78 person all LGBTQ+ orchestra to hold 1st concert in San Francisco. Here's a preview

The performance of the International Pride Orchestra is at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

ByZach Fuentes KGO logo
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
All LGBTQ+ orchestra to hold 1st concert in SF. Here's a preview
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A first of its kind orchestral concert is happening Thursday in San Francisco featuring LGBTQ+ musicians from different parts of the U.S. and world.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A first of its kind orchestral concert is happening this week in San Francisco.

It features nearly 80 musicians and each is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, from different parts of the country and world.

The blending of the orchestra sounds as though it's been practicing regularly but Monday was one of its first rehearsals.

"We have four days to put this all together," said Michael Roest, Founder and director of the International Pride Orchestra, "It is a rigorous, intensive schedule."

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The International Pride Orchestra consists of musicians from the Bay Area along with many from states across the country and others coming from as far away as New Zealand and Peru.

Thursday, they have their first performance.

"This orchestra is coming together specifically to raise awareness and funds for the queer community and organizations that are doing really important work to support the LGBTQ+ community," Roest said.

Proceeds from Thursday's concert are set to benefit local nonprofit LYRIC Center for LGBTQQ+ youth, a cause close to the musician's hearts.

"Being able to help those kids in some way is actually really important to me," said Sean Kennedy who plays the Tuba, coming from Albuquerque to play in the orchestra.

He and the other musicians say it's not just the cause they're helping that's been rewarding, it's also the experience itself.

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"In this profession, you would think that there's a lot more queer people, a lot more queer representation within orchestras, but there really isn't," said Kennedy.

"Just sitting down and working with these people is already very different because you don't have to worry about how you hold yourself how you say things, how you represent yourself. Everybody already accepts you without reservation and it's a little terrifying or a little intimidating because I'm not used to it. But it's beautiful at the same time."

Flutist Troy Paolantonio came from Maryland to play in this orchestra.

He joined the military when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was still in effect.

Today, he plays with the U.S. Army Field Band and is taking time away from them to play in the orchestra with the military's blessing.

"One of the best parts was that my entire chain of command unanimously signed off on my participation in this, and also to be a uniformed service member to represent for us in the International Pride Orchestra," he said.

After the first concert, Roest says they hope to have more concerts in other cities.

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For now though, the focus continues on making a difference locally.

"This is a really meaningful moment for a lot of folks," Roest said, "I know that San Francisco is the perfect place to welcome all of these folks from all over the world."

The first ever performance of the International Pride Orchestra is at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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