The chorus is bid a fond farewell to outgoing Interim Artistic Director Stephanie Smith during her last official concerts November 30 – December 2. The chorus and new pianist Grace Renaud surprised Stephanie with a farewell rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” where the audience clapped and sang along. Stephanie then introduced the final set of songs that she hand selected from her favorites of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus repertoire. “I pride myself in my programming. However I was having trouble finishing this holiday concert, and then I thought, ‘this is my last concert so I get to pick my favorite songs to close.’” said Smith during the show.
“It sounded like they were going to blow the doors off the theater when they sang I Sing Out!” said Jessica Turner-Garcia, a chorus volunteer who was in the lobby.
For her final official concert piece, the chorus sang What a Wonderful World, arranged by the former accompanist Thaddeus Pinkston. All was well until middle of the song during the verse “I hear babies cry” and suddenly there was not a dry eye on the stage.
Stephanie will continue to lead the group through the end of December for community outreach concerts.
You will be missed, Miss Smith.
Born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, Stephanie Lynne Smith is an active pianist, conductor, clinician, vocal coach, worship leader and chamber musician in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1998) and a Master of Music degree in Chamber Music Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (2001). Her professional experience of more than a decade includes performing in master classes for Menahem Pressler and Emmanuel Ax, working with renowned composers such as Alden Jenks, David Garner and David Conte, and providing accompaniment for such luminaries as Sharon McNight, B.D. Wong, Franc D’Ambrosio and Tony Award winner Alan Cumming.
Stephanie is founding music director of New Spirit Community Church in Berkeley, co-founder of Gay, Lesbian and Allied Musicians (GLAM) Youth Choir, and pianist for Shari Carlson Studio in San Francisco. After serving as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco for 8 years, she stepped down in July 2010 to focus on her comedy duo, “Fifi & Fanny”, and to intentionally return to the concert stage as an actor, pianist and chamber musician. This past year, Stephanie co-produced and performed in the original productions of “Wise Up!” and “Nothing in Common”, and presented her original show “High Anxiety: My Journey with Performance Anxiety” to a sold-out room. She can be seen on the Fifi & Fanny YouTube Channel and co-hosts a weekly internet-based talk radio show on blogtalkradio.com.
She particularly enjoys working in teams, presenting original compositions by Queer composers living in the Bay Area, organizing and hosting fundraisers and variety shows, and specializes in program re-vitalization. Stephanie has served as music director and worship team member for MCC General Conference 2007 in Arizona, MCC Region 1 Conference 2008 in Hawaii, and most recently for the Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley) in January of 2011. Her upcoming worship leading engagements include worship leader for the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations of the Bay Area clergy conference “Bringing Spirituality Out of the Closet” and music director for the first ever conference for the Asian Pacific Initiative (MCC) in Manila, Philippines in August 2012.
On her 32nd birthday, Stephanie married full-time dogwalker Jen Brown in San Francisco City Hall. They live happily ever after in the Mission District of San Francisco with their dogs with rhyming names, Mackie and Jacky.