13-piece Toronto chamber pop ensemble bring LGBTQ2S narratives to life through live performance.
Toronto’s Queer Songbook Orchestra will visit New Brunswick next week for a pair of performances in Fredericton and Sackville.
Since 2014, the group have been pairing pop music staples with queer voices from across the country to create entertaining and enlightening performances that highlight queer experiences in unique fashion.
On their current tour, the QSO will visit many provinces and territories for the first time through support received from both the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program and the Ontario Arts Council.
“We’ve had the chance to play a lot of bigger cities in Canada working with arts festivals and organizations who have had the budgets and infrastructure to bring in a larger and expressly queer project and support it,” said QSO artistic director Shaun Brodie. “It’s a lot more difficult to get to the Frederictons and the Sackvilles, especially with a 13 piece group that has a very queer aim. The invites aren’t exactly rolling in from a lot of these smaller communities.
“I thought it would be really nice to do a tour that specifically target these places. The whole thing we do is tell stories of queer experience and a lot of these stories originate in smaller areas from across Canada so this is kind of a way of taking those stories back home in a sense,” he said.
Using popular music from the past century, the group work with a several arrangers and composers to rework these songs and melodies as a means of sharing stories collected from all corners of the country.
“Leading up to this tour we did a more targeted story submission campaign through social media and attached an honorarium to the stories we selected,” said Brodie. “Word spread. We ended up literary getting stories from Victoria to Charlottetown.
“It was not easy to choose which stories to use but we got it down to an equitable cross section,” he said. “The songs are all rearranged to varying degrees and are usually still recognizable but there have been a few in the past that go pretty outside of things.”
The QSO has performed throughout Canada, including shows in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. They have been in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, and have also been featured on the CBC program Q.
In addition to presenting stories through live performance, the QSO has also partnered with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, the largest independent LGBTQ archives in the world, to create a permanent home for their recordings and the stories collected through this unique creation process.
The QSO will perform in Fredericton and Sackville this month.