While I was browsing around my music library for the gay pride entry, I scrolled right past the Gay American Composers discs released by CRI in the late ’90s. At the time, classical labels were marketing directly to gay audiences by packaging the music of gay European composers in provocative covers. CRI put a spin on that kind of commercialism by compiling its own such series with the music of American composers.
Gay American Composers, Vol. 1 was released in 1996 and contained mostly works by living composers. Gay American Composers, Vol. 2, released in 1997, focused on dead composers. Lesbian American Composers (1999, I think?) focused on — wait for it — women.
CRI went out of business in 2003, and while its masters are now owned by New World Records, these discs are pretty much out of print. Here, then, are select works from all three volumes of the series.
Ruth Anderson, "SUM (State of the Union Message)" Henry Cowell, "The Lilt of the Reel" David Del Tredici, "Fantasy Pieces: Allegro Minacciando… Diabloique" Lou Harrison, "String Quartet Set: Estampe" Jennifer Higdon, "running the edgE" Robert Maggio, "Two Quartets: Desire-Movement" Harry Partch, "Ulysses at the Edge of the World" Ned Rorem, "The Nantucket Songs: The Dancer" Nurit Tiles, "Raw Silk (A Rag)" Virgil Thomson, "Symphony No. 3: Allegro Moderato"
- If you want performers’ notes, I can add them to this entry later. Just say so in the comments.
- I don’t know if I ever listened to the Lesbian American Composers disc all the way through.
- The Music of Lou Harrison, from the CRI American Masters series, is one of my favorite discs. Conveniently, Kronos Quartet performs the String Quartet Set. I wanted to include Kronos in this entry somehow since violist Hank Dutt is gay.
- Damn, Ned Rorem was hot when he was young.
- These files are set to self-destruct after two weeks.