By Margie M. Palmer
All-gay quartet blends vocals and strings with classical and pop
The men of Well Strung are more than just another set of pretty faces.
The group is comprised of 1st violin Edmund Bagnell, 2nd violin Chris Marchant, cellist Daniel Shevlin and Trevor Wadleigh on viola.
Not only are the New York City-based performers talented, they’re helping to break down some of the walls that are all too often felt by gay performers.
Well Strung just celebrated their fourth anniversary and while some have referred to the quartet as “just another boy band,” don’t let their boyish good looks fool you.
Bagnell, Marchant, Shevlin and Wadleigh are among the most talented performers within the classical-pop crossover circuit.
“[We] think it’s fun to be referred to as a boy band,” the group told Gay San Diego. “It’s funny because we can fit in to a few different genres — classical string quartet, boy band, or even a Pentatonix-style singing group — but being referred to as a boy band always makes us smile.”
The New Yorkers added that the media’s quick note of the fact that they’re an all-male, all-gay group has never seemed to pose any sort of challenge. In fact, if it has hurt them at all, they said, it’s probably in ways they’ll never know.
“Truthfully, it hasn’t seemed to be a negative,” they said. “We’re proud of who we are and we’ve never shied away from that. We feel lucky to perform in all types of venues for all types of crowds. Although we are gay, we don’t think of ourselves as a ‘gay act,’ but as four guys performing music we love.”
Their music is a mixture of classical and pop, and the band hopes to “bridge the divide” between the two.
“The fun thing is that there are no rules, so if we want to mash up Lady Gaga with Vivaldi, who’s to say no?” they said.
The four musicians — who all live together in one big apartment in NYC — said the number one thing they’d like concertgoers to know, is they should expect the unexpected.
Many audience members have told the band members that they’ve walked into a venue not knowing what to anticipate regarding their style of music — but by the time they leave, they knew they’d experienced “something awesome.”
“We love [hearing] that,” the group said.
Well Strung is scheduled to perform July 9 at 8 p.m. at the Moonlight Amphitheater, located at 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, in Vista.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Moonlight Cultural Foundation (MCF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is the fundraising arm, as well as the producing partner for Moonlight Stage Productions, a cultural arts program owned and operated by the city of Vista. The organization is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the theatrical experience in North San Diego County, said MCF’s CEO Toria Watson.
“A main endeavor of Moonlight Stage Productions is to run a youth-based musical theatre program that takes place over the summer,” Watson said. “We also focus a lot of our efforts into community outreach which helps us connect with our LGBT community, the military community and underserved children.”
The Foundation raised approximately $1 million in 2015, through ticket sales and private donations.
“We provide groups tickets to the two concerts we present each year,” she said. “It’s wonderful to provide these groups, including the Vista Boys and Girls Club, an opportunity to come see performers that they otherwise most likely wouldn’t see.”
Watson said she encourages all music lovers to check out their list of upcoming performers.
“The Moonlight Amphitheatre is such a remarkable place,” she said. “It’s family friendly, it’s a great place to watch a show while picnicking on the grass and sitting under the stars. It’s truly unique.”
Tickets for Well Strung’s July 9 performance run from $20 for general admission lawn seats, to $150 for VIP, which includes pre-show dinner, post-show backstage meet and greet, an orchestra seat, VIP parking pass, Champagne and desserts.
Tickets are available at the Moonlight Amphitheatre box office and online at tinyurl.com/zryh8q2.
Find Well Strung online at well-strung.com, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or visit their YouTube page to hear their unique blend of music at tinyurl.com/jq4a74t.
For more information about the Moonlight Amphitheatre, upcoming shows and/or the MCF, visit moonlightstage.com.
—Margie M. Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past 10 years. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.