Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

CN Lester talks Hidden Perspectives with Maddy Oakes

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Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?Channel 4 performance

Well, hi.  My name’s CN Lester – I’m a musician, both classical and alternative, a writer and an LGBT/feminist activist. One of the main areas of my academic research and performance practice is the history of castrati and travesti singers in the Western classical tradition, and the subversions of gender that that entails within the art form and corresponding culture – something which I’ll be focusing on at the Hidden Perspectives festival.

How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives?

I was asked to be involved and couldn’t say no.

Do you believe LGBTQ and the Bible should be discussed together (under the same platform)?

Absolutely. I may be an atheist, but many of my loved ones are devout Christian/Jewish – and the Bible was not only a cornerstone of my education in general, but an enormously important part of my introduction to the idea and practice of social justice. I know that I’ve been fortunate – the people in my life who hold the Bible dear are also staunch fighters for LGBTQI and feminist rights (well, and human rights in general) – but  I think that that’s an interpretation of the Bible worth bringing into the light. I can’t stand it when it’s assumed that conservatives and bigots have a stranglehold on Biblical interpretation.

How will you ‘bring the Bible out of the closet’ at the festival?

I’ll be discussing and demonstrating the ways in which the Bible has been interpreted by three of the great composers of the Baroque era – Handel, Vivaldi and Strozzi – and how radical and, specifically, queer elements appear in their interpretations – partly due to the conventions of the time, partly because of their personal choices. I’ll be both speaking and singing – so hopefully something for everyone.

For more information see CN Lester’s participants page here.

What are your next projects?

In terms of classical music: a concert series focusing on Barbara Strozzi, a concert series focusing on Schoenberg and Schubert, a new production of Bellini’s take on ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (I’ll be playing Romeo, which is amazing), and a whole bunch of compositions.

Alternative music: finishing up the writing of my next album ‘Aether’ and then recording it.

Activism: Putting on a Transpose night for London Pride, featuring trans artist and raising money for trans charities .

Writing: Heading off to Paris in August to churn out the first draft of the next novel, and crossing my fingers that a publisher will pick up the first.

Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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