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Meet Jaime Esposito and Stephen Hall of Spectrum Ensemble in Denton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jaime Esposito and Stephen Hall.

For years, the Spectrum Ensemble was an idea incubating in Jaime Esposito’s mind. The idea grew after noticing that there is a distinct lack of LGBTQ+ representation despite queer artists making up a large part of the classical music community. As the idea grew, Jaime realized their passion is to give the queer community a platform to create and make music together.

​Jaime and Stephen Hall were friends ever since they attended Northwestern University together. After hearing Jaime passionately talk about this idea, it was Stephen’s enthusiasm and willingness to jump on board with the project that acted as a catalyst to finally create Spectrum Ensemble.

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.

Still in its infancy, Spectrum Ensemble enjoyed a successful first year: commissioning five new works; presenting its debut concert in Denton TX May 2019; 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.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For the most part Spectrum Ensemble has been received with open arms. We have positive feedback with all our performances, especially when we played at the Percussion Arts Society International Convention last fall. We had queers from previous generations pulled us aside at the convention to thank us for what we’re doing.

I think a big part of it is that this issue has been swept under the rug – or ‘into the closet,’ if you will – for so long in our professional community. “It’s about damn time” is a quote that sticks out to me from one of the people we met.

It hasn’t been all acceptance, though. When we went on tour to Nacogdoches, Texas we received push back from one Catholic student who was vocal against coming to see our performance. He said he didn’t believe in what we were doing. Considering this student would be required to study the life and works of Barber, Tchaikovsky, and Bernstein, all of whom are historically significant gay musicians, it was an interesting choice to stand against our concert.

We believe in the power of visibility, and even though some people might not accept us immediately, I think just the fact that we exist and are active and unapologetic makes a positive difference, even in those who are initially opposed.

Please tell us about Spectrum Ensemble.
Spectrum Ensemble has three objectives:

Commission and perform great music of high caliber.

Increase representation of Queer artists in the concert music world.

Use our music to raise funds that will be donated to meaningful LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations.

Spectrum Ensemble is based in Texas, where LGBTQA+ representation has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of young queer people. From there, the group travels out to different communities and regions to share their music.

One thing that I really love about Spectrum is the fact that we spread wealth throughout the Queer community whenever we can. For our recent Pride 2020 t-shirts, we commissioned a local Queer artist (IG: @nadiarosales_) for the design, and we work with the gay-owned company Pride Basics to make all of our shirts. Pride Basics is also a fabulous collaborator on our June fundraiser for Black Lives Matter, where we are selling t-shirts and donating 100% of the proceeds to BLM. Here is the link:

Our music commissions support Queer composers, both financially and often—as we have realized in retrospect—by providing a safe space for them to express their Queerness. In our commissions we do not expressly ask for the music to be ‘gay’ themed, but during our first round of commissions all four composers felt inspired to write music reflecting their Queer experience.

“Golden Gate” was Kevin Rosacia’s vehicle to express their internal struggle coming to terms with their sexual orientation, and was their way of coming out publicly (we didn’t even know Kevin wasn’t fully out when we commissioned the piece! He announced it when we were interviewing him about the piece shortly before the premiere. So brave!)

“Cog” was written during composer LJ White’s first year publicly identifying as male—and as a way of sifting through all the ‘noise’ of how he fits into the world.

Luke Ellard’s “speak over” is a commentary on marginalized individuals who speak over, instead of lifting up and amplifying community voices.

Finally, “Dorothy Fragments” by Derek Tywoniuk is a multidisciplinary piece on the decentralized, fragmentary nature or queer culture, including inside jokes, catchphrases, addiction, and subcultures.

It brings us joy to create a space where artists feel safe to be their most authentic self.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I would not call it luck because I think Stephen and I know how to hustle. We can thank our past teachers for giving us those qualities while we were in school.

Sometimes I refer to it as “playing the game” when I talk about getting Spectrum started, and I think we “play the game” well. We have a heavy social media presence which will help any ensemble. We are both blessed with EXTREMELY supportive families.

If you think of life with “good luck” or “bad luck” you’re going to emotionally pigeon hole yourself because you’ve accepted you have either good luck or bad luck. We have gotten plenty of NO’s when we apply for things, but that’s not something we focus on, we move on to the next thing and continue trying to make opportunities for ourselves.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rar Farmer (rainbow Outfits)

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