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Paracusia
(2018 - )

Written for solo saxophone(s) and live electronics. 

Paracusia is an ongoing multi-piece collaboration for saxophone(s) and live electronics created by Camila Agosto and Justin Massey. The performer represents a character that is trapped within a reverberation room. Over the course of the works, the performer navigates the audience through their experience as they slowly lose their ability to interact with their outside world. Each piece represents a different step along their journey, exposing the unique sonic landscape of the different instruments within the saxophone family and their connection with the integrated electronics.

Paracusia is defined as auditory hallucinations involving the perception of sounds arising from outside the mind, most commonly of voices. Individuals who have experienced a traumatic event are often affected by triggers every day, and their interactions with people and reactions to various stimuli are dictated by these external pressures. The actions and reactions within the music, presented by the performer onstage and the responding electronic elements, represent this interaction between a person and the external triggers they experience. In this piece, the performer represents a character that is trapped inside a reverberant room for an undetermined length of time. Through use of spatialized speakers emitting pre-recorded and live-processed sounds, the performer reacts to the psychoacoustic processes of experiencing auditory illusions as the character they portray gradually begins to struggle against the multitude of voices spiraling around them.

Paracusia begins after the character has been inside the room for a brief period of time. They will begin to hear voices (imitating the actions of the performer) swarming around them, building into a climatic moment of tension which seems to dissipate briefly into the start of the second piece. 

Paracusia was premiered by Justin Massey at West Virginia University (April 14, 2018).

Paracusia II. tethers begins immediately after the first piece, during which the character continues to hear violent echos, imitating their actions, emerge from all around them. Throughout this installment, the character begins to struggle more intensely against the multitude of voices spiraling around them, as the tethers connecting them to reality begin to snap.  

Paracusia II. tethers was premiered by Justin Massey at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (June 21, 2018). 

The linked concepts of memory and perception have become an integral inspirational source for many of my recent projects. From an early age, I have seen how mental illness, PTSD, trauma, and dementia have affected family members and friends closest to me. These experiences have inspired my growing interest in exploring the less tangible aspects of our humanity, like memory and responses to trauma. I am interested in understanding the ways in which music and the arts, from a visual and auditory perspective, are linked with the memory process.

Paracusia III. descry depicts the character's internal conflict between the emergent voices they hear swarming through their mind and their own voice and identity as an individual.

Paracusia III. descry was premiered by Justin Massey at the Lenfest Center for Arts and Creativity at Columbia University (February 1, 2020). 

The evolution of this collaboration began when Justin and I met at the Banff Creative Arts Centre in 2017. This project began initially as a commission for Paracusia and as I dug deeper into the themes and concepts I wanted to explore within the music, I realized that the format of a larger series of works would allow greater space for them to develop. The Paracusia series now contains three complete works which can exist as movements within the larger series or standalone works that can be performed individually. Our artistic collaboration has evolved with each new piece, and aims to create interdisciplinary and decidedly intimate art through the combination of live saxophone performance, electronic manipulation, and deliberate staging that envelops and invites an audience to share a deeply emotional and visceral artistic experience in a concert setting.

Paracusia IV is currently in development and will be premiered Fall 2023.

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