MATA FESTIVAL 2014 to Feature 34 Composers Under 40 from 17 Countries, 4/14-21
MATA Festival turns sixteen with its largest and most ambitious installment yet: seven days of musical discovery, Monday, April 14 to Monday, April 21. Curated by Outgoing Artistic Director Yotam Haber, MATA Festival 2014 includes works by 34 composers from seventeen countries, all under 40 when they applied. They were chosen from more than 650 applicants, representing 64 countries.
MATA Festival 2014 boasts an unequalled lineup of performers. From Europe comes Finland's leading new music ensemble, Uusinta, heard in its US debut, and the acclaimed German vocal sextet Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart. Representing the US are ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), Talea Ensemble, Mantra Percussion, Mivos Quartet, and Ekmeles, plus pianist Vicky Chow of the Bang on a Can All Stars, among others.
Following an opening night concert/reception at Paula Cooper Gallery on Monday, April 14, all concerts take place at The Kitchen, New York's storied incubator of the avant-garde.
Free workshops for composers return this year, covering "The Business of Being a Composer (Parts I and II)" and "Curating" with leading professionals in the field. In a nod to its gallery-district location, the Festival also features a pair of installations on The High Line, with a free site-specific performance there on Monday, April 21 (1:30 pm), rain or shine. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, available at www.thekitchen.org, except for the opening night reception, $50 via www.matafestival.org. A full schedule of events appears below.
The screening jury for MATA Festival 2014 included clarinetist Carol McGonnell and composers Chaya Czernowin, Lukas Ligeti, and Tristan Perich. They narrowed down the 650+ submissions to 100. From there, Haber chose 34 pieces. Three of the selected composers were awarded MATA Commissions to write new works for 2014: Carolyn Chen (US), Edward Hamel (US) - a co-commission with Holland's Gaudeamus Festival and the Venice Bienniale, and Hikari Kiyama (Japan).
In a special presentation, the Saturday, April 19 concert will be devoted to a single piece: Swiss-Italian composer Oscar Bianchi's evening-length cantata Matra, performed jointly by Neue Vocalsolisten and ICE, with intertwined texts from Lucretius, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, an ancient Shivaist treatise on meditation.
Composers who have been commissioned or presented by MATA early in their careers include Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon, Derek Bermel, Annie Gosfield, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, David T. Little, and Alex Mincek. Over the years, the Festival has steadily expanded its international profile, highlighting fresh new voices and emerging trends on a global scale. Says Haber, "We are proud to curate and produce this series of concerts that showcase the leading talents of our generation - young composers who are truly changing the face of music."
This year's Festival offerings range widely, from Dadaistic adventures to finely calibrated explorations in sound. While no single style dominates, one trend is clear: fearless creativity, expressed in sharply-honed voices, unhindered by old categories.
CONCERT PROGRAMS BY EVENING:
Monday, April 14: Opening Night Concert-Reception
Celebrate MATA's Sweet Sixteen with special guests (performers and program to be announced). Featuring the world premiere of an installation work by Christopher Marianetti.
Wednesday, April 16: Between Noise and Silence
From Helsinki comes Ensemble Uusinta - Finland's leading new music ensemble - in its American debut. The nine-member group bring its "virtuosically fast-paced and precise" skills to a world premiere MATA commission, J?ruri Death Metal, by Japanese composer Hikari Kiyama, who is influenced by the unlikely bedfellows of metal, Brian Ferneyhough, and Japanese folk music; its polar opposite, the quiet susurrations of Aaron Helgeson's A Place Toward Other Places; the improvisatory paradoxes of Spain's Joan Arnau Pàmies; Russian composer Alexander Khubeev's apocalyptic eschatology Sounds of the Dark Time; and two of Finland's leading emerging compositional voices: Sampo Haapamäki's searing quartet Connection andIlari Kaila's intense and moving memorial, Kellojen Kumarrus.
Thursday, April 17: That Which Remains
MATA's second night is a movement into the nearness of origin. The unhewn sounds of em_bruto are the Festival's Big Bang: a multimedia soundscape led by Brazil's André Damião Bandeira that tears away perceptions of music and the musical experience. Stirrings come forth in Natacha Diels's exploration of grammatology: A is for Alphabet. The sublime alchemy of Canary Islands' native Rubens Askenar Garcia Hernandez's El Puerperio reframes the possibilities of the piano, while a new work from MATA's own Alex Weiser restores our confidence in resonance and harmony. Capping off the evening is a world premiere MATA commission of a new score by Carolyn Chen for ensemble and video (Relationships with Gravity) that restores our faith in reason.
Friday, April 18: Lives in Miniature
MATA's third concert brings together two powerhouses of the New York new music scene: the masterful Talea ensemble is joined by the "virtuosically adventurous" vocal ensemble Ekmeles in an evening of lives. The UK's Martin Iddon gives us the sounds of his Hamadryads for vocal ensemble and tuned glasses - the haunting lamentations of tree-bound nymphs inspired by Greek mythology and Josquin. MATA's own Todd Tarantino's Cap Malheureux for soprano (Charlotte Dobbs) and large ensemble is a tragedy that asks how one can describe a life; while Clara Iannotta (Italy) asks the same of sound in her microcosmic concerto for cello (Chris Gross) Clangs. Josep Sanz Quintana (Spain) in his King Lear: Act IV Scene 6 distills a scene from Shakespeare's tale of madness into six minutes. Šimon Vose?ek's (Austria - Czech Republic) Mouses for video and ensemble, inspired by Czech stop-motion animation, explores madness in other ways, from the perspective of a rodent.Edward Hamel's new work for voice (Michael Weyandt) and ensemble, Approach Prune Destroy Begin - co-commissioned by a consortium of MATA, Holland's Gaudeamus Festival, and the Venice Biennale - is a fitting conclusion.
Saturday, April 19: Matra
MATA brings together two of the finest international ensembles in a first-ever pairing. Germany's Neue Vocalsolisten is joined by ICE in an American premiere performance of Oscar Bianchi's evening-length cantata Matra. Featuring six vocalists; a solo trio of subcontrabass saxophone, contrabass recorder, and bass flute; large ensemble and electronics; and setting text from Lucretius, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, this evening is not to be missed.
Sunday April 20: Easter Matinee
Neue Vocalsolisten returns for an a capella concert of American premieres by young composers from around the world. Beginning with their calling card, Vittriool, from Georges Aperghis's "Wölfli Cantata," the concert spans the globe to showcase their incredible skills. Whether in the Dada-inspired works of Jennifer Walshe (Paddy Reilly Runs with the Devil), the radical reconfigurations of Norwegian composer Lars Petter Hagen's Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Notebook, Francesco Filidei's Dormo molto amore, dedicated to the memory of the anarchist Franco Serantini, Syrian composer Zaid Jabri's Two Songs from Mihyar from Damascus on texts of Adonis, the founder of Arabic modernist poetry, Gabriel Dharmoo's kaleidoscopic Notre Meute, Anglo-Moroccan composer Brahim Kerkour's intone, or Silvia Rosani's T-O, Neue Vocalsolisten brings their trademark theatrically, impeccable intonation and daring. Celebrate Easter MATA style.
Monday, April 21: Of Circles and Motions of the Others
The 2014 MATA Festival concludes with a stellar evening that pairs the MIVOS Quartet with the Mantra Percussion in an evening of circles, seasons, and revolutions. Lisa Streich of Sweden begins the night with Play Time, her tribute to Jacques Tati in which three percussionists explore the resonant properties of a bicycle by beating, scraping, and plucking it. Ansgar Beste's Pelerinage Fantastique is a journey to the center of the prepared string quartet. MATA's own outgoing Artistic Director Yotam Haber's Torus, inspired by the sculpture of Richard Serra, is a study in the monumentality of forms; while Daniel Wohl's Progression puts its faith in mechanics. From China, comes Ke Xu's Tai Chi a gestural study in stillness, motion and entropy. Paula Matthusen's The Days are Nouns, a setting of the Norwegian Table Prayer, sung by Jamie Jordan, channels our focus to the passage of time and the succoring power of each day.
Founded by Philip Glass, Eleonor Sandresky, and Lisa Bielawa in 1996, MATA commissions, presents, and supports the music of young and emerging composers from around the globe. Among new music organizations MATA is unique in its singular devotion to the music of young and emerging composers, no matter what style or compositional aesthetic. The primary arena for our efforts is an annual festival of new music, now entering its sixteenth year. MATA also presents Interval, an acclaimed series of occasional concerts currently entering its eighth season, and hosts workshops and discussions on topics of interest to young composers. In 2014, MATA initiated MATA Jr., focusing on the music of composers who have not yet entered college.
MATA is broadly respected within the contemporary music community and has been singled out for its open application process, representation of all aesthetic viewpoints, and adventurous programming. In 2010 MATA received the ASCAP Foundation's prestigious Aaron Copland Award in recognition of its outstanding commitment to young composers.
Among young composers, a MATA commission is one of the most sought-after composition opportunities worldwide. Each spring, MATA convenes a panel of established artists to choose a short list from among the submissions from young and emerging artists, performers and composers to our annual call for scores; for our 2015 Festival we received an astonishing 979 submissions from composers under age 40. From this pool, MATA's directors commission from three to five composers and program 20-30 works for our annual Festival of New Music. To date, MATA has commissioned over 70 works, and has presented more than 300 performances of pieces by young composers. Composers who have been commissioned or presented by MATA early in their careers include Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon, Derek Bermel, Annie Gosfield, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, David T. Little, and Alex Mincek. For the majority of the composers selected, a performance on the MATA Festival is an early harbinger of success; it is often one of their first major commissions as well as their first significant exposure to New York and national audiences. MATA Alumni have gone on to receive MacArthur "Genius" grants, Siemens and Takemitsu, Pulitzer, Alpert and Rome prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, Barlow and Koussevitsky commissions and every major award in contemporary music. In recognizing, presenting and supporting unique voices, MATA is a catalyst for their entry into American musical life.
Photo Credit: Armen Elliott