Matt Haimovitz's New 'Anthem': The Cello as a Reflection of American Culture
On September 11, the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Eastern seaboard, cellist Matt Haimovitz (shown here) launched his 50-state "Anthem" tour with a concert at a small nightclub in Seattle. His new Anthem CD, recorded at New York's venerable punk emporium CBGBs, symbolically features 11 short cello works by nine composers (including two improvisations by the cellist himself), most of whom reflect on the events of 9/11. One is Haimovitz's take on Jimi Hendrix' pyrotechnic rendering of the Star Spangled Banner. The others include two pieces commissioned especially in response to the tragedy of 9/11: the jazz-influenced "Seventh Avenue Kaddish" by 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 icon of American music, Lou Harrison, round out the compositions on the disc. " Anthem is my celebration of America's fine-art culture through the lens of the solo cello," Haimovitz notes. "The bulk of the album focuses on living American composers with whom I have had a close connection."