The Female Gaze: New Works from George, Herbst, and Peacocke
The “Male Gaze” is a narrative trope referring to when a story is crafted by a male for the male perspective—where women play roles as objects of a male narrative. He tells stories about male heroes and women as secondary characters; leaves women as merely tools to drive the male characters.
The project, The Female Gaze is a feminist-take on concept of the male gaze: the creators are women, the vocalists are women, the characters are women, and the intended audience is women. This provides a unique opportunity for women composers and directors to work together to take back their perspectives, to embrace a female purview, and experiment with what a female idiom could entail. The selected women composers are given a safe space to experiment with new sounds–acoustic and electronic– and workshop with FSO’s Company members,.
The 2018-19 iteration will be a semi-staged presentation at Roulette (Brooklyn) of three world premiere pieces for female voice, ensemble, and electronics commissioned by FSO from Whitney George, Gabrielle Herbst, and Gemma Peacocke on February 1, 2019.
George’s piece, “Lost Without You” is a rumination and meditation on the inner dialogue women have with ourselves as individuals, and our constant negotiation/renegotiation of “the self”. Created from the female perspective, the work makes use of live processing to create the feeling of being in the headspace of the performer, or the narrator/story teller. Lost Without You is a statement of the impact of the words of others and the impact of the words we speak to ourselves, especially as women.
Peacocke’s piece, “Invocations” examines “witchiness” and the dichotomy between taking misogynistic words back today. Using fixed media and an intimate ensemble of voice, piano, and cello, Peacocke’s piece uses each instrument woven within each other to tell the twisting story of sexist words throughout history.
Herbst’s piece, First Lady of the Air” is a work inspired by the life of Amelia Earhart. Composed for voice, flute, clarinet, piano, percussion and electronics, the piece investigates Amelia’s inner world and dialogue as well as what she has come to represent in our culture. Using found text from her conversations, radio translations from her last flight, and poetry about her drawn from the imagination of others, this composition meditates on flight, fear, and facing the unknown with an unrelenting propulsion of forward movement.
All of these pieces, written by women composers, for women vocalists, about women characters – are exemplary of the goals of “The Female Gaze” project. Roulette has a capacity of 220, and as a co-production, this event will be marketed using Roulette’s and FSO’s lists. Given FSO’s history of selling out houses, and the high caliber of our performances , we anticipate a full house.
We hope that audiences walk away with: an increased understanding t that women create their own unique idioms and sonic-landscapes in their music, an appreciation for the narrative perspective of the “female gaze”, and an appreciation and openness for new electronic vocal music.
Bodiless, 2014, ISSUE Project Room
This piece is exemplary of Gabrielle Herbst’s vocal work. Progressing through three dream-like non-narrative tableaux exploring themes such as birth, life, and death, the three singers simultaneously embody each of the three bodiless fates, singing text which ranges from abstract vocalises, to surreal associative poetry. A rule of three holds true throughout the opera.
Maggie Finnegan, soprano
Maureen Kelly, cello
Jillian Flexner, electronics
This personal portrait explores the plurality of certain human experiences, highlighting our strengths and vulnerabilities, particularly those of our own bodies. The piece explores the range of both the cello and the human voice (itself a body part), structurally balanced by both a choir of voices and a choir of cellos. Though essentially a duo, the layering and counterpoint represent the complexity and scope of the theme.
Produced by FSO, November 2017
Bodiless, 2014, ISSUE Project Room
This piece is exemplary of Gabrielle Herbst’s vocal work. Progressing through three dream-like non-narrative tableaux exploring themes such as birth, life, and death, the three singers simultaneously embody each of the three bodiless fates, singing text which ranges from abstract vocalises, to surreal associative poetry.
Commissioned and presented by Experiments in Opera and Issue Project Room.
Cue option: 5:18 – 10:00
Start and End Dates
07/01/2019 — 06/30/2020
NY, New York