The second night of this year's MATA Festival - devoted, as in past years, to composers under the age of 40 - focused on the music of young composer/performers, with a heavy emphasis on sound play. Much of it was rooted in strange aural effects: from Cecelia Lopez's Mechanical Music for Sheet Metal, to Lesley Flanigan's feedback-based Amplifications. Kate Soper's Only the words themselves mean what they say pitted Soper in a verbal tug-of-war with flutist Erin Lesser, who spoke much of the text (written by Lydia Davis) through her instrument. Eli Keszler's noise-like Cold Pin combined a live ensemble (with Keszler himself on drums) with a massive mechanized sculpture made of piano wire and hammers.
The outlier on the program was a preview of excerpts from Matt Marks' upcoming The Little Death, Vol. 2, which he performed himself alongside his artistic (and life) partner, Melissa Hughes. Matt, who's often seen around town playing French Horn with everyone from Alarm Will Sound to the Wordless Music Orchestra, has a big show-biz heart, and he and Hughes have an obvious chemistry together onstage. A love story concerning an awkward fundamentalist Christian and the girl who sweeps him off his feet was charming and disturbing, deflating and thrilling, all at once.
Housed at Roulette for the first time, the proscenium stage lent a sense of formality to the proceedings, but with a 600+ capacity, the room was way too large for this sort of program, with more than 1/2 the seats left empty (including entire rows up front marked "Reserved.") Too bad noone put out the APB that MATA co-founder Philip Glass was going to be there.
More pics on the photo page.