Disney pride in concert: SF Gay Men's Chorus celebrates 100 film years

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday March 7, 2023
Share this Post:
A recent San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus concert (photo: Stefan Cohen)
A recent San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus concert (photo: Stefan Cohen)

On March 16 and 17, Davies Symphony Hall will come alive with the sound of Disney. It's "Disney Pride in Concert," a very special performance with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus which will celebrate 45 years of the chorus and 100 years of the House of Mouse.

The evening will feature all 250 members of the chorus accompanied by a thirty-piece orchestra. More than forty classic and contemporary songs from the Disney songbook will be performed. Expect to hear songs from "The Lion King," "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," plus classics like "Mary Poppins," "Peter Pan" and others.

Jacob Stensberg, Artistic Director and Conductor for the chorus, spoke to the Bay Area Reporter about why Disney songs and films have resonated so deeply with the public.

"Disney has a way of crafting a story, exploring themes that are timeless and universal," he said. "The music and arc of Belle fending off Gaston and falling for the Beast is easily adored by kids and adults alike. Many of us grew up with these movies, characters, and music and we return to them as we age. Not just that we see the story differently with more experience behind us, but because rediscovering our childlike sense of awe and wonder invigorates and refreshes our daily life."

Stensberg also addressed why the chorus has survived for so many years. He pointed out that arts and cultural institutions survive difficult times because they add so much value to public life. Stories need to be told, he noted.

SF Gay Men's Chorus member David Alexander Diaz sports a rainbow Disney Mickey Mouse ears hat at a recent rehearsal.
(photo: David Alexander Diaz)  

"It's not by chance or happenstance that the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus survived the AIDS pandemic and the Covid-19 pandemic," he said. "We are fighters. We are survivors. And we have more stories to tell."

The evening promises to be an exciting one.

"The entire concert is paired up with Disney and Pixar Animation from the very first note to the final bow," Stensberg said. "And throughout the night we'll weave in personal stories told by our singing members that touch on some of the iconic themes of Disney films: family, journeys and finding oneself."

There will be six moments in the show where singers will offer their personal stories. Before the chorus performs "Reflection" from "Mulan," one singer will talk about their personal story of seeing and becoming their authentic self. Before "Go the Distance" from "Hercules," a singer will talk about what it took and what transpired to land them here in San Francisco.

Chorus members will not be dressed as their favorite Disney characters during the concert. but Stensberg hopes that audience members will come dressed in their favorite Disney costumes.

Stensberg gives very high marks to the musicians who will be accompanying the chorus.

"We are very fortunate to have fostered a vast musical network that includes the finest players in the city," he said. "They recreate the expansive and expressive quality of the film orchestras in a magical way."

And just to top the evening off, the concert will also include clips from some beloved Disney films.

"I hope audiences leave inspired to take up the calling of being the hero they fell in love with as a kid," Stensberg said. "The journey forward today is not easy. LGBTQ plus and other marginalized communities are in need of heroes here in San Francisco and around the country."

Disney Pride in Concert, March 16 and 17, 7:30pm, Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, $29-149. www.sfgmc.org www.cityboxoffice.com

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.