Arts, On Campus

ChamberQUEER Brings Inclusivity to Contemporary and Classical Hits

In 2018, ChamberQUEER was born with the mission of highlighting the underrepresented queer voices within classical music, according to its website. 

On Oct. 25, ChamberQUEER presented its second installment of “BaroQUEER” at Boston College, a showcase that offered an inclusive take on a variety of contemporary and classical pieces. 

The O’Connell House Grand Hall became home to a display of queer celebration. From pride flags hanging from the upper level’s banisters to an impressive display of rainbow memorabilia and souvenirs for all guests in attendance. A safe environment for all was at the forefront of the performance. 

A full house of audience members attended the event. 

“At a time when we are all reconsidering our shared histories and inviting new perspectives to deepen social and musical contexts, we wanted to explore what a queer understanding of ‘historically-informed performance’ can bring to this repertoire,” the program for the event reads. 

The performance began with a rendition of “Zefiro Torna” by Claudio Monteverdi sang by Elijah McCormack, male soprano, and Danielle Buonaiuto, soprano and co-founder of ChamberQUEER. The song was accompanied by harpsichordist Peter Lim and baroque cellist Jules Biber, both of whom provided energetic, complex instrumental backdrops.

“We are committed to creating a welcoming experience for all,” Biber said after the opening piece. “Our goal is to amplify the beautiful queer talents that join us today.” 

The second and fourth pieces were carried out by a quartet of instrumentalists in the chamber. Keats Dieffenbach and Rafa Prendergast, baroque violinists, made their performance premiere, alongside Lim and Biber, performing “Suite in G Minor – Minuet l & ll” and “Suite in G Minor – Allemande,” both composed by Cullen O’Neil. The chemistry of the quartet shined through as each instrument’s unique qualities weaved together in the songs. 

Baritone Brian Mummert sang “Vos Mépris chaque jour” by Cyril Auvity and L’Yriade. Mummert’s voice was strong as his melody echoed through the Grand Hall. 

The audience was engaged throughout the entire array of performances, particularly during Lim’s solo piece “Passacaille d’Armide” by Jean-Henri d’Anglebert. Audience members bobbed their heads and tapped their toes along to the song.

“[It is] music that invokes a feeling of dance that you don’t truly dance to,” Buonaiuto said. 

Lim shocked the crowd when he pulled out a recorder during the group’s performance of “Poses” by Rufus Wainwright. Lim’s clean transition from the harpsichord to the recorder showcased his sheer talent as an instrumentalist. The audience continued to move subtly to the music.

“Dance connects the entire program, as the audience encounters music that prompts listeners to move,” a part of the program written by Isaac Jean François read. “The earlier works on the program inspire the composition of more contemporary works, all of which play with the rhythmic flow of repeating phrases.”  

The entire chamber performed together for its final song “Stay On It” by Julius Eastman. The multitude of variables at play, from the precise manipulation of the violin’s strings to the fluidity at which the vocalists hit their high notes, all intertwined to mark a memorable and exhilarating finale to the event. The chamber’s palpable chemistry was on full display as the song showcased each member’s strengths and the musicians shared smiles and winks throughout the piece.

November 1, 2023