The LGBTQ community was the focus of separate concerts by orchestras in Chicago and San Francisco this season. The Chicago Sinfonietta’s “More Than a Letter” program featured LGBTQ composers and musicians, with guest conductor Michael Morgan leading performances of Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini featuring pianist Sara Davis Buechner, who is transgender (pictured above with Michael Morgan and the orchestra). Also performing was Curie High School’s vocal ensemble Musicality, and the Allegrezza Singers joined the Sinfonietta for David Conte’s Elegy for Matthew, written in honor of Matthew Shepard, killed in 1998 in an anti-gay hate crime. Other composers on the concert included Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, and Jennifer Higdon. On the West Coast, the San Francisco Symphony had earlier cancelled its planned North Carolina concerts in response to the state’s passage in December of the anti-transgender HB2 bill. In its place, in April the orchestra performed a benefit “Symphony Pride” concert in its home hall, with guest artists including singer Audra McDonald and Music Director Tilson Thomas conducting music by Lou Harrison, Meredith Monk, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein. Proceeds went to local agencies serving the LGBTQ community.