QUEST founder and former president Sam Jones ’14, ’18 MM on ANOHNI:
One queer artist I admire is ANOHNI. ANOHNI is a trans woman, singer, composer and activist, originally fronting the band “Antony and the Johnsons”. She is the second transperson to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for their song “Manta Ray” on the film Racing Extinction.
Myself being a vocalist and queer person, she has been one of my greatest musical inspirations as I feel we have similar vocal timbres, which is something I have never related to in any other singer. She is outwardly political in her musical persona as seen in her album “HOPELESSNESS” and I aspire to be as outspoken and raw in my own music.
QUEST member Hope Wilk ’18 MM Harp on Tegan and Sara:
When I was 16, I really wanted to be straight. Like most millennial angsty teens, I was obsessed with my own appearance and I thought that true success in life was being beautiful, thin, confident, and universally adored for just that (being a teenage girl sucks, y'all).
Needless to say that all of my queer feelings were suppressed deep in order to achieve my goal. And while shows like 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' and 'Glee' had pushed more cultural acceptance of gay men, I still believed that being a lesbian was dirty, and meant I was angry, and misandrist. (none of which are true btw!!!)
And then one day, my cousin bravely told me she was bisexual and introduced me to Canadian-lesbian-twin-chanteuses Tegan and Sara. They were edgy, cool, confident, and undeniably queer. Their music helped me tap into the feelings that I had so long denied myself.
There's something to be said about learning who you are through the stories and experiences of others. As queer people, survival means seeking out these stories, and having the courage to share your own. Thank you Tegan and Sara for teaching me this lifelong lesson.
In honor of PRIDE month, please consider donating to Tegan and Sara Foundation, an amazing organization fighting for economic justice, health, and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.
QUEST member Tyler J. Bouque ’21 Vocal Performance and Music Composition on Thomas Adès:
I’ve always admired and adored Thomas Adès, the great contemporary British composer, both as a musician and a man. His artistry stands as one of the towering giants of our time, with his operas stunning audiences across the globe. This, of course, is reason enough to idolize his work.
But my personal connection to him runs a little bit deeper; we share a sexuality too. Adès lives and works with his partner Tal Rosner. They even collaborate on projects, most famously when Tal created the video graphics for Adès’ piano concerto “In Seven Days”. This creative duo is a powerhouse on the artistic scene, and an inspiration for many young queer musicians who hope (as I do) to share their artistry with the individual they love.
What makes Adès unique in the queer community, however, is the volume of his voice. His music speaks far more than his words. He rarely speaks on his sexuality or attempts to push it to the forefront of his career. Rather, he prioritizes the art he creates over the creator, an ideology I largely agree with. His music has touched audiences in all genres, and his performances as pianist and conductor continue to inspire a new generation of talent. His sexuality however isn’t the main focus; it’s his artistry.
The music is what matters most, and what will last long after we are gone. As musicians, we must all put ourselves second to our art; individuality creates musicianship, but the music itself is eternal. We work to serve the art we love, whether straight, queer, cis, trans, or anything in between, and Maestro Adès has continued to remind me of this.
Music has a place for everyone; Pride does too. Happy Pride Month!