With its 2023-2024 season Chosen Family, Queer Urban Orchestra dedicates a full year to celebrating the liberating and healing power of kinship bonds rooted in friendship. QUO performs music written for and about friends, music that could only exist with the help of others, music that considers our relationship with the planet, and music to sing and dance along to with friends. New and longtime friends join the orchestra, including Ariadne Greif, Ryan Roberts, Jordan Rutter-Covatto, Andrew Yee, Empire City Men’s Chorus, and Youth Pride Chorus. Timeless works of Beethoven, Elgar, Price, and Tchaikovsky meet new and recent works by Jessie Montgomery, Caroline Shaw, and Derek Weagle. The whole season is performed by an orchestra that is itself an ever-expanding chosen family on a mission to create safe space for expression and love.
October 21, 2023: Besties
Besties launches Queer Urban Orchestra’s 2023-2024 season, Chosen Family. Two scintillating overtures celebrate the longtime romantic relationship and even longer friendship between two of America’s most important composers: Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti. “Luminous, expressive” (The New York Times) soprano Ariadne Greif joins the orchestra to perform works by three of her best buddies — Jessie Montgomery, Eve Beglarian, and Alex Temple — along with music by great friends Alma Mahler and Alexander von Zemlinsky. With each movement embodying the spirit of one of the composer’s dear friends, Edward Elgar’s sweeping Enigma Variations anchors the program. Plus, Youth Pride Chorus sings in the full version of the theme song to The Golden Girls!
This concert will be held at Symphony Space. Check back soon for ticket information.
December 16, 2023: With a Little Help From our Friends
With a Little Help from our Friends continues QUO’s Chosen Family season with music that we can only hear with the help of others. Ryan Roberts of the New York Philharmonic brings his “flawless poetry” (The New York Times) to Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto, which was the result of a wartime friendship with an American soldier who was an oboist back at home. Steven Stucky’s colorful rendering of Henry Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary brings new life to a rich work that rarely sees the stage. Florence Price’s Fourth Symphony would never have been heard at all were it not found by chance tucked away in the attic of a Chicago area home half a century after she lived there. QUO performs the world premiere of a new work by Associate Conductor Derek Weagle featuring “riveting” (Opera News) countertenor Jordan Rutter-Covatto singing texts by Hafiz and Rumi that capture the magic of queerness.
January 20, 2024: QUOtets
Join us for our annual concert of chamber music in a cabaret-style setting.
March 16, 2024: What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
In a season about friendship, QUO considers our relationship with Earth. Ludwig van Beethoven’s classic Pastoral Symphony and Benjamin Britten’s vision of Gustav Mahler’s What the Wild Flowers Tell Me form a poignant pairing that invite us to reflect on what we have already lost of the natural world and what is at stake in what remains. “Spellbindingly virtuosic” (London Telegraph), GRAMMY Award-winning cellist Andrew Yee performs her long time collaborator, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw’s work Lo in a new version for cello and orchestra. Plus, the East Coast premiere of Yee’s recent work inspired by Ocean Vuong’s heartbreakingly beautiful debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.
May 11, 2024: We were together. I forget the rest.
In an emotional apotheosis of QUO’s Chosen Family season, the orchestra unites with Empire City Men’s Chorus, which shares roots in the queer community. Together the groups perform late queer composer Conrad Susa’s arrangement of Johannes Brahms’s Four Serious Songs, which trace an arc from a struggle with the bitter prospect of death to a calm peace with mortality. ECMC and QUO also premiere a new work by Jeffrey Parola. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky thought of his Sixth Symphony as his finest work, dedicating it to a man he loved dearly. The symphony also grapples with death, pitting the brightest music of his oeuvre against his most devastating. Opening the concert is George Walker’s stunning Lyric for Strings.
June 15, 2024: Our Annual Pride Gala
Following a fun orchestral set with dance themes, a tribute to queer legend Howard Ashman, featuring a few guest singers. Ashman was the lyricist for such hits as Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast. He had written only three songs for Aladdin when he died of AIDS at the age of 40 in 1991. Ashman was an iconoclastic perfectionist, and with his emotionally direct writing, he revolutionized the Broadway musical, ushered in the Disney Renaissance, essentially invented the classic “I Want” song. The 2018 documentary Howard tells the story of his dizzying accomplishments and his sexuality.