Flute Resources for Pride Month

Happy Pride!! 🏳️‍🌈

Most of the resources for LGBTQ+ representation in classical music that I’ve seen center the biographies and works of queer composers.  And while that visibility is great,  this reminds me of the “add women and stir” approach to incorporating women into historical narratives – a method that’s at least 50 years out of date.  

A photo taken looking down in a practice room showing a black music stand with rainbow socks on its base, a flute on a flute stand, and a pair of feet in black ballet flats.

These conversations also can’t stop as soon as the month of June is over – but in order to really dig into these discussions, we need language and framework to be able to describe the socio-historical reasons that LGBTQ+ musicians have historically been marginalized, and how those reasons intersect & interact with our modern values & institutions. The reality is, queer erasure in classical music is still a problem – and that’s just one of the many reasons why a greater awareness of gender studies and queer studies is needed in classical music.  

That said, the resources below go beyond just a list of flute repertoire (though I’ve covered that too) and include resources for queer musicology, supporting trans students, and finding a LGBTQ+ ensemble near you.  

As always, this resource list is a work in progress, and none of the links are for affiliates or sponsors – just content from other creators, musicians, and educators that I’ve enjoyed and/or found helpful 🙂

Flute Music by LGBTQ+ Composers

This is by no means a complete list of flute music by LGBTQ+ composers – but if you’re looking to diversify your repertoire, here are a few suggestions to help you get started!

Historical Composers*

*Our concept of LGBTQ+ identities didn’t exist prior to the 20th century, so in many cases it’s difficult to know whether historical figures would have actually identified with those terms.  However, what we know about these composers’ personal relationships indicates similarities with modern-day LGBTQ+ identities.  

Contemporary Composers

Similar to studies of the gender demographics of classical musicians, a majority of the composers discussed in common narratives of LGBTQ+ composers are either men or male-identifying.  On top of that, the vast majority of queer composers in these narratives are either lesbian, gay, or bisexual, with very little representation of the rest of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.  

While that unfortunately holds true for the composers listed below due to limitations in information I was able to find, this is a work in progress and I hope to expand it to become inclusive of more diverse identities in the future. 

A black and white portrait of Angela Morley, with shoulder-length hair curled at the bottom, a sleeveless dress with a pattern of light gray swirls, and her hands in her lap.
Angela Morley was the first openly trans woman to be nominated for an Academy Award, and won 11 Emmys for her work in arranging and composing music for television.

Chamber Music

Timothy Hagen – La brute, c’est Pan, after Debussy’s La flûte de Pan or Syrinx. This is a new work re-examining the myth of Pan as told from Syrinx’s point of view, and a great example of reframing an anti-feminist work that has been normalized as part of the “traditional” flute canon.

Queer Musicology

The book cover for "Queering the Pitch," edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas.  It's black and white with green and white lettering, and includes smaller images of a cello, Pan playing a reed flute, a harp, an upright piano, and a pipe organ

I haven’t read this yet, but it’s on my to-be-read list.  It was one of a handful of books originally published in the 1990s that centered an interdisciplinary approach to musicology guided by gender studies and social science.  These books were influential in promoting discussions around inequalities experienced by musicians with marginalized gender & sexual identities in the field of classical music. 

If you’re looking for an in-depth socio-historical analysis that goes beyond the biographies and works of LGBTQ+ composers, check out this book. 

YouTube Channels

The National LGBTQ+ Flute Choir, performing “Mountain Songs” by Jennifer Higdon.

This ensemble is conducted by Vincenzo Volpe, and was formed to provide a safe space for queer flutists and allies to enjoy making music together and to promote compositions by LGBTQ+ composers.  They perform annually at the NFA conference, and were formed in 2021.  Their YouTube channel features recordings of their performances, and is also a great place to find programming ideas for your own flute choir.  

Flute is a DRAG! Episode 2: Lips

In 2020, Kylie Fortissimo became the first drag queen invited to perform at a major flute convention. Check out the link above for her website, and you can also find several videos with performances of flute repertoire and flute-playing tips on her YouTube channel.

The London Gay Symphony Orchestra performing the 2nd movement of Tchaikovski’s Symphony No. 5.

There aren’t many LGBTQ+ orchestras around the world (and even fewer on YouTube). The LGSO is the largest in the U.K., and performs both new commissions and repertoire from the classical canon. Their channel features recordings from some of their concerts.

Fostering Safe Spaces

Given the current political atmosphere here in the U.S., this post wouldn’t be complete without resources to help support trans musicians.  The website linked above is a resource for music educators in every corner of our field.  The site’s founder, Melanie E. Stapleton, is a music educator, LGBTQ+ advocate, and transgender woman.