Classical music goes queer this upcoming Pride season with a very special event to take place in July.

Classical Pride in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and GAY TIMES will be the first time any major concert hall or orchestra anywhere in the UK or Europe has given a classical orchestral concert for Pride.

Conceived and curated by conductor Oliver Zeffman, Classical Pride will take place on 7 July 2023 in the Barbican Hall in London. 

The evening will be hosted by radio and TV presenter, Nick Grimshaw.

The orchestral concert will pay tribute to enormously vast body of classical music that has been contributed by queer composers over the centuries, as well as celebrating the diversity of the the LGBTQ+ classical music community of today.

It will feature performances from trailblazing classical stars including Pavel Kolesnikov, Samson Tsoy, Davóne Tines, Nicky Spence and Ella Taylor.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will be joined by an LGBTQ+ community choir, specially assembled for the occasion, and Zeffman will lead them in works by Tchaikovsky, Poulenc, Bernstein, Caroline Shaw and a new commission from British composer Julian Anderson. 

The concert will open with Leonard Berstein’s (1918-1990) dazzling overture to Candide, a vibrant work full of the flair, verve and colour that the composer himself embodied.

Tchaikovsky’s (1840-1893) heart-wrenching Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeare’s tragedy, expresses the burning romance that the composer was unable to see fulfilled in his own life – suppressing his homosexuality and entering into a disastrous marriage.

French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), both openly gay and a devout catholic, was at ease with the juxtaposition of his sexuality and religious faith, and produced a hugely diverse compositional oeuvre – his Concerto for Two Pianos will be performed by Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy, two pianists at the very top of their profession, and partners in music and life.

Completing the list of LGBTQ+ composers in Classical Pride are two of the most in-demand figures in the world of composition – Caroline Shaw and Julian Anderson.

Julian Anderson’s new commission, written especially for this event, will feature American bass-baritone Davóne Tines and an LGBTQ+ community choir.

“I’m hugely excited to be conducting the very first classical Pride concert. There is still so much progress to be made with LGBTQ+ rights – at home and across the world – and a concert celebrating the community’s enormous contribution to classical music feels long overdue,” says Oliver Zeffman, composer and founder of Classic Pride.

Josh Fletcher, Executive Creative Director GTX (GAY TIMES) adds: “At GAY TIMES, championing and elevating LGBTQ+ artists from all disciplines has been at the forefront of both our online and experiential strategies.

“Classical Pride allows us to expand the genre’s presence across the community, ensuring we’re creating space for the community to celebrate Pride in a variety of ways.

“Music will always have a unique ability to bring people together, and we look forward to seeing even more queer talent take to the stage for the UK’s first classical concert for Pride at major concert hall.”

Deborah Waterhouse, CEO, ViiV Healthcare and Chair of GSK’s LGBT+ Council says:The arts have long played an important role in shining a light on the LGBTQ+ community we’re proud to partner with Oliver Zeffman and GAY TIMES on this truly ground-breaking event.

“It’s so important that companies like ViiV and GSK continue to play their part in championing diversity, equity and inclusion and events like Classical Pride provide a fantastic platform to do so.”

All proceeds from Classical Pride in partnership with ViiV Healthcare and GAY TIMES will go to LGBTQ+ charities, including Terrence Higgins Trust, Rainbow Railroad, and Amplifund which is GAY TIMES’ philanthropic initiative with GiveOut.

Tickets for Classical Pride are available now for Barbican members, and go on general sale from Friday 28 April.