Bent Frequency: Sarah Hennies Residency

Bent Frequency and the Georgia State Center for Collaborative and International Arts brought composer Sarah Hennies to Atlanta for a brief residency that included a couple of pretty amazing concerts of her music. Friday night’s concert was held at Plaza Theatre and featured Contralto for video and chamber ensemble consisting of violin, viola, cello, double bass, and a variety of both traditional and novel percussion instruments. The video features eight transgender women going through a series of vocal exercises that are designed to help transwomen feminize their voices. The women are featured one at a time and the only time that their voices overlap are moments when Hennies mixes the sound of them singing their highest or lowest notes together to create a chord. The live ensemble served as a sort of accompaniment, the effect making me think of the relationship between a piano accompaniment and the soloist in a sonata. And I don’t know exactly why it made me think of a sonata rather than a cantata despite featuring human voice. Perhaps in the way that it was edited, the film felt a little more like an instrument being played by Hennies (as editor) than a chorus or series of vocal soloists.
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