MONTROSE VOICE ■ FRIDAY JANU,
Montrose Singers planning busy year
By SHERI COHEN DARBONNE
Montroae Voice Editor
The Montrose Singers, Houston's
gay men's chorus, will celebrate
its tenth anniversary this June,
and members are hoping to make
1990 a memorable year in more
ways than one.
"We're planning a very busy
year. We have a thousand things to
do," said director Beau Cain. The
group already has several performances scheduled for the coming year. They will participate in
the Houston performance of Heart
Strings: the National Tour on Feb.
3 at Jones Hall, and are planning
a trip to Vancouver to appear at
Celebration 90: Gay Games III
and Cultural Festival Aug. 4-11.
The singers are also planning a
special concert during Lesbian/
Gay Pride Week which will also be
their anniversary celebration.
Cain said. Seasonal concerts are
planned in December. Other performances will occur throughout
the year, such as impromptu concerts at the gazebo at Wortham
Center and appearances at benefits. Cain said.
The group has also just wrapped
up a busy year. In 1989, the
Montrose Singers joined national
celebrities Romanovsky and Phillips, San Francisco comic Sandy
Van, the Lone Star Symphonic
Band and Dallas'Oak Lawn Symphonic Band in the pride week concert "Stonewall Memories.'' The
i'ul," according to Cain, as was the
group's collaboration with LSSB
in October for the band's 10th anniversary concert at Metropolitan
Multi-Service Center. Cain, who
has been directing the singers for
two years and is also currently sit
ting in for LSSB's band conductor,
Roy Cisneros, is giddily optimistic. The singers, like the music
they perform, have had their
share of highs and lows.
"The Montrose Singers started
in 1980 with 80 voices," Cain explained. "The singers functioned
as an arm ofthe (them Montrose
Symphonic Band" Within a year,
the chorus had separated from the
,band and formed its own organization, directed by Andy Mills.
"At that time, the idea was this
fantastic Hash in the pan," Cain
said nf the group's early popularity and high membership. "In
1980, everyone really wanted to
get involved in things that expressed gay pride."
By the group's third year, the
membership had dropped to
40...still an impressive number,
considering the novelty had long
worn off. Mike Albert, described
by Cain as "a fabulous, serious director'' took the singers' helm that
year, and proceeded to try to turn
them into "a serious chorus that
could be presented anywhere, perform in front of any group."
Albert's direction may have
been a little too serious, however,
for some. Tbe group's membership
continued to decline. Jeff
Cothran, now Cain's assistant,
took over in December of 1987 and
led the singers through the Christmas season before turning the di-
"He (Cothranl just decided he'd
be more useful to the group as a
singer," said Cain, "but I decided
he'd be even more useful helping
me." In the compromise, Cothran
became Cain's "right hand man"
and continued singing. Said Cain.
"We really sort of co-direct."
Cain blames the AIDS crisis for
the real plummeting of membership, in the later 80's. People in
the gay community became "indifferent" to gay pride-related activities because of AIDS, and
many men turned away from being openly gay, he said. Others
simply too drained of t'
like the chc
or band. And several original
members of both groups, whose
talent had served to inspire mans
colleagues, were lost to AIDS dur
ing the last decade.
The group had only seven members lull when Cain took over as
director, and now fares only
slightly better, with 15. But what
the group lacks in number it
makes up for in talent and commitment, insisted Cain.
"One of the best things about
having a group this small is that
all ofthe members are really dedicated," he said. "When they come
In rehearsal. __ie\ 're there because
they really want to be."
Cain said he has also received
calls from people interested in
joining, and two new people had
participated in the recent seasonal concerts. He noted however
that "I don't really consider anyone a member until they've attended at least three rehearsals.
And when someone calls and says
they'll show up, I take it as maybe
they'll be there, and maybe not."
Things are looking up, however,
for interest in the group. One pro-
ly moved to Houston from California, has an intensive background
in music education and professional experience. It is a distinc-
the chorus, which will begin rehearsals Tuesday
the arrangements themselves.
"If someone in the group has a
song they really love, that they've
just got to have the group do, we'll
go ahead and work on an arrangement ourselves," Cain said. "Of
course, we have to obtain permission from the composer before we
"Then, we also have people in
the group who can't read music,
and everything in between," he
said. "Everyone basically finds
their own way to learn how their
part should sound
A fresh, less restrictive approach to selecting music for performances is also generating new
interest, he said. The singers are
attempting to expand selections
to appeal to a larger audience.
"For about five years, they were
only doing what would be termed
as 'classical' tunes." Cain said.
Now that they have started adding contemporary songs, "vintage coun try-wes tern" and Broadway-style show tunes, people are
surprised, but the changes are
generally well-received. The October cimtiert with the band, consisting of Broadway show music, is
an example ofthe new style, Cain
The process of translating popular music into an arrangement
for multiple voices isn't easy, Cain
said. Often, the arrangements are
already available commercially,
Writing an arrangement is difficult, but several people in the
group have done it. "I can do one
in a week to two weeks,' Cain said,
"and that's using every available
Cain said he has three goals for
the singers in 1990. "I want to
have a really dynamite gay pride
week concert, to raiseenough money for our trip to Vancouver...and
more than anything else, to make
Montrose sit up and lake notice,"
Men interested in performing
with the Montrose Singers should
be able to sing ensemble-style and
must attend rehearsals to learn
the music to be performed. Rehearsals begin Tuesday, Jan. 9,
7:30-10:00 p.m. and will continue
on subsequent Tuesdays. For details, call Beau Cain, 526-8715, Jason Cabot, 520-8298, or Jeff
Former head of AIDS group dies at 47
SAN FRANCISCO (API—Hank Cook, president of the fund in support to AIDS patients who have cialist in housing for the elderly, versity and served in the Army.
Cook, former president of the San 1987-88. died Dec. 27 at a hospice for run out of money. Cook was a member of the Confer- Survivors include two brothers
Francisco AIDS Emergency Fund, AIDS victims. He helped raise more He was a contract administrator ence on Housing for the Aged. and three sisters
has died of complications from the than .SI ■"■ million for the fund, which for the US. Department ol Housing A native of Norwich. N.Y., he A Mass was to be held Dec. 30.
disease. He was 47. pays bills, provides food and gives and Urban Development and a spe- graduated from San Jose State Uni- Burial was to be in New York.
State lobbyist reacts to health department letter
From GLEN MAXEY, executive di- You're right on the mark if you
rector, Lesbian/ Day Rights Lobby guessed Austin's Rev. Mark Weaver
Never In our wildest imaginations m"1 "^ **&& "^ fundamentalist
did we think that bureaucrats at cohorts.
the Texas Department of Health If getting a faw calls and letters
would buckle under to a few from those who would deny AIDS
homophobestosuchanextentthat grants to our organizations re-
now funding for a majority of our suits in an official (attorney gener-
communlty AIDS organizations al's) opinion request, it certainly
could be in jeopardy.
Dr (Robert) Bernstein,
Commissioner of Health,
has officially asked Texas
Attorney General Jim
Mattox for a ruling on
the following question:
2.05(h), or any provision
response to AIDS be sabotaged by a few fanatics.
I think it's time for
lesbians and gay men,
and our elected officials,
to tell Dr. Bernstein that
of S.B. 959 require the department Texans demand that he be a public
o exclude from consideration an health officer, not a politician. By
organization that has homosexu- asking this question. Dr. Bernstein
ale among Its officers,board, gener- wants the attorney general to "fade
al membership, paid staff i
tears, merely because the Individuals are homosexuals?"
He prefaced this question by saying that his own legal division has
indicated that the department cannot Include such
the heat" with Weaver
Brad Wright. And while we wait for
an answer, some AIDS service
groups have been denied funds (including funding for the AIDS Resource Center in Dallas to operate
Its food bank, because they are
housed in the same building with a
based on the "status" of a person groupwhlchpromotesgayrlghte).
being homosexual. So why did he w . _ _ , ,
Maybe Dr. Bernstein Is overlooking the history of the epidemic In
He stated to the attorney general _$_ state...a historical record
that he did so because it had been points out that the State of Texas
suggested in some "comments" re- and the Texas Department of
ceived by the department. Can you Health were late in becoming In-
gueas who made those comments? volved. The gay and lesbian com
munity shouldered all the responsibility of creating these veiy agen
cies that are now under attack!
If not overturned, these rules
could deny state funding to almost
every group which le now funded
Some examples of the broadness
of these rules: ...Any funded AIDS
group that refers a client to the
AIDS legal hotline operated by the
Texas Human Rights Foundation
will have "promoted Illegal behav-
1 r" and lose funding because
THRF is a gay/lesbian group.
Any funded group that refers a
ge.v male with HIV to a support
group for counseling at the
Montrose Counseling Center In
Houston, Oak Lawn Community
Center in Dallas, Waterloo Counseling Center in Austin, or Community Outreach in Fort Worth, would be
In violation of the law since these
centers are non-approved. Funding
would be denied
.. Anyone who works for, or volunteers at a funded organization
who wears on their lapel an "internationally recognized symbol of
gay rights" (I suspect this might be
a pink triangle?) is advocating and
promoting Illegal conduct. Funding would be denied
.Any literature which is on the
premises of a funded organization
which supports gay/lesbian rights
is forbidden. Funding would be de-
The Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of
Texas is outraged. We have submitted our comments to the attorney
general delineating our positions
on why the Department's guidelines are incorrect, homophobic
and patently unconstitutional.
As this letter Is being mailed,
LGRL is developing strategy with
individual attorneys, elected officials, the media and groups such as
THRF, Texas Civil Liberties Union
and National Lawyers Guild. Be assured that LGRL will lead the effort
to overturn these guidelines using
every means available to us.
We need your help desperately.
Here's what you should do:
1) Join LGRL...Help keep the lobby functioning. Write a check for
whatever you can afford or become
a sustaining contributor today.
2) Write your senator (EO. Box
12068, Austin, 78711) and representative (PO Box £910, Austin,
78711). Ask them to Inquire of Dr,
Bernstein why these rules are being proposed. Feel free to refer the
elected officials to LGRL for background
3) Write Dr. Bernstein. Since its
evident that he responds to citizen
pressure...he needs to hear not only what our community has done
and is doing, but also what a ...mess
would have occurred if gay men
and lesbians had not led and were
not continuing to lead the state's
AIDS response. He needs to be told
that TDH's actions are Insulting,
cowardly and fly In the face of rei
son and responsibility. His address
is: Dr. Robert bernstein, Commissioner of Health, 1100 W. 49th St.
Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas urges you to act today. This action, by the Texas Department of
Health, is the most direct attack on
the lesbian/gay community ever
proposed by an agency of the state
of Texas. We feel sure that you are
as outraged as we are that it is being done at the expense of people
—Bering's new TVs
From PAULA HEBERT, director,
Bering Care Center
I want to thank you for running
Richard Weekes' article concerning our stolen televisions and VCRe
(Montrose Voice issue 476, Friday,
Dec. 8). We were overwhelmed with
the generous responses we received... thanks to the publicity we
now have three new TVs, including
the loan of a big screen TVfrom the
PWA Coalition. We also received
one VCR, and the loan of another
one. We are very grateful for your
of free meal
CHICAGO (AP)—Cook County
Hospital's director says he will
ask the Cook County Hoard to consider reinstating a free, outside
program of meals for AIDS patients which was abruptly suspended last month for legal rea
Terrence Hansen said Dec. 2$ he
will submit a plan to the board, the
hospital's governing body, in January, asking that it be continued.
He said the program was canceled
only because it had had no legal
contract with the hospital.
The cancellation had prompted
protests from several AIDS support groups, including the AIDS
Foundation of Chicago and the
Hispanic AIDS Network.
Last month, the hospital put on
hold the meals-on-wheels program
operated by Open Hand Chicago,
a non-profit program for AIDS pa-
Thc program was operated by
Open Hand Chicago in cooperation with the local Ann Sather
Restaurants. Until its suspension
last month, it served free meals to
about 30 patients each Tuesday
The Chicago Tribune said it obtained an internal hospital memo
that said the program was terminated because of "legitimate legal
as well as medical concerns over
the receipt of food prepared by out-
"There is no identifiable mechanism of quality control to insure
that standards have been met in
the food preparation and handling
techniques," the memo said.
Hospital spokeswoman Wanda
Robertson said, "The program
was put on hold, it was not termi-
Illinois Masonic Medical Center,
another Chicago hospital, has operated a similar program for the
past four years, said Dr. David
Blatt, co-director of that hospital's
"We have no concerns about
contaminated food or other possible liability," Blatt said.
NEW YORK (APJ-Trial proceedings began Tuesday in the lawsuit
of a doctor who claims she contracted AIDS when she pricked
her finger with a contaminated
needle while working at a city hos-
While Dr. Veronica Prego plans
to testify despite her illness, she
did not attend jury selection,
which began Tuesday afternoon.
Reporters were barred.
"There was no need to put her
through this stress. She will be
here when the trial opens," said
Prego's lawyer, Diane Wilner.
Frego was a 25-year-old medical
school graduate seven years ago
when, she eays, she was accidentally stuck by an AIDS-infected
Prego has sued the Kings County Hospital and its parent agency,
the city Health and Hospital Corp.
Also named in the lawsuit are the
city and two doctors.
According to her $175 million
negligence lawsuit, Prego was
working under a licensed physician and was cleaning up after an
intern when she reached into a
tangle of gauze and bed linens in
which the intern had left a bloody
Two years ago she was diagnosed as having AIDS.
The HHC, which operates the
city's hospitals, disputes Prego's
version of the events, but refused
to discuss specifics of the case.
The trial judge. State Supreme
Court Justice Aaron D. Bernstein
said he believed potential jurors
might be reluctant to answer sensitive and somewhat personal
questions about AIDS if journalists were present.
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