Lincoln Journal Star: Cellist goes for diversity

March 11, 2010

Every time Matt Haimovitz plays Beethoven’s Opus 95, it takes him back to when he was 16 and auditioning for the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.

The audition required the cellist to play an excerpt from the piece.

“It’s just a handful of notes, very sparse and so easy,” he said. “I just read it.”

It was the wrong thing to do.

Acclaimed American cellist Marlboro faculty member David Soyer spent “a half hour taking me apart,” Haimovitz said in a phone interview.

Matt Haimovitz [credit: Stephanie Mackinnon]

Matt Haimovitz [credit: Stephanie Mackinnon]

Soyer explained to the young cellist about the meaning derived from servicing those six or seven notes.

“I thought, ‘Oh boy, I didn’t get into Marlboro. Why would they bother with me?'” Haimovitz recalled. “But they did.”

Soyer passed away on Feb. 25.

Haimovitz said his thoughts will be with him when he performs the Beethoven string quartet, commonly referred to as “Serioso,” Friday at the Sheldon Museum of Art.

“He gave me the benefit of the doubt when I was 16,” he said. “I always associate David with that work.”

Soyer obviously recognized Haimovitz’s talent.

The 38-year-old is now renowned as a music pioneer, often drawing comparisons to another cello trailblazer, Yo-Yo Ma.

Haimovitz and Ma both studied under the great Leonard Rose, with Haimovitz continuing his studies with Ma.

“To say I may be following in (Ma’s) footsteps, I would be happy to,” he said. “When you look at all the different projects he’s done, they are all quite a bit different. I’ve certainly used that as a model and inspiration.”

Indeed, he has.

Haimovitz is as comfortable performing a Bach suite in a nightclub as he is on a concert stage with a string quartet.

Friday, he will be joined for the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music concert by violinists Andy Simionescu and Elizabeth Suh-Lane and violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama.

Their program also includes Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello, Beethoven’s String Trio Op. 9 No. 1 and Francaix’s String Trio.

Next week, he will be in Minneapolis at the Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant to celebrate Bach’s 325th birthday.

He’s also been working with a cello ensemble on music for a Hollywood horror movie.

Talk about a change of pace.

“(The diversity) helps keep everything fresh for me,” he said.

Reach Jeff Korbelik at 473-7213 or,  or follow him on Twitter at

By Jeff Korbelik

View article at Lincoln Journal Star

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