CHELSEA, Manhattan (PIX11) — There was an unusual concert at the Church of the Apostles this weekend.
It’s unique because the orchestra that performed, the Queer Urban Orchestra, is made up mostly of LGBTQ+ musicians playing music by many LGBTQ+ composers.
One of the pieces played was by New York City composer Caroline Shaw. The Queer Urban Orchestra chose this piece not only for its beauty but also because the orchestra’s conductor says the composer identifies as queer.
Since its founding 13 years ago, the Queer Urban Orchestra has highlighted music by members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“One of the reasons is to give a voice to gay and LGBT composers, conductors, and musicians,” David Lohman, the president of the board of the Queer Urban Orchestra, told PIX11 News.
Most, but not all, of these musicians identify as LGBTQ+, and there is also diversity among their professions. There are retired lawyers, a dentist and anesthesiologist, and people who work in nonprofits, and for Google. The concertmaster, Phong Ta, is the dentist anesthesiologist.
“There is a balance of the two, science and art,” Ta said when describing his love of his work and his music.
“This is the best orchestra I have ever played in,” Matt Nosanchuk, a violinist and one of the newest members of Queer Urban Orchestra, told PIX11 News. “It’s also a great social opportunity to meet other musicians.”
This all-volunteer orchestra is united in their love of music, and so is their supportive audience in the sold-out concert.
Janice Battle, an audience member, said she comes to the concerts to support a family member, “a cousin who plays the violin, so we support the queer orchestra.”
Derek Weagle, the associate conductor who led this concert, summed it up this way: “Having a group that is queer first, that plays queer composers, that has queer conductors and musicians, it is really affirming.”
The next Queer Urban Orchestra concert, scheduled for April 15, will be called Pipes of Peace.