Word and Flesh: Queer Possibility and the Anglican Choral Tradition

May 21, 2017 @ 10:00 am – 10:50 am
St. Peter's School Auditorium (second floor)
319 Lombard St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
The Rev. Sean Lanigan
The Reverend Dr. Giles Fraser, formerly Canon of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, writes in the Guardian that “if religion exists to make raids into what is unsayable, musicians penetrate further than most.” As part of what is often broadly called the ‘Anglican Choral Tradition,’ the musicians at Saint Peter’s are the heirs of a history of sacred music-making nearly 1,400 years old— a history of profound aesthetic beauty as well as deep institutional baggage wrapped up in the Church’s struggles with sexism, racism, and classism that are not wholly behind us. How can it be, in a context of service to the not-unproblematic institutions of church and—historically—state, that the practice of sacred music-making might be somehow disruptive, somehow strange— somehow “queer?”

This Sunday’s talk invites us to learn more about the Anglican Choral Tradition and to consider how, through its “raids into what is unsayable,” it might reveal both itself and the sacred texts that it foregrounds as perhaps queerer than we have long thought: more powerful a force in destabilizing longstanding hierarchies, creating space in our communities for those on the margins, and imagining new possibilities for being human in and beyond the Church.

Our speaker, Ben Liberatore, is an Alto in Saint Peter’s Choir, having found the church and its music program in the wake of writing an undergraduate thesis on gender and nostalgia in British cathedral choirs. After a year focused on a master’s thesis on the so-called ‘boy crisis’ in Western education, his evolving research interests currently constellate around musical childhoods, the possibilities for queer life in sacred places and texts, and sites that seem to afford alternative experiences of space, time, and body. In beginning doctoral study, he is interested in further examining narratives of growth and delay that compass or trouble ideas about ‘healthy’ childhoods and in thinking about choristership in particular as a potential site for reimagining children’s places in our notions of progress, arrest, and refuge.

[email protected] is the adult education hour on Sunday mornings at St. Peter’s. We try to offer a wide range of programming to engage your mind and your spirit, and we hope you’ll join us as often as you’re able.

Lauri Cielo serves as the Director of Communications and Development at St. Peter's Church.

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *