May 30, 2018 at 3:11 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Swedish orchestra transforms homophobic hate mail into music

Tenor Rickard Söderberg rehearsing with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra. (Photo via Instagram)

An orchestra in Sweden decided to turn a negative into a positive when it received homophobic hate mail.

Last month, the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra did a performance featuring music from LGBT composers. One anonymous listener was unhappy with the decision and sent the orchestra an angry letter.

The writer said the performance made them “want to vomit” and that the orchestra was “hopping on the fag train.”

In response, composer Fredrik Österling and out tenor Rickard Söderberg decided to pen a cantata titled “The Fag Train” (Bögtåget).

“As an artistic institution, we naturally actively relate to our surroundings and events going on around us. The hate letter I received reeked of contempt and fear for the love between human beings,” Österling told Queerty. “I had no hesitation when Rickard Söderberg suggested that I should set it to music. By considering the text as an opera libretto, we were able to scrutinize the emotions that the anonymous sender was seeking to express. And at the same time, we are doing exactly what an artistic institution should be doing; we are reflecting our times in our art.”

The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra will perform “The Fag Train” in June.

Watch Söderberg perform a sample of the cantata below.

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