The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s LGBTQ group, In Unison, is kicking off a new season of connection, inclusivity, and classical music just before Atlanta Pride.
The group started performing as single special events three years ago, intended to celebrate and engage the LGBTQ community. In Unison has since grown into its own membership program, which includes not only tickets to orchestra shows, but also access to a post-show reception with food, drinks, and an opportunity to meet and chat with the featured musicians.
The highlight of last season for Jacob-Clifton Albritton, a member of In Unison, was a show featuring Black opera singers.
“Afterwards, we got to meet all of [the performers], including the fabulous Denyce Graves, which was pretty amazing,” Albritton told Georgia Voice. “What was really special for me about that was that all my identities — being Black, being a lover of music, being queer — emerged, and I was able to celebrate that and something I love so much, which are the arts.”
That’s what In Unison is all about: making the queer community feel not only included but celebrated in a space that traditionally may not be inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
“People really feel welcomed and held in that space,” Albritton said. “With all the stuff that’s going on in the world, in particular for LGBTQ people, it’s important to have safe spaces where people can just show up and be themselves, and In Unison cultivates that, which is really exciting and really beautiful — and I think somewhat rare in the classical music space.”
While In Unison is the perfect opportunity for queer lovers of the symphony to find community with like-minded individuals, it’s also great for newbies and novices to experience the wonders of the ASO.
“The beautiful part about the Atlanta Symphony is that we have a great love for people who come for the first time,” Erin Jones, the Director of Sales and Audience Development at ASO, told Georgia Voice. “You don’t realize how integrated classical music is in your lives and how familiar it actually is to you — even though you might not be able to name it or name the composer, you can still enjoy it. You can still say, ‘I know how that makes me feel.’ You don’t have to know anything more than that.”
For $200, members of In Unison get tickets to four exclusive events, which include the food, drinks, and concert tickets, as well as four additional complimentary tickets to select Delta Classical Series concerts — which can be used to bring a guest.
“[In Unison is] a great way to demystify the Symphony,” Albritton said. “Whenever I bring a friend with me, usually it’s folks who are a little nervous or feel like the orchestra or the symphony is not for them. Groups like In Unison help break down that barrier and show people that there’s a place for everyone.”
The membership also includes a 20 percent discount on additional select Delta Classical performances, complimentary access to the 2023/24 Behind the Curtain virtual concert series, and pre-sale access to Symphony Hall Live, outdoor, and special concerts.
This season kicks off on October 5 and 7 at 8pm with Maestro Nathalie Stutzmann conducting music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The concert will include the debut of harpist Xavier de Maistre, among the foremost harpists in the world, as he plays Alexander Mosolov’s 1939 Harp Concerto.
Those who aren’t yet sure they want to join can get a free taste of the Symphony at Piedmont Park on September 30 at 7:30pm. William R. Langley will conduct a program of classical masterworks that will be performed this coming season. The ASYO String Chamber Ensemble will also perform at 6:30pm. Guests are encouraged to arrive early with picnic blankets and chairs. Beer, wine, and food will be available to purchase on site.