Ah, the Santa Fe Railyard. Where else can you drop off your kitchen knives at the Farmers’ Market for sharpening, walk across the street to hear an intriguing world premiere by a rising young composer, then pick up your knives and buy a ristra or two, or maybe some goat cheese, all before lunchtime?
Sarah Hennies’ Reservoir 3: Confirmation, for violin and four cellos, receives its first-ever performance at Chatter’s 10:30 a.m. Site Santa Fe concert on Saturday, Feb. 25. The idea for the three-composition Reservoir series came to her a few years ago on an airplane. “I started thinking about a piano as a container,” says Hennies. “Then I saw a documentary about Sigmund Freud that talked about the reservoir of the unconscious. That became the concept for three pieces about different relationships between consciousness and subconsciousness.”
Hennies is a transgender woman, and her best-known work is 2017’s Contralto for violin, viola, cello, bass, three percussionists, and video, which has been performed almost 30 times in cities ranging from Copenhagen, Verona, and Malmö to Brooklyn, Toronto, and Tucson. She describes it as “using the sound of trans women’s voices to explore transfeminine identity from the inside and examining the intimate and peculiar relationship between gender and sound.” (Testosterone causes transgender men’s voices to drop but estrogen has no effect on the vocal ranges of transgender women.)
Reservoir 1, from 2018, is scored for piano and three percussionists. It’s subtitled Preservation, referring to our ability to store traumatic memories in our subconscious. Reservoir 2, for bass flute and vocal ensemble, premiered a year later. Its subtitle, Intrusion, reflects how we sometimes call up memories for no apparent reason. Confirmation, Hennies says, “reflects a state of total harmony where neither of those things is happening.”
Violinist David Felberg, Chatter co-artistic director, describes Reservoir 3 as “very meditative. The overall effect is of waves, with the violin part floating above murmuring cellos.” That doesn’t mean it’s easy to play, he hastens to point out. The almost-60-minute piece “requires so much control over such a long period,” he says. “Soft playing can be more difficult than loud and fast to sustain, so it demands a lot of stamina.”
Felberg will be joined by cellists Felix Fan, James Holland, Ian Jones, and Mariel Roberts for the Santa Fe premiere performance.
10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, SITE Santa Fe, 1606 Paseo de Peralta, $16 with discounts available in advance, $20 at the door, chatterabq.org