MATA Kicks Off Fifteenth Festival at Iconic Gallery

Missy Mazzoli, Tomer Hod, Elliott Carter, Joan La Barbara, Christopher McIntyre: Ana Milosavijevic (violin), Meitar Ensemble, Joan La Barbara (voice), Christopher McIntyre (trombone), Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City. 16.4.2013 (DS)

Missy Mazzoli: Dissolve, O My Heart (Ana Milosavijevic, violin)
Tomer Hod: Mitzmutz: Canon for 3 (Meitar Ensemble)
Elliott Carter: Canon for 4 (Meitar Ensemble)
Joan La Barbara: Solitary Journey (Joan La Barbara, voice)
Christopher McIntyre: Phono-Markers: 2-beat No. 2 (Christopher McIntyre, trombone)

A beautifully polished black and silver bass clarinet leaned, alone, in the stark white-washed corner of the wooden-roofed Paula Cooper Gallery. I looked at the people holding wine glasses as they milled around Wayne Gonzales’s grey or green-tinged parking-lot paintings. One word on the nametags kept popping up over and over: “composer.” No, I didn’t travel back in time to the 1970s where the likes of Philip Glass would both perform and show up on huge Polaroid-influenced canvases. (Glass is Executive Producer and one of MATA’s founders.) This was the opening event for this week’s MATA Festival, the annual four-day concert and seminar series focusing on emerging composers, and bringing a few select individuals from around the globe to showcase their often eclectic experiments. This year just a handful of artists were invited from over 600 applicants worldwide.

To emphasize the international flavor, the Meitar Ensemble has flown over from Tel Aviv to participate. They gave us an appetizing taste of their new-music expertise with a short but powerful performance of Elliott Carter’s Canon for 4 (featuring that bass clarinet). Also kicking off the week’s celebratory mood was an appearance by Joan La Barbara, whose solo vocal piece Solitary Journey (2011) was a tiny riveting morsel of her yodeling-meets-phonic-breakdown style. And, if you ask me, she makes electronic sampling technology seem like a distant conservative cousin.

The MATA Festival may very well discover the next Carter’s or La Barbara’s. And it certainly won’t be without its theatrical surprises (we are promised 25 knitters for the world premiere of Jobina Tinnemans’s Killing Time on Friday). But to see it will be to believe it. Amongst other commissioned works: Bryan Jacobs’s Play May Shay Fay Bay (Thursday) and Evan Antonellis, whose Transparent Itineraries will be played on Saturday by local favorite, the Talea Ensemble.

Upcoming performances at Roulette (downtown Brooklyn), all at 7:30 pm:

April 19 – Mechanical Turks

April 20 – Magellan Modern

Daniele Sahr