Backstage with Human Measure Composer, Kadet Kuhne

Canadian Stage interviews Kadet Kuhne

We’re honoured to present Human Measure this month from internationally acclaimed visual and performance artist, Cassils at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

In this edition of CS Grid, we take you behind the stage to hear from composer Kadet Kuhne. In this exclusive interview, we learn about their creative journey exploring the material, what makes this production unique to them, and what Kadet hopes audiences will take away from this performance.

Human Measure is perhaps the first choral piece ever composed that is entirely comprised of vocals sung by trans and nonbinary artists...Listening back to the richly layered mix of these powerful trans/nonbinary artists over the weeks I worked on the score moved me to tears nearly every time. 

Can you introduce yourself and your role in Human Measure?

Kadet Kuhne, the music composer for Human Measure.

 

What is so unique about the dance aesthetic produced in Human Measure?

Human Measure interrogates gender and the treatment of transgender people. Every element of the piece adds its own dimension, but I would like to focus on the sound. The soundtrack of Human Measure is perhaps the first choral piece ever composed that is entirely comprised of vocals sung by trans and nonbinary artists. We made the decision early on to preserve human elements of these 17 artists, such as breaths, and pauses, in the final piece, which creates an intimacy and power that speaks to the message of embodiment in Human Measure. Listening back to the richly layered mix of these powerful trans/nonbinary artists over the weeks I worked on the score moved me to tears nearly every time. 

What does Human Measure mean to you?

Remembrance, resilience, resistance, survival. We owe so much of our freedoms, art, and culture to trans people, especially BIPOC trans people, especially Black trans women. We have a collective responsibility to protect trans people, especially trans kids. There is strength in our community.

Working with Cassils feels like a gift; I feel lifted in my craft, and elevated as a human. 

 

How does it feel working with Cassils?

Working with Cassils since 2009 as their key composer, I can say that each new project feels like no other. The deep dives we take into their conceptual underpinnings always inspire sonic explorations from a dimension I wouldn’t have otherwise traveled. Working with Cassils feels like a gift; I feel lifted in my craft, and elevated as a human. 

 

How do you think Human Measure responds to the conversations around transgender rights?

Human Measure encompasses the ways that trans and nonbinary people are getting both more visibility or scrutiny than ever, and are also under ever-increasing threat. 

Like other work of Cassils’ it centers trans/nonbinary people, refusing objectification. There is rage there, but also intimacy, humanity, beauty, collective strength. 

Sonically, it presents the presence, personal life force, and collective power of the trans and nonbinary community.

Embodiment, empathy, empowerment, and for the audience members who do not identify as trans/nonbinary – humility and allyship. I hope everyone leaves feeling transported, transcended, and transformed. 

What do you hope audiences will take away from this performance?

Embodiment, empathy, empowerment, and for the audience members who do not identify as trans/nonbinary – humility and allyship. I hope everyone leaves feeling transported, transcended, and transformed. 

 

Human Measure created by Cassils.
On stage October 27 - October 29, 2022.
 

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