A 1710 Cello Comes Out of Its Case

September 14th, 2007 by Adam


From Carnegie Hall to a Mississippi pizza joint, from Bach preludes to his own twist on Jimi Hendrix’s version of The Star Spangled Banner, Matt Haimovitz has been shaking things up since his debut at the age of 13 as soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic.

Now 37, Haimovitz has appeared with the world’s most prestigious orchestras while maintaining connections with a new generation through innovative compositions, arrangements, venues and musical forms.

Plymouth State University welcomes the young cellist as the inaugural performer in the 2007-2008 Silver Series Sunday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.

In an interview for the Frederick News Post, Haimovitz said his intent is “to bring a new audience to classical music.”

The New York Times described Haimovitz’s musical style as “not a marketing gimmick, nor another strained attempt to make classical music hip. It is one man’s unlikely quest to find meaning and connection … the most moving and soulful player [I’ve] heard in a long time.”

Returning a sense of intimacy and spontaneity to the classical experience, the solo cello recital has become a Haimovitz’s trademark. By taking on the road such unlikely bedfellows as J. S. Bach, living composers, contemporary classics, and his own notorious classic rock arrangements, Haimovitz has paved the way for the next generation of classical musicians to break new ground, further expanding the audience for classical music, and infiltrating popular culture.

Haimovitz said his approach is based in “the tradition of classical music, which is chamber music—-music that is meant for small rooms and more informal spaces.” In the Post interview, he tells about patrons “meeting in living room spaces, in chambers and waiting to 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,” he said.

Haimovitz thinks nontraditional audiences can listen and understand the humor and surprise elements in classical music. “I think it depends on the performance being vital and the interpretations bringing out some of these elements,” he said. Haimovitz has taken “his fiery brand of solo work to the streets, the clubs and the bars in order to get closer to his audiences.” [The Message]

Alongside his performing and recording activities, Matt Haimovitz is professor of cello at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montréal, Quebec. He has established an award-winning cello studio, with students taking first prize in Canada’s prestigious Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, among others.

Prior to joining McGill University, he spent five years as head of the cello program at UMASS Amherst. He has 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 earned a B.A. magna cum laude with highest honors from Harvard University. Haimovitz plays a Venetian cello, made in 1710 by Matteo Gofriller.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors, $12 for youth and $5 for Plymouth State students for the performance which will be held in the Smith Recital Hall.

Tickets are available at the Silver Center box office, (603) 535-ARTS and online at silver.plymouth.edu.

Additional information and sound clips are available at oxingale.com.