Bearthoven and Bent Duo return to Roulette for a performance of two recently commissioned works by Sarah Hennies. Unsettle” (2017, Bent Duo) for piano and percussion and “Spectral Malsconcities” (2018, Bearthoven) for piano, percussion, and double bass are considered sister pieces by the composer, and they feature the patient etherialism and textural ingenuity that have become the hallmarks of Hennies’ remarkable body of work.
The two works featured on this program also comprise “Spectral Malsconcities,” a new collaborative album by Bearthoven, Bent Duo, and Sarah Hennies, which will be released on New World Records in November 2020.
This performance will be presented virtually and available for free on a variety of streaming platforms. Roulette’s theater is currently closed for public performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures that Roulette has put in place to keep staff, artists, and the public safe.
Karl Larson: piano
Pat Swoboda: bass
Matt Evans: percussion
David Friend: piano
Bill Solomon: percussion
Bearthoven [ \’bâr-toh-vən\ ] is a piano trio creating a new repertoire for a familiar instrumentation by commissioning works from leading young composers. Karl Larson (piano), Pat Swoboda (bass), and Matt Evans (percussion) have combined their individual voices and diverse musical backgrounds, coming together to create a versatile trio focused on frequent and innovative commissioning of up-and-coming composers. Bearthoven is rapidly building a diverse repertoire by challenging composers to apply their own voice to an instrumentation that, while common amongst jazz and pop idioms, is currently foreign in the contemporary classical world.
Formed in 2013, Bearthoven has quickly established themselves as a forerunner in the New York City contemporary music scene. Commissioning over 30 new works in their first seven seasons, the trio has created its own diverse repertoire ranging from the driving, post-minimal voices of Michael Gordon, Ken Thomson, and Shelley Washington to the atmospheric and abstracted offerings of Sarah Hennies, Scott Wollschleger, and Anthony Vine. Bearthoven’s commitment to collaboration and innovation has garnered both critical and peer acclaim and has led to featured performances on notable series including the MATA Festival, the Bang On a Can Marathon, the Music/Sound Series at EMPAC, the Princeton Sound Kitchen, and the Ciclo de Conciertos de Música Contemporánea in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group’s debut album Trios was released on Cantaloupe Music in May of 2017. Their second album, American Dream, features the works of Scott Wollschleger, and was released in February of 2019 on the same label. www.bearthoven.com
After working together for years as ensemble players in NYC’s new music scene, Bill Solomon and David Friend have joined forces to create a new project. Bent Duo explores the existing percussion and piano duo repertoire, and commissions new works that exploit the sonic and performative potential of this pairing. www.bentduo.com
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. www.sarah-hennies.com