Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
William “Billy” Sauerland (Fritz)
A professional countertenor performing in the Bay Area for almost a decade, William Sauerland has sung with Festival Opera Company, performed two seasons with the internationally renowned vocal ensemble Chanticleer and appeared in the world premiere of the collaborative opera Dieci Giorni 10Days at the Thick House Theater. As AD of the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, Sauerland collaborated earlier this year with Jack Curtis Dubowsky on Harvey Milk: A Cantata, which premiered in June. Sauerland holds a Master’s in Advanced Vocal Performance from the Royal College of Music in London, where he was a recipient of a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. He has almost a decade’s experience as a music teacher and conductor. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Miami University, where he studied conducting with William Bausano and Ethan Sperry. He is currently a Choir and Voice Teacher for the Grammy award-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland and teaches choral music at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. In England, he served as Artist-in-Collaboration at the Royal College of Music and was Singing Teacher at St. Lawrence College.
Mark Eichorn (Stage Director / Cecil B. DeRat)
Mark is originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, but has called the Bay Area home for the past 32 years. He started his acting career at age 12, being trained at two prestigious acting schools and receiving a BA in Acting and Directing from Ohio Wesleyan University. During his senior year he was intern and assistant to Producer Composer/Lyricist Mitch Leigh (Man of La Mancha) on a new Broadway musical. Mark has also performed in the Bay Area with ‘Men Behind Bars,’ Chuck Largent and various cabaret shows throughout the city. Mark is currently on the Board of Directors for Contra Costa Musical Theatre in Walnut Creek, and has performed in more than 15 shows at the Lesher Center for the Arts. He has also been seen in shows produced by Center Rep (Lesher Center) and Diablo Theatre Company. Mark has been involved with the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band since 1984, most frequently as a band ‘widow’ and audience member. Husband Bradley is conducting tonight!
San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band
Named the “Official Band of the City of San Francisco” in honor of its 25th anniversary in 2003, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is the first openly gay music organization ever, inspiring the formation of lesbian and gay bands, choruses and performing troupes around the world. Founded in 1978 by Jon Sims at the height of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade, the Band debuted marching behind Supervisor Harvey Milk’s convertible in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. The Band has been making music to build understanding between gay and non-gay communities for 35 years.
The Band serves the Bay Area from Santa Clara to Contra Costa and Marin counties with 15-20 annual performances in support of civic and community services, low-income seniors, schools, safe places for LGBT youth, health services, and human rights organizations. Thanks largely to the support of individual donors, SFLGFB has presented community concerts featuring major wind band repertoire free of charge since 1993. Past program themes include women composers, social justice, hidden messages in music, catastrophes, and the beauty of the natural world. This year marks the 27th anniversary of its Dance-Along Nutcracker®, a Bay Area holiday tradition each December.
Named the Most Absolutely Fabulous Contingent of the 2006 San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and awarded for Absolutely Fabulous Music Contingent in 2009, the Band performs for hundreds of thousands at parades throughout the year, including San Francisco’s Chinese New Year’s Parade, the Corte Madera 4th of July Parade and at pride parades throughout the region, including Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Marin, Reno, Los Angeles and Fresno. Some of the Band’s credits include performances at the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Seeing Gertrude Stein Exhibit, the filming of the Oscar-winning Gus Van Sant film Milk, the unveiling of the Harvey Milk Statue at City Hall, the Hayward Gay Prom, the Union Square Grand Reopening, the 9/11 memorial ceremony, the Jewish Community Center, Clarendon Elementary School’s Gay Awareness Day, the 5th anniversary of the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Cultural Center and the Lucasfilms company picnic at Skywalker Ranch. Members have performed in the Inaugural Parade of President Barrack Obama and at both Presidential Inaugurals of Bill Clinton and at Gay Games in Chicago as part of the Lesbian & Gay Bands Association’s (LGBA) massed bands. Website: www.sflgfb.org.
Bradley Connlain, Guest Conductor
The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is proud to present Bradley Connlain as guest conductor for its 2012 Dance-Along Nutcracker® Goes Hollywood! A trumpet and flugelhorn player, Connlain is a longtime member of the Freedom Band. Active in the Band’s leadership, Connlain produced several of its concerts in the 1980s, including Playing It Straight (For One Night Only). Connlain has served as guest conductor before, taking the podium in 2006 for the Dance-Along Nutcracker: CLARA-FIED and in 2009 for the Pride Concert and June concert: Cows, Corn and Music. A founding member of City Swing and today its Director, Connlain served as its first manager, famously hiring Gail Wilson for their first New Year’s Eve gig in 1985 a few weeks after she debuted with City Swing at the first Dance-Along Nutcracker at the Gift Center Pavilion. Connlain has served as music director for more than 15 community and college musical theater productions and as director of several church choirs, as well as a Sweet Adeline Chapter. His producing credits include Men Behind Bars VI, City Swing’s Hard Candy Christmas productions, the 1988 Gail Wilson in Concert and the 2006 Gail Wilson Farewell Concert. A native of New Jersey, Connlain holds a degree in music education from Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. Connlain plays lead trumpet with the Freedom Band and the Contra Costa Jazz Band and continues to perform trumpet features with City Swing from the conductor’s podium.
City Swing with Gail Wilson, Red Carpet Premiere Gala Performers
City Swing has performed in San Francisco since 1985, bringing to life the sounds of Big Band jazz. The band first performed at the first Dance-Along Nutcracker that year at the Giftcenter Pavilion, and the group returned to perform for Dance-Alongs in 1986-88, 1998 and 2006-09. The band’s repertoire includes the best charts from books of swing era greats like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and Glen Miller. Conducted by featured trumpet soloist Bradley Connlain, City Swing’s credits include performances at Herbst Theater, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Beaux Arts Ball, the Galleria, the Fashion Center, Marines Memorial Club, the Miyako, the Meridien, the Presidio Officers’ Club, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and countless ballrooms, street fairs, private parties and events held in and around the Bay Area.
Gail Wilson, Vocalist – City Swing
Gail Wilson was the vocalist of City Swing Big Band for more than two decades, stepping down in 2006 to travel around the country in search of a more affordable metropolis. Wilson debuted with City Swing at the first Dance-Along Nutcracker in 1985 at the Gift Center Pavilion. She played Lucy Ricardo in the 1988 Dance-Along Nutcracker production, A Tropicana Christmas, and returned in 1998 as a featured performer to reprise her performance of Santa Baby. A cabaret and stage show veteran, Gail adds to her musical expertise an energy and personality that have defined her as one of the most outstanding and beloved performers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ms. Wilson is the recipient of two Cable Car Awards: the Dorothy Langston Human Rights Award and the Entertainer of the Year Award. She emceed the Cable Car Awards Banquet, having performed with City Swing as the house band for this annual event for over a decade, and also performed a solo cabaret act in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Dubbed “the “Nightingale of the Court” by Imperial Court founder and LGBT rights activist Jose Sarria, Wilson performed for the annual Widow Norton Ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery for almost 2 decades.
Heidi Beeler (Script)
2012 Dance-Along Nutcracker Goes Hollywood! marks Heidi’s sixth year collaborating on the script for the Dance-Along Nutcracker, which she worked on this year with Bradley Connlain and Mark Eichorn. Working with teams of zany-brained musicians from the Band, Heidi previously scripted the 2006-2009 Dance-Along Nutcrackers – Clara-fied, Rat-ified, Bah Humbug!, Blazing Nutcrackers! and 2011’s Clara’s Magical Mystery Tour! A proud member of the band since 1991, Heidi plays in the trumpet section, frequently appearing in over-sized head gear in spite of the advice of her chiropractor and numerous anonymous death threats traced back to other members of the trumpet section. She also performs with Dixieland Dykes +3, The Fog Horns brass quintet and is a former member of City Swing. She is a freelance writer from the East Bay. Her column, Brass Tacks, is published in the SF Bay Times.