Soprano soloist performs thrilling ‘White Lotus’ theme with warbling vocals and full symphony orchestra

28 June 2024, 17:21

Ella Taylor and the CBSO perform The White Lotus theme live at Classical Pride

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A 2023 celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in classical music culminated in a spine-tingling operatic performance of the ‘White Lotus’ theme by phenomenal soprano vocalist Ella Taylor.

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Europe’s first Classical Pride event took place at the Barbican Centre last summer in London, in a programme from Bernstein to Tchaikovsky which celebrated “the profound contribution that the LGBTQ+ community makes to classical music”.

The only TV theme at the concert was Christobal Tapia de Veer’s irresistibly catchy ‘Renaissance’ main title theme from the HBO series The White Lotus.

It was performed by soprano soloist Ella Taylor, conductor and ‘Classical Pride’ founder Oliver Zeffman, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a full choir – and the joyous background noise of a full audience at the Barbican, who erupted into applause and cheers as soon as they recognised what was being played on stage.

In Season 2 of the TV show, Tapia de Veer uses shakers, a harp and bel canto-style singing, with a distinctive use of the hand in the vocals to create distortion and uncertainty.

The vocals in the series were performed by Colombian Canadian singer Stephanie Osorio, who held a long, single note as she wavered the sound through her hand, and Tapia de Veer recorded it and sampled it into the melody.

Watching Ella’s performance is all the more extraordinary, when you realise they are doing it all completely live.

Oliver Zeffman conducts Ella Taylor in ‘The White Lotus’ main theme
Oliver Zeffman conducts Ella Taylor in ‘The White Lotus’ main theme. Picture: Courtesy of Oliver Zeffman

Zeffman, the festival’s curator and founder, told Classic FM: “Last year’s Classical Pride concert was an unforgettable experience. The warmth and enthusiasm from the audience – and from the music industry more generally – was incredibly touching; and so this has inspired me to come back with a bigger and bolder offering for this year.”

The event returns in 2024 as an expanded concert series taking place across five days at venues throughout London, featuring performance from prominent figures in the classical music industry and LGBTQ+ community, with Classic FM as its media partner. 

The first concert, on 3 July, is a ‘Classical Drag!’ event, a musical play on the hit TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Classical Pride’s celebratory finale will see Zeffman conduct the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, together with star soloists and an LGBTQ+ Community Choir, with music by Copland, Saint-Saëns, Tchaikovsky and more.

“Fundamentally, LGBTQ+ artists have always been at the heart of classical music,” Zeffman said. “Now in this expanded festival we’re able to show off a broader range of music and styles and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s contribution to classical music in a major way.”