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'Contralto' By Sarah Hennies

  • WHEN Ongoing from now until June 6, 2021[days & times]
  • WHERE Virtual / The Front Arte & Cultura
    Map | Website
  • AGES Not available
  • COST $10 - $20

In case you missed it: the previous performance is available to view on demand through June 6 for $10.

Performed LIVE at El Salon in San Ysidro, as part of THE FRONT ARTE CULTURA gallery’s annual DÍA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER EXHIBITION.

"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.

Starring Alexandra Brandon, Alyssa Green, Anna McCormick, Dreia Spies, Sarang Umarki, Josie Zanfordino and more.

About the ensemble
Leah Bowden, percussionist
Elizabeth Brown, cellist
Fiona Digney, percussionist
Shayla James, violist
Batya Macadam Somer, violinist
Kathryn Schulmeister, bassist
Brendan Nguyen, music director

About the Composer
SARAH HENNIES (b. 1979, Louisville, KY) is a composer based in upstate New York whose work is concerned with a variety of musical, sociopolitical, and psychological issues including queer & trans identity, love, intimacy, psychoacoustics, and percussion. She is primarily a composer of small chamber works, but is also active in improvisation, film, performance art, and dance. She presents her work internationally as both a composer and percussionist with notable performances at Le Guess Who (Utrecht), Festival Cable (Nantes), send + receive (Winnipeg), O’ Art Space (Milan), The OBEY Convention (Halifax), Cafe Oto (London), ALICE (Copenhagen), and the Edition Festival (Stockholm). As a composer, she has received commissions across a wide array of performers and ensembles including Bearthoven, Bent Duo, Cristian Alvear, Claire Chase, R. Andrew Lee (Denver), LIMINAR, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Two-Way Street, and Yarn/Wire.

Her ground breaking audio-visual work Contralto (2017) explores transfeminine identity through the elements of “voice feminization” therapy, featuring a cast of transgender women accompanied by a dense and varied musical score for string quartet and three percussionists. The work has been in high demand since its premiere, with numerous performances taking place around North America, Europe, and Australia and was one of four finalists for the 2019 Queer|Art Prize.

She is the recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award, a 2016 fellowship in music/sound from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received additional support from New Music USA, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.

Sarah is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Bard College.

Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer's website for the most updated schedule before attending. Check local COVID-19 restrictions and updates.

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