On September 9, 2003, Oxingale Records launches ANTHEM, cellist Matt Haimovitz's highly charged collection of solo works by living American composers featuring his live rendition of "Anthem," inspired by Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" recorded live at CBGB.
The short solo cello works on Anthem include two pieces commissioned especially for Anthem as a reaction to the tragedy of 9/11: the jazz-influenced "Seventh Avenue Kaddish" by current Rome Prize winner David Sanford, and "9:11 Blues" by Toby Twining, a 2003 PEW fellow. Recent commissions by Luna Pearl Woolf and Robert Stern, as well as first recordings of pieces by Osvaldo Golijov, Tod Machover and Augusta Read Thomas and works by Steve Mackey and the recently deceased Lou Harrison round out the compositions. Haimovitz winds up the album with his own improvisation on an ancient Vespers melody. Most of the music on Anthem was composed over the last several years, and together with photo images documenting Haimovitz's historic CBGB performance, the total album reveals an intensely compelling direction in classical music.
Matt Haimovitz on ANTHEM:
"ANTHEM is my celebration of American music through the lens of the solo cello. For this album I commissioned David Sanford and Toby Twining, composers steeped in the American vernaculars of jazz and blues, for pieces responding to 9/11. ANTHEM 's nine composers, absorbing styles and influences from around the globe, weave a rich tapestry that exemplifies America 's vibrant classical voice today. Penetrating expressions of urgency and revelation, these new works explode, whisper and cry with prophesy and prayer. The cello transforms itself into electric guitar, saxophone, bandoneon, shofar, sitar, percussion and even a carillon of bells Pyet never loses sight of its anthropomorphic origin in the human voice and song."
Matt begins his 50-State "Anthem" Tour on 9/11/03 in Seattle, WA. Hitting the campaign trail, he brings the vibrant voice of living American music to all corners of the USA.
"In troubling times I want to highlight these treasures within American musical culture and bring them to audiences throughout the country. I think people will be moved and inspired by the ingenuity, diversity and urgency of today's classical music."
REVIEWS FOR ANTHEM
"The Four Elements...AIR: Defying tradition and lifting up among the cloud drifts and swooping seagulls, Matt Haimovitz' cello transforms bars across the country. The opening 'Star Spangled Banner' track on his latest CD is the first patriotic song I've heard in a while that doesn't make my teeth clench. Done Jimi Hendrix-style, from wistful and teary to angry and bomb-ridden, it's unbelievably expressive. The 32-year-old Israel-born performer draws sometimes mournful but always ethereal portraits with his instrument, just him, solo, in intimate drinking clubs where such classical strains, particularly Bach, can lift listeners off their barstools and transport them from the earth-bound concerns that got them drinking in the first place."
- Brita Brundage, The Hartford Courant
"These were performances I'd be willing to attend in a coal mine, ... Woolf's Impromptu emerging as a Bach-inspired parade of 21st-century technical fireworks and Golijov's Omaramor (premiered in Philadelphia in 1991) unfolding as a tango-tinged portrait of Argentine street life."
- David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Haimovitz opened the concert with three solo pieces by contemporary American composers. The works were ideal vehicles for his technical mastery, impeccable intonation and moving expressions of emotion."
- Eric Haines, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"There followed a group [of works] that included an engaging 'Impromptu' by the artist's other half, composer and producer Luna Pearl Woolf, David Sanford's 'Seventh Avenue Kaddish' (a reaction to 9/11), and a tango ('Omaramor') by Osvaldo Golijov. These were realized with the same levels of commitment and emotional engagement Haimovitz brought to the Bach, which means that they were, in his hands, living, breathing things of exceptional appeal."
- John W. Lambert, Classical Voice North Carolina
"For an amazing experience...Haimovitz's transcription of Jimi Hendrix' famous Woodstock riff on the National Anthem is so like the original that you can't tell the difference. And on a cello, no less. It's scary."
- Judith Green, Bethlehem Morning Call
"But the real joy was Haimovitz's over-the-top recreation of Jimi Hendrix's famous rendition of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at Woodstock."
- John Lehr, Toronto Star
"He then totally blew away the audience by playing his arrangement of Jimi Hendrix's version of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' as given at Woodstock."
- Jeff Rossman, Classical Voice North Carolina
"'Bach would have gotten a kick out of electric guitars,' said Haimovitz from the stage at one point. As if to prove it, he concluded the show with a transcription of Jimi Hendrix's famed rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' including wildly wonderful, expressive electric-guitar-like sounds."
- Mark Gresham, Creative Loafing Atlanta
"If we had more crossover performances like this, the music world wouldn't be in so much trouble."
- B.A. Nilsson, Metroland