category: MATA Interval Blog

Interval FAQ

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does Interval work?

A: MATA provides you a fee to help present a concert. You present the concert with MATA’s guidance and support.

Q: Is additional funding available for travel and housing?

A: In general, no. All travel costs should be included in your general budget. We are happy to provide letters of support to help you apply for travel funding.

Q: Where will the concerts be held?

A: Concerts will be held at venues appropriate to the concert being presented. It depends on a lot of factors.

Q: Are there limits on technology?

Don’t worry about it, if we like your idea we’ll help you figure out most anything.

Q: Can I program my own music?

A: Yes, however portrait concerts are not generally seen as compelling proposals.

Q: What does “larger scale projects initiated by a composer” mean?

A: Some examples might include: large song cycles, evening-length ensemble works, collections of works under a specific rubric, as in Berio’s Sequenzas, or Ferneyhough’s Carceri cycle, and so forth.

Q: Do I need to pair up with an ensemble?

A: Not necessarily.

Q: What if my concert costs more than $2,000? 

A: We recognize that some projects will be larger in scope than what we’re able to support with Interval and so in that case we hope that people would think of Interval as one mode of support among others. If your project budget is larger than what MATA can support, you should provide a full project budget along with a proposed funding plan, including MATA’s support as one of several sources of revenue.

Q: How many people will be selected?

A: MATA reserves the right to not select any proposals, but generally we choose 2-3.

Q: Can I commission a piece for the concert?

A: Commissions and premieres are looked upon favorably, however MATA does not generally have funds for the commissioning of new works for Interval.

Q: I am not a US citizen, can I present an Interval show?

A: In general, we cannot procure visas for foreign performers for our Interval programs, and foreign artists may not perform on Interval without a valid visa. Compositions by non-US citizens can be programmed. Contact us if you have any other questions about visas.

Q: How do you decide?

A: We look for concepts and events that are compelling; performers and works that deserve to be heard. We judge primarily on quality of materials presented.

Q: When will applicants be notified?

A: We expect to inform applicants by the summer.

Priday / Kaplan: New Music for Violin and Piano

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Priday / Kaplan:

New Music for Violin and Piano

Friday, February 6, 2015 | 7.30 pm

SubCulture | 45 Bleecker Street New York, NY 10012

Tickets Available at

MATA Interval opens its eighth season by presenting acclaimed violinist Rachel Lee Priday and pianist David Kaplan in a concert of new works by young composers working in and around old traditions. The program, starting at 7:30 pm, will be MATA’s first visit to the new venue SubCulture and is centered around a premiere from 2014 Pulitzer-Prize finalist Christopher Cerrone. Recipient of this year’s Fromm Music Foundation grant, and commissioned jointly with pianist David Kaplan, Cerrone’s work directly questions and engages with the tradition of a classical sonata.

Cerrone writes: “It’s called a sonata – specifically, it’s an exploration of the idea of a ‘classical’ architecture (fast – slow – fast, with recapitulation), while also being an exploration of extended techniques on the violin, as well as finding a way to link those extended techniques with a broad expressive world. In this piece, I’m also interested in combining the timbral explorations of European modernism with the rhythmic/tonal drive of minimalism.”

The theme of reimagining the past is woven throughout the program: a motoric new work by Eric Shanfield (WP) which turns classical cadences on their head with obsessive repetition, short works from composers Hannah Lash and Pulitzer-prizewinner Caroline Shaw reimagine moments from Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze. Schumann is also a theme in Samuel Carl Adams’ Ave Nostradamus which will receive its NY Premiere. Additional works by Matthew Aucoin, Scott Wollschleger, and Sayo Kosugi fill out the program.


Eric Shanfield (b. 1979) Violin Sonata (World Premiere)

Matthew Aucoin (b. 1990) Celan Fragments (NY Premiere of newly revised version)

Hannah Lash (b. 1981) Liebesbrief an Schumann (Solo Piano)

Caroline Shaw (b. 1982) XVI. Mit gutem Humor and un poco lol ma con serioso vibes (Solo Piano)

Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980) Cuteness Piece

Samuel Carl Adams (b. 1985) Ave Nostradamus (NY Premiere)

Sayo Kosugi (b. 1980) Delirious Distortion (Solo Violin)

Christopher Cerrone (b. 1984) Sonata for Violin and Piano (World Premiere)

Interval 7.2 Blog 3

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Interval 7.2 Blog 2

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Risk and Reward — Whaling and World Premieres

There are two kinds of projects that excite all of us at Contemporaneous more than any others: premiering new music and performing epic, large-scale projects. As you can imagine, we relish the opportunity to do both at the same time, which is one reason why we are all incredibly excited to premiere the West Fourth New Music Collective’s collaborative creation Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities.

Many of us with Contemporaneous have known and worked with Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Herron and Ruben Naeff of W4 for a long time and we finally started a conversation about a W4/Contemporaneous collaboration a little more than a year ago. We quickly settled on the idea of the four of them writing an evening-length work for us and eventually decided that Moby Dick was full of the ingredients for the kind of grand work we were all interested in. There are so many sources of inspiration — the boldness and audacity of the crew, the daunting and perilous task they take on, the immensity and literary nuance of Melville’s work, etc. — that it was a perfect fit.

In a real way, the content of this classic novel matches the form of the adventure that we undertook at this embryonic stage. We were launching into vast and uncharted waters, wherein no precedent existed to measure the level of danger. It is always a significant risk to devote time and energy into brand new works, especially works of this proportion, but this risk taking is part of the excitement of programming and performing new music. As it turns out, the piece that has W4 created is surely going to offer an incredible reward for our venture! The work zooms in alike on intricate details and overarching themes of the novel to great effect, really drawing out a unique and original drama that the music elevates to a thrilling experience.

Since we received the completed score about a month ago and especially now that we have started rehearsing, I have been thinking a lot about how well this project exemplifies what we do with Contemporaneous. We make it our mission not only to present the most exciting music of our time, but also to provide composers with an outlet for unbridled creativity, in which we encourage possibility, risk and challenge with a desire for the best music possible. We feel so fortunate to be able work with W4 and MATA to bring this vision to life next weekend!

David Bloom, Contemporaneous co-artistic director


Interval 7.2 Blog 1

Thursday, February 6th, 2014


The composers of West Fourth New Music Collective (W4) gathered recently to answer some questions about the inspiration behind and creation of their new oratorio, Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities.  Collaboratively written by composers and W4 co-founders Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Herron, and Ruben Naeff, the evening-length piece composes through Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, focusing on themes and events related to mortality, identity, and the hunt.


How did you choose what themes/sections of Moby Dick you wanted to write about? 

MATT FREY: As a group, the four of us – Tim, Molly, Ruben and I – had several important creative meetings over the spring and summer of 2013 where we tried to identify the themes, moments, and quotes that we felt were integral to presenting the core ideas in the book.  From there, we each selected a few main ideas that we felt individually interested in exploring musically.  Much of the writing in Moby Dick I found incredibly verbose and not at all suitable for the way I prefer to work with text; however, I came across a few succinct quotes that had an immediate appeal.  These quotes centered on themes of death and obsession – so I felt that I should head in those directions to create my movements of the oratorio.

TIM HANSEN: I consider myself more to be a theatre artist who uses music to tell stories. So the sections I were drawn to tended to be the ones that painted very clear, immediate staged images to me. I don’t expect that these pieces will ever be staged, but I find that if I can’t create an image of what a staged version of any of my pieces might look like then I tend to get very stuck. Luckily Moby Dick isn’t exactly devoid of drama so finding three scenes that appealed to me was pretty easy.

RUBEN NAEFF:  I was immediately struck by the cruel, suspenseful and bloody scenes, which I found a great contrast to the other chapters, which were more cerebral or scientific. I also thought these scenes would work very well for being set to music, and I think these movements contrast nicely with the other movements – just as they contrast in the book.

MOLLY HERRON:  There are so many things about Moby Dick that interest me and that I wanted to explore in the music I wrote. I could write three more oratorios! In the end, the things that I found the most fascinating weren’t what necessarily drew Matt, Ruben or Tim, and that made it clear where I needed to focus. Watching each of them react to the book made my individual connection more clear. I found a thread winding through the book that explored identity. In myriad ways, Melville asks the questions “Who am I?”, “What makes me?”, “How am I connected to the world around me?” Following that thread led me to write the movement “Call me” which is about the difficulty and necessity of our interdependence and brings it back to that famous first line. As tough as it is, at the end if the day I think we all want to be seen for who we are and named by those around us.


How did you approach adapting the book’s text into a singable libretto?

MH: As soon as I started thinking about setting the text, I realized how naturally Melville’s words lend themselves to music. Melville wrote a lot of poetry in his lifetime, but none so great as Moby Dick. I loved the exploration of setting the text in different ways and I took a very different approach in all three of my movements. In “At the Mast-head” I only use four short phrases. “The Sea” is absolutely flooded with text. “Call Me” is somewhere in between.

MF: I, on the other hand, didn’t find a lot of the text from Moby Dick to lend itself to a musical setting – mostly because I like to work with words more obliquely than my collaborators.  Therefore, when I found a few quotes that spoke to me, I started with those – for example, “Some ships sail from their ports, and ever afterwards are missing” – and built the rest of my libretti around them.  For the “Some Ships” movement, I found inspiration in the idea of sailors setting out on a journey with the knowledge that it was very unlikely to return. I searched the novel for other phrases that would support this idea, and knitted these words and phrases together into a unified moment.

TH: Each song of mine is different: the Hymn was straightforward enough; Melville had done all the work for me. “Wind, Sea and Stars” was a little more work, but still relatively easy, since Ruben, the technological genius that he is, had set up a document for us all to search using the “find” function in Word, and since I knew this piece would be made up almost entirely of references to winds, seas and stars I just had to think creatively and type in as many of each as I could think of. “There She Blows” was a little more involved. It’s about the chase, the climax of the whole book, and I feared it would be very easy for it to become suuuuper corny. So I decided to keep the lyrics entirely made up of dialogue said by the characters. I figured this way I would never let the singers become “narrators”, which to me could smack too much of pantomime or something.

RN: I took the texts that I found captivating, and then followed the natural rhythm of the words and sentences very literally. Certain words naturally demanded for a specific setting: words like high and low, for example, and the endless bleeding of the whale is illustrated by an endless repetition of the main musical motive. I enjoyed the passages the most where I could juxtapose the dying whale with the celebrating sailors, which happens in the book as well. In a musical world you can really create a polyphony in these scenes, while a literary text always works linearly: you don’t have two lines being ‘read’ at the same time.


MATA Interval 7.2 presents composer collective W4 and Contemporaneous in the world premiere of Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities on Friday, February 21 at 8:00 pm at Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room.