Shapes is a very personal piece for me, as it's the most concrete attempt I've made in my art to express how I relate to myself as a trans person. The piece was written in the midst of me being in a new environment (Boston), after just deciding on a new name, and figuring out how to come out to my peers and colleagues. There's a lot of pent-up frustration built into this piece, building into explosive fury by the end of each movement.
Shapes is a piece about being and feeling misshapen, drawing from many of my days of dysphoria to inform the character of the music. Each movement views this unique sensation under a different light: a detachment from yourself, a tranquil bubbling under the surface, a constant anxiety, always with an undercurrent of something yearning to explode but never quite being able to.
Shapes was premiered in February 2018 at NEC’s Tuesday Night New Music series by Reese Williams, Alison Kim, and Miles Fellenberg.
On one end of the spectrum was Diana Voyer’s Shapes, a three-movement horn trio that explored the concept of dualities, these particularly informed by the composer’s own struggles with dysphoria.
Each movement built to a climactic, primal scream, but came to its apex by different approaches. In the first movement, “Lontano,” a sinuous horn line led to a series of chromatic dialogues between the instruments. The second movement, “Tranquillo,” was anything but, with an ominous piano ostinato underlining a succession of fragmented melodic lines above. And the finale, “Ansiosamente,” was marked by a driving, mechanistic violin figure.
Throughout, Voyer’s writing evinced a strong sense of structure and character. The involved horn part, in particular, was terrifically catching – and was brilliantly executed by Anne Howarth.