Sarah Hennies’ “CONTRALTO” Live Performance and Screening with Post-show Q&A
Friday, February 1, 6pm-8pm
$10 admission, $5 for MOCA Members, free for students
“Contralto” is a one-hour work for video, strings, and percussion that exists in between the spaces of experimental music and documentary. The piece features a cast of transgender women speaking, singing, and performing vocal exercises accompanied by a dense and varied musical score that includes a variety of conventional and “non-musical” approaches to sound-making.
When a transgender man begins taking testosterone it causes his vocal cords to thicken and his voice deepens and drops into the so-called “masculine range.” It is not widely known, however, that trans women’s voices are unaffected by higher levels of estrogen in the body. Being a woman with a “male voice” creates a variety of difficult situations for trans women including prolonged and intensified dysphoria and higher risk of harassment and violence due to possibly exposing someone as trans unintentionally.
“Contralto”—defined in musical terms as “the lowest female singing voice”—uses the sound of trans women’s voices to explore transfeminine identity from the inside and examines the intimate and peculiar relationship between gender and sound.
“Contralto” stars Julie Ashkin, Alexandra Brandon, Alyssa Green, Anna McCormick, Dreia Spies, Sarang Umarji, and Josie Zanfordino and was premiered at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY on November 30, 2017.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sarah Hennies (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a composer and percussionist based in Ithaca, NY. Her work utilizes an often grueling, endurance-based performance practice in a subversive examination of psychoacoustics, queer identity, and performance art. She has been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New Music USA, New York State Council on the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts.
Hennies is currently a member of improvised music group Meridian with Greg Stuart and Tim Feeney, a duo with sound/performance artist Jason Zeh, and the Queer Percussion Research Group with Jerry Pergolesi, Bill Solomon, and Jennifer Torrence. In 2013 she founded the record label Weighter Recordings, releasing works by artists working at the fringes of contemporary music including Prune Bécheau, Thomas Bonvalet, Morgan Evans-Weiler, Tim Feeney, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Enrico Malatesta, and Matt Sargent.
Samantha Bounkeau, violin
Mahmood Gladney, viola
Megan Marcello Noli, cello
Charlie Welty, bass
Adam Cooper-Teran, percussion
Michael Pratt, percussion
Hillary Engel, percussion