The Estar Cohen Project to Stage Unique Concept Performance at the TMA

. October 5, 2016.
Estar Cohen works in the studio on her upcoming project.
Estar Cohen works in the studio on her upcoming project.

For local jazz vocalist and musician Estar Cohen, this past year has been about letting go of assumptions. This meditation has inspired an upcoming concept performance, “What We Can’t Know About Forever,” to be performed at The Toledo Museum of Art’s GlasSalon on Friday, October 7.

What we know

“Sometimes I feel like I walk through life with tunnel vision,” Cohen said. “There are things that I cannot possibly know. When I think of all the people I have loved and lost in my life, it is difficult to define; I don’t think I truly understand it and I don’t know if I ever will. In each case, there was a time when I thought our relationship would last forever. And maybe the moments we shared do still exist somewhere.”

You may have seen the Estar Cohen Project playing at events city-wide. The rich, ethereal quality of Ms. Cohen’s voice paired with the band’s thoughtful and complex arrangements are a soothing combination. This time, the performance will be focused on the listening experience, meant to be consumed from beginning to end as one full narrative, with each song and story leading into the next. It’s a delicate balance of thoroughly composed music and also improvisation. “I believe each set will feel unique to the listener. Large-scale performances like this are not an easy endeavor. I am hoping this will lead to a studio project.” Ms. Cohen said.

What we add

This performance brings with it new challenges for the group, displaying the band’s growth and experimentation in other forms of music and art. For the first time, the Estar Cohen Project will blend the sounds of a string quartet into their work. Before physically composing music, Ms. Cohen takes time to sit by herself quietly in order to find inspiration.

“When I hear a beautiful string arrangement by Billy Strayhorn or Brad Mehldau, I want to close my eyes and fall into it,” she explained “When I was conceptualizing this project, I heard a string quartet. This is the first time I am writing for a group like this and it has pushed me into a new space.”

The performance will also feature spoken word. This summer, Ms. Cohen was inspired to write for pure enjoyment. She began to write poetry daily, sometimes well into the night.

“It was wildly fulfilling for me to be out by the water in Northern Michigan, reading the poetry of Richard Brautigan, Rumi, and Jim Harrison. Then, I heard May Erlewine at The Ark and she incorporated spoken word so gracefully into her performance. I was so moved by it, I also felt a pull to begin exploring how spoken word could fit into my personal journey as an artist.”

There will be two performances of “What We Can’t Know About Forever” in one night. Each performance lasts about 50 minutes, with variations in each show in the music, lyrics, and spoken word. Audiences are encouraged to attend both performances.

6:30pm and 7:40pm. Friday, October 7
The Toledo Museum of Art GlasSalon | 2445 Monroe St.
419-255-8000 |