Tara Khozein and Jesse Tatum first met in an alternate universe. Khozein was dressed from head to toe in black-and-white, with matching makeup covering every inch of exposed skin. Tatum sported a transparent raincoat and fairy makeup, and wielded a flute. They were both solo performers in Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, for the local art installation’s 2017 Summer in the Multiverse event series, and something instantly clicked between them. “We had a few interactions in character in the exhibition and backstage, and I developed a big artist crush on her,” Khozein explains.
That initial creative attraction blossomed into a full-fledged collaboration, which makes its Santa Fe debut at form & concept on Saturday, July 14 at 7 pm. The New Mexico artists, both sopranos, will perform a new series of duets that combine melodic and percussive instrumentals and vocals. Tickets priced at a sliding scale of $5-$25 are available at https://fluteandvoice.bpt.me.
“Art making is social for me,” says Khozein. “I watch other artists in admiration, and then I kind of shyly approach them, the way you’d approach a middle school crush.” In recent years, she has collaborated closely with acclaimed saxophonist Rhonda Taylor and dancer Emmaly Wiederholt. She’ll often approach artists who are interested in reframing classical music for contemporary audiences.
“Seeing Jesse in that raincoat shredding virtuosic music on her flute made me be like, ‘That’s someone I could do an amazing recital with,’” Khozein says. “Later I saw her perform at SITE with David Felberg, and the casual way she connected to the audience was really in line with how I like to perform. I was like, ‘That’s someone who is tearing down the pretension surrounding classical music.’”
The new duo built a broad and diverse program that combines elegant melodic and textural materials with comedy and absurdity. Tatum, who serves as Principal Flute of the Santa Fe Symphony among other prestigious appointments, will play flute, bass flute and piccolo. Khozein will provide vocals and flex the theater skills that she also employs in her work with the local, experimental troupe Theater Grottesco.
“I speak often, there is lots of play of vocal percussion through consonants,” says Khozein. “Jesse plays lots of florid fast things that only woodwinds can do, and uses lots of extended techniques, and we trade off being accompaniment to each other. With this instrumentation, the playing field is so level. We are two melodic slash percussive wind instruments in conversation.”