Matt Haimovitz
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Matt Haimovitz

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
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Guest cellist to perform in Russian fireworks concert

Abilene Reporter

By Sidney Levesque (Contact)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Matt Haimovitz, 38, is attuned to playing with orchestras in front of large audiences.

In fact, the Israeli-born cellist will be making his debut here at 8 p.m. Saturday with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra in the Abilene Civic Center.

But Haimovitz (pronounced "hime-o-vitz") prefers intimate settings, such as clubs and coffee houses, where he can more easily engage the audience and bring classical music to people who may not normally attend orchestra performances.

He said the experiences, in which he plays solo, hearken back to a time when chamber music was played in intimate and less formal spaces.

Haimovitz is considered a musical pioneer for bringing his unique style to classical music. He lives in Montreal, Canada, and teaches at McGill University.

On Saturday, he will be performing Tchaikovsky's "Rococo Variations" during the orchestra's "Russian Fireworks" concert.

"It's a real show piece," Haimovitz said of "Rococo." "... It just uses the whole range of the instrument, and it's very flashy."

The Abilene Philharmonic's music director and conductor, David Itkin, who has worked with Haimovitz with different orchestras, said Tchaikovsky's "Rococo" is "one of his most charming works."

"Rather than a grand epic, the 'Rococo Variations' give us the feeling of a delightful conversation between musicians and audience," he said in a news release.

Saturday's program will showcase works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.

"Shostakovich's brilliant orchestral writing speaks of the yearning of all people to be free from tyranny," Itkin said in a prepared statement.

This is the philharmonic's third classical concert of the season.

Before the concert, all ticket holders are invited to join Itkin and guest artist Haimovitz for a discussion about the music selections. Concert Conversations starts at 7:15 p.m. backstage and is free to the audience.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (325) 677-6710 or (800) 460-0610 or visiting the Philharmonic office at 402 Cypress St. Tickets can be purchased online at

Concert support provided by First Financial Bank and Texas Oncology with artist support provided in part by Kent's Harley-Davidson. Super sponsors are American Eagle Airlines and GAP Broadcasting.

The philharmonic is the only professional orchestra within 80 miles of Abilene.


Plug in Cello, Add D.J. and Club, Then Stir

NY Times
Published: November 16, 2008

For the cellist Matt Haimovitz, playing at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday night must have felt like vindication. The club, which opened on Bleecker Street in the summer, has devoted a sizable part of its ever increasing claim on the city’s night life agenda to classical offerings, ranging from straightforward recitals to more eclectic presentations like a recent collaboration between the Bang on a Can All-Stars and the composer Terry Riley.

Those offerings already feel like business as usual at Le Poisson Rouge. But Mr. Haimovitz, who spent his early career in mainstream concert halls, began to seek out new audiences in nightclubs, coffeehouses and other offbeat spaces some years ago. In 2004 he played a memorable solo concert at the now defunct punk-rock club CBGB. More recently he has performed at Joe’s Pub and the Knitting Factory.

Mr. Haimovitz was not the first performer of his stature to blaze trails into clubland; groups like the Kronos Quartet and Tashi were there earlier, and even the pianist Emanuel Ax played at the Knitting Factory in 1997. But Mr. Haimovitz has made this alternative route his primary thrust, pursuing it with a diligence unmatched by his peers and followers.

Whether the music he plays is always suited to these environments is another question. In his program at Le Poisson Rouge some of his efforts fit the setting better than others. In the opener, Beethoven’s Cello Sonata in D (Op. 102, No. 2), Mr. Haimovitz and Geoffrey Burleson, the pianist, demonstrated abundant skill and style. Despite the usual clinking of glasses and minor chatter, the audience could hardly have been more attentive and respectful.

Both performers were amplified, and this resulted in an uncharacteristically coarse tone from Mr. Haimovitz, produced at a volume that often overshadowed Mr. Burleson’s work. However refined the playing might be — and it was especially lovely in the central Adagio — matters of delicacy and interconnectedness were not particularly well served. Elliott Carter’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, later in the program, had a more effective balance and a rollicking exuberance in the playing.

After the Beethoven, DJ Olive, a turntable improviser, initiated a chiming drone that segued into Nicole Lizée’s “Cryptograms.” Layering fuzz and crackle, throbbing pulsations and snatches of recorded speech, DJ Olive fashioned a teeming sonic environment. Mr. Haimovitz’s composed lines clambered through the din, offering a running commentary.

Here, performing in an idiom intended for loudspeakers, Mr. Haimovitz and DJ Olive sounded like equal partners. Still better was Tod Machover’s “VinylCello.” Mr. Machover, long a leading innovator in musical technology, is also a cellist. Surely that explained why he was able to showcase Mr. Haimovitz’s ardent lyricism and DJ Olive’s sharp reflexes with equal assurance.


The Maximalist
Matt Haimovitz takes the cello to new places.
by Paul Gleason
Harvard Magazine, November-December 2008

Everyone in the recording booth agreed the cello wasn’t coming through. Matt Haimovitz ’96 huddled over the sound controls with his wife, producer Luna Pearl Woolf ’95, and the music’s composer, David Sanford, to listen to the playback. Sanford suggested that Haimovitz raise his part an octave, just for a few measures, to help it cut through the deep thicket of piano accompaniment. Jazz and opera singers, Sanford pointed out, do it all the time. Haimovitz joked that the next 50 cellists who played the piece would think he was doing it wrong, but agreed to give it a try.

“That’s the danger of having the composer there!” Haimovitz explained after the four-day recording session ended. “He can start changing everything and you have to re-practice it.”

Growing up, Haimovitz rarely faced this danger. When he enrolled at Princeton at 17—after studying at Juilliard for years, performing at Carnegie Hall, and signing a long-term record deal with Deutsche Grammophon—he had yet to play a note by a living composer. All that changed when electric guitarist Steven Mackey, a professor of composition at Princeton, invited Haimovitz to join him for a little free-form improv. Haimovitz credits those sessions for changing his approach to music. “All of a sudden I’m trying to find sounds that work with electric guitar,” he recalls. “All of a sudden [I’m] doing things the wrong way to get the right sound.” He dropped out of Princeton to tour (transferring to Harvard three years later), but his experiences there redirected his career to an exploration of the outer limits of his instrument. (“Matt mastered so much of the traditional repertoire at such a young age,” David Sanford says, that now “he has an appetite and a curiosity and a fire for new stuff.”)

Courtesy of Oxingale

Haimovitz plays a cello made by the famous Venetian craftsman Matteo Goffriller in the eighteenth century.

Cello and piano may seem a natural pairing, but Haimovitz has titled his new album Odd Couple. Because the piano belongs to the percussion family and the cello to the strings, he claims, their sound qualities, or timbres, don’t match. Pianos also have fixed tunings, whereas a cellist can slide or vibrate notes to produce a more expressive intonation. But the biggest problem is that the piano’s massive sound can easily overwhelm the cello. This wasn’t as much a challenge for Bach and Beethoven—earlier keyboard instruments were softer—but in the recording studio in Montreal (where Haimovitz teaches cello at McGill University), he and Woolf (herself a composer) had to tinker constantly with the sound controls to pick up the right balance.

All four pieces on Odd Couple are by contemporary composers and take different approaches to combining the two instruments. In Cantos for Slava, by Augusta Read Thomas, BF ’91, JF ’94, Haimovitz and his pianist, Geoffrey Burleson, both plucked their strings, Haimovitz on the cello and Burleson inside the piano. Achieving balance in Sanford’s 22 Part 1, which Haimovitz likened to a “rock ’n’ roll boxing ring,” required furious bowing on the cello and digital amplification. The Cello Sonata, op. 6, by Samuel Barber, D.Mus. ’59, and the Sonata for Cello and Piano, by Elliott Carter ’30, D.Mus. ’70, complete the disc; Haimovitz calls the Carter “one of the most successful works in the genre, in the richness of each individual part and how the two come together” after each instrument begins in “its own metric world.” The music on Odd Couple, he says, is “maximalist”—dense and energetic, as opposed to the current trend among composers toward more minimalist scores.

Sharing new music is as important to Haimovitz as recording it. While recording for Deutsche Grammophon, he felt disconnected from the people buying his albums. “My work was in the session, and then essentially I would turn my back,” he says. Running his own independent label, Oxingale (, and selling CDs at his concerts has changed that. He tours from Thursday to Sunday nearly every week, and took his album Anthem (a celebration of American composers that begins with a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner”) to all 50 states. “What keeps me going at this stage is communicating with audiences,” he says. “And the fact that—as many composers as I’ve already played, as many of these genres as I’ve infiltrated—I’m just continuously amazed by how little I know.”

Although he never lacked for critical praise during his youth, Haimovitz has also won honors for his more innovative work. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers gave him the Concert Music Award for “taking his brilliant and passionate performances to audiences wherever they assemble,” including the late, legendary New York City punk-rock club CBGB. When the American Music Center (a New York City organization founded by Aaron Copland, D.Mus. ’61, among others) honored him as a “Trailblazer,” Haimovitz took out his cello and played “Star-Spangled Banner” during his acceptance speech. “Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are responsible for the breadth and quality of music and art we make here in the U.S.,” he says. “Jimi Hendrix understood this better than most politicians of his time. He also had the talent to communicate this and connect with a generation. I was just trying to channel a little piece of that.”

In September, when Odd Couple came out (the octave change stayed in), the cellist and his pianist toured with a disc jockey to perform composer Tod Machover’s VinylCello concerto, in which electronic sounds and turntables accompany Haimovitz. His goal in placing Sanford and Machover next to each other on a program is to say, “Wow! It’s just as unusual for me to be playing with a D.J. as it is for me to be playing with piano.”



It's got two turntables and a cello, piano combo


Special to The Globe and Mail

November 8, 2008

Odd Couple

30th Season CBC McGill Concerts

At Pollack Hall

in Montreal on Thursday

The virtuoso team of cellist Matt Haimovitz, who teaches at McGill
University, and his pianist friend Geoff Burleson, who's at Princeton,
just released an aptly named CD called Odd Couple on the Oxingale
label. It features an intriguing array of American works for piano and
cello, from Samuel Barber's 1932 sonata to Augusta Read Thomas's
exquisite Cantos for Slava, composed this year in honour of Mistislav
Rostropovich. Listening to it conjured up the thought of how great it
would be to hear some of this live.

Well, Thursday night, at Pollack Hall at McGill's Schulich School of
Music, Haimovitz and Burleson paired up with DJ Olive on turntables
and sundry electronics for a fabulous recital.

In the liner notes to the CD, Haimovitz credits Beethoven with having
"opportunistically, and ingeniously, put the cello and piano
combination on the map." Cello and piano seem such a natural
combination to 21st-century ears, the idea that someone had to have
come up with the combo was intriguing. So it was only fitting that the
concert start with Beethoven's Cello Sonata No 5 in D Major composed
in 1815. Though let's back up a second: The performance really began
as you walked into the hall with DJ Olive improvising on lush waves of
sound that would build and ebb in a gentle swirling way. Then CBC
producer Kelly Rice told the audience that the concert would be a
90-minute improvisation with various pairings of cello, piano,
turntables and electronics. The electronics led us back to the dawn of
Romanticism and the Beethoven piece.

The sonata opens with a bright and vibrant attack by the cellist amply
supported by the piano. Very soon you clearly sense the joy that
Haimovitz and Burleson have playing together as they perform the
allegro con brio. The second movement, a mournful adagio, was simply
beautiful. The complicity between the two performers couldn't have
been more perfect. Then it's back into a virile allegro to wrap the
sonata up. The temptation to applaud was muted by DJ Olive bringing up
an improvisation leading to the second piece, a CBC 2008 commission by
Montrealer Nicole Lizée that was given its world premiere.

Cryptograms is a work for cello and electronics that deftly uses
turntable sampling and other electric sound, such as glitches, to meld
with the cello. Fragments of voice appear and recede, sometimes the
words are audible, sometimes it's the simple repetition of a sung
phrase. At other times, the cello is tapping coded messages to its
digital allies and messages are sent back. Cryptic, yet accessible.

Burleson then played a "prepared piano" improv, plucking and strumming
the strings with horsehair, to take us into Elliot Carter's 1948
Sonata for Cello and Piano. The piano and cello are fiercely
independent in this piece, yet sustain a dialogue whose resolution
makes perfect sense. Along the way the ride is stimulating and
uplifting. This is the only work from the Odd Couple CD performed at
the concert and the concert version outshines the one laid down on
plastic, which is pretty good in its own right.

The formal part of the evening ended with American composer Tod
Machover's 2007 piece VinylCello, for electronics and cello. It is a
very fluid work that begins with some brilliant play between cello and

At its end, it all seemed too short. The audience roared and the three
gentle music giants returned for a rocking, rhythmic trio performance.
In a couple of weeks, the concert will be posted at the CBC Radio 2
site at "concerts on demand," or you can catch the live performance at
Le Poisson Rouge on Bleeker Street in New York on Nov. 13.

MUSIC: If Beethoven had a turntable

Classical meets contemporary at the CBC/McGill Concert Series

Emma Quail
McGill Tribune

The CBC/McGill Concert Series celebrates its 30th season this Thursday, with a concert featuring McGill professor and internationally acclaimed cellist Matt Haimovitz, pianist Geoffrey Burleson, and DJ Olive. The concert will launch Haimovitz and Burleson's new CD, Odd Couple, which consists of four piano and cello pieces by American composers Elliott Carter, David Sanford, Samuel Barber, and Augusta Reed Thomas. In addition to the CD's launch, the show will celebrate the evolution of a new musical genre. It will feature two duos for cello and piano by Carter and Beethoven and two duos for piano and turntable by Tod Machover and Montreal composer Nicole Lizée. To bridge the gap between the pieces, Burleson, Haimovitz and DJ Olive will play together through improvisation; challenging conventional concert norms. With such innovation, the concert is meant to establish the individual qualities and characteristics of each instrument, while showing how they can work together in original ways.
DJ Olive is an American disc jockey, credited with being an improviser who displays a great sensitivity towards music. "DJ Olive can't do the same thing twice-it goes against his belief," says Haimovitz.
Through an experimental and modern approach, Haimovitz involves himself in innovative collaboration and has recorded inspiring work both inside and outside the classical realm. To maintain his fresh approach to music, Haimovitz has started to collaborate with DJs-moving beyond the typical combination of pianists with cellists. He compares the difference between piano and cello to the difference between piano and turntable, in that both aren't particularly well-suited to each other.
"I've spent a lifetime with the repertoire for cello and piano, but I have never been particularly fond of the combination," says Haimovitz.
He claims that the cello feels far more comfortable playing with violin, viola and other members of the string family. But if this is true, then why is the piano and cello combination so widespread?
"The reason that this combination exists is because of Beethoven," Haimovitz explains. "Beethoven saw the opening and said 'Let's make some history here.' The romantic composers like Brahms had to respond to what Beethoven had started and there you have a genre."
Although he emphasizes the dissimilarities of the piano and the cello, Haimovitz certainly does not discount a composer's ability to overcome the challenge of putting the two instruments together. In fact, the Odd Couple concert is meant to celebrate composers such as Beethoven and Carter, who by bringing the two instruments together are able to emphasize the individuality of each.
"This project looks back at the origin of this combination and thinking about the challenges some of these composers had to overcome in order to make it work between these two very different instruments," explains Haimovitz.
Haimovitz then attempts to do the same as these composers through the mixture of cello and turntable, which he believes have more in common than the piano and cello. For instance, it is possible to change the pitch on a turntable, whereas the piano has only a fixed intonation. Also, the vibrato effect on the turntable blends nicely to the vibrato of the cello. Like Beethoven, Haimovitz's collaboration with a turntable is the creation of a new genre of music.
After the concert in Montreal, the musicians will take their set list to The Black Sheep Inn, located in Wakefield, Quebec and to New York's Le Poisson Rouge on November 13. Haimovitz plans on continuing the collaboration, specifically with another piece by Nicole Lizet.
"I think it could be really interesting to kind of expand this repertoire and collaborate with some composers and get some different reactions to this combination."


Glory in cello
Richard todd, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Odd Couple Rating 3 1/2

Matt Haimovitz (Oxingale)

Bach: Goldberg Variations Rating

Matt Haimovitz (Oxingale)

Cellist Matt Haimovitz is best known in the Ottawa area for his appearances at Wakefield's Black Sheep Inn, where he first played seven or eight years ago, performing the complete Cello Suites of J.S. Bach.

He will be back at the Black Sheep on Friday, Nov. 7, this time with pianist Geoffrey Burleson and a guest DJ.

Two new CDs herald the occasion. The first is called The Odd Couple after Haimowitz's notion that, although they go well together, the piano and cello are profoundly different instruments.

The compositions on offer here all date from the last eight decades, the earliest being Samuel Barber's Sonata for Cello and Piano in C Minor. This is a meatier, more challenging piece than the composer's name might suggest, particularly given its 1932 date.

On the other hand, Elliot Carter's 1948 Sonata for Cello and Piano is more accessible in Haimovitz and Burleson's hands than in any other recording that comes to mind.

Two more recent pieces fill out the content, David Sanford's 1995 22 Part I and Augusta Read Thomas's Cantos for Slava, an engaging four-movement work in memory of the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. Both receive their first recordings, and convincing ones at that, on this CD.

Bach's Goldberg Variations, originally for harpsichord, have been transcribed for almost any musical instrument or ensemble you can think of. Haimovitz and his colleagues chose Dmitri Sitkovetsky's arrangement for string trio for their go at it.

The results are generally good, particularly in slow movements like the aria in which the musicians find a sensuous dimension to the melodic line that is all but inexpressible on the keyboard.

That cuts both ways, of course, and the success of the faster movements is more mixed. Sometimes they are compelling and exciting. At other times they sound vaguely confused.


From Middle Earth to Place des Arts? With strings attached Diving, sky and other

October 24, 2008

By Jim Lowe, Barre Times Argus Staff

Montreal continues to teem with high quality arts, but there are some quite unusual offerings coming up over the next month. An Israeli-born, American-bred Montreal cellist finds new ways to bring listeners into the fold; the Centaur is presenting a unique theater piece that keeps a quadriplegic in the air throughout; and the Opéra de Montréal is presenting an opera that everyone has heard of – but few have heard.

When virtuoso cellist Matt Haimovitz found himself one of many in the world, he felt the need to do something different. (Haimovitz and Vermont Youth Orchestra Music Director Troy Peters were classmates at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music.) So, Haimovitz took his cello to nightclubs throughout North America, including Bradford's recently closed Middle Earth Music Hall and Burlington's Nectar's. Not surprisingly – at least to me – these audiences embraced the music of Bach as well as a bunch of other classical composers without prejudice. (That's because it's good!)

Now, it seems that Haimovitz has gone legit, moved to Montreal and teaches at McGill. In Montreal, he recently played Brahms' "Double" with legendary violinist Ida Haendel and the McGill Symphony, and will premiere a cello concerto by Denys Bouliane with Kent Nagano and the OSM in May. Meanwhile, he just released a couple of excellent recordings on his own Oxingale label.

The title of the album "Odd Couple" refers the cello and the piano rather that the pairing of Haimovitz and pianist Geoffrey Burleson, which doesn't seem odd at all. The two prove their mettle in 20th century sonatas of American composers Samuel Barber and Elliott Carter. The Barber, a big and grand piece, is extremely well-performed. The cello is a light sound, while the piano is not; but they are very sensitive to each other. The performance tends to emphasize the clean modernism over the romanticism of the work. That's not to say there's no rhythmic freedom: There's that as well as a lyrical approach. It's beautiful playing of a beautiful sonata.

The Carter sonata is quite a step from the Barber, though tame in terms of how we think of Carter today, who is writing much more difficult music as he nears the age of 100. Although the sonata would hardly be called easy listening, it's high quality writing and makes sense musically. The performance is clearly one by people who believe in the music. They're both passionate players: There's a lot of emotional power as well as musical skill.

The opening piece, David Sanford's "Part I," is quite compelling. It's simply modern, very 21st century, yet it has a tonal core to it. It's episodic, very driven. At times the cello is more percussive than lyrical; the piano has most of the solo. It's actually quite exciting and very well written. Augusta Read Thomas "Cantos for Slava," dedicated to the late great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, are ethereal little things, quiet, rather sad and atonal. They are not terribly interesting, but seem like they're heartfelt.

In another CD, Haimovitz is joined by violinist Jonathan Crow and violist Douglas McCabney in Dmitri Sitkovetsky's arrangement of J.S. Bach's "Goldberg Variations" which was written for solo harpsichord. The playing is consistently excellent, expressive and tasteful – as Bach must be to be successful. Why anyone would want this sublime masterpiece played on anything but a harpsichord or piano, I don't know, but this performance does bring out some interesting sides not as noticeable on keyboard. Information about Haimovitz's recordings can be found at


Strings Magazine October 23, 2008

Spin of the Week
J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations (Oxingale 2014). Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Douglas McNabney, viola
By Greg Cahill

Much has been made of the mathematics inherent in Bach's Goldberg Variations, made famous in a 1955 recording by pianist Glenn Gould. "The structural beauty and symmetry of Bach's variations is a source of constant marvel and revelation to anyone who goes searching for details," violist Douglas McNabney writes in the liner notes of this gorgeous new recording of violinist Dmitri Sitkovetsky's string-trio arrangement of these famous works. ". . . There seems to be no end to the patterns and relationships to be discovered in the architecture of the whole." And much can be said of the outstanding playing that marks this graceful rendering of the 30 variations. Beyond the math are three string players-led by cellist Matt Haimovitz-reaching into their collective trick bag to bring brilliant technique to Bach's bevy of contrapuntal, harmonic, and metric devices, all delivered with immense feeling and passionate musicality.


Goldberg Variations by
J.S. Bach for String Trio
Jonathan Crow, violin; Douglas McNabney, viola; Haimovitz, cello
(Oxingale ***)

David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 14, 2008

Though oddly titled in reference to the famous Neil Simon play, the Odd Couple disc is what many Matt Haimovitz fans are likely to have been waiting for. His recordings with the usual cello/piano duo are few because he feels the two instruments are impossibly mismatched. But he bit the bullet (sort of) for the sake of the exceptional repertoire on this disc. And indeed, it's great to have his musical intelligence applied to music that so greatly rewards it.

However, significant parts of the repertoire don't require the two instruments to blend. In the Carter, an early work that feels like a model of classical clarity in Haimovitz's hands, the instruments are inclined to go their separate ways within the same sphere.

Cleverly, Thomas' Cantos for Slava (a tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich) blends the two, with cello pizzicato and the piano playing spare, well-placed notes in a pointillistic duet. If nothing else, Haimovitz admirers should buy this to encourage more such "odd couple" discs.

Though never one to make redundant recordings, Haimovitz comes close in his outing with the Bach Goldberg Variations in the Dmitri Sitkovetsky transcription. The music can go flat without the percussive element of keyboard instruments, which doesn't happen here, thanks to the loving interplay among the three instruments. But those who are happy with Sitkovetsky's own fine recordings need not look further.


Springfield Republican

Cellist stands out at SSO
Monday, October 13, 2008
Music writer

In contrast to the Springfield Symphony's 65th season opening performance, which was all about fast, loud, festive and feisty, Saturday evening's "Elegant Cello" performance offered deftly nuanced, intensely personal glimpses into the mind and soul.

The centerpiece was a splendid performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto with guest soloist Matt Haimovitz, whose activities in recent years on the forefront of new music have eclipsed his early won stardom as a soloist in the standard repertoire.

The broadened artistic palette that such eclectic 21st-century endeavors have placed at his fingertips have only served to deepen Haimovitz's understanding of and passion for their creative antecedents.

After tossing down the gauntlet of his opening E-minor chord, Haimovitz eagerly boarded the emotional roller-coaster ride the concerto would traverse, from the gently jagged outline of Elgar's Malvern Hills etched in the rocking theme of the first movement through the ever-unsettling scherzo, the fathomless melancholy of the Adagio, and the resolute yet unresolved finale.

Wielding glorious tone and achieving impeccable intonation throughout the compass of his 1710 Gofriller cello's neck, Haimovitz led a journey through Elgar's (and certainly his own) musical soul, imbuing each expressive phrase with liberal quantities of joy, sorrow and frustration, outbursts of anger and ebullience. Mercurial and evanescent as each of the successive moods and colors were, Haimovitz knit them together in a clearly conceived portrait of a composer who seemed to know he was writing his last significant work and wanted to pour his entire being into its creation.

A masterful partner in the process, Maestro Kevin Rhodes "played" the orchestra as if he were at the piano, following every rubato twist and turn of Haimovitz's tour and maintaining a chamber music atmosphere that never covered the cello's voice, yet gave the orchestra free reign in the few moments of grandeur they were meant to express.

Bracketing the Elgar on Saturday's program were two contrasting entries in the history of diatonic symphonic construction.

Brahms's "Tragic" Overture opened the concert. A "traditional" Beethovenian sonata form movement (if such a thing can be said to exist), the Overture revealed its thematic architecture as expected, the poles of exposition and recapitulation defined by the traditional key relationships (D minor and F in the former, D minor and major in the latter).

Sibelius' Second Symphony closed the concert, also centered in the key of D, but traversing that tonal landscape in a very different, though no less cohesive fashion.

Both Brahms and Sibelius received excellent readings from Rhodes and his colleagues. Searing string richness, perfectly balanced with weighty but not overpowering brass core sound were the underpinnings for Brahms' muscular stride across the stage, tempered by tender treatments of the Overture's second, more songful theme.

A similar committed tone and stellar playing characterized the orchestra's delineation of the Sibelius, from the pulsing triplets of its opening to the blast-furnace, heart-of-the-sun heat of its final chord. Rhodes dropped to one knee on the podium in praise of his musical partners as the audience of 1,746 rose with a roar of approval.

Innovative cellist performs with symphony

Sunday, October 05, 2008
Music writer
Springfield Republican

Cellist Matt Haimovitz joins the Springfield Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night in Symphony Hall as soloist in Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto, Op. 85.

Haimovitz has had a metoric rise. He made his debut at age 13 as soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Philharmonic. That same year he substituted for his teacher, Leonard Rose, in a performance of Schubert's C Major String Quintet, playing alongside Isaac Stern, Schlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman, and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Four years later, Haimovitz made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, playing the Saint-Saens, Lalo, and Bruch concerti for Deutsche Gramophon.

In recent years, Haimovitz has turned the experience of classical music performance on its head. He brought the solo cello suites of J.S. Bach on "Listening-Room Tours" to clubs whose traditional clientele were more familiar with the Ramones and the Talking Heads.

Haimovitz' relationship to the Elgar concerto he will play in Springfield is a rather special one.

"My all-time favorite recording of the Elgar is Jacqueline du Pre's," Haimovitz said in a recent telephone interview. "My first performance in Europe was with her husband, (conductor-pianist) Daniel Barenboim. That was the first time he had played with a cellist since playing with her, and she came to the concert. I went back to their apartment the next day and played a lot for her and we became quite close."

Du Pre's tragic affliction with multiple sclerosis had cut short her performing career in 1973, when she was not yet 30, and Haimovitz got to know her just before her death in 1987.

"I spent hours with her," he recalled, "helping to feed her, playing for her, watching video of her performancesshe knew every fingering, bowing, etc. to give me, so my relationship to the Elgar Concerto is through her. The piece has it all - beautiful writing for the instrument, moving melancholy passages, but also the necessary virtuosic elements of a concerto."

Asked if the process of reinventing the concert experience with his "Listening-Room Tours" and "Buck the Concerto" project has changed his perspective on concerto performance, Haimovitz laughed.

"Most certainly - I look forward to it now! There were years where if you asked me t o play another Saint-Saens Concerto I would've pulled my hair out. Now it really feels like I'm bringing something new to the music. My ears are more open."

While he enjoys playing the standard repertoire - Dvorak, Bruch, Elgar, etc., Haimovitz is more firmly convinced than ever of the need to advocate for living composers. Touring in support of his most recent CD "The Odd Couple," which includes performances of two of the 20th century's most important cello sonatas, those by Elliott Carter and Samuel Barber, as well as new works by David Sanford and Augusta Read Thomas, Haimovitz and his pianist collaborator Geoffrey Burleson drew comparisons between Sanford's serial structures and those of Arnold Schoenberg.

"We actually got hissed mentioning Schoenberg," he said. "Here we are in 2008, playing for an audience of regular chamber-music subscribers, and we get hissed for mentioning Schoenberg ... so for me it's so important that we balance what we do. We celebrate the Elgars and Dvoraks, but we realize that the living tradition goes on."

Haimovitz grew up listening to virtually nothing but classical music through his first year of college, which he joked was "the beginning of my corruption." In fact it was the beginning of the truly eclectic nature that Haimovitz has brought to bear upon the concert-going community, taking Bach down to CBGBs, playing Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and Jimi Hendrix' "Machine Gun" alongside music by Ligeti, Mozart and Schubert, and opening others' ears as his have become opened.

While it has informed and enlivened his approach to all music, this pioneering spirit has not shaken his deep respect for the masters.

"My ideal performance, when I'm getting to the heart of what I'm playing, getting to the core of the composer's intentions," Haimovitz said, "to me it should feel like you, yourself are composing the piece at that moment - recreating it." In order to do that, one must be intimately rooted in the traditions and style surrounding the work, the philosophy of the composer, the tenor of the times in which he or she was writing, he said, but then one must bring the notes, which are otherwise dead on the page, to life in a new century.

Also on Saturday's program are Sibelius' Second Symphony, and Brahms Tragic Overture, two very different but intensely engaging and exciting symphonic masterpieces, which Maestro Kevin Rhodes will bring to 21st-century life in similar fashion.


On the road to fame, cellist Haimovitz makes detours from tradition

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Last updated October 2, 2008

Cellist Matt Haimovitz has been coming to the Northwest since the earliest days of his career, but of late that has meant the Tractor Tavern in Ballard more than traditional concert halls. This weekend he is switching gears by helping open the new season of the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra at Meydenbauer Hall with the Dvorak Cello Concerto.

Haimovitz has studiously avoided the standard route of young, ambitious virtuosi by devoting himself exclusively to the standard bearers of the cello literature, like the Dvorak. He was among the first to play in clubs and cafes normally reserved for jazz groups, rock bands, folk singers and all the gradations in between -- places such as the Tractor, Lola's Room in Portland, Tin Angel in Philadelphia, the Mint in Los Angeles and Joe's Pub and CGBG, the celebrated punk club, in New York.

He recalled the moment the other day from Montreal, where he lives and teaches at McGill University.

"It really began as an experiment. In 2000 I had just recorded the Bach cello suites and was thinking about another way to represent those pieces to my generation, who had, in general, no idea of what I was doing. I wanted people to be comfortable, to strip away layers that can be intimidating, and so I thought of smaller spaces, really more like the 18th century of Bach."

At first the clubs were apprehensive, concerned that Haimovitz would not sell, even though most of them had eclectic programs like the Tractor. To allay their financial concerns, he agreed to split the box office instead of taking a fee. They didn't know him and he didn't know them. To say he was making less money in these alternative spaces is an understatement.

What he was seeking in a club was a venue with varied programs and a varied crowd. It is these places that would be most open to classical music. Haimovitz wanted to make such music accessible without taking away its integrity.

Just as clubs were wary of him at first, Haimovitz's colleagues in his world thought, "Matt had gone mad," he said. "But then they saw my commitment and started seeing it, in classical-speak, as outreach."

In the process he not only amplified his own reputation but also created a bridge between different worlds. His national tours became famous, playing not only Bach but plenty of new music.

Always, he divided his time between clubs and the concert halls. This season, he said, he's doing more concert halls. Some dates are like Bellevue and Dvorak, and some are new music, of which he is a great advocate.

"I love to have a chance to play the Dvorak concerto," he said. "I hear different things in it now. One of the great things of the past eight years is how I listen and respond, not only to audiences, but in a chamber music sense. I am more aware of what is going on, the interchange of ideas, my individual role. You begin to hear the Dvorak in different ways."

The question no one has an answer for is whether the audiences who listen so attentively to Haimovitz in clubs will follow him to the concert hall.

"That is a hard question," he said. "Hard to say. The audiences for the clubs are young and hip. How they will make the connection to Dvorak in a concert hall is uncertain. So far, there hasn't been a lot of crossover. I see a general interest, and they come back for more. People are looking for a connection to musical experiences in this kind of intimacy. We have to give it a chance. It is too early."


Concert Review: Matt Haimovitz and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project at the ICA
September 25, 2008

On Sunday, the Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music's last pair of concerts at the ICA began with two people and finished with over sixty, in a glass box on the harbor. The former were Matt Haimovitz, on cello, and Geoff Burleson, on (and in) piano. Children standing on the postmodern boardwalk outside pressed their faces against the window as Burleson hit keys with one hand and reached in with the other to pluck at the piano's viscera, as Augusta Read Thomas's "Cantos for Slava" (2008) required. When Haimovitz wasn't wringing long, doleful cries from his instrument, he too plucked, as if the cello were a tall, fat lute.

David Sanford's "22 Part I for cello and piano" (1995) followed, shuddering, urgent, and angsty, and then Tod Machover's "VinylCello" (2007). Machover, who had a hand in the genesis of the Ditson Festival (and once wrote an opera based on Philip K. Dick's semi-autobiographical sci-fi gospel Valis), has in recent years collaborated with the MIT Media Lab to breed mutant electronic offspring of traditional instruments. For the purposes of this piece, DJ Olive was set up with two turntables, the ubiquitous MacBook, and other devices, with which he seemed to manipulate the sounds of Haimovitz's amplified and processed cello, sometimes scratching, sometimes creating faraway, ethereal washes or alien birdsong. Haimovitz's cello sang back, until its duet with its distorted reflection shattered with an appropriately startling bang.

Sunday was one of those bright, crisp autumn days that justifies the existence of New England, and Bostonist almost felt that we weren't missing it, as clouds and ships drifted behind the headlining Boston Modern Orchestra Project. We're used to seeing them framed by the thick stone walls of Jordan Hall; here the orchestra was cheek to jowl at the bottom of the auditorium, playing a necessary game of musical chairs between works. At none of the Ditson shows that Bostonist attended (all but Saturday's) were all the very orange seats in the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater filled; this seemed to exacerbate the informality that might be inherent in the venue, with its view of museum-going dawdlers and lack of a distinct stage. Musicians popped into auditorium seats when they weren't needed, and living composers stood and waved amongst the applauding concert-goers. Rather than proceeding solemnly and cryptically from one piece of music to another as performing rituals at a pre-Vatican II altar, performers and composers lectured and joked and stalled for time.

Andy Vores jaunted to the bottom of the auditorium to explain his "fabrications" (numbered 11 and 13, world-premiering together), which played games patterned on sculpture and experimental drama. Number 11 described a walk through Richard Serra's Torqued Torus maze at MoMA last year, first breathing down the necks of brass and woodwind in anticipation, with a few stray squawks, then lurching forward into atmospheres of low metallic echoes, bright glances upward, and shivering strings, before exhaling again. (Vores' Leif, concerning the Viking discoverer of North America, will be one of several mini-operas inspired by Boston statues performed at an upcoming Boston Musica Viva show.)

Haimovitz and his cello returned, unplugged, to lend some mournful notes to Paul Moravec's 2000 concerto "Montserrat." One of the grandest and warmest pieces that Bostonist had the pleasure of hearing in the festival, this one stuck with us, as did Levering's harrowing "Al Mare Dentro" (2008). A whole minute seemed to pass before the last notes faded and everyone remembered to breathe again.


Berkshire Review for the Arts
C. Warren
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Matt Haimovitz, cello
Geoff Burleson, piano

August Read Thomas Cantos for Slava (World Premiere)
David Sanford, 22 Part I for cello and piano
Tod Machover Vinyl Cello
DJ Olive

Haimovitz is an Israeli-born cellist now based in the United States and Canada. He is known not only for his outstanding technical and musical skill, but also for his highly unusual concert career and repertoire choices. Matt has been touring with a new CD entitled Goulash. From Bartok to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” he brings Middle Eastern and Romanian folk music to the club. From 1999 to 2004, Haimovitz was a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Since 2004, he has taught at McGill University in Montreal as well as the Domaine Forget academy for the arts in rural Quebec.

Sunday afternoon, the final day of Boston’s Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music, featured cellist Matt Haimovitz. This young man is a cello virtuoso and a great musician, intense, thoughtful, and full of feeling. He played an hour-long recital with sympathetic pianist Geoff Burleson and with also sympathetic vinyl-spinner DJ Olive, and later returned with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. The Haimovitz recital began with a wonderful piece by Augusta Read Thomas, “Cantos for Slava,” a tribute to master cellist, teacher, and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. The first Canto is a dialogue between pizzicato cello and staccato piano, with material later picked up in the third Canto with harder notes and chords. Meanwhile the second Canto has proceeded with a lyrical high whine from the cello echoed by direct, reverberating plucking of strings on the piano, the pianist standing up and reaching over the keyboard, and all this is developed in the fourth Canto with more conventional and direct ways of playing. It is a highly original piece, seeming to reinvent music as it goes along, and tapping new areas of feeling. Haimovitz and Burleson followed with David Sanford’s sonata full of notes, 22 Part I for Cello and Piano, and then Tod Machover’s “VinylCello” for amplified cello and DJ spinning disks of Haimovitz recordings and controlling a panel of sound adjustment knobs. The amplified cello uncannily imitates speech, with broad gestures and phrases, the DJ collaborating, and all this gradually turns into what seems purely music or song, but ends with a return to speech that is strangely now still music—really original and stirring work.


Cabrillo Festival opens strong with Concerto rockin' hysteria

San Jose Mercury News
By Richard Scheinin
August 3rd, 2008

Introducing his eruptive new Concerto for Orchestra at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music on Friday, composer Christopher Rouse said the "threat level on this piece is orange." He also said it quotes from a tune by the Jefferson Airplane, dared the audience to figure out which one, and finally described hisnew work as "a dissonant 12-tone piece, but you'll like it, anyway."

I never located the Airplane tune, but, in spite of Rouse's various warnings, I liked the concerto, as he predicted, anyway. It's about color and motion, a million things happening in fast succession, each flaring event crafted with a classicist's sense of proportion. Yet it all builds to nosebleed hysteria at Level Orange, like rock 'n' roll - a great centerpiece for the opening night of the two-week festival in Santa Cruz.

Rouse, a favorite of Marin Alsop, the festival's famous music director and conductor, is a Pulitzer Prize winner whose many works include a cello concerto composed for Yo-Yo Ma and who once taught a course on the history of rock at the Eastman School of Music.

He is a big man and he writes big music: The Concerto for Orchestra, which had its world premiere Friday at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, employs crashing percussion, helium-fed clarinet figurations and, overall, a raft of colors and moods, including a quiet, fretful lyricism. It moves, at times in seconds, from stasis to a blur, and Alsop, exhorting the festival orchestra toward its last outburst, was caught up in the sweep of events, crouched down and looking like a disco prowler.

This was a strong opening night to the festival, the foremost annual showcase for new orchestral music in North America. And while the orchestra was heatedly engaged by the Concerto, commissioned by the festival for these players, it was equally wired into composer David Sanford's "Scherzo Grosso," which featured cello soloist Matt Haimovitz, a phenomenon.

Haimovitz made his Carnegie Hall debut with Isaac Stern at age 13, but about eight years ago decided to bring classical music to new audiences by playing in coffeehouses, pizza joints, punk clubs. It's not a gimmick. Now 37, he exudes a mastery of tradition, but alludes as easily to Hendrix as Bach. No wonder Sanford wrote this terrific piece with him in mind.

The music riffed and grooved or spread out in free-jazz rhythms. It employed call and response; Haimovitz was in steady conversation with the orchestra and its soloists (a lone trumpet, a buzzing flute). Puckish like Prokofiev, or sneaky like Henry Threadgill, the jazz saxophonist/composer, Sanford's piece kept merging bits of rhythm and melody, so before you knew it, a giant, living, breathing organism had slipped into the room. Its final shout was a massive crescendo, piercing as an air-raid siren, from the orchestra and its wailing soloist.


Cabrillo Music Festival: A First Night of firsts
By Stacey Vreeken
Santa Cruz Sentinel

The internationally known Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music opens its season tonight with an evening of premieres, including Concerto for Orchestra a piece written especially for the festival by Christopher Rouse.

"It's a major piece to be added to the festival that I'll be doing all over the world," said music director and conductor Marin Alsop of Rouse's work.

Additional premieres at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium include "Darkness Made Visible" by Santa Cruz-born Eric Lindsay, who was raised on Whidbey Island, Wash., and utilizes an inventive composing style and Stephen McNeff with "Sinfonia Concisoto." Together, the composers create a night of firsts at First Night.

The audience will also get its first taste of the performing style of Matt Haimovitz, who solos in "Scherzo Grosso" by David W. Sanford. Haimovitz is known for his interpretations of classical works as well as Led Zepplin's "Kashmir."

Some of the festival's favorite composers, such as Michael Daugherty and John Adams, are back, and some of the newest faces on the new music scene will be introduced at the festival, which runs through Aug. 10.

On Saturday, percussionist Evelyn Glennie returns to perform John Corigliano's new work "Conjurer," Dorothy Chang premieres "Strange Air" and electronica comes to the festival in the form of Mason Bates' "Liquid Interface."

If you like Bates, come back to the Civic Sunday night when the Bay Area-based artist teams up with Haimovitz for an evening that pushes musical boundaries. Haimovitz will be playing solo cello while Bates creates an electronic soundscape between pieces.

In addition to the open-minded audiences who embrace new ideas in Santa Cruz, "One of my great joys is to see the collaborative friendships and projects that evolve after people leave the festival. They often go out and collaborate with soloists and people they meet at the festival," said Alsop.

The free family concert Sunday afternoon is an opportunity to introduce your children to the excitement of the orchestra with a tour and chance to meet musicians, followed by a performance of Jennifer Higdon's "Machine" and Michael Daugherty's premiere of "Troyjam."

You can continue to enjoy the festival for free while it's in rehearsal Aug. 5-8 at the Civic. Sentinel columnist Phyllis Rosenblum and composer Philip Collins will give pre-rehearsal talks Aug. 5-6 to help you further understand what the festival is all about.

Daughtery closes out the first week of the festival with a sold-out show at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.


Have cello, will travel: Haimovitz stops here
By Richard Scheinin
Mercury News

Cellist Matt Haimovitz was born in Israel, grew up in Palo Alto and made his Carnegie Hall debut with Isaac Stern at age 13. Now 37, he has spent much of the past eight years taking classical music to the people - performing solo in pubs, pizza parlors and punk lounges.

He still tours with major orchestras, performing Dvorak and Shostakovich. But these days, he is just as likely to show up at a coffeehouse, playing music by Elliott Carter, that master of complexity, or an arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun."

Early next month, Haimovitz performs twice at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz.

At the opening concert on Aug. 1, he joins conductor Marin Alsop and the festival orchestra for David Sanford's "Scherzo Grosso." On Aug. 3, Haimovitz teams with turntablist/composer Mason Bates (a.k.a DJ Masonic) for a night of solo cello, electronica interludes and, possibly, duo improvisations.

I recently talked to Haimovitz, who lives and teaches in Montreal, about Bach, Hendrix, DJs and bus tours - all de rigueur for this classical music renegade.

Q You're still playing all those off-beat venues?

A Lots of them, like Passim in Cambridge, which is right on Harvard Square - a famous basement coffeehouse that Joan Baez used to play. And Sam Bond's Garage in Eugene, Ore.; it used to be a car mechanic's place, and they turned it into a vegan coffeehouse. That's a wild place, one of my
favorite places in the country, actually. . . . There's just such electricity and enthusiasm - sort of my ideal for what an audience can be, receptive to anything.

Q Do you run into a lot of audiences like that?

A Well, that's extreme.

Q Tell me about playing with DJs.

A I'm doing a lot of that. It's this idea of continuous performance without break that can go on for 75 minutes or so, even 90 minutes. You kind of modulate from one piece to the next, and it puts everything in a certain context and perspective, and you begin to hear connections that you wouldn't otherwise.

With Mason Bates, I'll play a piece by David Sanford, which has a relationship to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," and a piece by Osvaldo Golijov, which has a relationship to (Astor) Piazzolla, and a piece by Ned Rorem, which has literary references. . . . Maybe there'll be a little bit of improvisation.

Q You've put a lot of energy into your new career track. How would you rate your success?

A Successful enough that I still have food on the table, and I'm able to realize some dreams - being able to do the next project and having an audience out there that wants to listen. Some listeners - and I totally understand - they know what they love. Maybe they only want to hear Brahms. . . . So what I'm trying to do now is find the best way to communicate what I get out of, say, an Elliott Carter sonata to a broader audience . . . so there isn't this fear of something new. Some of his music is so unbelievable that it should have as big an audience as some of the pop stuff.

Q You did a bus tour a few years ago with jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter and some of the other jam-band people.

A It's my favorite way of touring. I love the socializing after shows and the traveling around. . . . You've got the DVD player. You've got a refrigerator. You don't have to go through security every day; there's no one opening up your cello case to make sure you don't have a terrorist bomb inside.

Q Do you pull out your cello and rehearse on the bus?

A Yeah, you work things out. You practice. It's great! Charlie Hunter has the opposite opinion of it. He says it's a penitentiary on wheels.

Q What's your biggest challenge right now?

A The big challenge for classical musicians living now is somehow cutting through to mainstream culture, so this art form is appreciated and so there's access to it.

I think we'll get there, because enough people are thinking about it. But if the last eight years for me have been sort of experimenting with things, I hope that in the next five or 10 years I'm putting some of these pieces together.

Good Times Santa Cruz

Down to Earth
Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Cellist Matt Haimovitz brings heavenly music to malls, clubs and bars
Matt Haimovitz, who extends considerable musical talent to the cello, discusses his playing as if it were an experiment in sound. “[The cello] is a very vocal instrument; it’s so close to the human voice,” he says. “I can emulate not only symphonic instruments—to sound like a flute, a drum, or a clarinet—I can make it sound like an electric guitar, a saxophone, and all kinds of different instruments.” Though cello-based innovation is Haimovitz’ modus operandi, the playing itself is never an afterthought: his renditions of Bach’s cello suites are fluent, perhaps more apt to small surprises, but have no need for contrition in front of Yo Yo Ma’s or even Rostropovich’s.

Something of a shift in musical venues has brought Haimovitz a reputation as a player with a flair for the maverick performance, if not a pioneer. In a series of concerts officially called “Buck the Concerto” (this might be one of Haimovitz’ many Bach-themed puns—“Playing Bach from Bar to Bar” is another) he toured the United States and brought down the cello’s bass-heavy cant from vaulted recital halls to intimate coffee shops, the pedestrian anonymity of shopping malls, and the grimy rocker sanctum that was CBGB’s. To a modern sensibility, stumbling upon the graceful turns of Bach’s suites in familiar spaces is striking, but for Haimovitz it’s a long-awaited return.

“Chamber music belongs in more intimate spaces, and that more direct contact raises the idea that this music was not meant to relax you—it was meant to provoke you,” he says. “There was humor, there was pathos, there were all kinds of emotions, but it was meant to get your heart and mind working. Concert hall performances can get formulaic and predictable, so all this brings me closer to my audience and really makes the musical experiences as communicative as they can be.”

But bringing heavenly music down to earth isn’t an endeavor set up for the sake of experimentation. A 13-year-old Haimovitz made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic. As a scarcely older teenager, he made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and all the stops in the international orchestra circuit have since been given a heavy dose of Haimovitz’ capable hands. He also is the reigning impresario of a studio of young cellists at McGill University, a group he calls Ucello when they play together. So with an established career already behind him, changes in musical space and trials in sonorous alchemy are simply the aftereffects of a wish to do something more with a four-stringed instrument.

“Scherzo Grosso,” a piece written by David Safford for a twenty-piece band and cello, was the first piece in the “Buck the Concerto” series. Its eccentric nature, inspired by talented but notoriously reclusive Pittsburgh Collective trumpet player Ed Nelson, contains within it the pioneering spirit that Haimovitz ardently seeks. He describes one of the piece’s movements as a “kind of John Coltrane meets Prokofiev” before illustrating a vivid picture of Nelson: “I remain this stubborn hero to the end,” he says. “Around me, no matter how noisy it gets, not matter what tone direction I get pushed into, I put up a fight. So at the end everybody ends up on an E flat and I won’t give in—I’m on a low D. There’s definitely a sense of a character, larger than life, who to some extent didn’t really belong, and whose voice had to be heard.”

It’s not uncommon to see Haimovitz banter his audience with colloquial air, cracking jokes and baby-faced smiles in between suites. At the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music he’ll play solo after “Scherzo Grosso” for the In The Blue Room production, with DJ/composer Mason Bates’ soundscapes gracing the space between pieces. You might find him—stripping down a formal veil, but retaining enough mystique with his consummate skill—conjuring something very close to real human contact.
Matt Haimovitz performs as part of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $20-$27.420-5260.


Cellist brings classics to rock bar
By Beth Lipoff, Staff Writer
The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

An indie rock bar isn’t where you’d normally hear a cellist play a nine-movement classical piece, but The Brick in Kansas City, Mo., likes to be different. On July 18, they’ll welcome Matt Haimovitz, a cellist who’s made a habit of performing in such unusual venues.

“At first, it was to broaden the audience for classical music and bring music into places where they’re more comfortable coming to hear music,” Haimovitz said. “Now it’s going into the original style of chamber music, (the way) it was first experienced in these intimate spaces.”

The Israeli native started performing at clubs and bars in 2000, when he had a release party for his CD of Bach cello suites at Iron Horse Music Hall in Massachusetts.

“The response from the community was really electric. Most of them had never heard these pieces before,” Haimovitz said.

Playing at these venues in between more traditional engagements with symphonies, he’s played a variety of places, including that now-defunct icon of punk rock, CBGB’s in New York.

He’ll be doing the same with his stop in Kansas City, sandwiching his show at The Brick between performances with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra in Columbia.

“If I have an off night, I’d rather go play a club than sit in a hotel room,” Haimovitz said.

Sheri Parr, owner of The Brick, said the atmosphere there is definitely intimate and artistic.

“We don’t have Budweiser signs everywhere; we have local art on the wall. We’re quirky,” she said. “Last time we had a string quartet, I was impressed. We sold out; it was packed. The applause was really heartfelt. It wasn’t just being polite.”

Haimovitz said he loves “the idea that each one of these clubs has its own character and its own audience. You never know who to expect.”

He’ll be playing “After Reading Shakespeare” a nine-movement classical piece by American composer Ned Rorem. Between each movement, Haimovitz will read the quote or sonnet by Shakespeare that inspired that movement.

“It’s classical, but definitely influenced by jazz,” Haimovitz said. “Ned Rorem, despite all the current of 20th-century music and all the atonality, he stuck with a tonal piece.”

In addition to this piece, Haimovitz will perform “Shadow” by Lewis Spratlan and “Mark Twain Sez” by Paul Moravec. Look for some works of J.S. Bach, as well, a favorite of Haimovitz.

“He simultaneously brings together several different voices, and in any other media that would incoherent, but Bach makes it possible,” he said.

Beyond the gig

When he’s not on a performance tour, Haimovitz teaches at McGill University in Montreal.

A Harvard grad himself, Haimovitz studied cello from the age of 13 at Juilliard with Leonard Rose, whom he met through Itzhak Perlman.

Haimovitz’s first brush with fame came two years later, when he performed with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, he also played his cello with the New York Philharmonic.

Though he achieved a lot as a teenager, Haimovitz prefers not to be called a prodigy.

“I don’t like the word,” he said.

Right now, he’s focusing on the present and the future. Next on his to-do list is a piece called “Klezmer Fantasy,” which he’s working on with former Klezmatics clarinetist David Krakauer.

He’s looking forward to seeing Kansas City; this will be his first visit.

“I just hear great things about the arts scene there,” he said. “I know more about the symphony than I do about The Brick, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Weekend Review

David Stabler
The Oregonian
July 7, 2008

Thousands of musical notes, all in a hurry. A rush hour of slammin', jammin' tunes. That's Mark O'Connor's music.
Listening to the fiddle champion's two classical string quartets at Chamber Music Northwest on Saturday was a like Class IV white-water ride during spring runoff.
I'm positive the four musicians never played more notes per minute than that concert. More than Mendelssohn, even. The music married bluegrass and spiky classical styles, like Bartok in Kentucky, O'Connor joked, referring to the Hungarian composer. The results? Rigorous counterpoint, reharmonized fiddle tunes and propulsive rhythms.
Fatigue caught up with us, though. One quartet would have been great. Two was over the top.
For me, the best part of Saturday's musical hailstorm were the "play offs" that began the second half of the concert. O'Connor called three individual players out for a duet with the fiddler, a show-me-what-you-got battle of strings. Matt Haimovitz dazzled the crowd with his cello's growls and roars. Paul Neubauer's bow arm blistered the strings -- I've never seen his bow arm move so fast -- which makes me think he must have the best viola arm in the business. And Ida Kavafian's cascading scales flirted with O'Connor's before he kicked dust in her face, only to have her kick it back.
O'Connor, pied piper of a new brand of Americana, is a maverick. His goal is to make us fall in love with American music -- the old timey stuff as well as a new breed that he's inventing as he goes along. It's the language and spirit of this country's native harmony, delivered in classical garb. Besides Edgar Meyer, the cooler-than-cool double bass player/composer, who else is doing that?
"People forget how incredible American music is," O'Connor says. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and Meyer on the recording "Appalachian Waltz" reminded us a few years ago, winning a Grammy along the way.
I'm always impressed by how assured Chamber Music Northwest's musicians are, no matter what style they play. It might be a string quartet by Elliott Carter -- heinously hard to play -- or a simple Schubert melody, or a thorny world premiere.
Or O'Connor's hybrid bluegrass.
Whatever they perform shines with a patina of confidence.
Thursday's concert showed the performers' experience with yet more blending of classical and Americana music. In his first appearance at Chamber Music Northwest, Haimovitz, a superb cellist who's been on the international scene for many years, played Oswaldo Golijov's solo work, "Omaramor," with haunting simplicity. Despite its rough outbursts, the piece by the Argentinean/Israeli composer is a free-spirited fantasy based on "My Beloved Buenos Aires," a song made popular by the late tango singer Carlos Gardel.
The piece didn't sound like a tango, but more like an improvised meditation, and Haimovitz made it sound off the cuff. His feel for the cello is instinctive. As with Yo-Yo Ma, the instrument becomes an extension of his body. I hope he returns next summer.
For a real tango, we heard Astor Piazzolla's lively "Tango Suite" for flute, strings and piano in a canny arrangement by flutist and festival performer Tara Helen O'Connor.
The world premiere of "Then Velvet Dark" introduced a young Philadelphia composer, Sheridan Seyfried, born in 1984. Inspired by a Carl Sandberg poem, "Fourth of July Night," evoking fireworks over water, Seyfried based his short piece on the original pitch relations and fragments of phrases from "America the Beautiful."
Opus One, whose members are Kavafian, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; Peter Wiley, cello; and Anne-Marie McDermott, piano, gave a high-def performance of the work's propulsive rhythms, insistent repetitions of melodic cells and contrasts of vigor and calm. An effective piece.
Soprano Hyunah Yu was a hit, again, as she was on an all-Schubert program earlier last week. This time, she surrounded herself with eight cellists to sing the popular "Bachianas Brasileiras" No. 5 by Villa-Lobos. The august gathering of cellists included Haimovitz, Fred Sherry, Peter Wiley, Ronald Thomas, Michael Nicolas and some local musicians: Hamilton Cheifetz, Nancy Ives and Dorothy Lewis.
Yu gave an exquisite performance, planing her voice to a ribbon of sound to soar softly over the baritonal cellos, while summoning more color for the fuller lines.
For a crowd-pleasing closer, who better than George Gershwin, another stylistic bridge builder? Pianists McDermott and Pei-Yao Wang faced off on two pianos with a swaggering performance of "An American in Paris." The jazzy score depicts a visitor walking through Paris, absorbing the sounds and energy of the streets.
McDermott and Wang played with wonderful rhythmic freedom, letting the score breathe with sophisticated charm and dash.



The Power to Provoke

By James D. Watts Jr
Tulsa World
June 17, 2008

The last time cellist Matt Haimovitz played Bartlesville, the setting was very different from the ones he will perform in as part of the OK Mozart International Festival.

Haimovitz came to Bartlesville in 2004, as he was finishing up what was billed as "The Anthem Tour." This solo trek around the United States had Haimovitz performing contemporary American music for the solo cello in venues that usually weren't thought of as places for "classical music."

"Part of the reason for doing that tour was non-musical -- I realized, after doing a similar solo tour, that there were another 30 states that I had never visited before," Haimovitz said. "So that was a little selfish -- I just wanted to explore the country.

"But the main reason was to be able to share music by living composers with people who might not otherwise hear this music, in places where it was very likely never to be performed."

That included Bartlesville's Cafe 75, a place Haimovitz remembers as being "a very nice, kind of funky coffeehouse," with an "intimate audience, about 40 or 50 people, but all seemed very appreciative of what

I was trying to do."

The tour was called "Anthem" after the CD Haimovitz had released in 2003 that included his arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's take on "The Star Spangled Banner," which the guitarist unleashed during his performance at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969.

"I started working on the project right about the time the war in Iraq began," Haimovitz said. "There was a lot talk about patriotism, and that was why I thought it was important to relive that unique expression of the freedom of speech that was Jimi Hendrix's 'Star Spangled Banner.' "

Haimovitz will include his solo cello rendition of Hendrix's sound effects-laden version when he performs this week as part of the OK Mozart International Festival. He's taking part in the Bartlesville festival as a member of the chamber music ensemble that presents the weekday Mini Concerts of Contemporary Music at the Bartlesville Community Center, the afternoon Chamber Music concerts at the Bartlesville High School, and the Spencer Prentiss Chamber Music Concert, featuring violinist and composer Mark O'Connor, Tuesday night at the Bartlesville Community Center (see sidebar for specific concert information).

The opportunity to work with O'Connor -- whose music runs the gamut of American music from bluegrass to country to jazz to classical -- was one of the main attractions for Haimovitz.

"I've always loved Mark's music, and being able to play with him is going to be a lot of fun," he said. "I'm part of a project to record Mark's string quartets, so we'll be doing some of those pieces at the festival, with (violinist) Ida Kavafian and (violist) Paul Neubuer."

Haimovitz will have the stage to himself for the Chamber Concert on Wednesday afternoon.

He will perform the Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 by J.S. Bach, Ned Rorem's "After Reading Shakespeare for Cello Alone," a series of musical meditations on some of Shakespeare's greatest characters, and the Hendrix "Star-Spangled Banner."

"Yeah, Paul (Neubauer, OK Mozart's music director) is keeping me pretty busy this week," he said, laughing.

But keeping busy is the way Haimovitz likes things to be, especially in the aftermath of his solo tours.

"Doing those tours really energized me," he said. "I started playing with orchestras in my teens, and while I love doing that to this day, it was really a rejuvenating thing to go out and play every night -- changing the music I played from night to night, developing a more direct sense of communicating with an audience.

"And it was great getting to know firsthand how varied and immense our culture is," he added. "Of course, there were some nights when I asked myself, 'What in the world are you doing?' And there a few times where I got booed. But to me, that just showed that people cared enough about music to express their real reaction to it. Music can heal and soothe, but it also can provoke."


Not exactly a rock cellist, but quite unconventional

Montreal Gazette
May 17th, 2008

Matt Haimovitz, former member in good standing of the Deutsche Grammophon artist roster, was sitting in his spacious and surprisingly uncluttered McGill studio, fresh off a red-eye from California, talking about the vagaries of amplification in grunge bars.

"Yesterday, it wasn't so subtle," he said in reference to his performance last Tuesday at the Mint in Los Angeles. "The sound person got a little trigger-happy. Sometimes you're faced with that." Haimovitz was expecting no problems Thursday at the Black Sheep Inn, a waterfront dive in Wakefield. Nor Monday at the Sala Rossa, where the 37-year-old cello prof will present a contemporary chamber program to what he can safely describe, post-tenure, as a hometown crowd.

"I have a mike that I really love," he added.

Clamped onto a 1710 Gofriller?

"It gets clamped anyway when we have to re-glue things," he explained. "It's the same kind of a clamp. It doesn't scratch the instrument." As all this implies, Haimovitz is no ordinary cellist, although he once was, his formal coming-out having been a last-minute substitution for his teacher Leonard Rose in a Carnegie Hall performance of Schubert's String Quintet.

Issac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich were the other players. Haimovitz was 13.

His teen years promised traditional greatness. In 1986 he played Lalo with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Gazette critic (himself a whelp of 30) was impressed. But after a few years on the circuit, he came down with hotelitis and a related artistic malaise.

"I was tired of looking into a subscription series audience and not seeing anyone from my generation," he explained. It did not help that DG, along with the rest of the recording industry, was downsizing with a vengeance.

So Haimovitz went to Harvard, met and married the composer Luna Pearl Woolf (they have a 17-month-old daughter) and established his own label, Oxingale Records, first issuing Bach's iconic Cello Suites in 2000 and, more recently, a disc of non-symphonic concertos starting with his own transcription of a high-octane Jimi Hendrix number, Machine Gun.

Haimovitz had already co-opted Hendrix in 2002-2003, playing the late guitarist's version of The Star-Spangled Banner on a seminal, 49-state grunge-bar tour that started in the now-defunct New York punk palace, CBGB. The distorted national anthem, in those political charged times, got Haimovitz booed in New Hampshire and banned by a Denver radio station controlled by a Republican congressman.

But however strange and sexy it might seem to play Hendrix on a cello in a place that sells beer, Haimovitz is no rock cellist. It is more accurate to describe Haimovitz as a classical player with an unusually strong interest in alternative-venue proselytism and contemporary repertoire. Last week, he was playing Ligeti's Cello Concerto (a work he has recorded with the McGill Contemporary Ensemble) in California.

The Sala Rossa concert is built around After Reading Shakespeare, a lyrical and non-experimental solo-cello suite by the veteran American composer and diarist Ned Rorem. Also on the program are works involving soprano Lisa Delan by Woolf and Gordon Getty, the latter a son of the late oil baron J. Paul Getty whom Haimovitz characterizes as a "modern-day Medici." Getty will also read excerpts from the Bard.

As off-Broadway as all this sounds, Haimovitz has not repudiated the standard repertoire. He will be playing the Elgar Concerto soon in Lisbon. "Of course, every season I do a few Dvorak Concertos," he said. "What I don't want is to do 100 Dvorak Concertos. Mixing it up keeps it fresh." Haimovitz also finds time for his 15 cello students at McGill, a university whose forward-looking Schulich School of Music is nicely suited to his interests and temperament. The presence downstairs of a recording studio and world-class sound technology department is more than a little handy.

While Haimovitz admits to a strong artistic identification with the eastern U.S. (despite his Silicon-Valley upbringing), he has lately started to explore Quebec music with enthusiasm. He gave the North American premiere of Gilles Tremblay's Les Pierres crieront with the MSO under Kent Nagano in February and repeated the modernist concerto recently at a cello congress in Israel.

Now settled in Montreal, he plans to seek Canadian citizenship.

"I want to go to Cuba," Haimovitz explained with a smile.


Haimovitz A Classy Act
by Allan Wigney

The Ottawa Sun
May15, 2008

Wakefield's Black Sheep Inn has become a routine rest-stop for a number of touring artists, from our own Kathleen Edwards to Ireland's Andy White.

Amid the clatter of glasses and under the watchful eyes of Rene Levesque and Jean Beliveau, artists revel in the down-home atmosphere of the smalltown tavern.

Yet, perhaps no recurring character in the Black Sheep's ongoing story is more unlikely than Matt Haimovitz. A renowned cellist, the Israel-born Haimovitz began performing and recording with the world's great orchestras while a teen. And continues to do so.

When not hitting the clubs.

"I'm mixing it up quite a bit right now," Haimovitz says of his schedule. "I'm doing concertos, but for me it's important to go back to venues like the Black Sheep. It's important to reach out and take away the formality of classical music. It's important to attract new listeners.

"I feel that filling the space up with some good classical music is good for the space and it's good for our genre, in terms of having to survive in the real world."

It's a seemingly revolutionary attitude, yet Haimovitz insists he is not alone in his quest to bring classical music to a wider community.

Moreover, as CBC Radio's recent very-public dismissal of its orchestra well illustrated, traditional venues for classical music are becoming increasingly scarce.

"With the decline of community concerts in the States, I would say presenting in alternative spaces and clubs has kind of taken over," Haimovitz observes. "It's almost trendy at this point."

Haimovitz laughs. "I've got to go back to the concert halls, this is becoming too trendy."


While Haimovitz has indulged in such non-traditional musical activities as performing with a DJ and inserting into his program material by Jimi Hendrix, his fondness for alternative spaces is in no way intended to show a lack of respect for proper classical-music procedure.

"I'm sure every venue I go to I play a little differently," he says, "but in general I try to play as well in a club as I do in a concert hall. To me, I bring the same plan, the same type of architecture.

"If anything, it's going back to the origins of this music. The vitality, the direct expression, the idea of chamber music in more intimate spaces, and the unexpected. It's important for all of us to realize we're part of this larger community.

"Our music is an extraordinary genre -- some of the greatest music to come from the human imagination. But it's up to us to make it known."

It's a conviction Haimovitz has long held. But he began taking it to its licensed-venue extreme only eight years ago, with an ambitious tour of clubs that first brought him to the Black Sheep. Some, he admits, saw the move as novelty. But Haimovitz was hooked.

"Part of the fun of going into these venues is that each one of them has such character," he enthuses. "There are some wonderful halls in the world with a lot of character -- certainly, Carnegie Hall has a uniqueness to it. But some of the newer concert halls are very generic, you go from one box to another."

And that is something that can never be said about the Black Sheep Inn. Nor is there anything generic about Matt Haimovitz.

"If I'm going to play a Bach cello suite," he concludes, "even if you've heard it a million times I want you to experience this piece anew and to experience what a cellist in the 18th century would have experienced coming to it for the very first time.

"To me, that's what music is about."

Cellist's fiery program mixes old and new

By Lawrence A. Johnson
The Miami Herald
January 14, 2008

Few child prodigies have made the transition to musical maturity as gracefully as has Matt Haimovitz. At 13, the Israeli cellist made his debut with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and four years later launched a major career via an acclaimed concert and recording debut with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Over the years, Haimovitz has carved out an independent path, founding his own record label (Oxingale), championing contemporary works and bringing classical music to new audiences by performing in jazz clubs. The cellist's eclectic style was displayed with a distinctive program -- Beethoven and Brahms framing two American works -- presented by Sunday Afternoons of Music at Gusman Concert Hall.

Haimovitz, 36, has commissioned several new works for his solo appearances at coffeehouses and clubs, including Mark Twain Sez by Paul Moravec. The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer employs quirky and offbeat instrumental writing and effects, which invariably result in music that is accessible and gratefully written for performers and often explores profound emotional depths.

Mark Twain Sez (2006) certainly applies. In time-honored coffeehouse style, the solo cellist is required to read a Twain aphorism before performing a musical passage illustrating its essence. The eight sections are vividly contrasted and unfailingly witty and communicative. Growth is an extended riff that segues into soulful lyricism, and Humor reflects an underlying, stoic sadness. Haimovitz's deadpan delivery was effective in Procrastination, cast as a bored cellist's repetition of a banal etude.

The suite, like Twain's prose, also probes darker shadows. True Love is painted with a surging romanticism and hard, jazz-like pizzicatos of throbbing pain, and equally unsettling are the eerie, unhinged harmonics of We Are All Mad. Moravec's score makes great demands, yet Haimovitz's magnificent performance was a tour de force, and this delightful work is a fine addition to the solo cello repertoire.

Beethoven's Variations on Bei Mannern, a duet from Mozart's The Magic Flute, proved an ideal curtainraiser. The cellist's quicksilver style was matched by pianist Jean Marchand's incisive playing, and both men were fully in synch with the lyrical permutations as much as the bumptious humor, mining the witty payoff of the coda delightfully.

Samuel Barber's Cello Sonata dates from his student days at the Curtis Institute. The final movement doesn't quite hang together, but the composer's mature style is clearly discernible in the sonata's darkly ruminative lyricism, and Haimovitz and Marchand provided eloquent advocacy. The touch of astringent steel in Haimovitz's 1710 Gofriller instrument provided edge to the rhapsodic pages, and the cellist conveyed the Adagio's main theme with subtle tonal hues and explosive virtuosity in the Presto.

Following the Moravec, the opening of Brahms' Cello Sonata in F major felt a bit subdued, but Haimovitz soon showed himself a Brahmsian of the first order. Drawing on a wide array of tonal hues and expressive detailing, the cellist's beautifully heartfelt playing richly conveyed the music's introspective sadness. At times Marchand's playing sounded fractionally too robust and unyielding in the interior sections, but the men were fully simpatico partners in the impassioned drama of the third movement.


Classical meets three20south

Summit Daily News
Breckenridge, Colorado
March 26, 2009

Most Harvard-cultivated, classically trained cellists wouldn’t set their sights on playing Bach in sticky-floored, darkened barrooms.

But that’s exactly what lights cellist Matt Haimovitz’s fire.

He yearns to reconcile two seemingly distinct worlds: that of the sophisticated concert hall, and that of the urban social scene — bars, nightclubs and coffeehouses.

He’s successfully bringing classical music - with a twist - to young audiences who’ve grown accustomed to drinking beer or doing shots while getting up-close to touring bands.

And, he’s introducing some surprising elements to the world of classical music.

His album “Anthem,” released in 2003, begins with a nod to Jimi Hendrix; Haimovitz warps the national anthem into a psychedelic cello jam of sorts. The rest of his interpretations of composed music range from mellow to spirited.

“A lot of this music, if I played in a concert hall, they would just freak,” Haimovitz said. “In a club, people are more relaxed. They have a drink and are open to what I play.”

But Haimovitz isn’t limiting his freestyle renditions to laid-back atmospheres. He hopes to infuse orchestral halls with the energy.

“I really would love to bring this sense of the unexpected and the adventure of it all to symphonic orchestras,” he said.

And it’s no wonder. Haimovitz began breaking barriers, classically speaking, as a young lad. His promoter, Jaimé Campbell Morton, isn’t the first to call him a “child prodigy.”

Haimovitz was surrounded by classical music growing up. His mom, a piano teacher, taught him to play at an early age. But when he was 7, he heard the solo cello.

“I was mesmerized with the sound and the way it was created and how exotic it sounded,” he said.

Within a year of cello lessons, he was “already obsessed” with the instrument and practiced two to three hours a day, quickly progressing to three to five hours a day.

By age 13, he replaced his teacher Leonard Rose, a legendary cellist at Juilliard, on short notice for a performance. That led to a personal invitation to perform with such talents as Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall.

After performing nationally and internationally with many of the great symphony orchestras and philharmonic organizations - from those in major U.S. cities to the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London - he decided to experiment with a few alternative venues.

He played in his first coffeehouse in North Hampton, Mass., in 2000, where he realized “there was a need for classical music.”

“There was a freshness and electricity when I first did it,” he said.

So he expanded to rock ‘n’ roll and jazz clubs, where he introduced audiences to short pieces by Bach and living American composers.

Fast forward 25 years, and he’s now a professor of cello at McGill University in Montréal, an institution known as the “Harvard of Canada.”

But after leaving his day job in the world of academia, he still loves taking off his suit, so to speak, and wearing a black T-shirt on stage, in a bar.

The main draw: Feeling intimately connected to an audience that’s free to roam around, walk up to the stage and check out the dynamics and quietly mingle as he plays. He plans to sustain his success in alternative venues by combining his cello playing with a DJ, choir or other unusual combinations.

His ultimate performance night would begin by playing with a symphony orchestra, then heading off to a club to play nearly the same repertoire in a more intimate setting.

"I’ve learned to embrace the humanity of what we do and not place as much importance on the platonic idea - not try to recreate a perfect performance every night,” he said, “but to create a connection, intimacy, playing from the heart.”


Cellist Haimovitz's performance is deserving of a big stage

By Andrew Adler
April 10, 2009

For all his cafe-hopping and affection for performing in alternative venues, cellist Matt Haimovitz was put on this Earth to play works like the Elgar Cello concerto in places like the Kentucky Center's Whitney Hall.

Don't get me wrong — I fully appreciate Haimovitz's ability to connect with listeners who gather in, say, Old Louisville's The Rudyard Kipling, where he'll make a return visit at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11. But a talent as big as his deserves a big stage, particularly when the piece in question is as full-throated as the Elgar.

Thursday morning's Hardscuffle Coffee Classics account with the Louisville Orchestra found Haimovitz in excellent form, attacking the score with all appropriate verve, yet not overinflating what can be some might heated rhetoric. The concerto, for all of its opportunities to indulge in swooping portamento effects, is as light-textured as it is overtly spectacular. Nuance and precision at the tip of the bow should never be sacrificed for the sake of a splash.

With abundant technique (notes sounding dead-on no matter how awkward the positions on the fingerboard) and an innate musicality, Haimovitz forced nothing and revealed much. Jorge Mester was a sympathetic partner, allowing the orchestra to swell in big dynamics without covering his soloist. The entire performance offered laudable taste and unified interpretive purpose.

Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6 was utterly different in its essential character, yet like the Elgar had no shortage of telling detail. The contrasts in woodwind color heard Thursday were often exceptional — for instance, involving contrabassoon and bass clarinet on the low end, juxtaposed against piccolo and E-flat clarinet on the high, with English horn occupying intermediate territory.

Mester and his colleagues were highly disciplined throughout, particularly during the extended slow movement that opens the symphony. Lesser attention might have caused the entire enterprise to sag and even collapse. That was never an issue here, or in the more raucous material that followed. Indeed, the circus-like finale, so easily reduced to brassy excess, sounded instead like the noblest sort of irony.

Thursday's program opened with a seldom-heard work: Hindemith's suite from his 1938 ballet, "Nobilissima visone." With abiding harmonic richness and an undeniable element of melancholy (which Mester acknowledged in brief pre-concert remarks), this score proved worth encountering, or re-encountering. The orchestra's reading, fluent and spacious, was always engaging.
- Press

"If classical music didn’t have Matt Haimovitz, it would have to invent him." The Boston Herald

"It was some of the most moving and soulful playing heard by this listener in a very long time. The music seemed to pour out of his cello and wash over the huddled group....It is also an experiment that may be shedding light on how classical music can renew itself with audiences of the future" The New York Times

"Give credit to cellist Matt Haimovitz, who in his own small way has been busily reinventing the classical recital for the new millennium." San Francisco Chronicle

"Hearing a cello played with such fervor and commitment – not to mention high artistry – in a small venue is a priceless experience. Bring Haimovitz back soon." Los Angeles Times

"But the real joy was Haimovitz's over-the-top recreation of Jimi Hendrix's famous rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock." Toronto Star

"The tours have been a huge success: People have responded with high approval….so have the critics."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“In these experiments, Haimovitz has, indeed, recaptured the freshness in music making. There is nothing like the intimacy of hearing great music in a close, casual environment, and Monday night the cellist seemed to absorb as much energy from the crowd as we did from him." Los Angeles Times

"Haimovitz is a major discovery." Chicago Sun Times

"I salute Mr. Haimovitz for work that is truly pathbreaking, in that he is forging entries to alternate outlets for the music he loves." New York Times

"Matt Haimovitz may be the coolest cellist of our time." The Boston Herald

"Mr. Haimovitz is gaining renown. He appears in small spaces and even offbeat ones, such as taverns, trying to make this classical music more accessible." The Wall Street Journal

"'Intensity' precisely how he plays. Onstage, eyes closed, he tilts his head to one side as if the music were drawing him with a physical force." Newsweek

"These were performances I'd be willing to attend in a coal mine" Philadelphia Inquirer

"Bach would have gotten a kick out of electric guitars,' said Haimovitz from the stage at one point. As if to prove it, he concluded the show with a transcription of Jimi Hendrix"s famed rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' including wildly wonderful, expressive electric-guitar-like sounds." Creative Loafing Atlanta

2006 From The New York Times on 3 different projects

Mozart the Mason: “The three young players navigate the extremes thoughtfully and fluidly ... they bring the music's ample internal dialogues vividly to life, and they give the lines a lovely glow.” - Allan Kozinn

Goulash!: “Mr. Haimovitz and his colleagues play with ample resonance and imagination, and the album is shot through with an appealing sense of whimsy.” - Jeremy Eichler

Frank Bridge Cello Concerto performed at Lincoln Center: “The strong soloist...underlined both the conversational and the lyrical aspects of a deeply expressive work.” - Anne Midgette

- Oxingale

Classical | Matt Haimovitz, "After Reading Shakespeare"
4 Stars

David Perkins, Correspondent
News & Observer
November 4, 2007

Cellist Matt Haimovitz's latest fresh idea for his Oxingale label is an extraordinary collection of pieces for solo cello by three living American composers, two of them inspired by literary texts and all played with amazing virtuosity. It has taken centuries, but here are ambitious pieces for solo cello that can fit on a program along with J.S. Bach's suites.

Ned Rorem's "After Reading Shakespeare" (1980) is a complex, 18-minute work that takes as its starting point several favorite Shakespeare texts. It begins with King Lear in a keening cry as he mourns his daughter Cordelia. The fast vibrato creates a vaguely Eastern European mood. The harmonic complexity grows as an enormous web of sound is elaborated with difficult short, fast bowstrokes.

This is a long way from the neat harmonies and breezy charm of Rorem's songs. Encounters follow with Titania and Oberon (furious pizzicati alternate with sleepy long bowstrokes), Caliban (violence always about to break out) and Portia, and there are several sonnets.

The penultimate piece, "Our minutes hasten to their end," is a brilliant 49-second tour de force in which the notes buzz by like a swarm of bees.

The final movement brings us back to the keening beginning.
The remaining pieces are by somewhat younger composers, either in or coming into their finest creative years. Paul Moravec's "Mark Twain Sez" (2006) is at times edgier and more beautiful than the Rorem, with more variety in its rhetoric, including complex double-stops and slides. Between movements, Haimovitz reads snatches of Twain -- alas, not Twain's wit, but little bits of pseudo-profundity. In this case, the text doesn't add much; sometimes inspiration is best left unstated.

Lewis Spratlan's 30-minute masterpiece, "Shadows," commissioned by Haimovitz in 2006, is a gorgeous piece, warm and expansive. It is so engrossing a world of sound that you may forget that only one instrument, and not a whole orchestra, is playing. As in all these pieces, the technical demands are extreme and handled easily.

Haimovitz is leaving his mark not only in the coffee houses and small venues where he regularly performs, but also in a growing body of commissioned or adopted works. This is not the best way to reinvent classical music; it is the only way.


Matt Haimovitz -- "After Reading Shakespeare" (Oxingale)

THREE STARS out of four stars

October 21, 2007
Detroit Free Press
By Mark Stryker, Free Press music critic

Lacking companion pieces to play alongside Ned Rorem's solo cello piece "After Reading Shakespeare"(1980), the adventurous cellist Matt Haimovitz commissioned substantial new solo works by Paul Moravec and Lewis Spratlin. Haimovitz's compelling new CD documents all three, opening with Rorem's set of nine dramatic miniatures, which suggest songs without words, tersely lyrical and muscular. Each movement takes its inspiration from a Shakespeare couplet (or stage direction).

The eight movements of Moravec's "Mark Twain Sez" (2006) are each tied to a Twain witticism that Haimovitz reads before leaping into the music. Like Rorem, Moravec favors unabashedly melodic writing, given an extra dash of expression by the cellist's virtuoso control and subtle phrasing. Spratlin's "Shadow" (2006) is the most abstract and aggressive music here, exploring the metaphor of the title with extreme dynamics and gestures that evoke music receding into darkness or bursting with light.


Who: Cellist Matt Haimovitz When: 9 tonight Where: IOTA Club and Cafe, Arlington

The Washington Post

"I feel like a Bach cello suite can touch anyone, no matter what their musical background." So says classically trained cellist Matt Haimovitz, as he prepares to embark on another listening-room tour in which the veteran of major symphony spaces visits more informal spots -- be they pizza parlors, coffeehouses or rock clubs such as IOTA, where he will perform tonight.

Haimovitz, 37, relishes the chance to bring classical music to audiences that might not seek it out, and loves the contrast of the smaller, funkier spaces.

"In a concert hall, I often feel that I have to really work to engage a lot of the audience," he said. "Actually, in some ways there are more distractions than at the IOTA." He calls the small Arlington club, where he has played before, "one of the great intimate rooms in the country."

Haimovitz made his Carnegie Hall debut at age 13, when he substituted for his teacher, the esteemed Leonard Rose, in a Schubert String Quintet alongside Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zukerman. At 17, he made his first recording, with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Deutsche Grammophon (Universal Classics).
But even as Haimovitz continued formal performances and recording, including contemporary solo works on four other albums for Deutsche Grammophon, he was growing restless. "It's pretty amazing," he said, "how a very small minority even within classical music still maintains a lot of the control of programming and the direction of the genre. And that's part of why I broke off and started playing rock-and-roll clubs."

One of those clubs was New York City's punk stronghold CBGB's, where Haimovitz's appearance five years ago caused a sensation.

"Especially now that it's gone, CBGB's is particularly close to my heart," Haimovitz said. "Walking in there the first time in October 2002, I felt like I had entered Dante's inferno, and yet felt completely at home. [Classical music] can make just as much noise and capture people's imaginations."

Haimovitz offers the chance to hear unlikely rock club composers such as J. S. Bach, living composers and his own classic rock arrangements, such as Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" or a solo cello take on Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." On this tour, he may offer some of those, but he will be concentrating on material from his latest CD, "After Reading Shakespeare," a literary-themed recording that includes modern compositions inspired by writers such as Shakespeare and Mark Twain. (Check out samples of the Haimovitz catalog at So take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy fine music and cold beer.


Music: Take Back the Night
Express: A Publication of the Washington Post
Written by Express contributor Bob Massey
October 11, 2007

FOR MATT HAIMOVITZ, first hearing Jimi Hendrix was like encountering aliens. "I was blown away by the sheer power." Which, duh.

But Haimovitz, unlike most American kids, was a classical cello prodigy. "And I was trying to perfect my skills, like polishing a diamond. But here was this loud form of communication that made you want to move. It went right through you."

He talked the Iron Horse Tavern, in Northampton, Mass. — proving ground for a young Bruce Springsteen, among others — into booking his set of Bach's solo cello suites. To everyone's surprise, the club sold out.

Haimovitz says he wanted "to strip away the prejudices around how one should play this music. And to open it up to audiences who wouldn't normally visit the concert hall."

He's since toured all 50 states, playing famous theaters and infamous dives, including the late CBGB's. His 11 albums include standard repertoire like Bach and Chopin, but also contemporary composers like Steve Mackey and Lou Harrison, and the likes of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.

"Classical music has gotten a highbrow reputation," says Haimovitz. "But it has been traditionally embracing of cultures like world music and jazz. Even Brahms and Bach were influenced by dance and folk forms. And it's incredible how many folks from a rock 'n' roll origin are composing serious concert music."

One of Haimovitz's strangest shows happened "at midnight, at a club in the middle of a Haitian slum in Miami. Just the strangest assortment of people. There was the quintessential hip-hop African-American guy, with metal teeth and tattoos everywhere. Then this hip, middle-aged Jewish couple sitting there. A gay couple. A woman from Argentina. And a Cuban couple. People you would never see together at an event."

"I started with some Bach," he says. "The hip-hop guy beamed, ecstatic, and I was like: 'What, you like Bach?' And I went into Osvaldo Golijov's 'Ainadamar' and the South American woman was excited. And I realized this was one of the most memorable concerts I've ever given, whether it was Carnegie Hall or whatever. And that music can really bring people together.

Iota, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Thu., 9 p.m., $15; 703-522-8340


Haimovitz among many highlights of classical season

The cellist will play anywhere to advance the cause of classical music.

BOB KEYES, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald
October 7, 2007

Matt Haimovitz plays Bach in bars. He plays Haydn in coffee houses. He plays Mozart in pizza joints.

Tonight, the cellist plays at Mick's Music and Bar in Omaha. On Friday, he's at the Cave in Chapel Hill, N.C. Next week he's at a place called the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville, Va.

His motive is bringing new audiences to classical music. If the audience won't come to him, Haimovitz will go to the audience.
On Nov. 8, he comes to Hannaford Hall at the University of Southern Maine for a recital that kicks off the classical component of the 2007-08 season of PCA Great Performances.

It's unusual for PCA to present a concert, especially a classical concert, outside of Merrill Auditorium, said PCA's executive director Aimee Petrin.
Haimovitz was a good choice for breaking the routine, because he's unconventional and daring.

Haimovitz plays classical music, and weaves the music of the rock generation into his repertoire. Go to his Myspace page to hear his version of "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin.

Born in Israel in 1970, he now lives in Montreal. He made his debut in 1984 at age 13 with the Israel Philharmonic. Since then, he's performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and others.

While in Maine, he also will perform a master class at USM. Tickets for Haimovitz's concert cost $34, $10 for students.


Where cello meets Zeppelin
Virtuoso strives to connect with his peers
For the Concord Monitor
September 27. 2007

He plays rock. He plays the blues. He plays Bach. He even played the defunct punk club CBGB. All on the cello.

From the first time he picked up the instrument, Matt Haimovitz, who performs this Sunday at the Silver Center at Plymouth State University, has found clarity and meaning in the wordless narrative created by bow and string.

By the age of 13, Haimovitz, a native of Israel who moved to California with his family when he was 5, was sharing the stage with Zubin Mehta. And by the
time he was a young man, Haimovitz, 37, was aware of one big missing element in his performance: his own peers sitting in the audience.

Haimovitz set out to change that. He fused the purely classical with other genres, and he began to cultivate a less-stodgy, more coffeehouse feel to the concert hall.
The result: a prodigy, pioneering cellist who is equally at home telling a story through the music of Brahms or Led Zeppelin.

"Even as I was growing up, my generation, my peers were off listening to something different," said Haimovitz. "There was never a great understanding of orchestral music, of cello. In the last seven or eight years, I made an effort to do something about that."

What he did, back in 2000, was lead his cello ensemble from straight-ahead classical music into Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." It was a pivotal moment for both Haimovitz and his audience, the first step of a diverse path.

"It was going off in a different direction, but there are similarities to be found. Bartok's 'Rhapsodies' and Zeppelin share common elements," said Haimovitz.
Haimovitz included Bartok and Zeppelin on his ensemble's album Goulash. He continued developing a potent potable with dashes of blustery rock, be-bop, jazz and blues.

In 2003, his "Anthem" tour offered his own arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
More recently, Haimovitz recorded Hendrix's song "Machine Gun," using eight cellos.

"I love it! It's this 12-, 13-minute song from 1970. It's stunning, and it was a war protest song, so it certainly is something that fits again now," he said.

Haimovitz's adaptation of Jimmy Page's blistering guitar lines isn't very different from Claude Debussy's use of Asian-tinged music, or Bach's incorporation of then-traditional folk compositions into his own works.

"To survive, all music and those who make music over the years have had to adapt in order to thrive," Haimovitz said. "The difference these days is whether the adaptations are being done by a musician with affection for those other genres, or a guy in an office somewhere who wants to add a bit of this sound or that because mathematically, that seems like it will sell."

Haimovitz continues to evoke his sense of narrative and culture with his tour this fall. His solo performance includes Ned Rorem's lyrical, literature-inspired compositions "After Reading Shakespeare." Haimovitz complements Rorem's themes with commissioned works by composer Paul Marovec ("Mark Twain Sez") and "Shadow" by Lewis Spratlan.
The cellist wants no pedestals for himself or his music. What he wants, simply, is to connect.

"I can imagine anyone taking anything and mixing - hip-hop sampling the classics," explained Haimovitz. "If the integrity is there, the feeling is there, you create honest feeling and you get an honest reaction from the audience. Anything is possible."

(Matt Haimovitz performs Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University. Tickets are $12 to $25. For more information, call the Silver Center at 800-779-3869 or check and click on the "events" link.)

Headline: Cellist's latest surprise is an orthodox turn
Date: July 13, 2007

By David Weininger, Globe Correspondent

When you hear that cellist Matt Haimovitz is coming to town, you automatically wonder what sort of unpredictable, challenging project he's working on. Haimovitz, the prodigy-turned-revolutionary, has played Bach in coffeehouses, served up contemporary music in bars and pizza parlors, and improvised with DJs, all in an effort to shake up ideas about how, why, and where people hear classical music. He could serve as a dictionary definition of the word unconventional.

So it's more than a bit surprising to hear that he's coming to Boston to play the First Cello Concerto of Saint-Saëns (as well as Faure's "Elegy" ) next week with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, on a French program that also includes music of Rameau, Bizet, and Ravel. The Saint-Saëns is an unabashed showpiece of limited profundity, a far cry from the unorthodox concertos and literary-themed programs he's been playing lately.
But as Haimovitz explains, even the unconventional can become routine, and a romantic virtuoso piece can be just the thing to break things up. "It feels very fresh, actually," he says over the phone from Reims, France, where he's recording the Schumann concerto. "I like to keep it mixed up for myself, to keep myself on my toes and go back to repertoire that I haven't done for years and hear something else in it." He adds that the Landmarks Orchestra's project of playing in "those funky outdoor venues" -- parks and other open-air spaces -- appeals to him.

When Haimovitz began playing Bach in nonclassical venues in 2001, "there was a lot of skepticism," he says, "partly thinking that I'd gone mad and partly wondering what I was up to." Six years later, string quartets routinely play in clubs, and you can catch opera excerpts in bars and other offbeat sites. Things have changed, in part because a musician of his caliber was willing to commit himself to doing it differently.
"I think the wheels are moving slowly," he says. "I see more acceptance in the classical establishment -- maybe not acceptance but at least understanding." But he's less sanguine about certain corners of the music world, especially orchestras. "There's still such a culture among the major orchestras of playing the same works every year, and being afraid of contemporary and new projects," he says. "There's such a long way to go that it's hard to be optimistic."
Still, his past efforts have showed what can happen when performers and listeners are each willing to take a risk and meet somewhere new. He recalls a show at Cambridge's T.T. the Bear's Place in 2004, a stop on his "Anthem" tour in which he played American music in all 50 states. The room was full, the patrons hushed, but Haimovitz could barely be heard: The noise from a band at the Middle East came up through the floor and nearly drowned him out. Yet he produced an absolutely riveting evening of music, simply because he and the audience willed it to work.

"The idea that no matter what, we congregate and we make the effort, just straining to hear the cello, and all these people are sweating it out: It elevates what we do to another level," he says. Performers and listeners, he says, should settle for nothing less.

Wednesday at the Hatch Shell, July 20 at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, and July 22 at Jamaica Pond in Jamaica Plain. 617-520-2200 ,


6/18/2007 3:48:00 PM

Rockin' The Concerto With Matt Haimovitz
World Renowned Cellist Pushes The Boundries Of Bach 'N' Rock
By Joe Milliken

World renowned cellist Matt Haimovitz is definitely not your average, everyday musician. Who else can claim to have performed at Carnegie Hall, and the legendary punk club CBGB's.

In fact, the man who has toured worldwide with such prestigious orchestras as the Berlin and London Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony, has taken his fiery brand of solo work to the streets, the clubs and the bars in order to get closer to his audiences. Mission accomplished.

Originally from Tel Aviv, Haimovitz's family moved to California in 1970 when he was four, began playing the cello at the age of seven and from 1982 attended the prestigious Julliard for six years.

"I grew up with classical music in the home," Haimovitz said in a recent exclusive interview with The Message. "My mother was a pianist and piano teacher, so that repertoire is my earliest influence."

At Julliard Haimovitz studied under Channing Robbins and Leonard Rose, and when Rose had become ill before a performance of the Schubert C major String Quartet at Carnegie Hall, his student stepped in and took his teachers' place. Haimovitz was only 13 years old at the time.

From there Haimovitz's career progressed very quickly. In 1984 he made his concerto debut with the Israel Philharmonic, by the age of 17 he had a 10-year recording contract with Deutsche Grammophone and by the early 90's Haimovitz had performed as an orchestral soloist and recitalist in America, Europe, Australia, Japan and Israel.

Then one day Haimovitz had a premonition, or a "ray of light moment" as he puts it. A sudden realization that he needed to do something different with his music, to get away from the repertory he had developed and was now just repeating.

"It just wasn't working for me anymore," Haimovitz had told The Strad, a monthly publication for bowed string players and enthusiasts, back in 2005.

"I wasn't playing for anyone of my own generation, and the routine of just going back to my room after a concert and having no idea of how people had really responded to the music, just got to me."

So Haimovitz retreated from his life as an accomplished classical musician for about a five-year period, returning as a professor at the University of Massachusetts and determined to bring classical music to the masses.

He began performing as a solo artist, playing small clubs, restaurants and coffee houses that were noted for rock, jazz and folk, rather than classical music. Sometimes in front of audiences as small as 50 people. The intimate settings would create an atmosphere Haimovitz

had never experienced.

"It was terrifying to step out for the first time to one of these rock and roll stages and realize I was totally exposed, totally vulnerable to the people there," Haimovitz told Newsweek in 2004.

"I couldn't simply address them on a musical level; I had to be a human being to them, This is something that is just not part of the classical upbringing."

Haimovitz was also concerned with the fact that his generation was not experiencing and enjoying the classical genre of music.

"I know there are many classical musicians of my generation wondering why they

aren't appreciating this music. It's not elite music; it's music for everyone."

In 2001 he embarked on a tour dubbed the "Listening Room", in which Haimovitz began performing Bach suites in these unconventional venues.

"I was looking for a way to build an audience," he recently said. " My hypothesis was that Bach suites for solo cello are so moving, powerful and ageless that, if you present these works with no contrived etiquette getting in the way, they have the ability to speak to a universal audience."

Haimovitz's second tour would be called "Anthem", a theme spurred by the 9/11 tragedy in which he performed in all 50 states within an 18-month period, driving to all the venues by car.

The tour was a success and garnered significant attention from the national media.

He also started a music label with his wife, composer Luna Pearl Woolf, titled Oxingale, and also began incorporating contemporary songs from the rock genre into his repertoire including Jimi Hendrix's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir."

Haimovitz is currently the Professor of Cello at McGill University in Montreal.

"The biggest challenge with Oxingale is selling records; well,maybe the distribution of the records is even harder," Haimovitz said.

"It has been liberating to dream up projects and realize them at a pace that feels right to us.

"In pursuing the music that we want to share and through an organic relationship between recording and touring, we have been incredibly fortunate with Oxingale Records to be at the crest of a wave, perhaps a change in the way classical music reaches a new audience."

At a recent performance before an intimate gathering at Boccelli's, a quaint Italian restaurant along the canal in Bellows Falls, Haimovitz performed several new pieces.

This included three works from Pulitzer Prize-winners Ned Roman, Paul Moravec and Lewis Spratlan, along with two new works that were commissioned as companion pieces for Ned Rorem's masterpiece "After Reading Shakespeare" , in a nine-movement suite format.

"I will be going into the studio to record soon," he first told the

audience under the softly lit ambience. "So I am looking forward to your reaction of these pieces."

The solo cellist would then captivate his audience with moving and soulful playing. The cello harmonies flowed from his instrument with striking intensity, rhythmic force and remarkable delicacy.

From the aggressive and powerful interpretive notes of "King Lear, Act Five (scene three)" and "Tempest, Act One (scene two)", to the atmospheric movements and fluidity of "A Mid Summer Night's Dream, Act

Two (scene four)", Haimovitz successfully connects with his audience not only through his music, but on a personal level as well, allowing the listener to intimately tap into the passion for which he obviously pours into his craft.

"I wanted to strip away the formality and prejudices that have built up around the classical genre and go back to the origin and spirit of chamber music," Haimovitz said.

"Now I also would like to bring that sense of discovery and chemistry back to the concert hall."

Admittedly not a connoisseur of the classical genre, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised with the amount of electricity and excitement generated by a single musician and his 18th century Venetian cello.

And all without even getting to experience his Hendrix or Led Zeppelin interpretations.


May 14, 2007
By Edward Ortiz - Arts Critic
The Sacramento Bee

BERKELEY-Could there be a more quintessential Northern California conductor than Kent Nagano?

Born in the East Bay and a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University, Nagano has a unique musical world view -- one offering a fresh musical take on anything patently European. Wrapped in a long-haired, laid-back California cool, Nagano backs up everything he does with sincere musical intensity and a knack for the unconventional.

All of these qualities were in play Friday evening at Berkeley's First Congregational Church, where Nagano conducted the Berkeley Symphony in a provocative program that included two maverick premieres and a colorful and detailed performance of Brahms' Fourth Symphony.

Under Nagano, this orchestra rendered the Brahms symphony with chiseled detail and a sonic exuberance that almost threatened to overwhelm in the confines of the church. This four-movement symphony is more about heat and emotion than about spinning out variations or breaking with tradition. Here, the first few notes of each movement became the color scheme by which the orchestra painted a darkly hued canvas. Nagano let the colors bleed past the confines of the canvas, but wherever it bled, the sharpness of line was kept intact. The effect was a fresh rendering of a work dating to 1885, and one that prepared the audience for the two works for amplified acoustic cello to follow.

The most noteworthy was David Sanford's "Scherzo Grosso," a thrilling and cacophonous work for cello and orchestra. Written for the daring cellist Matt Haimovitz, it's easy to see why the work demanded amplification. Haimovitz's strikingly bold but nuanced cello playing held its own in unison passages with the saxophones and struck a curious counterpoint to the jazzy thread offered by the percussion section in the fourth movement. The saturnalia of sound begged a larger hall, but Nagano kept the orchestra's power focused and harnessed.

Just as provocative, but less thrilling, was Tod Machover's "VinylCello," scored for cello with Hyperbow, DJ and live electronics. For this world premiere, Haimovitz used a Hyperbow -- an MIT-designed bow that is the musical equivalent of a Nintendo Wii controller. It measures degrees of movement and pressure in bowing that allows for sound manipulation. Haimovitz played scorching cello lines for a musical dialogue with the programmed sounds of a digital DJ machine played by DJ Olive. However, this work lacked depth and worked better on paper than it did in the concert hall.

May 14, 2007
By David Nicholson
Daily Press - Newport News, VA

Most cellists are content to quietly play along with their colleagues in the string section. Matt Haimovitz has a different mission in mind.

The young cellist wants to bring classical music to as many different people as possible. You'll find him in a symphony hall, but he's equally at home in a coffeehouse or a club. His Wednesday solo recital in Norfolk will take place in The NorVa, a rock club down the street from Chrysler Hall.

"When I play in a club, I have direct contact with the audience and can see how they respond," says Haimovitz. "I don't play any differently, but I almost feel more like a human being, more exposed."

These intimate settings allow for more interaction between Haimovitz and his listeners. Sometimes he'll talk about the music, but he might bring up whatever's on his mind. When he gave a concert the day after the recent death of Mstislav Rostropovich, he talked about the famed cellist.

"He was the reason I started playing the cello, so it was almost therapeutic to talk about it," he says. "The performance that day had a different feeling altogether.

Breaking up the music relieves the mind and the tension

in the room so I can better present this incredible music."

Haimovitz's repertoire can be just as adventuresome. He mixes works by Bach and Mozart with more contemporary composers and newly commissioned pieces. His latest project called "Buck the Concerto" involves pairing the cello with an unusual combination of instruments.

The series includes "Scherzo Grosso," a work by David Sanborn for cello and big band, and "Apres Moi, Le Deluge," a piece written by his wife, Luna Pearl Woolf, for cello and a cappella choir in the aftermath of Katrina. This month, Haimovitz joins conductor Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony for the premiere of Tod Machover's "Vinylcello," which pairs the cello with an electronic score of a disc jockey's scratchings.

Each piece begins as a work scored for cello and an unexpected ensemble. After the initial performance, Haimovitz has the composer rearrange the piece for cello and symphony orchestra.

This week's concert, part of the Virginia Arts Festival, will feature Haimovitz's arrangement of the Jimi Hendrix version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." But it also will include one of Bach's solo cello suites, which are signature works for any cellist.

"I never get tired of these pieces," he says. "They contain a whole world for me. They approximate how the human brain works, where things are happening simultaneously but with one voice. There's not one note too many or one too few."

Haimovitz' career began like many virtuosi. Born in Tel Aviv in 1970, he came to this country with his family at age 4 and studied at New York's Juilliard School of Music in the 1980s. He made his concerto debut with the Israel Philharmonic at age 14 and landed a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon three years later.

But by the early 1990s, Haimovitz grew tired of touring and felt something was missing in his career.

"I wasn't playing for anyone of my own generation," he told writer Robert Markow of The Strad magazine. "And the routine of going back to a lonely hotel room after each concert, with no idea how people had really responded to the music, just got to me."

He took a break from touring and gradually began playing in restaurants, coffeehouses and other small venues. He currently lives in Montreal where he teaches at McGill University.

"At first, I was ridiculously shy, even though I never had any stage fright playing in front of a symphony audience," Haimovitz says about career switch. "Now, my eyes are more open to the reality of what classical music is to our culture and what an uphill battle it is to keep classical music alive."

Haimovitz' decision to play small venues and to offer unusual programs has paid off. It's been personally satisfying and has enabled him to reach new audiences.

"I definitely have a very diverse group of people of all ranges and musical backgrounds," he says. "Hearing Mozart and Bach juxtaposed with Sanford makes you hear each of them in a different way. That shows the power of music."


Originally published April 26, 2007
By Tim Smith, Sun Music Critic
The Baltimore Sun

The first time Matt Haimovitz took the stage at the late and lamented New York club CBGB, where the Talking Heads and the Ramones got their first big boosts, he didn't feel entirely welcome.

"I was sandwiched between four or five punk bands, and I could feel a little resistance," the Israeli-born, Montreal-based Haimovitz says of that night in 2002. "I think the

The unease wasn't surprising -- CBGB hadn't ever presented a classical cellist.

"I played one Bach suite," Haimovitz says, "and I could tell the bands were like, 'OK, kid, get lost,' But I wanted to stay as long as I could. I played another Bach suite, and then another."

Haimovitz kept on going, even throwing in the world premiere of a piece written for him, before launching into his grand finale, his own arrangement of the legendary Jimi Hendrix version of the national anthem. The cellist won the day.

It has been like that most of the time since Haimovitz, 36, decided to branch out from the more traditional environs of classical music about seven years ago.

Since then he has had his share of distractions, competing with drunks at noisy bars, and even the unwelcome sound of plumbing.

"At a club in Fort Collins, Colo., the bathrooms were right next to the spot where I was playing," Haimovitz says, "so I was asking people not to flush."

Once in Boston, a crazed robber fleeing down a street was stabbing people at random as he went. He nicked Haimovitz along the way, just before the cellist was to appear at a rock 'n' roll club.

"I showed up already in a daze," he says, "and then found that where I was to play, 300 people were crammed in a room while there was a battle of the bands, heavy metal version, on the floor below. It was louder than anything I ever heard, but the people just focused in on my cello. It really showed the power of this music to withstand anything."

That sort of experience "does develop the concentration chops," he says with a laugh.

Haimovitz could easily have stayed firmly on the normal classical path, where he has enjoyed considerable success since his early teens -- a debut in 1984 with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic; a debut recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony at 17; appearances in major concert halls just about everywhere. But Haimovitz feels strongly that classical music needs to reach into places where people least expect it, and that mission has brought the cellist a whole new career as pioneer.

Tonight, he plays an unconventional venue, the WestSide Cafe in Frederick. Tomorrow he'll be on more ordinary turf in Baltimore, appearing on the chamber music series at the Evergreen House, but his program there is far from music-business-as-usual.

In addition to some Bach, Haimovitz will offer works by three Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, works that have in common literary allusions: Ned Rorem's After Reading Shakespeare; Lewis Spratlan's Shadow, which was partly inspired by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud (and partly by the Sylvester Stallone character Rambo); and Paul Moravec's Mark Twain Sez.

"The three pieces go great together," Haimovitz says. "Rorem's is a masterpiece. The Spratlan work is all about shadow, light and the reflection of light, looking at material from different perspectives. And the Moravec piece has a lot of humor."

Haimovitz is always seeking new musical experiences. One of his flourishing projects, called "Buck the Concerto," involves asking diverse composers to write works for cello and unusual combinations of instruments.

David Sanford's recently premiered Scherzo Grosso, for example, calls for a big band. Tod Machover's Vinyl Cello, which will be premiered this year, brings together "cello, DJ and interactive audience." And Apres Moi, le Deluge, composed last year by Haimovitz's wife, Luna Pearl Woolf, uses cello and a cappella choir to commemorate victims of Hurricane Katrina.

With so many new things to play, Haimovitz could easily skip the classics entirely. "My greatest love is still traditional repertoire," he says. "Pieces like the Dvorak Concerto are around for a reason.

"But if I go to play with a symphony, I'll try to play a club, too, maybe after the concert the same night, to get a more intimate experience."

The continual back and forth between the expected and unexpected agrees with Haimovitz.

"I have to say it is keeping music really fresh for me," he says. "When I first had conversations with establishment musicians about going to alternative places, they thought I had gone off the deep end. But I think now they realize it is a way to build audiences. They see it as outreach -- I see it as a way of life."


Originally published April 25, 2007
By Bill D'Agostino
News-Post Staff, Frederick MD

"We were meant to laugh at the jokes, at the musical humor," said cellist Matt Haimovitz, who performs Thursday night at the WestSide in Frederick. "We were meant to be moved, when Haydn wrote something really eloquent. We were meant to dance, when the music


Cellist Matt Haimovitz has made a name for himself by playing venues that renowned classical musicians usually don't.

A former child prodigy, Haimovitz, now 37, has performed in New York's famed (and defunct) rock club CBGB, as well as art galleries, bars and coffeeshops.

The intent, he says, is to bring a new audience to classical music.

On Thursday night, Haimovitz will perform at the WestSide cafe in Frederick. He'll be tackling three pieces, all inspired by literature, from Shakespearean plays to Mark Twain's writings. He'll record them later this year for his next album.

Frederick News-Post Staff Writer Bill D'Agostino spoke with Haimovitz on the telephone.

While I admire classical music, I think I am exactly the type of person you're trying to attract with this concert. Without looking at Wikipedia, I don't know the difference between a concerto and a concertina.

There is an audience out there that is open to musical adventure but hasn't yet come into contact with this particular music, the classical genre. That is the goal -- to take it out of its confines and bring it to places where people feel comfortable listening to music.

Really that goes back to the tradition of classical music, which is chamber music -- music that is meant for small rooms and more informal spaces.

Rather than in these big concert halls where people get dressed to the nines?

Right. And there's distance between what's going on. And people are sometimes more concerned about where to applaud or how they should sit.

When Haydn was writing, he launched the whole string quartet genre in Vienna. He was churning these quartets out every week, or every other week. They'd meet up in these living room spaces, in chambers, and wait and see what Haydn would do next, waiting for Haydn to shock them in form, in texture.

They were listening in a different way to the music. They got all the humor and all the surprise elements. We maybe don't listen anymore with the same kind of attention to harmony and form like they did in the 18th century.

But I think we can. I think it depends on the performance being vital and the interpretations bringing out some of these elements.

We were meant to laugh at the jokes, at the musical humor. We were meant to be moved, when Haydn wrote something really eloquent. We were meant to dance, when the music danced.

That's the way one should react to this ... not sitting still wondering if it's OK to applaud now.

Why did you want to reach people more like me rather than my grandparents?

Well, I want to reach people in general.

Part of it is I want to see my generation take as much meaning from this music as I do. I just wanted to be a productive citizen of the world. You want to feel relevant and not completely marginalized, on the fringes of our culture.

I feel really strongly that this music is very powerful and one of the most constructive elements of our society and culture. We need it to nourish and inspire our spirits, especially at times when so much is going wrong in the world and when the cycles of history, incredulously, you see repeating themselves in front of us.

If we could replace some of the violence and horror of what we see around us with music, I think we'd be in a much better place.

That's quite a lot to hope for.

It is a lot.

Not that I don't share that. I absolutely do.

I'm sure it's overly optimistic. But on the other hand, if we don't reach for that ...

I remember, going back a few years to the days after 9/11, feeling like, 'What is the point of doing music?' I couldn't even pick up the cello for a week. Nothing made sense. You realize that the idea of this tradition of classical music, of finding order in chaos in a musical sense, suddenly is stripped away and there's no reason for rationality.

Life can be taken away at a moment's notice with no reason behind it.

On the other hand, in the days after that, I really took a lot of therapy from music. ... As my feelings got more complex, as we started to react to what happened as a country, I started to take resonance also from what Jimi Hendrix and other composers were doing at that time.

So I commissioned my own reaction to what happened ("Anthem," which celebrated American composers).

That helped me come to terms with events and with the power of music to bring people together and to make us face sometimes unimaginable tragedy in ways that can go beyond words and really reach for the core of human nature and try to understand ourselves and why we would do such a thing and how we can react and come out of it.

Doing that tour, going to 50 states, and seeing the country at the time of the election of 2003-04, really gave me an insight into what music can really do. How it can really be relevant to the times that we live, and hopefully, in a small way, help the discord.

I don't think it's small at all. What you were talking about with cycles of violence -- the only way you break through those cycles is by experiencing things that open your heart and open yourself up to a larger world than your own ego.

And see that we have more in common. ...

I think there could be music in politics. It just hasn't been happening because there's such division. But when you tour the country, you realize that people want the same things in their life. ...

In times like these, when it takes so much money to finance the wars and military and so on, things get reprioritized politically. You say, 'Well, we simply don't have the money for culture.'

But it's exactly in times like this where we need culture more than any other times.


Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Herald Mail

Cello player Matt Haimovitz, who will perform Thursday night at WestSide Cafe in Frederick, Md., was recognized as a prodigy when he was very young. But one day in 1984, when he was 13, he was asked to perform the next day in New York's Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert venues in the world. He had one day to study the music - a string quintet by Schubert.

And who were the other four musicians performing with young Matt Haimovitz? Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich - four of the best string players in the world.

Looking back on that day, Haimovitz, now 36, doesn't remember much about the performance.

"I was glued to the score," he said recently by phone, "and didn't notice a whole lot of what was going on around me."

Haimovitz, now living in Montreal, still is considered one of the world's best cellists. But instead of performing in traditional classical music halls, he takes his music to audiences less accustomed to hearing classical music.

Haimovitz plays Bach and Beethoven in bars and pizza parlors, an act that is good for his audience and good for himself, Haimovitz said.

"You're playing to different audiences in different spaces each day," he said. "You're like an actor. You can't go on automatic pilot. On different nights I play different challenges. That's why I play different venues.

"Also, I mix it up. I might have played (one piece of music a lot, but) around it I'm playing Pierre Boulez and Jimi Hendrix."
Haimovitz's mother was a pianist. At 8 years of age, he began playing cello, having heard the instrument for the first time when he was 7. By 9, he knew it was something he wanted to pursue.

Above all, he loved music and the basic idea of sharing this abstract language with people.

Perhaps it was his deep love of music that led to his excursions into contemporary music, an unusual pursuit for a rising cellist who was already playing in the National Philharmonic orchestra.

Veering away from strictly classical Beethoven, Brahms and Haydn, Matt Haimovitz began to include more modern music such as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix in his repertoire. He also began to give concerts in jazz and rock halls as well as in traditional orchestra halls. And his generation loved it.

Haimovitz's favorite performance is his concert in Krakow, Poland, in 1989.

"It was right at the time of the Berlin Wall coming down and (economic restructuring) kicking in and the East opening up to the West. It was in a synagogue that had been desecrated during World War II and renovated.

"There were no longer many Jewish people in Poland. So they had to fly them in from the United States. These people went to Auschwitz (before the concert), and they (came to the concert) incredibly depressed. But after listening to the music, I could see these people had a new lease on life.

"There were many people from different religions. The pope had sent an emissary. There were speeches, and it seemed like for a time, all things were possible."

Religion does not have much of an influence on the music of Haimovitz, but he is open to inspiration from many diverse sources - artists, dance choreographers, writers, even chefs.

"I take inspiration from all kinds of places," he said. "My greatest inspiration comes from composers. I can't imagine a world without Bach or Beethoven."

April 20, 2007
By Jeremy Eichler, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe

Contemporary visual art and contemporary classical music often inhabit strangely distant universes, even though connections between them are numerous. The New Gallery Concert Series aims to make these connections explicit by presenting the two arts in dialogue.

Founded in 2000 by the pianist Sarah Bob , it's a refreshing series of modest scale but of vivid imagination. Concerts take place in an intimate space at the Community Music Center of Boston, and Wednesday night the series hosted its first benefit, a solo performance by the cellist Matt Haimovitz. It was atypical for the series because there was no specific visual tie-in, but audiences got a sneak preview of photographs by Emily Corbat� that are linked to this season's final concert on Thursday. That program features the premiere of Montserrat Torras's work "Music on Photography," inspired by Corbat�'s work.

Choosing Haimovitz for a benefit program sends a distinct message, as this Montreal-based cellist is one of the most adventurous classical musicians out there, and his recital was heavily tilted toward the new. That said, exploration often takes root more deeply when grounded in the familiar, and Haimovitz opened his program with Bach's D Minor Cello Suite. The playing was both expressively free and delicately nuanced, with some surprise pizzicato interpolations thrown in along the way.

Over the course of the evening, Haimovitz spoke with the audience in a folky performance style he has honed over months of playing in non classical venues around the United States. Following the Bach came Ned Rorem's "After Reading Shakespeare," a demanding series of nine single-movement responses to passages from the plays or the sonnets. It's music of great theatricality, and Haimovitz responded in kind, navigating huge leaps of melodic line, sotto voce asides, and wailing soliloquies in the instrument's highest registers.
Next was an absorbing piece written for Haimovitz by Lewis Spratlan and titled "Shadow." As the composer himself explained, it plays on the idea of music casting its own shadow or hiding within one. The second movement was most explicit in its contrast of darkness with light. It is impishly titled "Rambo - Rimbaud" and transforms highly aggressive outbursts into tender music of richness and fantasy.

Roughly two hours after the program began, and about when most recitals would be over, Haimovitz confessed he was tired. He explained that he had also been rehearsing James Yannatos's Cello Concerto. (He plays the work's premiere tonight with the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra.) So he did what just about no cellist would do in this situation: He plunged into Gyorgy Ligeti's fiendishly difficult solo cello sonata. It was an electrifying performance that showed deep fluency in this challenging musical language, surely informed by his experience of studying the work directly with Ligeti. The small audience was thrilled, and, one imagines, so were the organizers of this worthy series.


January 30, 2007
By Anne Midgette
New York Times

Duke Ellington’s quip that there are only two kinds of music: good and the other kind was apposite on Saturday night at Merkin Concert Hall in a concert celebrating Mozart’s 251st birthday. The uninitiated might have heard two kinds of music, classical and jazz. But in Ellington’s terms there was only one: excellent.

The concert involved the meeting of two crack musicians, the cellist Matt Haimovitz (who has made a specialty of exploring the places where classical music and other forms can intersect) and the jazz pianist Uri Caine. The first half was straight Mozart; the second, Mozart refracted through the prism of Mr. Caineïs mind in pieces that don’t quite merit the vexed label of crossover. It is, after all, part of the jazz tradition to work famous tunes into new pieces of your own.

This might sound like an exercise in comparing the strait-laced and the funky. But the straight part of the program was too riveting to merit any label other than good music.

Mr. Haimovitz brought in two colleagues from McGill University in Montreal, where he teaches Jonathan Crow, a violinist, and Douglas McNabney, a violist to join him in the Divertimento in E flat (K. 563), a drop-dead gorgeous piece (which this trio recorded last year). They played it ravishingly. Mr. Haimovitz makes a huge, dark sound, and Mr. Crow has one of those sweet, singing violin tones that seduces the ear. The piece is Mozart’s longest instrumental work, but it didn’t seem long enough.

Mr. Caine set the tone for the second half with an exegesis on the famous C major piano sonata that led that little tune into a wilderness of challenging rhythmic twists, bouncing it off unfamiliar harmonies and even taking it on a spin through another familiar beginners piece, Chopsticks. He then brought out his five-person ensemble, which opened in a somber fog until the theme of the G minor symphony suddenly crystallized out of the chaos.
Mr. Cainei’s arrangements riffed on Mozart, first acknowledging that composer�s autonomy, then exploring how far afield a development section or a cadenza could go, sometimes with appended squiggles of computer sound. The ensemble, and approach, \ were at their best in breathtaking displays of hell-for-leathervirtuosity, in, for instance, their version of Der Hille Racheï from Die Zauberfl�te.
Slow movements were slightly more difficult: the familiar tunes threatened to become merely treacly, despite the talent of the players (including Joyce Hammann on violin, Ralph Alessi on trumpet and JimBlack, a wonderfully evocative drummer).

Mr. Haimovitz joined the group for the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, and exchanged (musical) views with

Ms. Hammann in a semi-improvised cadenza so articulate that it drew involuntary laughs from the audience.


Tuesday, November 21st, 2006
by Barbara Hall
Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Las Vegas Philharmonic continued its farewell to music director Harold Weller on Saturday by dazzling concertgoers with the sounds of Berlioz, Barber and Prokofiev.

Guest conductor David Itkin, who is music director for both the Arkansas Symphony and the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra and one of three conductors vying for Weller's job, captured the audience from the moment he raised his baton, conducting with style and zest.

The program began with Berlioz's Overture to "Beatrice and Benedict," a light opera based on Shakespeare's play "Much Ado About Nothing." Itkin's conducting was assured and upbeat. He reveled in the high spirits, humor, and optimism of Berlioz's music.

Guest artist Matt Haimovitz brought magnetism to his performance of Barber's "Cello Concerto." Haimovitz has the talent to keep tension and passion resounding in any hall of any size. Emotional directness is Haimovitz's signature, and this selection gave him the venue to surpass all expectations.

Samuel Barber's masterfully crafted composition allowed Haimovitz to display his virtuosity. He delighted the audience with notes that were at once lyrical, rhythmically complex and harmonically rich.

The evening closed with Sergei Prokofiev's "Symphony No. 5." The symphony explodes with drama one moment and soars with lyrical beauty the next. Itkin conducted with extraordinary skill and passion. He evoked struggle and explosive victory. It was, in short, all that lovers of Prokofiev could demand.


Monday, October 16th, 2006
By Susan Isaacs Nisbett
Concert Review, The Ann Arbor News

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm (after they've seen Paree)?

Something about Saturday's Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra concert made me think of this old song. Give this orchestra a concert in Hill Auditorium (last month's season opener) and provide it an operatic requiem to perfom (the Verdi) - and Voila! It returns to the Michigan Theater a month later - no farm, but bear with me - sounding like it really has been to Paris. And is still there.

Maybe it was the acoustics in Hill, maybe it was the thrill of playing the "big house.'' Maybe was inhabiting the larger-than-life sound-world of the Verdi. But back on its home turf Saturday at the Michigan to play Vivaldi, Brahms and Dvorak, the orchestra - and its maestro, Arie Lipsky, a "star,'' with guest cellist Matt Haimovitz, in this "Cello Constellation'' concert - played with a new richness and unprecedented assurance.

To begin, the forces on stage were small but mighty as Lipsky, forsaking baton for bow and cello, joined Haimovitz and a baroque-sized band of players (including harpsichordist Edward Parmentier) for a vivacious, appealing account of the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Cellos in G Major, RV 53.

The interplay between Lipsky and Haimovitz, as they harmonized, answered each other's lines and trilled in perfect unison, was excellent, and the orchestra needed no prompting - or leading - to come along for the ride. Loveliest was the soulful middle movement, but the final allegro, with its echo effects and generally well-conceived dynamics, was a fine and fun finish.

The concerto stood in for an overture - over quickly and ceding to a more substantial attraction, in this case the Brahms Symphony No. 3 in F Major.

The bloom was really on this rose of a piece in the A2SO's reading Saturday. From the first notes, the sound had heft, sheen and polish, and the music a wonderful forward motion that took beautiful advantage of Brahms' rhythmic structures. In the lilting poco allegretto, the arch of the phrases was elegant and affecting, most so, perhaps, it the round, mellow reiteration by the horn, which earned principal Andrew Pelletier a well-deserved bow. The brass section deserved the kudos it got, too, for the exultant energy of its playing in the allegro finale.

With all this, the best was yet to come, in the form of the Dvorak Concerto for Cello and Orchestra in B Minor, Op. 104, which brought Haimovitz back to the stage as soloist.

On the podium, Lipsky led with evident sympathy for the player and the piece - the result of having played the work and taught it many times himself. Such intimate acquaintance translated to superb ensemble playing by the orchestra, though we can only credit Concertmaster Aaron Berofsky for the gorgeous duetting with Haimovitz in the work's finale. Bravo, too, to the winds, which took their turns as the soloist's partner.

Meanwhile, Haimovitz made the rough places plain in this difficult concerto. But he offered much more than technique. His ardent playing, his throaty tone (turning tremulous and far-off in a first-movement episode), his ability to dance as much as to sing, were all qualities that lifted this performance to glowing heights and the audience to its feet.


February 8, 2006
By Mark Stryker, Free Press Music Writer

The last time cellist Matt Haimovitz appeared in metro Detroit, he played a scintillating program of contemporary American music and Bach at the Blind Pig, a scruffy rock club in Ann Arbor, for an audience of about 100 adventurous souls, most in their 20s and 30s. Haimovitz dressed down and,in deference to the club's alternative vibe and damp acoustics, amplified his cello.

You don't hear many classical musicians at the Blind Pig, but Haimovitz, a 35-year-old former prodigy with a ponytail, is not exactly the cellist next door. His visit to the Blind Pig was part of a barnstorming tour that took him to similar venues in 49 states. (He's still hoping to get to Alaska.) Which is not to say that Haimovitz no longer circulates in the traditional world of classical music.

This weekend he performs twice under the umbrella of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit at Seligman Performing Arts Center (sans amplification). He joins the St. Lawrence String Quarteton Friday to play Schubert's C Major String Quintet. On Saturday, he'll perform all six of Bach's iconic solo cello suites in a marathon concert.
The ease with which Haimovitz bridges the chasm between the Blind Pig and the Seligman center opens a window on why he is one of the most important young musicians in classical music. He is part of a growing number of musicians who some critics are beginning to recognize as postclassical -- composers, instrumentalists and ensembles pushing beyond the stultifying conventions and conservatism of the concert hall to reinvent classical music for the 21st Century.

"Part of it is simply stripping away some of the image we've built around classical music," says Haimovitz, speaking from Montreal, where he teaches at McGill University.

"Some of it is simply showing up in a place like the Pig; it changes the way they view what you're doing. More and more I'm reaching a broader audience, and it's exciting because it makes me feel like a relevant member of a community. When classical music is put on a pedestal and removed from all that, I'm not comfortable."

There is no official postclassical manifesto but, generally, these are musicians who embrace contemporary music, experiment with formats and venues and refuse to cut themselves off from popular currents, jazz and world music. They love the three Bs, but refuse to be limited by them.

They treat classical music as a living art form. Not surprisingly, they are connecting with an audience far more diverse -- by age, race and class -- than the well-to-do white-haired subscribers typical of classical music.

Haimovitz is a compact man with a cherubic face and a soft-spoken fa�ade that masks a fierce streak of independence. He was not a born rabblerouser. His journey from prodigy to progressive was full of angst and anomie, and one way to look at it is that before he could begin reinventing classical music, he had to reinvent himself.
Born in Israel, he moved at age 5 with his parents to California. He took up the cello at 7. Itzhak Perlman heard him and recommended him to Leonard
Rose, the great cellist at the Juilliard School. At 13, he replaced an indisposed Rose in a quintet with Isaac Stern, Schlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich.

At 17 he was signed to a contract with the prestigious label Deutsche Grammophon, and was playing with the world's top orchestras and conductors. Big-time careers aren't always what they are cracked up to be, and Haimovitz was soon waylaid by the disconnect between his outward success and inner doubt. He grew weary of the isolation of the road and frustrated by the small menu of warhorses he was required to play.

Slowly, hings fell apart. His relationship with his record company soured when he nixed the release of a $200,000 recording of the Dvorak concerto made with the Berlin Philharmonic because he wasn't happy with his performance. "Then I took a couple of years off," he says. "I just didn't feel rooted."

Haimovitz moved to Europe and focused on new music, collaborating with composers like Gygory Ligeti and Henri Dutilleux. He then moved home, enrolled at Harvard and met his wife, composer Luna Pearl Woolf.

The pair started a record label, Oxingale, and Haimovitz rebuilt his career. Tired of waiting for audiences his age to find him in the concert hall, he began to take the music directly to them in clubs and bars, traveling the country like Jack Kerouac with a cello. It was a revelation "I never know who is going to show up," he says. "It's such a mix of backgrounds. Some people are into classical music, some are into folk, indie rock or jazz. Sometimes it's packed and sometimes it's just 30 people, but no matter who is there, I have to make the evening work and communicate. There's such electricity to play for so diverse an audience."

Haimovitz found the freedom inspiring. He could change his set list in mid-performance, reacting to the audience or his own mood with a spontaneity usually denied classical performers. Haimovitz's Oxingale CDs reflect the diversity of his interest and priorities, from the Bach suites to "Goulash," a concept album exploring Eastern European themes, linking 20th Century classics by Bartok and Ligeti with improvised duets with DJ Olive, a turntablist.

"The alternative world that has become part of my life ... I just can't imagine living without that now," says Haimovitz. "Yet there are aspects of the concert hall that I love and have never forsaken.

"My problem with it was the layers and formality that have built up over the years. But I now feel comfortable playing an evening in a large formal space with an orchestra and then going the next night and having a completely different experience in a club and the audience has a completely different relationship to me."

Contact MARK STRYKER at 313-222-6459 or
Copyright � 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.


By Kevin Lowenthal, Globe Correspondent
February 7, 2006
Boston Globe

CAMBRIDGE -- Maverick cello virtuoso Matt Haimovitz has performed Bach at the punk club CBGB and played Jimi Hendrix's version of ''The Star Spangled Banner" in classical concert halls. His current ''Goulash!" tour celebrates his Romanian roots and focuses on Central European composers, with characteristic side journeys.

Friday night at Sanders Theatre, Haimovitz began with a gently commanding version of the rippling Prelude to Bach's Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello.

Next came Tod Machover's ''Dadiji in Paradise," a disjointed catalog of modernist string techniques: ghostly harmonics, low register rasps, queasy sliding chords, and snapping pizzicato.

Gyorgy Ligeti's Sonata for Cello Solo sat in a closet for decades before Haimovitz made the world-premiere recording in 1990. An affecting, compactly constructed piece, it opened with yearning, folk-like melodies, then built to rapid, whirling passages before ending abruptly.

David Sanford composed ''Seventh Avenue Kaddish" for Haimovitz in response to 9/11. An anguished meditation on the musician's role in tragedy's wake, it counterpoised urgent Morse Code-like repetitions with surging virtuosic passages.
Romanian composer Adrian Pop's engaging ''Gordun" featured traditional Transylvanian melodies and rhythms.

Osvaldo Golijov's darkly abstract tango ''Omaramor" closed the first half of the concert with sweeping melodies and impetuous arpeggios that seemed a distant Argentine echo of Bach.

The second half opened with Zoltan Kodaly's monumental Sonata for Cello Solo. Haimovitz captured its somber drama without histrionics. Displaying his exhilarating mastery, he ranged from barely audible notes to startlingly full chordal textures, from singing, vibrato-laden lines to gutsy, rasping stabs. He ended to thunderous applause.

Three cellists joined Haimovitz onstage, forming a quartet, to play four of Bela Bartok's ''Romanian Dances" in delightfully transparent arrangements by composer Luna Pearl Woolf. Then the quartet launched enthusiastically into ''Kashmir," Led Zeppelin's slice of heavy metal exotica. Haimovitz played the melody, Sung Pyung Chu drummed on his cello with hands and bow, and Amelia Jakobsson and Judith Manger plucked and sawed the song's blocky riffs. Good fun, if muddy at times and too long by half.

For his encore Haimovitz returned to Bach's first suite, for an oddly static Sarabande in which each phrase seemed to float lonely amid silence.


by Rupert Bottenberg
Cello Traveler

Matt Haimovitz, currently the professor of cello at McGill, has certainly made his mark in his field. On the one hand, he�s highly regarded for his exquisite skills on his instrument�a one-time child prodigy, the Israeli-born cellist has joined Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall, garnered numerous prestigious awards and attracted the attention of mainstream radio and television.

On the other hand, he�s earned a rep as a maverick. He concluded a decade with the juggernaut classical imprint Deutsche Grammophon by starting his own Oxingale label how indie rock is that? Other radical gestures include tackling Jimi Hendrix�s version of �Star Spangled Banner� and, most notably, initiating a tour of unconventional venues to attract new listeners to classical music�he�s the first in his field to play the late punk pilgrimage point CBGBs.

His latest release is Goulash!, subtitled A Bart�k-Infused Stew�an exploration of Bela Bart�k�s efforts informed by Balkan folk styles which kicks off with an engaging celloquartet take on Led Zeppelin�s �Kashmir� and features avant-turntablism from DJ Olive and the East-meets-West action of folk unit Constantinople.

His latest, dizzying mini-tour�three cities, three times in three weeks�expands on the contents of Goulash!, and also extends his effort to find new ears for classical music and its tangents.

Mirror: You have a history of bringing classical music to new, unfamiliar audiences and venues. To a degree, you�re competing with the likes of those Il Divo guys and Apocalyptica, who are actually my favourite metal band�
Matt Haimovitz: Yeah, they�re fun!
M: But it�s a very superficial approach to classical music.
So what you�re talking about, the deep listening�
MH: Well, it�s funny�of the three concerts I�m doing in
Montreal, the first is with DJ Olive and Constantinople, and
it has a world-music feeling to it, but the one that to me is the most rock �n� roll is the second concert, when we�ll be playing Bart�k�s second string quartet and Ligeti�s first string quartet. I think if someone who loves heavy metal comes to that concert, they�ll be blown away.
M: How do you mean rock �n� roll? The intensity?
MH: Yeah, the visceral intensity. Ligeti�s is extremely rooted in tradition, it�s basically a 20th-century Haydn quartet, but the textures and the raw emotions and the drama of it�it has as much concentrated and visceral energy as anything in the rock �n� roll world. The second movement of the Bart�k, with its folk rhythms and the driving quality, again, it�s rock �n� roll. Strings that sing
M: Recognizing what a wide range of sounds can be coaxed out of the cello, I wonder if that doesn�t make it an instrument particularly well suited to engaging new listeners.
MH: I think so! What I realized, playing Bach in some of these alternative venues starting in 2000, is that as great as the partitas and sonatas are for violin, the fact that the cello is also a bass instrument�there�s something that works about hearing it all by itself. There�s something about the overtones, the way one can accompany oneself�I can�t think of another instrument quite like that, that also has the range of sounds. I think it�s partly this relationship to the human voice. It�s the closest in range and timbre�
M: Really? I�ve heard others say it�s the saxophone.
Montreal Mirror : Music : Matt Haimovitz Page 2 of 3 5/15/2006
MH: Yeah, that�s a good one, the bassoon is close too, but I think the cello, even more so. Even the shape of it, the body of the instrument and the neck�
M: Looks like a sexy lady!
MH: (laughs) It definitely has an anthropomorphic quality. The fact that the voice is also so versatile, that we all have our different articulations and languages�it can emulate all these different sounds, and I think composers caught on to that in the 20th century.
With various guests at McGill�s Schulich School of Music


Sunday, May 2nd, 2004
By Jeremy Eichler
The New York Times

ACCLAIMED cello soloists rarely come through Jackson, and when they do, they almost never perform at Soulshine Pizza. But a few months ago, on a small stage close to the counter, Matt Haimovitz sat with his 18th-century Venetian cello, pouring his rich, silken tone into the restaurant. The audience had not yet arrived, and Mr. Haimovitz was serenely warming up with solo Bach. The music was transporting, and one could almost forget the surroundings � until the bartender burst in with news that the local rugby team was streaking nearby and that a brawlmight be imminent.

It was just one of many recent curious moments for Mr. Haimovitz, who was once a major cello prodigy accustomed to playing in the elite halls of Europe and America. Now 33, he has chosen an alternative world, traveling the nation to perform in country and folk cafes, jazz spots and nightclubs: places where Budweiser flows freely and Beethoven does not, including the legendary punk club CBGB in New York, where Mr. Haimovitz will perform on May 15.

This is not another marketing gimmick, nor a strained attempt to make classical music hip. It is one man's unlikely quest to find meaning and connection in an art form that for years set him apart from the world. It is also an experiment that may be shedding light on how classical music can renew itself with audiences of the future.

The tale begins in Palo Alto, Calif., where Mr. Haimovitz's ascent was memorable even by prodigy standards. The son of a piano teacher and an engineer, he took up the cello at 7. When he was 10, Itzhak Perlman heard him in a master class and was taken, Mr. Perlman said recently, by his "uncanny ability to move you when he plays." A year later, Mr. Perlman sent him to study at the Juilliard School with the legendary performer and teacher Leonard Rose, who once called him "probably the greatest talent I have ever taught."

When Rose fell ill before a chamber concert in Carnegie Hall, Mr. Haimovitz replaced him in a quintet that included Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich and Pinchas Zukerman. He was still only 13. Solo appearances soon multiplied. For his New York Philharmonic debut, the widow of Pablo Casals lent Mr. Haimovitz the master's cello. At 17 he signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. At his peak in his late teens, he performed with 20 to 30 orchestras a season. He was on his way to a dream career.

But in the end, it was someone else's dream.

"I loved performing," he said while driving from Nashville to Jackson the day before the show. "I loved the spontaneity, I loved the risk and the danger and having the attention of the audience. I really loved every aspect of it, but it would all go away, and you would just move on to the next place. I started feeling more and more alienated, more and more alone. I wasn't part of any community."

On top of the loneliness, there was the stifling narrowness of the conventional solo repertory. "I started to realize it was really hard to play the Dvorak Concerto a thousand times and keep it fresh," he said. "I wasn't sure if that was really what I wanted to do."

But young stars have a special marketability, and when Mr. Haimovitz was 19, Deutsche Grammophon arranged a major recording project: the Dvorak Concerto with James Levine and the Berlin Philharmonic. The sessions were held in the afternoons while Mr. Haimovitz performed the Schumann Concerto with the orchestra in the evenings. It all proved too much too soon. Mr. Haimovitz was not satisfied with the edited tapes. He vetoed the project, and despite the enormous expense of hiring one of the world's finest orchestras, the recording was never released.

This was a turning point, and Mr. Haimovitz was not asked to record another concerto with the label. He had entered the murky zone that lies at the end of prodigyhood, and he began trying out his own ideas about repertory and performance style. He was also burning bridges.

"The people who had been very devoted to him and to his talent, and admired him enormously, were not necessarily as impressed by him as he changed," said David Foster, who represented Mr. Haimovitz at Columbia Artists Management in the early 1990's and is now the president of ICM Artists. "People would not be very specific, but they would say, 'It's not what it was.' "

Mr. Haimovitz, for his part, was making sure of that. He began studying at Harvard, having applied without telling his management or his family. His passion for new music also caught fire as he began working with composers, including major figures like Luciano Berio, Gyorgy Ligeti, Henri Dutilleux and George Crumb. He finished out his Deutsche Grammophon contract with four discs of contemporary solo repertory, music that can be a tough sell in stores. The record industry was entering its own period of crisis, and there was no discussion about renewing the contract.

"I wasn't of interest to them," he said. "I wasn't playing the game."

Mr. Haimovitz moved briefly to Europe and married Luna Pearl Woolf, a composer he had met at Harvard. He also reconnected with the sad and noble heart of the cello repertory, the six solo suites by Bach, which he had stopped performing after growing doubtful about his approach. He recorded them in a church near his current home in western Massachusetts.

Rather than take the recording to Deutsche Grammophon, Mr. Haimovitz and Ms. Woolf chose to release it themselves. They founded Oxingale Records and presented a release concert at a local 250-seat acoustical music club, the Iron Horse. Although the booker was dubious at first, Mr. Haimovitz packed the house. "It was the first time I felt like I had really reached a broad audience," he said.

He spoke to his new manager about touring with the Bach suites, still along traditional lines. He was told, "Unless you're Yo-Yo Ma, forget about it."

So with the Iron Horse performance as his model, Mr. Haimovitz set up his alternative club tour. When his classical management became bewildered, he hired a former singer-songwriter to book him in clubs around the country. The results were striking.

Mr. Haimovitz found that by stripping away any vestige of stuffy concert hall packaging, he could get the music to speak to listeners who knew nothing about its history or the prescribed etiquette for receiving its rewards. What's more, for the first time in his career, he began playing to audiences largely of his own generation.

Having concluded the Bach tour last year, he has returned to the alternative club circuit to promote his new album, "Anthem," a collection of rigorous solo music by contemporary Americans. It takes its title from the one popular tune: Mr. Haimovitz's Jimi Hendrix-style version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Yet while he seems to have struck on something essential, the going has not always been smooth. Turnouts can be small if there is no university nearby or if he he has not been featured in the local paper. Occasionally, people show up only to leave again, denouncing the space as unfit for classical music. Critics have complained when there is a lack of proper seating or when restless crowds talk over the music.

But Mr. Haimovitz has had plenty of triumphs to sustain him. He described shows in cities like Seattle; Eugene, Ore.; New Orleans; and Columbia, S.C., as "rock concerts," meaning that they were packed with young people who responded viscerally. He has also started integrating chamber music into his touring schedule and making occasional appearances with orchestras, activities he still enjoys as long as he can do them on his terms.

The old-fashioned classical performances subsidize his other projects, though the "Anthem" tour sustains itself, he said, with postshow CD sales factored in. Oxingale is not yet earning money, but Mr. Haimovitz hopes that a new distribution deal with Artemis Records will help. He also teaches cello at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and in the fall he will move to Montreal to teach at McGill University.

None of it will earn him anything like what his previous career track would have. Information on soloist fees is zealously guarded in the business, but according to two senior music executives who refused to be named, talented young soloists today can make several thousand dollars for a set of performances with an orchestra, and the fees grow with a player's renown, reaching more than $65,000 per night.

Mr. Haimovitz harbors no illusions about the trade-offs, but he seems to have made his peace. "One aspect of this tour that I wouldn't give up for anything," he said, "is the ability to control my own life, to play what I want to play on any given night and in a way that's more authentically me."

The real virtues of his new approach came through in the appearance at Soulshine, part of a larger downtown music club called Hal & Mal's. The crowd was modest, about 25 people, but they were engaged by Mr. Haimovitz's bracingly modern program, which included a work by Toby Twining written with queasy microtonal harmonies and one by Steven Mackey that required Mr. Haimovitz to slap the cello like a percussion instrument. Even two young pizza foragers, who looked as if they had just stumbled out of a fraternity party, stuck around long after they had emptied their plates, listening to Mr. Haimovitz wail away on his contemporary music.

But the most magical moment came after the show, when Mr. Haimovitz had started packing up and two middle-aged women came rushing into the room. They had read in the paper that he was in town, and they were crestfallen at having missed the show. Could he perhaps play something short for them? Mr. Haimovitz agreed and planted himself in a chair next to a table littered with beer bottles and an empty pack of cigarettes. The half dozen remaining audience members gathered around him in a semicircle.

Mr. Haimovitz closed his eyes, put bow to string and laid into the Prelude of Bach's First Cello Suite. He did not stop at the end of the movement but went on to play the entire work, about 20 minutes of music. It was some of the most moving and soulful playing heard by this listener in a very long time. The music seemed to pour out of his cello and wash over the huddled group, over the sea of empty tables and flimsy plastic chairs, over the bar and over the television flickering quietly in the opposite corner of the room.

What came through in that moment was the simplicity of the basic musical connection, and how it requires so little of the glittery packaging that can often pass for the concert experience itself. Ultimately, Mr. Haimovitz's tour may be proving the under-recognized value of new music in attracting new audiences. But the enraptured faces in the semicircle suggested an equally important insight into the power of smaller numbers, the richness of direct contact.

Perhaps classical music's audience problem could be solved if there were more living, breathing, palpable moments of exchange like the one that took place in this beer-drenched corner of a Mississippi pizza parlor. "It's so simple," Mr. Haimovitz said when happily back on the road, "to just take out your cello and start playing."


Wednesday, September 24th, 2003
By Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

It isn't every day you hear music from Bach's Cello Suites performed in a venue with a liquor license. Give credit to cellist Matt Haimovitz, who in his own small way has been busily reinventing the classical recital for the new millennium. With a compelling CD of contemporary American cello music just out on his Oxingale label, Haimovitz is in the midst of a 50-state tour of bars and nightclubs to "support the album," as they say in the pop world.

At 32, he's reinventing himself as well, moving away from the circumscribed musical world he inhabited in the 1980s as a teen prodigy performing the same standard concertos over and over again.

On Monday night, Haimovitz brought his 1710 instrument and 21st century playlist to the Elbo Room, a funky little Mission District boite that is generally home to salsa bands and DJs.

Not for a moment did the combination seem incongruous. On the contrary, this seemed like just the kind of thing that more conservatory-trained musicians should be doing � as long as they boast Haimovitz's combination of technical mastery, intellectual adventurousness and easy rapport with an audience.

Drawing on his new CD, "Anthem," Haimovitz played nine solo pieces during a set lasting just 80 minutes. They ranged from the sinuous lyricism of the Prelude from Lou Harrison's "Rhymes With Silver" to the jittery, abstruse urgency of Steven Mackey's "Rhondo Variations."

Nearly all of it seemed perfectly well suited to the circumstances, with an audience of about 50 sitting at small coffeehouse tables listening to amplified new music. If anything, the vibe was reminiscent of Beat-era performances � Haimovitz's flowery tie was perhaps the only real nod to the traditional world of classical performance.

That, and the one movement of Bach � the Prelude to the D-Minor Suite � that Haimovitz threw in early on, in a fluent, sonorous reading. Otherwise, the program was invigoratingly up-to-date.

Among other pleasures, Haimovitz included Toby Twining's "9:11 Blues," a gritty, haunting exercise in rough-hewn cello harmonics and rhythmic drive. He performed "Impromptu," a handsomely fragmented transformation of Bach by his wife, Luna Pearl Woolf.

And he capped the show with the title track from "Anthem," his own take on Jimi Hendrix's classic version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's a wonderful account, both faithful and impudent, with screechy cello tremolos standing in for Hendrix's electric-guitar feedback and the spirit of defiant patriotism as strong as ever.

From San Francisco, Haimovitz's engagingly modest tour continues throughout the West. Tonight he performs at Sam Bond's Garage in Eugene, Ore., and later moves on to such swanky establishments as the Mangy Moose in Jackson, Wyo., and Salt Lake City's Dead Goat Saloon. Such is the life of the traveling musician."


Monday, September 22nd, 2003
By Chris Pasles, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times

While embarking on his "Bach Listening Tour" last year, in which he took the music of the Leipzig master to pop music clubs and other nontraditional venues for classical music, cellist Matt Haimovitz said his dream was to return to these places to play a program of solos by living American composers.

He's realizing that dream this year with his 50-state "Anthem" tour, coinciding with the release of his new CD on the Oxingale label in collaboration with Vanguard-Artemis Classics. The results, heard Friday at Genghis Cohen, a restaurant with a small side room for live performance, are equally joyful and impressive but perhaps more risky.

Everyone knows Bach, and a case doesn't have to be made for him. But most of the composers Haimovitz played are far less known. Two of the pieces were written just for the album, in response, moreover, to the tragic events of 9/11, with the attendant dangers of pretension or bathos.

The dangers, however, were avoided. In "9:11 Blues," Toby Twining has written a very human and expressive work, one that uses microtones � those notes in between the cracks of a keyboard � to make the cello sound like a frayed-voice singer wailing in pain and protest.

David Sanford's "Seventh Avenue Kaddish" achieved similar dignity and weight, though by more traditional, almost pictorially evocative means.

Still, the peak of the evening may have been Haimovitz's galvanic re-creation of Jimi Hendrix's performance of the National Anthem at Woodstock, which gives Haimovitz the title of his album and tour. It was, Haimovitz said from the small stage, a celebration of the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

Powerful and interesting works by Lou Harrison, Osvaldo Golijov, Tod Machover, Robert Stern, Luna Pearl Woolf and, yes, Bach completed the program. Hearing a cello played with such fervor and commitment � not to mention high artistry � in a small venue is a priceless experience. Bring Haimovitz back soon.

Los Angeles Times


- Press


Matt Haimovitz's J. S. Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo
OXINGALE RECORDS' debut release has been honored with a nomination from the AFIM for the INDIE AWARD for BEST SOLO CLASSICAL
RECORDING OF 2001. On November 17, 2001 the album was the winner of a Just Plain Folks Award for BEST SOLO CLASSICAL RECORDING of 2001.

Featured in Billboard, and a TOP PICK in U. S. News and World Report, MATT HAIMOVITZ's J. S. Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo, complete on three compact discs, is the latest recording from this internationally acclaimed artist.

On September 9, 2003, Oxingale Records launched ANTHEM, cellist Matt Haimovitz's highly charged collection of solo works by living American composers featuring his live rendition of "Anthem," inspired by Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" recorded live at CBGB.

Goulash!-a stewing pot infused by the musical imagination of Bela Bartok. Sparking the fire under the Goulash! pot, Led Zeppelin's Eastern-tinged 1975 hit, Kashmir, opens the CD in a blazing 4-cello arrangement by Haimovitz and composer Luna Pearl Woolf, played by Haimovitz's new all-cello ensemble, UCCELLO, in its debut recording.

Bartok the composer is also featured in his popular First Rhapsody, played with gypsy abandon by Haimovitz and pianist Jean Marchand.

Fans of Haimovitz's trademark solo playing will relish a definitive new recording of Gyorgy Sonata for Violoncello Solo.

Mozart The Mason
Jonathan Crow, violin, Douglas McNabney, viola, Matt Haimovitz, cello
with artwork by Michael Kuch

On January 24, in celebration of W. A. Mozart's 250th anniversary year, Oxingale Records presents Mozart the Mason. Released just 3 days before the composer's January 27th birth date, this tribute includes arresting performances of one of Mozart's most important chamber works, the seldom heard Divertimento for String Trio, K 563, as well as three sets of Mozart's Preludes and Fugues K 404a.

Apres Moi, le Deluge
September 5, 2006 - Oxingale Records releases Apres Moi, le Deluge around the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The debut full length album of new music by composer Luna Pearl Woolf includes two world premiere recordings: Apres Moi, le Deluge a concerto for cello and a cappella choir recorded live by trail-blazing cellist Matt Haimovitz and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Choir conducted by Beverly Taylor, and the "operatorio," Orpheus on Sappho's Shore, performed by soprano Julieanne Klein, tenor Michiel Schrey and the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal, conducted by Veronique Lacroix

David Sanford and the Pittsburgh Collective: Live at the Knitting Factory
Oxingale's tenth album and first Jazz release is also an important contemporary classical album, with music by composer David Sanford for the Pittsburgh Collective, a 20-piece big band, featuring cellist Matt Haimovitz in the four-movement concerto for cello and big band, Scherzo Grosso.

Scherzo Grosso is the latest installment in cellist Matt Haimovitz's "Buck the Concerto" series of new commissions: dubbed "Buck the Concerto," each piece begins as a work scored for cello and an unexpected ensemble. The piece then lives on in an arrangement made by the composer for cello and symphony orchestra.

Scherzo Grosso's concerto for cello and the Pittsburgh Collective, a 20-piece big band:
Composer and bandleader David Sanford's Scherzo Grosso, funded by the Koussevitzky Foundation, gives a nod to rhythm and blues, straight-ahead hard bop, so-called third stream, punk rock, funk, marches, waltzes, tangos, dance suites, etc. all filtered through an emotionally charged, modern expressionist aural lens. Version for orchestra to be premiered in May 2007 by Haimovitz, Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony.

The Pittsburgh Collective, a 20-piece big band led by composer David Sanford, tours throughout the year featuring Matt Haimovitz in select performances, including a Composer Portrait at New York's Miller Theater in fall 2007. Music by Sanford, including the orchestral version of Scherzo Grosso with Matt Haimovitz and conductor Kent Nagano, will also be performed during the season.

The Pittsburgh Collective big band includes some of the jazz and brass scene's hottest players, such as trumpeter Dave Ballou, pianist Geoff Burleson and saxophonists Ted Levine and Adam Kolker, as well as members of the Meridian Arts Ensemble and the Atlantic, American, and Manhattan Brass Quintets.

October 9, 2007 After Reading Shakespeare.

After Reading Shakespeare features literary-themed solo cello suites by three beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning American composers. These witty and lyrical suites bring to life characters and quotations from Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Rambo/Rimbaud.

an album of new cello concertos written for Matt Haimovitz and unexpected ensembles' big band, choir, DJ and live electronics, along with Haimovitz' new arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's Machine Gun for



Renowned as a musical pioneer, cellist Matt Haimovitz has inspired classical music lovers and countless new listeners by bringing his artistry to concert halls and clubs, outdoor festivals and intimate coffee houses, any place where passionate music can be heard. Through his visionary approach – bringing a fresh ear to familiar repertoire, championing new music and initiating groundbreaking collaborations, innovative recording projects for Oxingale Records, a tireless touring schedule as well as mentoring an award-winning studio of young cellists at McGill University's Schulich School of Music in Montreal – Haimovitz is re-defining what it means to be an artist for the 21st century.

Haimovitz made his debut in 1984, at the age of 13, as soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. At 17 he made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Deutsche Grammophon. Haimovitz has since gone on to perform on the world's most esteemed stages, with such orchestras and conductors as the Berlin Philharmonic with Levine, the New York Philharmonic with Mehta, the English Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano. Haimovitz made his Carnegie Hall debut when he substituted for his teacher, the legendary Leonard Rose, in Schubert's String Quintet in C, alongside Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich.

The solo cello recital is a Haimovitz trademark, both inside and outside the concert hall. In 2000, he made waves with his Bach "Listening-Room" Tour, for which, to great acclaim, Haimovitz took Bach's beloved cello suites out of the concert hall and into clubs across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Haimovitz's 50-state Anthem tour in 2003 celebrated living American composers, and featured his own arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's "Star-Spangled Banner." He was the first classical artist to play at New York's infamous CBGB club, in a performance filmed by ABC News for "Nightline UpClose."

Haimovitz's recording career encompasses more than 20 years of award-winning work on Deutche Grammophon and his own Oxingale Records, the trailblazing independent label he founded with composer/producer Luna Pearl Woolf. Among other awards and acclaim, two recent Oxingale albums have been nominated for Juno Awards: After Reading Shakespeare and Mozart the Mason

Matt Haimovitz's 2009/10 season features Figment, a new album and listening room tour of (mostly) solo cello music, exploring the musical riches and diversity of his two home countries, the US and Canada, and AKOKA, a live recording reframing Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with works by klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer and hip-hop artist Socalled. Both albums will be released by Oxingale Records in fall '09. A live recording of Schumann's Cello Concerto with Gregory Nowak and the Orchestre de Bretagne is scheduled for release in spring 2010 as is a recording of Ligeti's Cello Concerto with Denys Bouliane and the Contemporary Music Ensemble of McGill University. Ongoing collaborations include a series of concerto commissions with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony, string quartets with Mark O'Connor, Ida Kavafian, and Paul Neubauer, and chamber music with Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler, Michael Tree, as well as McGill colleagues violinist Jonathan Crow and violist Douglas McNabney.

In 2006, Haimovitz received the Concert Music Award from ASCAP for his advocacy of living composers and pioneering spirit, and in 2004, the American Music Center awarded Haimovitz the Trailblazer Award, for his far-reaching contributions to American music. Born in Israel, Haimovitz has also been honored with the Avery Fisher Career Grant (1986), the Grand Prix du Disque (1991), the Diapason d'Or (1991) and he is the first cellist ever to receive the prestigious Premio Internazionale "Accademia Musicale Chigiana" (1999). Haimovitz studied at the Collegiate School in New York and at the Juilliard School, in the final class of Leonard Rose, after which he continued his cello studies with Ronald Leonard and Yo-Yo Ma. In 1996, he received a B.A. magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University. Matt Haimovitz plays a Venetian cello, made in 1710 by Matteo Gofriller.