They are four, they are musicians and singers, they are gay and they are Well-Strung, a singing string quartet! Since 2012, Edmund Bagnell, first violin, Christopher Marchant, second violin, Daniel Shevlin, cellist and Trevor Wadleigh, violist, put their own spin on the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Rihanna, Adele and Lady Gaga in surprising shows. The leader of the group also appears to have a rather unusual figure for a classical musician as you can judge from the pictures we publish. Interview with Christopher Marchant.
mygaytrip.com : please introduce Well-Strung and how the quatuor was born?
Christopher Marchant: I was born and raised in Ohio. I graduated from Malone College with a degree in Music Ministry before heading off to New York City to pursue a career in music and theatre. In 2010 I took a job in Provincetown, MA performing in Naked Boys Singing (it’s exactly what it sounds like, if you haven’t heard of it). In my spare time I played violin on the main strip. It was a really cool way for me to keep my violin skills honed, make extra money, and meet a lot of people. One of the people I met was Mark Cortale, our manager and producer. He introduced himself to me and we soon began collaborating on a project. We didn’t know exactly what the project was going to be or look like; it didn’t even have a name at the time. We just knew we were onto something great and we were committed to seeing the idea through. I found our cellist, Daniel Shevlin, through a friend on Facebook. DNA magazine did a spread on me being a ‘hot violinist’ and they called the spread Well-Strung. I thought it was a brilliant fit and the name stuck with our group. We then found our 1st violinist, Edmund Bagnell, and our violist, Trevor Wadleigh, at auditions in NYC in January of 2012.
MGT : Are you all gay ?
CM: It was not our intention to hire all gay musicians. We actually hired a straight guy to be the violist at first, but he backed out because of a wrist injury. Our focus in this project is not our sexuality; it’s definitely the music. But we are all out and proud of who we are as artists and as gaymen.
MGT: When did you start playing the violin ?
CM: I started when I was 9. I was playing tee-ball at the time and I was terrrrrrrible at it, so I quit. My mom said I had to play a musical instrument if I was going to quit sports, so we agreed on the violin. I was also happy about this because my sister had started the clarinet the year prior and I was secretly jealous 🙂 I loved playing right away.
MGT: Will you go on tour soon?
CM: We would love to go back to Europe – we have had two short stints in London and Vienna and had great experiences both times. If anyone knows of a venue or two that needs a singing string quartet, give us a call 😉 We are filling out our fall schedule right now and will keep that information posted on well-strung.com!
MGT: You don’t have the physique that someone would expect from a violinist What’s your secret?
CM: There’s no secret, really. I think that I, like many gay men, had a childhood involving some insecurity and acceptance issues. I was quite the geeky, awkward, skinny teenager. After college my body started growing into itself more and so I started lifting. At the time I really just wanted to exercise so I could eat whatever I wanted and not get fat hahaha. But, I got results pretty quickly and got attention from that, so I continued. At the time I was pursuing work in musical theatre so it seemed like being in great shape was a good idea anyway if I wanted to be on stage. When I was cast in Naked Boys Singing, I got a little more serious about lifting. I wanted to bulk up for that show in particular. I got even more attention in Provincetown when I was playing the violin because of my physique. As you said, I don’t look like the typical violinist. Part of me really likes that and wants to keep that up – I love when people break stereotypes and do unexpected things. So I guess fitness is important to me for multiple reasons. Also, a lot of peer stigmas exist against kids in music; it’s seen as geeky and uncool. I want to show kids who are budding musicians that there is no set mold they have to fit if they want to be successful.
MGT: Your favorite travel destinations?
CM: I’ve had so many good travel experiences lately! This past year my favorites were London, Vienna, Puerto Vallarta, San Francisco, and New Orleans. I think Galway, Ireland is my favorite travel destination overall.
MGT: the most gay-friendly destination?
CM: I am definitely looking forward to going back to Puerto Vallarta again in January. It was a great gay destination, but it’s good for straight people as well. Just a very friendly, beautiful place. I think Provincetown is my favorite gay destination. There is so much to enjoy here; a lot of culture, music, and art. The people have great energy and welcome people to their city. I’ve spent so much time here in my life that it’s really starting to feel like home. I’m definitely not even close to being sick of spending time here!
Well Strung will perform @ PALM in Puerto Vallarta, January 19 to February 6
© Pictures by Ric Ide, Scott Henrichsen et Jerrad Matthew