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CONTRALTO

Thin Edge New Music Collective, Tiff, and Riparian Acoustics present:

CONTRALTO

dir. Sarah Hennies | USA 2017 | 50 min. Video

Sarah Hennies’ Contralto has generated a wave of critical praise since its debut at the Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room last year. An experimental documentary designed to be performed with live musical accompaniment, Contralto — which takes its title from the term for the lowest female singing voice — is based on a common practice among transgender women, whereby they learn to change their voices in order to be perceived as “female.” Unlike transgender men, whose voices deepen due to the testosterone prescribed during hormonal therapy, the voices of transgender women remain unchanged by estrogen therapy, and require conscious practice to achieve a higher pitch.

In Contralto, onscreen interviews with and vocal exercises performed by seven transgender women are accompanied by a live score that emphasizes timbre, pitch and tone — qualities of sound that, when found in voices, often signify culturally determined gender cues. Conceived in part as a “protest piece” that challenges the audience to “change their definition of what they think a woman sounds like,” Contralto is a visceral and beautiful exploration of identity through sound.

Contralto is brought to Toronto by TENMC, Tiff and Riparian Acoustics. TENMC will be performing the piece along with a brand new composition commissioned especially for the collective. TENMC performers for the evening include Ilana Waniuk (violin), Nelson Moneo (viola), Amahl Arulanandam (cello), Adam Scime (double bass), Cheryl Duvall (keyboard/percussion), Nathan Petitpas (percussion) and Germaine Liu (percussion). 

General admission- $14
8pm, September 24th, 2018

Tiff Bell Lightbox-350 King Street West

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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 presented her work in a variety of contexts including Café Oto (London), cave12 (Geneva), Ende Tymes (NYC), Festival Cable (Nantes), the Johns Hopkins Digital Media Center, O’ Art Space (Milan), and Second Edition (Stockholm) and has received commissions for new work from Cristian Alvear, Bearthoven, Bent Frequency, R. Andrew Lee, LIMINAR, Qubit Music, and the Thin Edge New Music Collective. Her work has been supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New Music USA, New York State Council on the Arts, and in 2016 was awarded a fellowship in music/sound from the 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 late 2017 she premiered the groundbreaking work, Contralto at Issue Project Room (NYC), a film featuring a cast of transgender women with a live score for string quartet and three percussionists.

In 2013, Hennies 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.

Presented with Generous Support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Tiff, Riparian Acoustics, and Arraymusic