmund Romberg to popular tunes of Anne Murray and Sandi Patty, along with some blues, bluegrass, and American folksongs.

Classic radio drama-parodies are sprinkled throughout the show, including “Gay Noir, Private Eye,” “Days of Our Lives of the Cowboys,” and “News from Lake Merritt.”

The chorus will be joined by two guest soloists, soprano Shawnette Sulker and songstress Annie Herring.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the timeless radio show that has inspired our spinoff, you will love the hilarity, bravura, and exceptional artistry of the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! 

Our Retreat at Walker Creek Ranch

Early this March, the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus took to the woods for our annual retreat, which has been held for the last few years at the beautiful Walker Creek Ranch in Petaluma. More than just a series of intensive rehearsals, the retreat is a way for the chorus members to connect, to welcome our newer members, and to become more bonded. For the weekend, we all lived together like a family.

The facilities were absolutely amazing. We all stayed in two-person rooms spread over three cabins across the ranch. We had everything provided for us, including three meals a day in their dining hall, and all the while could look out our windows at the rolling green hills, the dense woods, and even some of the creeks running through the area. It was a beautiful spot for a vacation, and made all the singing we did that much more enjoyable.

Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus | Alameda Berkeley Walnut Creek

Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus | Alameda Berkeley Walnut Creek

We spent a good portion of our days rehearsing for our upcoming show in April, Prairie Homo Companion. It was quite a change of pace from our normal Oakland rehearsals. In addition to our workshops like music theory and sign language, there were four practices that weekend, instead of our normal schedule of once per week, so we were really able to dig into the music in a new and deeper way. As we sang we would watch families of deer stroll by the windows, and we even seemed to summon a torrential bout of hail with our last song on our last day—fitting, somehow.

Sharing the Ranch with us was another group, the Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County, whom we would see several times each day during our meals in the dining hall. These were some of the nicest people we have ever met. Twice they popped in to see us rehearse, they showed us their absolutely gorgeous quilting projects, and at the end of the weekend they gave us a quilted coaster for each and every member of the chorus (we even had enough for the guys who couldn’t make it to the retreat). It was such an amazing gift that we decided to sing them a farewell song during our final lunch together. What a blessing it was to be sharing the space with such a great group.

However, the highlight of the entire weekend was undoubtedly our talent show. Our three lovely hostesses, Melania, Kellyanne, and Michelle, added a much needed dose of hilarity to our weekend, and set the stage for our talented members brave enough to perform in front of a room full of performers. Beautiful songs were sung, amazing dances were danced, and it’s safe to say that we all felt closer after sharing our talents with each other. One member sang a wonderful song with piano accompaniment and included some expert tap dancing, another performed a mezmerizing rainbow flag dance (the word “wow” could be heard uttered from the audience about a hundred times during that dance), and three of our guys gave us a preview song from their upcoming cabaret show. It was a very special evening, and makes moving forward in this group bursting at the seams with talent all the more exciting.

Oakland East Bay Gay Men's Chorus | Alameda Berkeley Walnut Creek

All in all, this retreat was an amazing experience. This chorus continues to shine by utilizing the creative expertise of its members. From the writers who wrote out the hilarious skits featured in our spring concert, to our resident expert in sign language, to the incredible movement skills of our more agile preformers, this has come to be about so much more than the songs that we sing. Our sense of togetherness and love for each other and what we do permeates our live preformances, and indeed everything we do, and we are absolutely thrilled about our next opportunity to bring that love to our community.

Check out everything we’ve been working on at our next concert, Prairie Homo Companion, April 29-30 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

Written by Joey Raven for Then Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus.

Fairy Tales 2016 Official Press Release


Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus

Musical Theater, light reception following concerts

Oakland CA — Dec 6 2016 — The Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus announces its Annual Holiday Concert 2016 titled Fairy Tales: A Holiday Concert.

Join us as we journey through some of the best loved tales and visit some of your favorite characters. This family friendly concert combines classic tales with seasonal music that will fill audiences with the spirit of the season!

The Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus donates 10% of ticket sales from each of its concerts as part of giving back to the greater East Bay community. This season, the chorus is proud to donate to the Rainbow Community Center of Concord, who experienced a series of hate crimes in the past weeks.

Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus Brings “Fairy Tales” to Lafayette

The Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus performed the opening night of “Fairy Tales” at the Lafayette Christian Church on Saturday, December 3 at 7:30pm. A sold-out show, the audience was packed with eager attendees excited for the concert to begin.

Pastor Steve Borgard welcomed the audience, introducing OEBGMC’s Artistic Director, William Sauerland. William took the stage and welcomed the crowd, requesting first a moment of silence for those affected by the tragic loss of life in Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse fire on December 2. Some of the young musicians and artists were students and friends of Chorus members.

Mr. Sauerland also let the audience know that 10% of the ticket proceeds for all three OEBGMC concerts will be donated to the Rainbow Community Center in Concord, which has been vandalized repeatedly in recent weeks. RCC provides social, health and advocacy programs for the LGBTQ community, and their representatives were in attendance.