May 23, 2011
WASHINGTON —Cellist Matt Haimovitz, who performs June 5 at Five Points Washington with Heartland Festival Orchestra and who has just won a Grammy for new CD, has his feet planted firmly in classical territory. But that hasn’t stopped him from doing a solo cello version of Jimi Hendrix’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” or a four-cello version of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
And it hasn’t stopped Haimovitz over the years from bringing his 301-year-old Matteo Goffriller cello into pizza places and bars nationwide, including Kelleher’s, where Haimovitz and Heartland music director David Commanday will perform for free 9 p.m. June 3 in a sort of teaser to the main show on June 4.
Haimovitz has done this sort of thing for years – in effect taking classical music out of the conventional temples of culture and putting it into places where the world at large dwells and has fun.
“I want to reach an audience and I want even people who know this music to go back to the origin of the meaning of what composers were doing, and this ground-breaking tradition,” Haimovitz said. “The music can comfort but it can also provoke. It addresses issues that can’t be reached in any other way. It belongs to all of us. It’s public domain. Nothing is taken away from the music or diminished by taking it out of the pantheon of the major concert hall. In fact, a lot of this music – chamber music in particular – needs more sense of intimacy and smaller audiences, actually so there’s a real connection and a real power to the music.”
Born in Israel, Haimovitz, 40, grew up in California where he demonstrated exceptional abilities at the cello at an early age, eventually playing at Carnegie Hall at 13 and touring at 15.
“He goes so far beyond the straight forward and standard approach to being a soloist or a musician,” Commanday said. “I think it flows out of his incredible imagination. He just has a mind that’s interested in so many different directions.”
Two recent CDs – “Matteo: 300 Years of an Italian Cello” and “Meeting of the Spirits” – indicate something of those interests. The 13 pieces on “Matteo” range from Baroque pieces by Domenico Gabrielli and Claudio Ambrosini to 20th and 21st century works by Luigi Dallapiccola and Luciano Berio (who died in 2003). “Meeting of Spirits,” which won a Grammy this year, explores jazz via the cello with pieces by Charles Mingus (“Haitian Fight Song), Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis and George Gershwin.
At Five Points, Haimovitz will perform a Hadyn Cello Concerto, a Vivaldi double concerto (with Commanday playing the other cello) and David Popper’s Concerto for Three Cellos – featuring Haimovitz and Commanday once again, but also Heartland Festival Orchestra principal cellist Barbara Hedlund.
Popper, a native of Bohemia, died in 1913, and his music has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. In addition to the three soloists accompaniment will be provided by three other cellos played by Moises Molina, Adriana La Rosa Ransom and Beau Commanday.
By Gary Panetta
Gary Panetta can be reached at email@example.com.
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