CN Lester announces a new show, Dark Angels: Music for Guitar and Mezzo-Soprano.
So So Gay recently reviewed Ashes, the debut full-length album by CN Lester. We were massively impressed by what we heard and therefore spoke to the talented singer-songwriter about the inspiration behind their work and their experiences as a trans artist.
So, we were very excited when the news came through that Lester would be performing Dark Angels: Music for Guitar and Mezzo-Soprano at Lumen United Reform Church on Monday 21 May.
Lester, also creative director and member of En Travesti Ensemble, will be using the intimate surroundings of the Tavistock Place church to showcase a selection of 2oth and 21st century art song, including works by Benjamin Britten, Jonathan Culp, and Peter Maxwell Davies.
In addition, Lester will present a newly commissioned setting of Roz Kaveney’s Lullaby Sonnets by fellow En Travesti member Philip Lawton. Fans of Ashes may be disappointed that Lester will not be performing material from the album but we are tremendously excited about this news from the talented and eclectic artist.
Speaking exclusively to So So Gay about the concert, Lester said; ‘Toby Carr, my guitarist, and I have been performing songs from the Early Music repertoire together since 2010, and broadening our scope to include 20th century and contemporary classical works seemed the next logical step. The foundation of our performance remains the same – the communication of poetry through music, weaving a story through sound – but with a little extra musical exploration.’
Of the choice of Lumen URC as a venue, Lester added, ‘It’s beautiful, central, welcoming – it’s everything you could want in a venue. When some bigoted “Christians” are getting all hot and bothered over the prospect of LGBTI equality, it’s nice to remember that some religious communities are open-minded and supportive. Classical musicians in this country are reliant on churches lending us performance space – and I’m incredibly grateful to the Lumen for letting us use them as our base.’
In terms of what we can expect on the night, Lester explained; ‘To be challenged but, hopefully, to be moved by beauty as well. Some classics – Britten’s Nocturnal, folk-song arrangements, and ‘Songs from the Chinese’ – a rarely-performed, never-recorded virtuoso piece by Maxwell Davies (the ‘Dark Angels’ of the title) – and newly-commissioned settings of Roz’s Kaveney’s poems by young composer Philip Lawton. Contemporary classical music can seem intimidating from the outside – odd rhythms, and bizarre vocal leaps – but you’d be surprised by how easy it can be to listen to, if you approach it without assumptions and just let it carry you away. It’s a gorgeous programme – though, as a vocalist, terrifying to be called upon to show off a three octave range!’
Particularly pertinent to our readers is that this concert has its roots in LGBTQI culture, as emphasised by the singer; ‘Without having planned it that way, there’s an awful lot of queer content and culture in this concert – Maxwell Davies, Roz Kaveney, Philip Lawton and I are all out and proud – we’re including some very sexy settings of Emily Dickinson, and Toby is pretty damn awesome for a straight guy.’
Dark Angels: Music for Guitar and Mezzo-Soprano will take place at Lumen United Reform Church, 88 Tavistock Place, at 7.30pm on Monday 21 May. Tickets are available on the door, priced at £8.00 (concessions £5.00).