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Music & Concerts

FALL ARTS 2018 CLASSICAL: Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and beyond

Regional symphonies, opera companies have busy concert season planned

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dc classical 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

Jacqueline Echols (Violetta in the second cast) and Joshua_Guerreo (Alfredo in the main cast) in Washington National Opera’s ‘La traviata.’ (Photo by Cade Martin; courtesy WNO)

Washington National Opera presents Verdi’s “La traviata” Oct. 6-21 in the Kennedy Center Opera House (2700 F St., N.W.) in a new production directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, a lesbian. Tickets range from $25-300. Details at kennedy-center.org.

Other WNO fall highlights are “Opera in the Outfield” with “The Barber of Seville (Sept. 29), Ryan Speedo Green in recital (Oct. 4), “Silent Night” (Nov. 10-25) and holiday family opera “The Lion, the Unicorn and Me” (Dec. 14-16).

The NSO Pops performs the score to the movie “Get Out” on Sept. 20. Tickets are $29-99.

The National Symphony’s season-opening gala concert is Sept. 22. Tickets are $65-175.

Among other NSO fall highlights are “Pictures from an Exhibition” (Sept. 27-29), Tchaikovsky’s Fifth & Ax plays Mozart (Oct. 4-6), Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (Oct. 11-13), The Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works of Dvorak, Strauss and Brahms (Oct. 14), NSO Pops perform the score to “The Empire Strikes Back” (Oct. 23-25), NSO Pops with Andrew Bird and Gabriel Kahane (Oct. 26-27), Gaffigan conducts Russian Masterpieces (Nov. 1-3), “Declassified: Ben Folds Presents Regina Spektor and Caleb Teicher” (Nov. 2), Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (Nov. 15-17), NSO Pops perform Disney scores from the last decade (Nov. 23-25), Britten’s “War Requiem” (Nov. 29-Dec.1) and more. Full details at kennedy-center.org.

Christopher Jackson (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”) performs as part of Renee Fleming’s Voices series in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Sept. 29. The series continues with Robert Fairchild performing music from “An American in Paris” Oct. 12 and Youssou Ndour in the Concert Hall Oct. 30.

Vocal Arts presents Brian Mulligan (baritone) and Timothy Long in recital performing a new work by openly gay American composer Gregory Spears, who will conduct, on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre. Tickets are $80. Details at vocalartsdc.org.

Urban Arias presents “The Last American Hammer” by Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi Sept. 22-29. The company is dedicated to contemporary opera. Tickets are $45. Details at urbanarias.org.

Washington Concert Opera opens its fall season with Gounod’s opera “Sapho” Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. at The G.W. Lisner Auditorium. Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey will sing the lead. Tickets are $40-110. Details at concertopera.org.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 36th season Saturday night (Sept. 15) at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore). Gala tickets are $500; concert tickets start at $50. The program includes works by Gershwin, Strauss and Broadway favorites. British singer Cynthia Erivo (“The Color Purple”) will perform.

The BSO performs Beethoven’s “Eroica Symphony” (Sept. 21-23), “Star Wars: a New Hope” in concert (Sept. 28-30), Sibelius symphonies (Oct. 4-7), Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” (Oct. 18-20), a Grieg piano concerto performed by Freddy Kempf (Oct. 27-28), the score to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (Nov. 2-3) and more. Details at bsomusic.org.

Baltimore Concert Opera, founded in 2009, opens its season with “Don Giovanni” (in Italian with English supertitles) Sept. 28 and 30 in the Engineers Club Grand Ballroom (11 W. Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore). Tickets are $21.50-71.50 at baltimoreconcertopera.com.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “The Best Worst Thing,” an evening of cabaret stories and songs” Nov. 17 at Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.) and “The Holiday Show” Dec. 8-16 at Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.). Details at gmcw.org.

The Washington Bach Consort presents “Handel & Bach: Sing a New Song” Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. at National Presbyterian Church (4101 Nebraska Ave., N.W.). Tickets are $10-69. New Artistic Director Dana Marsh is gay. The Chamber Series will perform “Bach to Mozart” with The Franklin Quartet Nov. 2, the Noontime Cantata Series presents “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben (BWV 8) Oct. 1-2 and “Christmas with the Consort” Dec. 16. Details at bachconsort.org.

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 Sept. 29-30 at the George Washington Masonic Memorial (101 Callahan Dr., Alexandria). Tickets are $5-80. They’ll also perform Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony No. 3 Nov. 3-4. Details at alexsym.org.

The D.C. Different Drummers Capitol Pride Symphonic Band has its fall concert on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.). Its jazz ensemble D.C. Swing! will perform Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. at Columbia Pike Library (816 S. Walter Reed Dr., Arlington). Its holiday concert will be Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., N.E.). Details at dcdd.org.

Virginia Opera performs Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene” Oct. 6-7 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Dr., Fairfax). Tickets are $54-110. The company returns with “Don Giovanni” Nov. 10-11. Details at vaopera.org.

The National Symphony Orchestra at its home in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. (Photo by Scott Suchman; courtesy NSO)

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Arts & Entertainment

Demi Lovato comes out as gender non-binary in Twitter announcement

In 2017 Lovato had invited Danica Roem, the 1st openly trans lawmaker in Virginia to the American Music Awards to speak out against bullying

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Photo by Kathclick BIGSTOCK

STUDIO CITY – In an announcement Wednesday, two time Grammy nominee, actor and singer-songwriter Demi Lovato revealed that they are identifying as gender non-binary. Taking to their Twitter account, the 28 year-old Lovato said; “The past year and a half, I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work. And through this work, I’ve had this revelation that I identify as non-binary,” they said in the video. “With that said, I’ll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them.”

They went on to note, “I feel this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and am still discovering.”

 

They continued in the thread adding; ” I’m doing this for those out there that haven’t been able to share who they truly are with their loved ones. Please keep living in your truths & know I am sending so much love your way xox”

Lovato also expressed gratitude to the various LGBTQ advocacy groups for their support; “Thank you for your love & support today. Here are a few great organizations and leaders who actively offer education and support:”@glaad, @HRC. @TrevorProject, @LALGBTCenter, @alokvmenon, @mattxiv, @them.

In November of 2017, Lovato invited Virginia Democratic State Delegate Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person seated in a state legislature, to walk the American Music Awards red carpet with them to speak out against bullying. Lovato and Roem were brought together as part of GLAAD’s Together initiative, a campaign for all marginalized communities to stand together.

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Music & Concerts

May pop-up performance features women composers

Whitman-Walker Health and the Goethe-Institut present ‘Kept Under Glass’

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Kept Under Glass, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image via ‘Kept Under Glass: Unheard Women’s Voices’ Facebook event page)

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., N.W.) and the Goethe-Institut present “Kept Under Glass: Unheard Women’s Voices,” a multimedia street concert, May 5-6 on the corner of 14th and R Streets.

This free event features songs about love and a longing for connection by rarely heard Austian and German women composers, including medieval chants, classical opera and early 20th century works.

The four performances will take place over the course of two evenings at Whitman-Walker’s new cultural center, The Corner at Whitman-Walker. Performances will last 30 minutes while three performers, each in their own window, sings to sidewalk audiences on the other side of the glass.

Event times and other information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

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a&e features

This queer ‘Genera+ion’ doesn’t care what you think

HBO Max ‘dramedy’ follows the stories of a group of queer students

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Justice Smith, gay news, Washington Blade
Justice Smith stars in ‘Genera+ion.’ (Photo courtesy HBO Max)

If there’s anything pop culture has taught us, it’s that the future belongs to the young.

It’s a statement of the painfully obvious, of course; the patterns of our existence are shaped and defined by the repeating cycle of generations succeeding each other, to the point that we take it for granted. Yet for the same reason, it’s a fact that is easily forgotten – or, perhaps more accurately, ignored – when we are living in the present.

This is especially true if we belong to the generation that “owns” the present, who have suffered through the frustrations of coming of age under the thumb of our elders and are in no hurry to pass the baton to the kids who are next in line.

Pop culture, however, has a way of reminding us that our days are numbered. Driven by the fires of capitalism, which are in turn stoked by the tastes of the most lucrative demographic (and we all know which age bracket they belong to), it repeatedly confronts us with glimpses of our own inevitable irrelevance – and that’s terrifying.

Which is why the history of pop culture is also the history of youth rebelling against age, and while the individual skirmishes in that eternal battle might go either way, only the most delusional among us could doubt which side will always prevail in the end. Usually, these are the ones who respond with the most violent distaste when they see a vision of the world as imagined by young people; clinging to the hope they can hold fast against the winds of change, they dismiss, decry and disparage, attempting to exert control by invoking the same core beliefs and traditional values their own elders used to control them.

Today’s kids, however, will have none of it.

Consider, for instance, the case of gay singer/rapper/songwriter Lil Nas X, who just last week shoved aside the homophobic boundaries of the music industry – yet again – with the debut of the spectacularly subversive video for his newest single, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which the out Lil Nas appears first wearing a body-hugging sequined onesie, then sporting full Marie Antoinette drag, and finally clad in underwear and a pair of stiletto heels as he performs a lap dance for the Devil himself.

In an Instagram post marking the release, addressed to his own 14-year-old self, Nas fully acknowledged that he was “pushing an agenda… to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.” It was not an apology, nor an attempt at damage control over an inevitable backlash he already knew would be fierce. Nas was throwing down the gauntlet – it was a given there would be an outcry against the no-holds-barred queerness of the video, and he was sending a clear message that he was there to take on all challengers.

These included the predictable right-wing suspects, like “Blexit” founder Candace Owens and anti-trans South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, but also fellow musicians like rapper Joyner Douglas, who lamented in a pearl-clutching tweet that Nas had “dropped some left field ish & all our kids seen it” – joining many other homophobic commentators who trotted out the time-worn and long-discredited idea that any expression of queer sexuality is harmful to children. What’s telling is that while many of these attempts at “cancellation” come from younger voices (most, but not all of them, overtly right-leaning), the justifications behind them are based in ideologies that can safely be called ancient.

Needless to say, Nas has been more than up to the task of swatting aside all these objections in the still-ongoing social media fray, and it has been truly glorious to watch.

At 21, Lil Nas X is a voice that rises from a generation waiting in the wings, and it’s a generation that won’t wait quietly. They’ve caught on to their own inevitability, and they’ve decided they’re just going to go ahead and claim their time right now.

It’s that particularly “now” spirit of youthful rebellion that can be felt in “Genera+ion,” the HBO Max “dramedy” that premiered earlier this month and follows the interwoven stories of a group of queer students at an Orange County high school. Created by father-daughter team Daniel and Zelda Barnz, it depicts the struggles of teens as they try to make sense of their sexuality in a world defined by adults – and often, by the baggage those adults carry with them from their own struggles.

Widely compared to “Euphoria,” HBO’s other show about the severely dysfunctional hidden sex life of high schoolers, it’s a series that opts for a lighter spin. This manifests in the sure-fire humor to be found in typical comedic cliches of teen stories – awkward gaffes, clueless adults, “Mean Girl” style social politics, etc. – but can be found, albeit more subtly, in its handling of dramatic tropes, too. In its pilot episode, for instance, it introduces the relationship between defiantly queer star student Chester (Justice Smith), who has been slapped with his third violation of the school’s “dress code,” and new school counselor Sam (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) with a scene in which the assumptions of the older man color his perceptions of the younger, resulting in an attempt at guidance that – at least in the beginning – seems more a response to his own inner conflicts than anything being felt by his new charge.

The joke might not seem apparent to those conditioned to assume a power dynamic weighted on the side of an older-and-ostensibly-wiser authority figure, but for anyone who can remember being a kid forced to listen to advice from a grown-up who doesn’t even understand your problem, it’s unmistakable.

“Genera+ion” teases the possibility of an inappropriate relationship blossoming between Chance and Sam, and introduces similarly salacious storylines as it interconnects its young characters’ lives – we meet closeted bisexual Nathan (Uly Schlesinger), whose Grindr-esque hook-ups include his sister Naomi’s (Chloe East) boyfriend, as well as Greta (Haley Sanchez) a Latina with a deported mom and a lesbian crush on artsy and seemingly free-spirited Riley (Chase Sui Wonders), and all of that is just in the first episode – and in each case, our expectations are smashed in short order, along with any egoistic presumption that we know better than they do.

It probably goes without saying that “mainstream” reactions to the show have been mixed. Many critics, such as Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson, have resorted to snark as they attempt to characterize it, according to conventional notions of storytelling and aesthetics, as an angsty teen drama that tries too hard. But “Genera+ion” transcends these kinds of assessments. It may be messy, confusing, shallow, and even shocking – but that’s the world its teen ensemble (as well as their target audience) lives in.

They may make questionable choices, they may even suffer for those choices, but in the words of a pop culture boundary-pusher from another era, they are “quite aware what they’re going through.”

After all, the clueless adults have already proven they don’t know how to make it better. Why should they listen to anything we have to say?

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