Toronto’s Queer Songbook Orchestra is a group of LGBT and ally musicians who perform everything from old standards to orchestral covers of pop hits.
Popular numbers include “Smalltown Boy,” from pop-dance trio Bronski Beat.
And “Constant Craving” by lesbian icon kd lang.
But it’s what happens between the songs that makes this group so unique: Interspersed with songs are stories that reveal the once-silent history of LGBT musicians, as well as personal narratives from orchestra members.
“I started thinking about the back stories in music that are queer—you start to look into it and realize how many there are,” says QSO founder and artistic director Shaun Brodie, who says “For this LGBTQ ensemble, the stories are more important than the songs.”.
He decided to combine music and stories as a way to link the LGBT community to those who came before.
“It’s when someone being vulnerable, and they are kind of putting themselves out there, that people… feel like they’re in something together,” he explains.
Get to know more about the Queer Songbook Orchestra below.