Filmed on location in Studio 1—Goodman at EMPAC/Rensselaer, Dec 12, 2019.
Footage by Mick Bello, Eric Brucker, Ryan Jenkins. Edited by Ryan Jenkins.
Sarah Hennies performed an evening of her work for solo percussion and electronics featuring her works Falsetto and Fleas. Through slowly evolving textures, Hennies’ music opens up a space where small changes become events. Her music often explores the act of performance: whether through showing the amount of energy it takes to maintain a constant appearance in front of others, the exhaustion of maintaining a sound once it has been established, or the vulnerability of having one’s every small move amplified through observation.
Working with both traditional orchestral percussion instruments and found objects, Hennies challenges rigid definitions by relating the structure of her work to themes of queer and trans identity, love and intimacy. Hennies has mentioned in interviews that percussionsts are unique in that they don’t have a specific instrument. Their identity and role changes constantly with the context of different pieces and even within a single piece. The standard definition of a musician identified by their instrument does not hold.
In Hennies’ performance, listeners and performers are encouraged to enter a shared space that reflects everyday life. Hennies’ music begins to expose the exhaustion and virtuosity of maintaining even simple actions. A gentle sound, such as the ringing of a small bell, is sustained beyond virtuosity to expose the exhaustion of maintaining even simple actions that are thought of as societal norms. As these sounds are challenged by the addition of other actions, her performance becomes more and more mesmerizing: an act of determination.