Spectrum Ensemble

Dorothy Fragments (2019) is a collection of ephemera drawn from drag culture, catch phrases, geosocial apps, and Craigslist discussion forums, among others. One thing that strikes me about queer culture is its fragmentary nature. It is highly decentralized, reliant upon coded language and dress, inside jokes, and a relentless parsing of itself into subcultures, sub-subcultures, sub-sub-subcultures, and so on. In this piece, the silly, the heartbreaking, the nonsensical, and the problematic assemble into an incoherent whole, much like queerness itself. The name “Dorothy” in the title refers to the expression “friend of Dorothy,” a coded term for gay men that dates back to at least World War II. 

“Ah yes, the three genders.”  The meme started as a joking response to things like a trio of airport signs labeled “Men,” “Women” and “Telephones,” or an application form whose options are “Male,” “Female” and “Business.”  Over time, it was extended to refer to any group of three things.  In the case, the three genders are metal, wood and skin — the three materials that pair with the vibraphone in the piece’s three movements.  The title is also a playful nod to my and the performers’ queerness.

Spectrum Ensemble is a new music ensemble championing the work of talented LGBTQ+ artists. Based in Denton, TX, the ensemble commissions and performs new music by Queer composers at different points in their careers. As a young musician coming to terms with their identity, Jaime Esposito felt a distinct lack of LGBTQ+ role models in music. Jaime found that many other Queer musicians felt the same, and after discussing the idea with Stephen Hall – a friend from their undergraduate studies at Northwestern University – they decided to create Spectrum Ensemble together. Still in its infancy, Spectrum Ensemble enjoyed a successful first year: commissioning five new works; presenting its debut concert in Denton TX; going on a tour promoting Queer representation at universities and art series throughout Texas and Oklahoma; and performing at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. Spectrum Ensemble has three objectives: commission and perform great music of high caliber; increase representation of Queer artists in the concert music world; support LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations by donation part of concert proceeds.