College of Visual and Performing Arts
George Mason University
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George Mason University

Cellist Chat with Matt Haimovitz

September 27, 2019

Matt Haimowitz

Cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Simone Dinnerstein will bring their innovative program highlighting two iconic and vastly distinct composers, Ludwig van Beethoven and Philip Glass, to the perfect acoustic setting: Merchant Hall on October 13. Haimovitz made his musical debut in 1984 at the young age of 13 as a soloist with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic and made his first recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at 17. Haimovitz has since performed with some of the world’s most renowned orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and most recently, at the Philip Glass Festival with Philip Glass himself in 2018.

We had the opportunity to chat with Haimovitz about his experience working with Glass and this is what he had to say.

How did you first learn about Philip Glass and his compositions?

I knew of Philip Glass as a minimalist composer ever since I can remember, but I only really started to immerse myself after he contacted me to premiere and record his Cello Concerto No. 2 with the Cincinnati Symphony and Dennis Russell Davies. Philip called me in Montreal out of the blue. My contemporary music tastes tended to maximalist composers like Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Ligeti, and others and I was surprised to hear from him. When I heard the music for the film Naqoyqatsi which features a cello solo and forms the basis of the second cello concerto, I was an immediate convert. 

 Tell us what you loved about them? 

The music for Naqoyqatsi is hauntingly beautiful, impossible to watch the disturbing film without Philip’s music. Now I have played a wide range of Philip’s music and I am always struck by how each work reveals a core of our human nature. Sometimes through the simplest of means, Philip touches and amplifies our emotions. The final movement of the Partita 2 for Solo Cello is simply gorgeous; I am moved by it every time. And yet, it is virtually all a rumination on a g minor triad. 
  
How did it influence you as a musician? 

I am inspired by Philip’s music and humanity. It has been wonderful to receive his vote of confidence, to know that he expects the performer to engage and bring a strong personal connection to his music. At the same time, I have learned a tremendous amount about musical form and the virtue of simplicity and clarity in communicating big ideas and powerful emotions. 
  
How would you personally describe Glass’ work to new listeners? 

Just listen. I believe Philip’s music connects universally. Listen to it in the same way you would listen to Bach. 

You performed alongside Glass at the Philip Glass Festival in 2018, how was that experience for you? 

I love performing with Philip. He is as generous on stage as he is in person. He listens intensely and his music-making rises to the next level when on stage in front of an audience. 

Now you’ll be playing some of Glass’ pieces at the Hylton Center October 13, what are you most looking forward to?  

I look forward to creating a seamless arc of music with the wonderful pianist Simone Dinnerstein. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear musical virtuosos Matt Haimovitz and Simone Dinnerstein on Sunday, October 13 at 2 p.m. Purchase your tickets today.

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