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Hogfish Farm to Stage – Queering the Canon

Monday, July 8 2024
$10 adv
$12 day of
Presented by

Farm to Stage, a series by the coastal Maine arts residency program Hogfish, is a “works-in-progress series cultivating the next generation of regenerative artists and stories.”

Queering the Canon features new musical works that defy traditional boundaries by classically trained LGBTQ artists-in-residence Katherine Goforth, Matthew Maisano, and Brian Mummert with pianist James Lorusso.

The evening will consist of public share of works-in-progress by Hogfish artists and a facilitated critical response with artists and audience members.

Brian Mummert
Deep Connection

One of my most cherished artistic practices over the last few years has been finding ways to break down audience-performer divides within the classical concert space. In my experience, perhaps the most powerful tool for doing this has been the work of Pauline Oliver’s, a composer, tape-music pioneer, accordionist, and founder of the practice of “deep listening.” Her music is designed to be engaged with collectively — trained and untrained musicians alike can take part, building musical soundscapes grounded in the practice of alternation between listening and contributing. We’ll explore one or two of her pieces together as I work to refine my own best practices for sharing this music with new communities.

I’m very grateful to be able to delve into the work of this important composer and musical thinker with you, and grateful to Hogfish for creating a space so welcoming of this kind artistic experimentation.

Brian Mummert sings, conducts, arranges, and composes music spanning eras and genres, all in the service of harnessing musical narrative as a mode for deepening mutual understanding. He is the founding artistic director of The New Consort, a vocal ensemble dedicated to exploring the roles musical ritual and community play in our lives; and a co-founder of ChamberQUEER, a chamber music collective highlighting the voices of LGBTQ+ composers and performers, and The Red Ribbon Revue, a World AIDS Day concert featuring HIV+ performers celebrating the legacy of artists lost to AIDS.

Brian has directed world-class ensembles in venues spanning six continents, serving most recently as Music Director of Ars Musica Chorale in New Jersey. Recent engagements include conducting Pro Coro Canada as a Banff Centre Fellow and a season as the assistant conductor of all-star professional Washington, D.C. choir The Thirteen.

As a vocalist, Brian specializes in music of the Baroque, having appeared as a soloist with organizations including Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue, Holy Trinity Bach Vespers, the Academy of Sacred Drama, Opera Essentia, and Bach Akademie of Charlotte. Past operatic roles include Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief, Mother in Kurt Weill’s Die Sieben Todsünden, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Apollo in both Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and Charpentier’s Orphée, in addition to abroad oratorio & concert repertoire ranging from Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri to Pärt’s PASSIO.


Matthew Maisano (with James Lorusso)
Coffee C*ntata: A Queer Reimagining

In addition to my life as an opera singer, I have been blessed with a now 5+ year career as a drag artist and nightlife producer. Drag has given me such a momentous outlet for both self-expression and gender affirmation that the “typical” (and often heteronormative) opera stage has not.

Through drag, I was introduced to song parody writing. I began creating my own original parody lyrics to classic musical theater and pop songs for my drag persona, Balena Canto to perform. For example, I once turned Mariah Carey’s iconic ballad, “Hero,” an inspirational song about believing in yourself, into “Gyro,” an ode to a delicious meat filled sandwich of Greek origin. My very first parody was taking Evan Parrone’s pivotal speech, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” from the hit musical Evita, and reducing it to a not-so-innocent confession of a sorority girl breaking the news to her frat boyfriend that she has an STI in, “Listen Tony, It’s Chlamydia.” The possibilities are truly endless. And while the above may seem ridiculous and silly, the fact is that I LOVE making people laugh because laughter is medicine. Laughter not only brings people joy, but it can comfort and even heal those in need.

Since I’ve been at this for a while, I now have aspirations of parody lyric writing on a grander scale. I decided to take the libretto from a chamber size work (Bach’s CoffeeCantata) and provide my own original translation/updated queer comedic libretto. The story will center around a Drag mother/coffee bar owner and her drag daughter whose “obsession” is distracting her from her on-stage duties. This will be the first time I am adapting lyrics from anything in the classical vocal repertoire (let alone one that is non-english), and also the first time adapting a full work containing multiple movements.

I think that it is imperative that we as classical musicians open avenues for new works that relate and connect with a modern audience. This can be done through mounting new music written by living composers, but it can also be done by adapting the classics (like what Hogfish is doing with Poulenc’s Mamelles). This journey will be a way for me to claim, rework, and breathe new life into an antiquated text set to some stellar music by one of the most well known composers that ever lived. My hope is that with an updated spin that features all queer characters and shines a light on queer joy/experiences/humor, I can present something that will capture the hearts of today’s audience.

Known for their “sonorous baritone” (Broad Street Review) and “commanding stage presence” (Miami Herald), Philadelphia native Matthew Maisano (they/them) performs a varied repertoire as an opera/classical singer, actor, and drag queen! Matthew is thrilled to return to Hogfish after appearing in their inaugural season as Wood Sprite/Thomas (cover) in L’arbre enchanté! Most recently, they made their solo debut with Opera Philadelphia as The Sergeant in La Bohème. This September, Matthew joins Portland Opera as one of four Resident Artists for their 2024/25 season!

Opera/theater highlights: The title role in Eugene Onegin (Russian Opera Workshop), Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro (Wilmington Concert Opera), Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Natchez Festival of Music), Morbio in Die schweigsame Frau & Baptista in Kiss Me, Kate! (Pittsburgh Festival Opera), Pandolfe in Cendrillon (Miami Music Festival), Melissa in Alcina REVAMPED (Alter Ego Chamber Opera), Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Three Pines Opera), Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief (Opera Tutti!), Strong Man in Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing (Penn Square Opera), Albert in Werther (Temple Opera Theater), and Leporello in selections from Don Giovanni & Schlendrian in Bach’s Coffee Cantata (Lancaster Symphony).

Matthew has a vibrant and active 5+ year career as drag persona, Balena Canto (Philly’s song-wielding siren with a voice snatched for the gods)! Balena’s mission in life is to bring joy, laughter, and perhaps a tear or two (she is an opera singer after all) to her audiences through song. To learn more about Matthew, please visit

Katherine Goforth (with James Lorusso)
Wie tot sind uns manche, die leben – a Weimar Cabaret

Operatic work rarely embodies my real values, and I don’t feel like I have a place in the field. I want to use my time in residency to experiment with ways that I can put my values on stage, and try to revitalize my artistic practice so that it feels empowering and life-enhancing — to create work that feels like it really matters. I’ve been asked to create a cabaret recital for performance at Stanford during the upcoming season. That program provides a container for the my work during the residency.

American vocalist Katherine Goforth shares the “thrilling tenor power” (Opera News) of her “noble, colorful and iridescent vocal sound” (Magazin Klassik) in vivid character portraits and heartfelt performances that “[do] not hold back” (The New York Times).

Katherine received Washington National Opera’s inaugural True Voice Award for transgender and non-binary singers, which included a recital performance at the Kennedy Center with pianist Christopher Cano. She received the Career Advancement Award from the fourth Dallas Symphony Orchestra Women in Classical Music Symposium, where she gave a joint recital with classical singer Julia Bullock and spoke in panel discussion. She received critical acclaim for her role in Philip Venables and Ted Huffman’s The F*****s and Their Friends Between Revolutions at Manchester International Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and Bregenzer Festspiele. In the past two seasons, she adapted Alfredo in La Traviata and Beppe in Pagliacci to female characters with Opera Bend, sang the tenor solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the tenor solo in Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with Vancouver (WA) Symphony, and gave recitals for Opera Parallèle and Boston Wagner Society.

Katherine’s speaking engagements have included Opera America Conference 2024, the League of American Orchestra’s Anne Parsons Leadership Program, New England Conservatory and Boston Conservatory.

Upcoming performances include a recital with Stanford Live and Das Lied von der Erde with 45thParallel. Katherine was a member of the International Opera Studio of Oper Köln, received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and her Master’s degree from the Juilliard School.


James Lorusso (pianist)

Based in the Boston area, James Lorusso is a collaborative pianist with professional experience in everything from art song and chamber music to musical theater and jazz improvisation.

James studied collaborative piano at the New England Conservatory of Music with Cameron Stowe and Jonathan Feldman. At NEC, he worked in the voice and opera department, and appeared regularly in the schools’ Liederabend and Sonata Night series, for which he once performed the complete songs of Rachmaninoff’s magnificent Op. 34. In the summer of 2023, he was a collaborative piano fellow at the Aspen Music Festival’s Opera Theater and VocalArts program, directed by Renée Fleming and Patrick Summers. In addition to performances in the festival’s art song showcase recitals, James played in coachings and masterclasses with Ms. Fleming, Metropolitan Opera coach Pierre Vallet, Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, and Broadway music director Andy Einhorn. As a solo pianist, he attended summer festivals at Brevard Music Center and the New Orleans Piano Institute, where he won 3rd prize in the solo competition and an honorable mention in the concerto competition.

In 2019, James was an accompanist on music staff at the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where he helped open nine shows in a single summer and played keyboard in the pit orchestra. This past year, he was the rehearsal pianist for White Snake Projects, an activist contemporary opera company, on its 2023 production of Let’s Celebrate—a sequence of four short chamber operas. When the company was invited to appear on WGBH at the Boston Public Library, he joined the cast to perform excerpted scenes. This season, he wasinvolved with NEC’s spring production of Die Fledermaus, and White Snake Projects on the latest premiere in their Opera Through the Looking Glass series.

James holds degrees in piano performance from Ithaca College and McGill University. In addition to his other performance and rehearsal engagements, he holds the post of pianist and organist at St. Irene’s Parish in Carlisle, Massachusetts, and is an accompanist and pianist coach at Wayland Public Schools.