Naming a thing helps give the senses a place to aim, but sadly, the phrase “classical music” is a tour de force of negative publicity. The words suggest something inaccessible outside pop culture. “Classical music” conjures the sounds of dead white guys, for blue hairs only.
In his mid-twenties Matt Haimovitz was already a seasoned cellist, having been discovered by Isaac Stern and debuting with the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta at age 13 in 1984. Looking out at his audience, however, he found the picture depressing: the faithful were fewer and fewer and grayer and grayer. In short, none of his peers were listening. Haimovitz took on the challenge: if his contemporaries would not come to him, he would take his product to them.
In 2000, Haimovitz made waves with his Bach “Listening-Room” Tour, for which, to great acclaim, the artist took Bach’s beloved cello suites out of the concert hall and into clubs across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Haimovitz’s encore was the 2003 Anthem tour, celebrating living American composers and designed to re-prioritize the arts over war. The title track of “Anthem,” a cello version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner,” was recorded live at New York’s CBGB’s, the birthplace of the punk rock movement and a regular hang for the Talking Heads and The Ramones.
Fast forward to the present. This past fall, Matt Haimovitz went to the site of Occupy Wall Street in New York and played an impromptu concert.
Matt Haimovitz is the new kid on the block at the 10th annual Telluride Musicfest, July 27 – July 8. (Concert dates: June 27, July 1, July 3 and July 8.) Inspired by the most sublime chamber music ever written, artistic director (and virtuosic violinist) Maria Bachmann established the theme: “Vienna to Budapest.” Bach and Beethoven are on the program, but so is Haimovitz, performing his arrangement of the Hendrix “Star Spangled Banner.” (Just in case you missed his gig at CBGB’s.)
Following his debut with the Israel Philharmonic, at 17, Haimovitz made his first recording with James Levine and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Deutsche Grammophon. He went on to perform on the world’s most esteemed stages, with such orchestras and conductors as the Berlin Philharmonic with Levine, the New York Philharmonic with Mehta, the English Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Barenboim, the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano. Haimovitz made his Carnegie Hall debut in the mid-1980s when he substituted for his teacher, the legendary Leonard Rose, in Schubert’s String Quintet in C, alongside Isaac Stern, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman and Mstislav Rostropovich. But the solo cello recital is a Haimovitz trademark, both inside and outside the standard soft-seat venues.
Haimovitz plays a Venetian cello, made in 1710 by Matteo Gofriller.
At Telluride Musicfest 2012, Matt Haimovitz is joined by regulars, founding ensemble, the Trio Solisti (violinist, Bachmann, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, pianist Jon Klibonoff), plus other guest artists, including the incomparable pianist Adam Neiman; Toby Appel, violin; Hsin-Yun Huang, viola; Kathryn Lockwood, viola.
To learn more about Matt Haimovitz, watch this video featuring him playing Arcade Fire’s “Empty Room,” on a popular TV program in Canada. Though we are unable to embed this video the following URL will take you to the video: