Haley Fohr Credit: Michael Vallera

Anyone who regularly reads my writing in this paper probably knows about my growing admiration for Haley Fohr, a vocalist, composer, and improviser whose stunning creative growth over the last few years is matched by her rigor and ambition. Last year her long-running project Circuit des Yeux dropped a knockout album, Reaching for Indigo (Drag City), which deftly melds folk, psychedelia, and art songs with kaleidoscopic arrangements and heart-stopping singing. Fohr also has other practices and personas, including an electro-country alter ego, Jackie Lynn, and a gripping solo voice project. Tonight she presents the Chicago premiere of her first fully scored work , which she composed for Charles Bryant’s 1923 silent film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, starring the flamboyant Russian actress Alla Nazimova. For the project, which was commissioned by Opera North in Leeds, Fohr used a version of the film without intertitles, which allows her to redirect some of its outmoded portrayals of femininity. In her program note, Fohr writes, “In this now-age of misogyny dismemberment I ask that we utilize this historic film and re-contextualize it into a new kind of satire—one that represents the modern female (other) psyche as it navigates the treacherous maze from innocence (purity) to womanhood (knowledge).” She wrote music for eight scenes, which she will perform with violist Whitney Johnson, double bassist Andrew Scott Young, and drummer Tyler Damon. In an e-mail Fohr sent me regarding the work, she cites one instance where she breaks away from musical notation: “The only usage of improvisation would be Scene 3, a pizzicato glissandi piece in which each instrument is encouraged to emulate a specific size of raindrop that naturally occurs toward the beginning of a summer thunderstorm.” I have every reason to believe that the musicians will perfectly conjure that image.   v