Five LGBTQI+ Artists You Need to Know
In honor of Pride Month, and all year round, join All Classical in celebrating LGBTQI+ musical artists who provide so much joy, talent, and beauty to our collective soundscape. As we come together to enjoy the station’s catalog of diverse programming, let’s get to know a few of the LGBTQI+ artists who regularly grace our airwaves.
While celebrated as an extraordinary performer and bandleader globally, Thomas Lauderdale is an absolute icon among audiences of his Pacific Northwest hometown. Lauderdale has had a keen interest in politics and social justice since his teens and planned to run for political office after graduating (with honors) from Harvard University. Instead, in 1994, the musician founded the band, Pink Martini, to play events for progressive causes. Since its founding, Pink Martini has blossomed into a cultural staple integral to Portland’s identity while staying true to Lauderdale’s founding mission to participate in community interests actively. As a pianist and sought-after collaborator, Lauderdale is admired for his captivating stage presence and dazzling musicianship.
Last month, Lauderdale joined All Classical host Christa Wessel at the station to chat about his new collaboration with legendary Portland surf rock band Satan’s Pilgrims called “Thomas Lauderdale Meets The Pilgrims.” Listen to Christa and Thomas’s conversation here.
Canadian-born and Grammy Award-winning conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin has led the world’s most acclaimed orchestras and opera houses, not to mention his seemingly endless collaborations with the most distinguished singers and musicians of our time. Currently, Nézet-Séguin serves as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, Artistic and Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Orchestre Métropolitain in his native Montreal. The conductor has become a beloved household name known for his fresh perspective, his dedication to the art form, and his charisma. In an industry where prominent arts leaders historically have rarely been openly gay, Nézet-Séguin is a beacon of hope for up-and-coming musicians who otherwise may have feared discrimination.
Edna Vázquez is a multifaceted performing artist whose music seamlessly spans the genres of rock, folk, pop, and R&B. Her Mexican heritage plays a vital role in her identity as a performer whose roots are in mariachi music (she grew up in Jalisco, the heartland of the musical genre). Additionally, Vázquez regularly tours with Pink Martini as a featured soloist and even released an album, “Bésame Mucho,” with the ensemble. She has become a household name for her powerful vocal performance and passion that permeates any listener’s heart. When Vázquez first came out as a lesbian as a teenager, she was culturally isolated. Ever since, the musician has been a fierce advocate for LGBTQI+ rights and spreading the message of love and cultural healing through music.
American conductor Marin Alsop is a trailblazer in classical music, known for modernizing the world’s leading orchestras with her fresh, diverse programming. Among her list of inspiring accolades are an impressive collection of “firsts” – the first woman to lead a major orchestra in the United States, South America, Austria, and Great Britain, the first (and only) conductor to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, and the first female conductor of BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, among many others. As an openly gay woman conductor, Alsop creates a sense of hope among aspiring conductors and musicians about the future of inclusivity and equity in the industry and beyond.
In breaking news, Alsop has just been appointed as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, in addition to continuing to serve as Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Pianist Hunter Noack is a native Oregonian and All Classical’s inaugural Artist in Residence whose love of the outdoors has manifested in the innovative musical experience IN A LANDSCAPE: Classical Music in the Wild™. In the annual series, Noack and his 9-foot Steinway replace the concert hall with some of this country’s most stunning natural backdrops, bringing his gorgeous interpretations of classical music to larger and more diverse audiences. Noack earned degrees from the University of Southern California and Guildhall School of Music & Drama and has toured nationally and internationally with his partner, Thomas Lauderdale’s band, Pink Martini. In 2022, the musician released his debut album, “In a Landscape,” which topped Billboard’s classical music charts.
Revisit Noack’s recent stunning collaboration with poet Kim Stafford on Sunday Brunch: “All Classical Portland’s Poetry Project 2023: The Improv Sessions.”
To keep learning, check out these posts from All Classical’s Arts Blog:
- Music Exploring Queer Experiences by Emma Riggle
- Nine Fantastic LGBTQI+ Classical Music Groups in Oregon by Kelly Lantz