Queer Songbook Orchestra

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Alanna Stuart, QSO, Photo by Guntar Travis

Alanna Stuart, Queer Songbook Orchestra, Photo by Guntar Travis

A Toronto based project, the Queer Songbook Orchestra are an 11-piece chamber ensemble, made up of a selection of the top queer and allied musicians working in the city today. Not simply covering the songs as per the original artists recording, the QSO commission all new interpretations of the material from many of Canada’s top composers and arrangers, and present the songs alongside the narratives that illustrate their place in the Songbook.

Throughout much of the twentieth century the lives of queer artists were hush hush, quietly and swiftly swept under the rug. The Queer Songbook Orchestra are lifting that rug, taking a look back at the last one hundred years of popular song with the queer lens intact, and revealing the backstories and personal narratives behind much of this music. Building a living archive of songs which acknowledges the contributions of LGBTQ artists, the QSO explore the unifying and empowering elements of music and shed light on revelations such as the contradiction of a public which adores the art but shuns the artist.

Contains mature subject matter.