18
Apr

5 questions to Yotam Haber (composer, exiting artistic director MATA Festival)

The 2014 edition of the MATA Festival is in full swing. Yotam Haber, the exiting artistic director, kindly took a few minutes to answer our 5 questions…

You are ending your tenure as artistic director of the MATA Festival after this year. How would you characterize the approach to programming during your time at MATA?

I firmly believe in MATA’s mission of finding and promoting the most vital young voices in today’s musical landscape. Several years ago, we were hailed by the press as “dogmatically undogmatic” and I would say that this description encapsulates my approach to creating each concert.

What highlights from the Festival come to mind from the past few years?

MATA is really not about bringing name-brand composers. We thrive in risk! I have been gratified to bring composers to NYC that are as yet unfamiliar to audiences, and then quickly see successful compositional careers being launched as they are embraced by presenters, performers, and audiences. Over my years, I have seen the number of yearly applications rise fivefold, from approximately 250 to 1000, to – I believe – the most applied-for new music festival in the world. I’m especially proud of our new partnership with the Gaudeamus Festival and the Venice Biennale, which will give our commissioned composers the opportunity to have their works performed in three world-class festivals.

Yotam Haber

Yotam Haber

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18
Apr

Bang on a Can All-Stars Mix It Up at Andriessen 75 Festival

Atlas-LogoThere are two things to say about Bang on a Can’s Louis Andriessen ties. The first is that no one has done more than the Gordon-Lang-Wolfe troika to further the Dutchman’s reputation stateside. The Bang on a Can All-Stars’ account of the insanely difficult Hout finds them at their very best, providing world class advocacy on behalf of world class repertoire. Anytime they do Andriessen, their interpretation shoots straight to the head of the class. Yet their boosterism has also been highly selective, as the programming on this dazzlingly executed presentation of BoaC greatest hits for the Andriessen 75 festival at Atlas Performing Arts Center on April 11, 2014, made clear. As a representative sample of the softer-edged idiom Andriessen has favored since the mid-nineties, the mellow, harmonically supple Life (the first and to date only work the composer has written on commission for the ensemble) made very strange bedfellows with the acid trip of Michael Gordon’s I Buried Paul. Meanwhile, the youngish Workers Union, that punk reductio ad absurdum of Fred Rzewski-style minimalism, linked up far better with the rest of the program.

Bang on a Can All-Stars (photo: Peter Serling)

Bang on a Can All-Stars (photo: Peter Serling)

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17
Apr

Production Pretense Unsettles Maya Beiser’s All Vows at Yerba Buena

Yerba-Buena-center-for-the-arts-logoOn the weekend of March 21, 2014, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts hosted the debut of “All Vows,” a new program by acclaimed cellist and new music luminary, Maya Beiser. The concert featured Beiser on cello, Ryan Brown on bass, and Glenn Kotche on percussion, with works by Kotche, Michael Gordon, David T. Little, Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Harrison, Chinary Ung and a string of (mostly) rock arrangements by Evan Ziporyn. The ambitious program was divided into two halves, each of which really constituted a concert in itself. Both were intensely produced to the point of being more like a rock show rather than a chamber music concert. This sense of production was a distraction from the music-making onstage and created a sense of distance that was more alienating than engaging.

Maya Beiser (photo: mayabeiser.com)

Maya Beiser

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16
Apr

Ensemble LPR: Greenwood and Dessner as Bartok’s Descendants

lepoissonrouge-logoLe Poisson Rogue is hardly a small venue, but March 7, 2014, with André de Ridder conducting the Ensemble LPR, was the first time I’d seen the stage genuinely crammed. Which was appropriate, considering that two of the three composers on the program are better known as rock musicians. Johnny Greenwood’s Suite from There Will Be Blood and Bryce Dessner’s Lachrimae sound like they’re meant to fill an intimate club, not a concert hall. And it’s hard to deny that Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta belongs all up in your face, not at a distance. If only every performance of orchestral music happened in the tightest possible space. The harp, piano, celesta and percussion ate a third of the stage while the strings occupied the rest, roughly twenty musicians in all. Any fewer, and the Bartók piece would’ve been impossible. Any more, and the timpani would’ve had to set up at the bar.

Jonny Greenwood (photo: wikipedia.org)

Jonny Greenwood

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15
Apr

London Contemporary Music Festival Celebrates Bernard Parmegiani

LCFM-logo-250w

Britannia House, a large building just off Brick Lane in London’s East End, used to be a carpet factory. March 20-23, 2014, it was the trendy host to the London Contemporary Music Festival’s retrospective of the works of Bernard Parmegiani, an obscure but very cool experimental composer who died last year. In October, Britannia House will become a large commercial block of offices and “cultural events” called Second Home. If anyone ever asks you to define the term “gentrification,” you could maybe pay a visit.

Composer Bernard Parmegiana (photo: ideologic.com)

Composer Bernard Parmegiana (photo: ideologic.com)

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14
Apr

All Andriessen, All the Time, at Atlas Performing Arts Center

This here was a tale of two halves, one part of the program devoted to Andriessen’s myriad piano miniatures, the other a trawl through a clutch of (mostly) decades-old big band scores. Rare is it when the spotlight is placed on one of these strands of this Dutch master’s creative practice, rarer still two in a single evening. Far from making for a lopsided recital, though, for the composer’s most hardened admirers this event at Atlas Performing Arts Center on April 9, 2014, will have proved among the most satisfying installments of the Washington-area “Andriessen 75” festival.

Louis Andriessen

Louis Andriessen

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