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

Heart weeps.

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*

With loadbang

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

Cheswatyr Foundation
Patrons (4,000—9,999)                 
Aaron Copland Fund for Music

Amphion Foundation

BMI Foundation

Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation

Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

New York State Council on the Arts

Founders (1,000—3,999)


Mary Cronson

Alice M. Ditson Fund

The Randy Hostetler Living Room Fund

Foundation for Contemporary Arts

Myriam Ghazi

Nicholas and Ellen Hughes

Fund of the Foundation for Enhancing Communities on behalf of Ellen Brody Hughes

Ralph Jackson

Linda and Stuart Nelson

James R. & Frederica Rosenfield Foundation


Supporters (100—999)


Lisa Bielawa

Jason Andrew Brown

Claire Chase

Nicholas Croft

Alex Freeman

Patrick Grant

Ara Guzelimian

Marilyn Heller

Linda Higgins

Grethe Holby

Kenchiro Hoshino

Jerry Howett

Ellen Hughes

Robert Hurwitz

Barbara Kaslow

Frances Kazan

Aaron Jay Kernis

Kristina Kinet

Jeffrey Lynch

Andrew Marchesin

Missy Mazzoli

Christopher McIntyre

Zizi Mueller

Susan Narucki

Roy Niederhoffer

Frederick Peters

Jesse Rosen

Eleonor Sandresky

Steven Schick

George Schwartz

Melanie Shorin

Patricia and David Specter

Katy Tucker

Solomon and Barbara Wank

Susan West

Bonnie Wright



Gordon Beeferman

Ryan Brown

Karen Chester

Andrew Cyr

Color Field Ensemble

Composers and Schools in Concert

Liz Farid

Katie Geissinger

Greta Gertler

Martin Goldray

Robert Hammond

Jeff Herriott

Hotel Elefant

Luke Jaaniste

Scott Jeffrey

John Kennedy

Richard Kessler

Mary Kouyoumdjian

Tania Leon

Kristin Marks

Zibuokle Martinaityte

Priscilla Morgan

Mark Movic

Timothy Munro

Dustin Luke Nelson

Nouveau Classical Project

Mike Plotkowski

Paola Prestini

Kendel Ratley

Bajinder Sekhon

Yuval Sharon

Aaron Siegel

Rand Steiger

Miranda T.

Philippa Thompson

Elizabeth Van Cleve

Leaha Maria Villarreal


Special Sponsorship

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


Timo Andres

Ryan Carter

Corey Dargel

Richard Einhorn

Annie Gosfield

Patrick Grant

Yotam Haber

Ted Hearne

Gabriel Kahane

Lukas Ligeti

David T. Little

Zibuokle Martinaityte

Missy Mazzoli

Ned McGowan

Nico Muhly

Andrew Norman

Angélica Negrón


Special Thanks

Maya Beiser

Oscar Bettison

Nathan Davis

Erin Gee

David Lang

Andrew McKenna Lee

Eileen Mack


Anna Schuleit

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.

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