About Us

Our Mission

The Queer Urban Orchestra (QUO) is a musical organization dedicated to the promotion of fine arts in the New York City metropolitan area whose membership is open to all adult musicians regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. QUO strives to entertain and educate members and audiences alike through performances of classical and contemporary music, promoting equality, understanding, acceptance, and respect.

Our History

QUO was founded in July 2009 as planning meetings started for NYC’s first orchestra specifically serving the LGBTQ community. Our first season kicked off with our Debut Concert on December 5, 2009, for which we began rehearsing on September 16, 2009. Since our inaugural concert our membership has grown to 60 musicians, and our collaborative effort with the Danspace Project have resulted in praise from the New York Times.

Our Artistic Director


The Real Thing. Any orchestra in this world would be fortunate indeed to have Julie Desbordes in their midst – and on their podium. ” — Jamie Bernstein (Daughter of Leonard Bernstein) The Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc.

A star in the making… has that unteachable natural gift of being an inspiring conductor leader for high level musicians and an inspiring teacher to music learners at all levels. Run, don’t walk, to bring her into your organization. — Eric Booth – Senior Advisor to the El Sistema movement in the U.S.; Author of five books; Former faculty: Julliard, Lincoln Center Institute and The Kennedy Center

A conductor of significant talent. — Gustav Meier – Faculty Emeritus, Peabody Institute and University of Michigan

Originally from Limoges, France, Julie Desbordes is a fast rising conductor known for her engaging style, energetic interpretations and emotional communication with her musicians and audiences. Currently Artistic Director of QUO (the Queer Urban Orchestra) in New York City, her recent international appearances as a guest conductor include concerts with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, in addition to concerts in Cuba, Venezuela, Canada, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, as well as an upcoming concert series with the Singapore Philharmonic Orchestra in 2017. She was also Associate Conductor of Education and Outreach for The Chelsea Symphony (NYC).

Ms. Desbordes has a special passion for educational outreach, and is known for creating interesting programs that bring a wider and more diverse audience into concert halls. She served for many years as Site Director and Orchestra Director for New York’s
Harmony Program (El Sistema USA). In this capacity, she was named “New Yorker of The Week” by Columbia University, and was recently invited as a guest lecturer at the National Conductors Guild Conference in January 2017.

She was one of two finalists for the Directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s El Sistema Youth Orchestra program (YOLA), and has been a featured guest at El Sistema programs nationwide, most recently in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Hawaii and Connecticut.
Julie is featured in an upcoming documentary about El Sistema USA by Jamie Bernstein (daughter of Leonard Bernstein) entitled “Crescendo! The Power of Music”, released on Netflix in 2015. She also has been noted in El Sistema pieces by PBS, ABC and CBS.

Julie’s love for music began from the moment she picked up the cornet at age 8 in her native France. Soon after, she was identified as a talent with the baton as well. She was named Co-Director of the Harmonie Municipale de Limoges at the age of 21.

Ms. Desbordes holds multiple degrees in both conducting and trumpet from each of the following: Conservatoire de Musique Limoges, Conservatoire de Musique Bordeaux and Conservatoire de Musique Montréal. Her conducting mentors include Raffi Armenian and Gustav Meier; and recently Marin Alsop during the 2015 and 2016 Cabrillo Festival.