Composer, improviser, and vocal artist SARAH GRACE GRAVES explores complex, unnamed emotions through the re-embodiment of physical sensation. In delving into sensation as a core musical parameter, she often collaborates closely with other vocalists: night vision (2019) for two voices, her collaboration with vocalist Niki Lada at IlSuono Contemporary Music Week, explores the dramatic potential of different levels of vocal stability, intensity, and turbulence; Both/And (2018) for two vocalists and two percussionists, created in collaboration with countertenor Andrew Joseph Leggett, examines the anonymity found in extremes of vocal register.
In her instrumental music Sarah Grace explores embodiment, resonance, and vocality. Her percussion duo SIWONAS (2019), written for Radical 2’s Dennis Sullivan and Levy Lorenzo for their residency at CNMAT, literally breathes life into drums using transducers and flashlights. Her work November Witch (2018), conceived in collaboration with cellist Eva Boesch at the Estalagem da Ponta do Sol Residency for Contemporary Music and Electronics, maps a progression of vocal resonance in both the movement of the vocalist’s body, and in the parallel sonic vocabulary of the cello.
In all aspects of her practice, Sarah Grace seeks to make music that breathes, that’s open to different interpretations. She often operates in what she calls “breath-time:” timing musical events to the breath, rather than an external tempo, often facilitated by movement. These anchoring movements, as well as the residual movements of the musicians, interact with the sounds in surprising ways. Her music is deeply emotional, but in her pursuit of theatrical truth, she works with the physical sensations of emotion rather than its mental associations, thus allowing her music to evoke clusters of emotional sensation in the audience, rather than simply expressing her own feelings.
As a vocalist, she has collaborated with Voice Science Works (Laurel Irene and David Harris) in the inaugural New Explorative Oratorio festival (2019), Angelbert Metoyer and Saul Williams in their performance piece Sisyphus Rising (2017), Kurt Stallmann in his ballet Vespertine Awakenings (2017), and with composers Theo Chandler, Alexandre David, Webster Gadbois, Erin Graham, Maija Hynninen, David Jones, Rebecca Larkin, Jasper Sussman, Matthew Toffoletto, Molly Turner, and Trevor Villwock.