I wrote this piece as a collaboration with dancer/filmmaker and dear friend Heather McCalden. Below is an excerpt from McCalden’s notes about her film “Figures of Speech”:
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.
There are two versions of Perhaps – a 5 minute version from 2005 and a 10 minute version from 2015, ten years later. Heather made two different films, one for each of these versions. The cello piece and the film are not dependent on one another, and more often than not, Perhaps is performed alone. However, if you would like to perform this piece with film, please contact Heather directly through her website.
This recording of Perhaps (this is in its longer 2015 version) is so special: it is performed by Matthew Zalkind, who first premiered the piece 16 years before, when we were both undergrads at Juilliard. It is amazing how a performer can shape a piece over so many years.
The original version of Perhaps was premiered on April 15, 2005 by cellist Matthew Zalkind at Morse Recital Hall, Juilliard School, New York City. The extended version of Perhaps was premiered by Colin Stokes, with Le Train Bleu at National Sawdust, on April 20, 2015.
“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
“”Thankfully, classical music in the 21st century has progressed beyond stolid, middle-aged white guys in tuxes walking out on a stage, performing, then walking off again to restrained applause. “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