April 19 Program notes
RESPONSIBLE PARTIES II: Composer/performers Today
The second evening of the Festival is a stunning collection of composer/performers and is highlighted by two works that deal with large-scale installations as sculptural elements and massive hand-constructed instruments: Cecilia Lopez’s Mechanical Music for Sheet Metal and Eli Kezler’s Cold Pin, using a monumental collection of piano mechanisms taken apart and re-organized as a motorized, whirring, machine – in both cases, live musicians resonate and play against these giant structures. Matt Marks presents a sneak preview of his new pop opera on love and religion in America, The Little Death: Vol. 2, with Mellissa Hughes; and Kate Soper presents her gripping ten-minute microdrama, Only the words themselves mean what they say. Jacob Cooper presents the second installation of his newly-created video work, Triptych: II. Black or White.
This evening hosted by Q2 Music’s Mary Rowell
+ = world premiere ** = US premiere * = NY premiere ^ = MATA commission
Jacob Cooper, Triptych: II. Black or White (2012)+
Each of the videos in Triptych uses pre-existing footage as source material. Commencer une autre mort “revises” the closing death scene in Bizet’s Carmen, while Alla stagion dei fior does the same for Puccini’s La Bohème. The source material for Black or White is not an opera, but rather a performance by Michael Jackson, a celebrity whose outsized life—and tragic death—trace a near-operatic arc. Triptych undoubtedly relies on the artistry of the footage it adapts, and I am indebted to all who were involved in the original videorecordings.
II. Black or White
The middle piece of Triptych uses footage from Michael Jackson’s halftime show at the 1993 Super Bowl, and borrows its title from the song Jackson is performing.
Cecilia Lopez, Mechanical Music for Sheet Metal (2011)
Mechanical Music for Sheet metals is a composition/installation for amplified sheets of metal and variable performers. These large sheets are rigged with piezoelectric contact microphones, which are used either as drivers or transducers. Using this device, a new score is written for every performance generating a series of compositions since its first performance in Buenos Aires (2007). In this case, “Música Mecánica para Chapas – Bicéfalo III” (January 2011) was conceived for six performers (including trombone, trumpet and baritone singer).
The performer’s group work is centered in the encounter between written form and improvisation. What is being investigated is feedback and metal as a natural sound filter.
The piece was presented at several venues in Buenos Aires, Argentina and internationally at Atlantic Center for the Arts (Florida, USA), Floating Points Festival at Issue Project Room (Nueva York, USA), Douglass Street Music Collective (Nueva York, USA), Pieter PASD (Los Angeles, USA) and Ostrava Days Festival 2011 (Ostrava, Czech Republic) – more info: www.cecilia-lopez.com
Kate Soper, Only the words themselves mean what they say
Text by Lydia Davis
I. Go Away
II. Head, Heart
III. Getting to Know Your Body
“Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say” was incited by a determination to test my limits as a vocalist and performer and by a years-long itch to work with Lydia Davis’ fabulously quirky texts. Writing as a composer/performer opens up the pre-compositional realm to lots of useful improvisatory tangents and fresh timbral discoveries, and working closely with flutist Erin Lesser, without whom this piece would not exist, led to many happy surprises that eventually made their way into the final score. Lydia Davis’ work proved the perfect vehicle for this project, invoking an unhinged virtuosity and idiosyncratic, multi-layered reading that took me from screwball comedy to paired musical gymnastics. The flute is essentially an Iron Man suit for the voice, amplifying it to new planes of expressivity, intensity, and insanity as the two players struggle with one addled brain to navigate the treacherous labyrinth of deceptively simple logic.
I. Go Away
When he says, “Go away and don’t come back,” you are hurt by the words even though you know he does not mean what the words say, or rather you think he probably means “Go away” because he is so angry at you he does not want you anywhere near him right now, but you are quite sure he does not want you to stay away, he must want you to come back, either soon or later, depending on how quickly he may grow less angry during the time you are away, how he may remember other less angry feelings he often has for you that may soften his anger now. But though he does mean “Go away,” he does not mean it as much as he means the anger that the words have in them, as he also means the anger in the words “don’t come back.” He means all the anger meant by someone who says such words and means what the words say, that you should not come back, ever, or rather he means most of the anger meant by such a person, for if he meant all the anger he would also mean what the words themselves say, that you should not come back, ever. But, being angry, if he were merely to say, “I’m very angry at you,” you would not be as hurt as you are, or you would not be hurt at all, even though the degree of anger, if it could be measured, might be exactly the same. Or perhaps the degree of anger could not be the same. Or perhaps it could be the same but the anger would have to be of a different kind, a kind that could be shared as a problem, whereas this kind can be told only in these words he does not mean. So it is not the anger in these words that hurts you, but the fact that he chooses to say words to you that mean you should never come back, even though he does not mean what the words say, even though only the words themselves mean what they say.
II. Head, Heart
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again.
You will lose the ones you love.
They will all go.
But even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of Head do not remain long in the ears of Heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says Heart.
Head is all Heart has.
Help, Head. Help Heart.
III. Getting to Know Your Body
If your eyeballs move, this means that you’re thinking, or about to start thinking.
If you don’t want to be thinking at this particular moment, try to keep your eyeballs still.
“Go Away” from ALMOST NO MEMORY (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Lydia Davis. Performed with permission of the Denise Shannon Literary Agency, Inc. and the author.
“Head, Heart,” and “Getting to Know Your Body” from VARIETIES OF DISTURBANCE (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Lydia Davis. Performed with permission of the Denise Shannon Literary Agency, Inc. and the author.
Lesley Flanigan, from AMPLIFICATIONS (2008-present)+
I am inspired by tactile, intuitive qualities of electricity. In Amplifications, I manipulate amplification as a source of sound itself, turning loudspeakers and microphones into musical instruments that resonate with the closed feedback loop between electricity and sound. I build my speaker instruments out of wood, scavenged loudspeakers and handmade amplifying electronics. Each focuses on a different configuration between piezo microphone and speaker, and since the speakers are small and self contained, the feedback is controlled, and performing it becomes an act of sculpting material into sound.
Eli Keszler, Cold Pin*
Cold Pin (2011) is designed to act as both a stand alone structure and as part of an ensemble performance with scores. The New York City premiere of Cold Pin consists of overlapped and splayed strings mounted with tuning pins to a free standing two level structure behind the ensemble. Additionally, a small motor harp and solenoids are placed on stage in a more compact mechanical set up. The strings are struck by rods which are welded to the ends of motors and amplified. The individual motors are switched on and off in pattern by a micro-controller system, which is set to reconfigure and reorder short length phrases programmed throughout the performance. The installation blends into a singular unit with the ensemble, controlling the music vertically as the performers push horizontally.
Matt Marks, sneak preview of The Little Death: Vol. 2 +
Mellissa Hughes, voice
Michael Carter (Preshish Moments), electronics
This performance shows a preview of my new pop-opera, The Little Death: Vol. 2. When we last left our two characters –Boy and Girl– Girl had succeeded in luring Boy into her sanctum –literally and figuratively– using primarily her seductive power. At the top of Vol. 2, we find Boy feverishly striving to be a good Christian young man: learning his Bible verses, the required fun church songs, and how he is supposed to act as a newly spiritual young American. All the while, Girl shepherds her ward, molding him into her perfect Christian and mate. But as she succeeds, she begins to find herself fighting some of the same urges Boy struggled with in Vol. 1, as her creation becomes increasingly irresistible. All of this leads inexorably to the mysterious shooting scene we caught a glimpse of in Vol. 1.
Despite being written roughly 4-5 years apart, TLDV1 and TLDV2 are quite similar. They were written almost entirely in Ableton Live, mostly as a series of pop tunes, featuring the same minimal style of lyrics. TLDV2 has shown itself to be different in a few key ways though: more reliance on recorded vocals as texture, fewer external samples, and a slightly different instrumentation: adding ukulele and toy piano, among others.
Tonight’s performance features Mellissa Hughes as Girl and Matt Marks as Boy, and is directed by Rafael Gallegos.
MATA gratefully acknowledges the support of the
following individuals and organizations:
Sponsors (10,000 +)
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Meet the Composer’s Cary New Music Performance Fund
Aaron Copland Fund for Music
Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
New York State Council on the Arts
Alice M. Ditson Fund
The Randy Hostetler Living Room Fund
Foundation for Contemporary Arts
Nicholas and Ellen Hughes
Fund of the Foundation for Enhancing Communities on behalf of Ellen Brody Hughes
Linda and Stuart Nelson
James R. & Frederica Rosenfield Foundation
Jason Andrew Brown
Aaron Jay Kernis
Patricia and David Specter
Solomon and Barbara Wank
Color Field Ensemble
Composers and Schools in Concert
Dustin Luke Nelson
Nouveau Classical Project
Elizabeth Van Cleve
Leaha Maria Villarreal
Composer Receptions have been underwritten by Ralph Jackson
Equipment Rental has been underwritten by Lisa Bielawa, Ellen Hughes and Joan La Barbara
Francesco Filidei’s commission has been underwritten by Myriam Ghazi
Guest housing has been provided by Eleonor Sandresky and Ted Wiprud
JACK Quartet’s Performance has been underwritten by Jim Rosenfield
Performer housing has been underwritten by Ted Wiprud
Piano Tuning has been underwritten by Jason Masimore
Refreshments for opening night party have been underwritten by Pamela Stein and Kristina Kinet
Refreshments for performers have been underwritten by Missy Mazzoli and Christopher McIntyre
Rehearsal Space donated by the Family Opera Initiative and the New Spectrum Foundation
Ensemble Signal’s performance has been underwritten by Amanda Ambrose
Ensemble Signal’s travel has been underwritten by Eleonor Sandresky
Yotam Haber’s work commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund
Oscar Bianchi’s travel has been supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
Kickstarter Alumni Composers
David T. Little
Andrew McKenna Lee
The New Music Bake Sale
Leadership support for New Music USA’s MetLife Creative Connections program is generously provided by MetLife Foundation. Additional support is provided by ASCAP, BMI Foundation, Inc., Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Jerome Foundation, mediaThe foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Foundation and the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Ltd.
Made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the city council.
MATA Festival Archives
- April 17 MATA's Quinceañera Celebration
- April 18 MATA Workshop: The Business of Being a Composer
- April 18 Meitar: The Lions of Tel Aviv
- April 19 MATA Workshop: Reading Session with Meitar Ensemble
- April 19 Mechanical Turks
- April 20 MATA Workshop: Words & Music
- April 20 Magellan Modern
- April 17 PAULA COOPER GALLERY: OPENING NIGHT KICKOFF GALA
- April 18 Workshop I: The Art of Composing for the Voice
- April 18 April 18 FACE OFF: JACK QUARTET + QUARTET NEW GENERATION
- April 19 Workshop II: The Business of Being a Composer
- April 19 April 19 RESPONSIBLE PARTIES II: composer/performers today
- April 20 Workshop III: Composer/Performers
- April 20 April 20: SIGNS AND SIGNALS
- May 9 OPENING NIGHT PARTY AND SALON
- May 10 Make Music Winter Composition Workshop with composer Phil Kline
- May 10 Multinational Conglomerate: New Music from Around the World
- May 11 Responsible Parties: Young Composer/Performers
- May 12 A Burst of Blinding Clarity: METROPOLIS ENSEMBLE
- May 12 Composer Survival School with Lisa Bielawa
- April 19 Matthew Wright & Evan Parker
- Tuesday, April 20 - Thursday, April 22 MATA Sound Works
- April 20 Calder Quartet
- April 21 Ensemble Pamplemousse & Lisa Moore
- April 22 Argento & Friends
- March 31 The Knights Chamber Orchestra
- April 1 Sawako & Ne(x)tworks
- April 3 NOW Ensemble & Bing and Ruth
- April 4 Playing In The Band: Performer/Composers Speak
- April 4 SO Percussion
- March 31 Sound Installations
- April 1 Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- April 2 The Knights Chamber Orchestra
- April 3 Christoph Cox Lecture
- April 4 Either/Or & Newspeak
- March 18 Family Matinee
- March 20 Solitary Confinement V
- March 21 Passport to Brooklyn
- March 22 A Little Knights Music
- March 23 Panel Discussion: Electronic Media and the Performing Composer
- March 24 Panel Discussion with Alex Ross
- March 24 A Little More Knights Music
- September 23 Introducing the MATA Micro-Orchestra
- September 26 Composers' Petting Zoo
- October 1 Monster Composer Rally I
- October 2 Monster Composer Rally II
- May 6 Relache Ensemble
- May 7 Matthew Welch, Paul Fowler, Paul Hogan, Michael Lowenstern, Jeff Herriott, David Heuser, Greg Beyer
- May 8 GAle GAtes, et al
- May 9 Panel Discussion
- May 10 SONYC
- April 7 Urban Epics
- April 8 Journeys and Dialogues
- April 9 Essential Elements
- April 10 Solitary Confinement III
- April 11 Composer Discussion Group
- April 12 NEMptomania
MATA Interval Archives
- Interval 6.1 October 26, 2012
INTERVAL 6.1 OBJECTS FOUND
- Interval 6.2 March 4, 2013
INTERVAL 6.2 SOLOS, DUOS, & TRIOS: ALEX MINCEK CURATES
Interval Vol. 6
- Interval 5.1 October 24, 2011
Son Lux and Toby Driver
- Interval 5.2 December 21, 2011
Thruline by James Holt
- Interval 5.3 March 8, 2012
Beaubourg to Brooklyn: Electro-Acoustic Music from Paris Christopher Trapani, Curator
Interval Vol. 5
- Interval 4.1 November 17, 2010
- Interval 4.2 January 13, 2011
In One, Juraj Kojs, curator
- Interval 4.3 March 10, 2011
Amped/Electrified, Curated by Sugar Vendil
Interval Vol. 4
- Interval 3.1 January 13, 2010
Architectures of Sound - David Kant & Cameron Hu, curators
- Interval 3.2 March 10, 2010
poweRed Line - Baljinder Sekhon, II, curator
Interval Vol. 3
- Interval 2.1 September 17, 2008
Music of Grúpat Collective - Jennifer Walshe, curator
- Interval 2.2 November 19, 2008
The NEW New Virtuosity: Musicians of New Amsterdam Records - Judd Greenstein, curator
- Interval 2.3 January 21, 2009
Dither Electric Guitar Quartet - Taylor Levine & James Moore, curators
- Interval 2.4 March 18, 2009
PLAY! Music for Toys - Angélica Negrón, curator