“Perhaps…” explores the feeling of possibility — of that moment of opening your soul just enough to envision the most incredible circumstance you can imagine before it happens. Maybe it’s anticipating the feeling of locking eyes with someone you love for the first time, or waiting for that message of confirmation that will change the course of your life.
This music was written on an afternoon in spring 2005, while I was composing at my piano, and my friend Heather McCalden was sitting on my couch reading Derrida. She was explaining the concept of “impossible possibles” to me as she read about it, and from that creative dialogue emerged this piece — and also a short film by Heather that accompanied it (we revised both the music and the film in 2015).
In the decades since we became friends, our creative practices have intertwined in so many beautiful and generative ways — perhaps, living into our own impossible possibles. I think Heather’s original note still holds true:
The title of Reena’s music is derived from an essay by Jacques Derrida called, “The Loving in Friendship: Perhaps: – the Adverb, and the Noun”. The noun version of perhaps is one that has gone into this work, for I find it to be something quite wonderful, yet naturally, impossible to summarize. In extremely reduced form, the perhaps is an “opening” which allows room for uncertainty, and room for something Derrida calls the “impossible possibles” — which are the only real possibles for, “a possible surely and certainly possible…would be a poor possible.” Perhaps as both a noun and an adverb is a suspension that creates space to allow anything to happen; in this sense, the concept for me is something that allows room for hope — something very rare these days.
(see video above)
The original version of Perhaps was premiered on April 15, 2005 by cellist Matthew Zalkind at Morse Recital Hall, Juilliard School, New York City. This version for double bass was transcribed and premiered by Nina Bernat on October 17, 2021 at Paul Recital Hall at, Juilliard School, New York City.
“Indian-American composer Reena Esmail’s Perhaps traded electronics for a more conventional approach to solo cello writing, accompanied by projected imagery from a film by Heather McCalden. Esmail’s dulcet lines hung song-like over McCalden’s melancholy scenes of cascading waves and grey beaches, infused with life by Segev’s rapt playing.”I Care if You Listen
“Perhaps,” composer Reena Esmail’s collaboration with filmmaker Heather McCalden, employed the most familiar approach, the bucolic lyricism of Esmail’s music serving as an atmospheric soundtrack to McCalden’s moody seaside meditation.Houston Chronicle