"Sensational... a superb pop ensemble" - NOW Magazine
"9 out of 10... unleashing the unifying power of music" - Exclaim Magazine
"The open and loving nature of this show became it's most impactful element" - The Queen's Journal
The Queer Songbook Orchestra are a Toronto based 12-piece chamber pop ensemble, dedicated to exploring and uplifting queer narrative in pop music. With the queer lens intact they are looking through the last century of popular music and bringing forward obscured 2SLGBTQ historical narratives, as well as the personal stories of members of the community and the songs most deeply connected to them.
Holding the belief that story and song are powerful communicators and carry within them the potential to increase understanding, promote dialogue and foster deeper community, they have been bringing intimacy and vulnerability to stages across Canada since 2014. By working with a base of familiar songs, drawn from pop music of the last century and reinterpreted by a team of highly skilled arrangers, and offered alongside their accompanying narratives, the listener is allowed a new entry point into familiar works. This element of the project explores the elusive nature of song and the pockets of memory where they tuck away, providing comfort, resilience and a bond amongst community.
The QSO got their start in 2014 at the now defunct Videofag, in Toronto's Kensington Market. They have since gone on to play many of the top performing arts festivals throughout Canada, including Luminato (Toronto), High Performance Rodeo (Calgary), PuSh (Vancouver), and Canada Scene (National Arts Centre). They have been part of Buddies in Bad Times 'Queer Pride' programming for the past four years, have been in residence at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, and been featured on the CBC program 'Q'.
The Queer Songbook Orchestra are partnered with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, the largest independent LGBTQ archives in the world, an agreement which provides a permanent home for all QSO recordings, stories and research, and allows the ensemble to receive charitable donations on the Archive's behalf.
The Queer Songbook Orchestra are:
Shaun Brodie, Artistic Director/Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Alanna Stuart, Vocals
Alex Samaras, Vocals
Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Storyteller/Poet
Jennifer Burford, Violin
Evan Lamberton, Cello
Lief Mosbaugh, Oboe/English Horn/Vocals
Micajah Sturgess, French Horn
Thom Gill, Guitar/Vocals
Johnny Spence, Piano
Dan Fortin, Double Bass
Stefan Schneider, Drums/Percussion
And an ongoing selection of guest singers, narrators, storytellers and musicians, which has included:
Leah Fay (July Talk)
leZlie lee kam
Simone Schmidt (Fiver)
Torquil Campbell (Stars)
Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink)
Katie Ritchie (The Organ, Vag Halen)
Casey Mecija (Ohbijou)
Geordie Gordon (The Magic)
Samuel Davidson (Skim Milk)
and many more writers, theatre artists, high school students and other members of the community from Whitehorse, Yukon to St. John’s, Newfoundland.
We have commissioned work from a number of arrangers across Canada, including: