Philip Glass – Photo Thomas Deneuville

MATA’s 15th Annual Benefit Gala

On Tuesday, October 16, MATA held its 15th annual benefit gala at the Tibet House in New York City. After a short welcoming speech from Jim Rosenfield, David T. Little and Yotam Haber, some exciting news were announced.

David T. Little, Yotam Haber, and Jim Rosenfield - Photo Thomas Deneuville

David T. Little, Yotam Haber, and Jim Rosenfield – Photo Thomas Deneuville

The first big news is that MATA will start a partnership will the Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in Italy. We can expect to see more Italian composers in New York and more American composers wetting their feet in the Acque Alte… Another European venture is an association with the Polish Music Information Centre that will result in a partnership with the Warsaw Autumn festival for a special Polish/American exchange concert, to be performed by Warsaw’ Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej, conducted by Alan Pierson in the fall of 2013. The same program (same orchestra/conductor) will be presented again at the 2014 MATA Festival.

The Israel-based Meitar Ensemble will be in “residence” at MATA and offer some reading sessions (call for scores/composers to be announced) as well as some concerts that shouldn’t be missed. Finally, Jobina Tinnemans was invited to create a piece for the 2013 MATA Festival. Yotam Haber announced that the UK-based composer had “written for ping pong players and shrubbery gardeners in the past” without giving more details about the commission. Tinnemans says more on her website:

It will be a musique concrète work following in the line of ‘Shakespeare and Hedgeshear’, “Etude…” and the Nature Studies. With a slightly NYC zzing of cou… – hang on?! – slightly SF of course….

Jobina Tinnemans

Jobina Tinnemans

Jennifer Bilfield, a leading figure in the contemporary music scene, was the first one to honor Kronos Quartet that night. As former president of Boosey and Hawkes (she served for 12 years) and current Artistic & Executive Director of Stanford Lively Arts, Bilfield had lots to share with the audience. Steve Reich was next, and also shared some precious stories about his long-time collaboration with the quartet. “Who I write for makes a difference,” said Reich, admitting that he “see[s] their faces in [his] mind” when he writes for them. He later praised the quartet for their “intensity [without] false sentimentality,” as well as their legacy, and boldness. Indeed, deciding to go out and play exclusively 20th and 21st century repertoire some 38 years ago took some cojones.

Steve Reich - Photo Thomas Deneuville

Steve Reich – Photo Thomas Deneuville

Following Steve Reich, Philip Glass took the microphone and confessed that he wrote the piano part of Dracula for himself, so he could actually play with Kronos! Glass stressed how impressive Kronos trajectory is and how they became a touchstone for generations of performers. Indeed, the “ideal chemistry” that happens when an audience listens to a Kronos program is actually very similar to the “alchemy” between Kronos and the composers they work with: “they become fellow composers.”

Philip Glass - Photo Thomas Deneuville

Philip Glass – Photo Thomas Deneuville

Kronos’ answer to the homage came through the humble words of founder David Harrington: “our goals remain simple.” Harrington thanked many collaborators, since “it takes more than four people to be a quartet,” and acknowledged Kronos’ responsibility to the music community and their desire to give new generations of performers “cool music to play” (Kronos’ repertoire includes 400+ string quartets written for them.)

The rest of the evening featured two performances by The Pannonia Quartet, a subset of Face The Music, and selections from Jacob Garchik’s atheist gospel trombone album: The Heavens.

More photos of the evening…

Note that MATA INTERVAL 6.1 starts on Friday, October 26 with a concert curated by Owen Weaver featuring music by Ian Dicke, Lisa Coons, Steven Snowden, Christopher Cerrone. More info:

Thomas Deneuville, the founder and editor of I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, is a French-born composer living in NY. Find him on Twitter: @tonalfreak.