Matti Kovler (born September 14, 1980) (Hebrew: מתי קובלר‎‎) is a Russian-born Israeli-American composer, creator of new music theatre works, and the executive and artistic director of Floating Tower.[1] Called by Steve Smith of the New York Times “a potentially estimable operatic composer in the making,”[2] Kovler's music has been compared to Leonard Bernstein's.[3]

Performances

Kovler's music, described "intensely moving" and "by turns comic, mystical, warm, and searing"[4] has been commissioned by the Israel Festival, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Carnegie Hall. His orchestral works have been performed worldwide by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fox Studios Symphony (Los Angeles), the Metropole Orchestra (Amsterdam), the American Composers Orchestra (New York), the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and others.

Awards and Honors

Matti was a fellow at the Tanglewood, Aspen and Accademia Chigiana Festivals, a winner of two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards, and of the Theodore Presser Award. Matti Kovler is a recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarships and holds a doctorate in Composition from the New England Conservatory. In September 2013 Matti was recognized by the Boston Foundation as one of the six winners of the 2013 Brother Thomas Fellowships, “no strings attached” $15,000 bi-annual awards designed to support 6 talented artists making outstanding contributions to their community through excellence in their craft.[5]

Musical Influences

Kovler has mastered a range of styles from folk and jazz to those steeped in the classical tradition, and brings these together in works of considerable dramatic scope. His musical influences include folklore research, improvisation, a deep fascination with Janáček and Bartók poly-modality and the cult writings of the French theatre philosopher Antonin Artaud. Somewhat reactionary to his Soviet upbringing, Kovler’s interest in bringing sacred texts or melodies from the Jewish tradition into a contemporary context was ignited by his teacher, renowned Israeli composer and ethnomusicologist André Hajdu.[6] An advocate of expanding the definition of "Jewish musical theater," over the past decade Kovler created a substantial body of work intended to propel this genre beyond wallowing in a nostalgic past. They aim to tap into a more nuanced, multi-dimensional sensibility aligned with the younger generation—a generation that is rooted in tradition but yearns for the next step, beyond Fiddler on the Roof.[7]

Floating Tower

Kovler is the artistic director of Floating Tower, based in Brooklyn and Boston. With a modular make-up of 27 multi-national actors/musicians, Floating Tower operates as a creator, producer and educator developing innovative content and new avenues for cross-cultural engagement. Since its founding in 2011, Floating Tower has created over thirty productions in the United States, Israel, China and Russia.[8] Spanning from traditional to experimental, Floating Tower events have been staged at venues ranging from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to the Collector Gallery, a 1000 sq. ft. underground art-cave in Moscow.

Recent Projects

Quill of the Soul — A musical tribute to Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize winning writer, educator and Holocaust scholar. The performance, co-produced by Boston University's Elie Wiesel Center and Boston Jewish Music Festival, and hosted by the WGBH, takes the Hasidic Niggun as its point of departure, exploring the surprising parallels between the Niggun and other world incantations.
Seekers of Light — A sequel to Kovler’s Here Comes Messiah!, Seekers of Light deals with the rise and fall of the mystical Jewish messiah of the 17th century, Shabtai Zvi, and is inspired by sketches by Theodor Tezhik. Featuring Parham Haghighi (Iran) and Tutti Druyan (Israel).
Ami and Tami — A musical fable for children, Ami and Tami is a contemporary twist on Hansel and Gretel. Written by Kovler at age 17, the children's opera was recently translated to English. World premiere performance took place as part of the Outside The Box Festival on Boston Common featuring Boston Landmarks Orchestra.
Secrets of Dawn — A musical installation bringing together Jewish, Persian, Indian, Greek, Arab and Turkish music, poetry, video-art and dance, inspired by the mystery of Dawn
Here Comes Messiah! — a monodrama for soprano and chamber ensemble, commissioned by the Carnegie Hall in 2009 for the Golijov/Upshaw Workshop, is based on a musical motto from a Hassidic chant. A tour-de-force for a soprano singer, this theatrical score follows a young woman in the process of giving birth.
The Escape of Jonah — an oratorio for soloists, choir and brass orchestra, is a parody on the story of the prophet Jonah, from today’s perspective. The work juxtaposes the biblical text performed by the choir with the agitated speech of Jonah, the wandering Jew, impersonated by the trumpet.
'A Jew Among The Indians' for actor and orchestra. A monodrama based on the story of a displaced Jew—in America—in search for his cultural identity. The work is based on Jerome Rothenberg’s post-Holocaust poem Cokboy (a Yiddish mispronunciation of cowboy), comparing the extinction of two cultures—the Eastern European Jews and the Native Americans.

Life and Work

Born in Moscow, Kovler immigrated to Israel in 1990 with his family. He graduated from the Israel Arts & Science Academy, and the Jerusalem Academy of Music, and moved to the United States in 2006 to continue his studies. Kovler taught at the New England Conservatory, and the Northeastern University in Boston. In 2014-2015 he served as the first-ever composer in residence at the Elie Wiesel Center at the Boston University.[9] As part this residency, Kovler created and currated Floating Tower Series,[10] a series of events aimed to enhance today’s Jewish experience through provocative and high-impact productions in the intersection of music and theatre. Since 2015, he became a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre workshop, the foremost training ground for new musical theatre. He is now based in Brooklyn, NY.

Selected Works

Opera/Music Theatre

Ami and Tami (a children’s opera for 7 soloists, vocal ensemble and chamber orchestra) 1999
Here Comes Messiah! (mono-opera for soprano and ensemble, cl, vln, vla, 2 vcl, acc, p-no, toy p-no/synth, perc, electr.) 2009, rev. 2011
La Testa Di Santa Caterina (mono-opera for soprano, counter-tenor, cl, vcl, vibr perc, electronics) 2011
The Escape Of Jonah (oratorio for narrator/pianist, soprano, choir, sax quartet, trp, trmb, perc, electr.) 2007, rev. 2011
Three After Midnight (for narrator/pianist, soprano, choir, sax quartet, hrn, t-ba, perc, electr.) 2004
Who Stood Upon Mount Horev (music theatre for counter-tenor, acc, p-no, db, electronics) 2010

Orchestra

Fanfare to Israel (for large orchestra) 2011
Cokboy (for actor and chamber orchestra) 2008
Enosh overture (for orchestra and sax quartet) 2001, rev. 2005
Jephthah’s Daughter (for mezzo soprano solo, chamber orchestra, organ) 2003
Lily Marlene (for mezzo-soprano solo and string orchestra) 2010
Merry Christmas to Debussy from Ives (for soprano solo and chamber orchestra) 2006
Nineveh (for string orchestra) 2008
Sympsonic Tribute (for orchestra and big-band) 2002
Unsung Serenade (for chamber orchestra) 2010

Chamber Ensemble up to Seven Instruments

Birds and Elephants Dancing (for fl cl strings perc p-no) 2010
Clarinet Quintet (for cl and string quartet) 2005
Duos at Miss Hall’s (for cl & hn fl & vcl vln & db vln & vla) 2008
Music for Kaprizma (for cl ob bn strings perc) 1998
Schtuchki (for fl v-la and vibr for vibr solo for vibr & p-no) 2009-2011
Shoresh Nishmat (trio for cl vcl and p-no) 2007 rev. 2010
Spiral Fugato (for string quartet) 2007
The Hedgehog Sings A Lullaby To The Moon (for flute harp and viola) 2013
The Unbearable Lightness (for seven double basses) 2012
Wa-Edah Mah trio (for flute oboe and double bass) 2013
Wergeland’s Flower (for cl and p-no) 2008

References

  1. ^ http://www.floatingtower.com/#!about/ovnvb
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "Six Greater Boston artists receive $15,000 Brother Thomas fellowships". www.tbf.org. Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  6. ^ "Index of /". www.mattikovler.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  7. ^ "Matti Kovler". www.schusterman.org. Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  8. ^ "Floating Tower". Floating Tower. Retrieved 2016-09-20. 
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ "Floating Tower Series » Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies | Boston University". www.bu.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-20.