SITE Santa Fe will host a collaborative stage performance excerpt

“Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness” draws on 50 years of work by artist James Drake. (Courtesy of SITE Santa Fe)

“Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness” draws on 50 years of work by international artist James Drake.

Opening on Thursday, July 14, SITE Santa Fe will host a clip from an ongoing collaborative stage performance using Drake’s visuals as impetus and background.

The aim was to tackle some of the complex and daunting issues facing a divided humanity.

Award-winning writer Benjamin Sáenz, Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz and New York performance artist Shaun Leonardo lead the collaborative work. Drake provided the projected visuals for the performance.

“It’s a multimedia stage performance that brings together artists from different disciplines,” said producer/director Steve Jiménez.

The production combines Drake’s works with six live artists, including four veterans. Featuring both movement and spoken word, it features an eight-singer choir from the Santa Fe Symphony Chorus, plus a flautist and percussionist.

“The word forgiveness is really loaded right now,” Jiménez said. “It’s almost explosive because we live in such a divisive time. We realize that most people feel quite far from the story of forgiveness, but we think it’s something worth discussing right now.

The first movement explores the earth and humanity’s relationship to it, added Jiménez.

“The second part is really what human beings do to each other.”

The two sections converge in what happens to Earth when people harm each other.

“The river is drying up; the sparrows stop flying,” Jiménez said.

The experimental piece will allow the public to be part of the creative process, said curator Leila Hamidi.

“It started with a conversation with James Drake,” Jiménez said. “He had created this epic work during COVID. We started talking about the need for conversations now.

The completed work will premiere at Rice University’s Brockman Hall for Opera in Houston in late 2023 or early 2024.

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