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Our People: A Celebration of Black and LGBTQ Voices Through Song and Vogue

Piano & Tenor

Part of Festival of Voice Queer Song Fest

This event has passed.

TICKETING – £5 concession; £10 standard; £15 to pay a ticket forward

Please select £5 or £15 options as a concession ticket during the booking process.
The £5 ticket is available as a ‘pay what you can’ ticket, please select this if it’s the most appropriate option for you.

In this very special collaboration, American concert pianist Kunal Lahiry teams up with Grammy-award winning tenor Frederick Ballentine and the ballroom community of Bristol to pay homage to and explore Black and LGBTQ experiences through song and dance.

The event – broadcast by BBC Radio 3 – is a highly original coming together of two distinct art forms not often witnessed together: classical art song stretching back to composers such as Schubert, and the stylized dance of voguing that developed out of the Black and Latino gay ballroom scene of 1960s Harlem, and that was propelled into mainstream consciousness through Madonna’s 1990s hit Vogue.

St George’s will clear its chairs to form a runway, the usual stage of a vogue ball, from which Lahiry and Ballentine will lead proceedings and invite the ballroom community to join them in an eclectic, deeply moving set of songs, from the aforementioned classical composers to traditional spirituals and more contemporary artists such as Nina Simone. Members of the Bristol voguing / ballroom community will interweave throughout, giving a snapshot of the dance styles, poses and rich, complexities of ball culture.

This is a concert unlike others, a bridging of two worlds and a moment to understand and remember the lost generation of black and LGBTQ people. It illustrates, as Ballentine puts it, “our separation from the whole, our constant oppression, our lost loves and souls – but most beautifully, our resilience.”

This concert is approximately 75 minutes straight through, without an interval.

Kunal Lahiry is a BBC New Generation Artist and this concert is part of his two-day Queer Song Festival, which aims to bring together the LGBTQ+ creative community and classical music listeners, introducing each to the familiar in unfamiliar guise and finding common connections between the two.

Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, “vibrant” (New York Times) tenor Frederick Ballentine was the 2021 recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award. 2023 brings two anticipated role debuts at English National Opera, as he sings George Bailey in Heggie/Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and returns as Loge in Wagner’s The Rhinegold. “His athletic presence as the fiery demigod was as visually vivid as his voice was eloquent.” (Opera Magazine)

The Bristol Ballroom Scene weekly open, pay-what-you can sessions for those that want to get involved in an authentic Ballroom community. For more on us, check out here or our Instagram.

 Our People

Shut me out
Traditional spiritual Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Copland Twelve songs of Emily Dickinson: Nature! The gentlest mother
William Bolcom George
Copland Twelve songs of Emily Dickenson: Why do they shut me out of heaven?
Schubert Memnon
Margaret Bonds The Dream Portraits: Minstrel Man
Arr. Margaret Bonds Lord, I just can’t keep from crying

Going up in smoke
David Krakauer The 80’s Miracle Diet
John Musto Heartbeats
Ricky Ian Gordon I never knew
Music and Lyrics by Abel Meeropol aka Lewis Allan, arr. Pablo Campos Strange Fruit

arr. Earl Wild Virtuouso Etudes after Gershwin: The Man I Love
John Musto Shadow of the blues: Litany
Henry Purcell “When I am laid in earth” from Dido and Aeneas

So Loud, So Proud
Ricky Ian Gordon My People
Sergei Rachmaninoff Spring Waters, Op 14, No 11
Music by Nina Simone, Lyrics by Langston Hughes arr. Pablo Campos Backlash Blues
Zachary Radler, Lyrics by Frederick Ballentine and Jerre Dye Brown

This is programmed with support from The Foyle Foundation

Pre-event Food & Drink

Enjoy delicious drinks and light bites from our Café Bar ahead of the event.

Available to pre-order when booking your tickets, you can choose from a selection of house drinks on arrival, accompanied by a board of bread, olives and dips (all Vegetarian). Just select which option – for one or two people – you would like, before checkout.

Your pre-ordered food and drink will be available to collect from the Café Bar from 60 minutes before the event. It’s the perfect way to begin your event experience at St George’s!