“In Mr. Haber’s deconstruction the melody is heard throughout the piece but is wrapped in a cloak of contemporary bursts of harmony and dissonance from the recorders and strings.”
“In what is probably the most affecting and powerful piece, On Leaving Brooklyn, Yotam Haber uses four voices deployed chorally, accompanied by violin. Its minimalist-inflected harmonic stasis, a poignant balance of the acerbic and sweet, and its fragile, intricate textures beautifully convey the yearning of Julia Kasdorf’s reimagining of Psalm 137′s lament for Jerusalem.”
“The gorgeous final piece of the evening, “Estro poetico-armonico,” was written by MATA’s Artistic Director Yotam Haber for JACK and QNG to play together. Like the evening’s opening video, Haber’s piece cleverly transforms a musical work from a previous century—in this case, Baroque-era composer Benedetto Marcello’s setting of a psalm, itself based on transcriptions of Venetian synagogue music. In “Estro,” the lovely, spacious counterpoint of the psalm setting is passed among the various performers of the ensemble while the other instruments betray its calm beauty with muddling gestures: skittering or fluttering on pitch, bending out of tune, or sounding seemingly random notes out of turn. In his program note, Haber asks listeners to visualize a still-wet oil painting left out in the rain so that its colors run, an apropos image.”
“During a 2008 residency at the American Academy in Rome, Mr. Haber uncovered a cache of tapes featuring Roman Jewish cantors recorded from the 1940s to the ’60s. For "New Ghetto Music" he drew on the penetrating emotional delivery he heard on the tapes, combining it with modern orchestral techniques and a bracing rawness inspired by tenores vocal traditions from Sardinia.”
Composer Yotam Haber’s A More Convenient Season
A multi-spectral work for the Alabama Symphony and the 16th Street Baptist Church Youth Chorus. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the church bombing on September 15, 1963.
Fifty years after an explosion tore through the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and killed four young girls, a new composition for orchestra and chorus will evoke the tragedy with a message of hope and forgiveness.
Titled "A More Convenient Season," the 75-minute work by composer Yotam Haber will bring together the Alabama Symphony, UAB Gospel Choir and Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Children’s Choir at the Alys Stephens Center. It will incorporate archival sound recordings from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Oral History Project, texts from FBI and trial transcripts, sermons, and speeches from around the world on the subject of peace.
The work is co-commissioned by UAB, the Stephens Center and arts philanthropist Tom Blount, and will receive its first performance on Sept. 21, 2013, six days after the 50th anniversary of the bombing. An additional performance by the CalArts Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in Los Angeles is being planned for 2014.
Yotam Haber was born in Holland and grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee. He received the 2007-2008 Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize and a 2005 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Recent commissions include two works for Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor; new works for New York-based Contemporaneous, Gabriel Kahane, and Alarm Will Sound; the 2012 Venice Biennale; 2012 Bang on a Can Summer Festival; the Neuvocalsolisten Stuttgart and ensemble l’arsenale; FLUX Quartet, JACK Quartet, Cantori New York, and the Berlin-based Quartet New Generation. He is currently collaborating with MacArthur Prize Fellow Anna Schuleit on a large-scale project of 104 piano pieces inspired by 104 paintings, drawn from stories by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. Haber is the artistic director of MATA, the non-profit organization founded by Philip Glass, that has, since 1996, been dedicated to commissioning and presenting new works by young composers from around the world. His music is published by RAI Trade.
While in Residence at the American Acadmey in Rome, he unearthed for his work New Ghetto Music, funded by a 2010 commissioning music/USA grant from Meet the Composer to write a new chamber orchestra piece, for the NYC-based Knights Ensemble with Christina Courtin as vocal soloist-singer. Premiered at Baryshnikov Arts Center, January 2011.
He has been a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center (studying with George Benjamin and Osvaldo Golijov), the Aspen Music Festival (studies with Chris Rouse and Nicholas Maw), and been in residence at the Aaron Copland House, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Yaddo, and the Macdowell Colony; and has won fellowships to the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation, Bogliasco and IRCAM. He completed a doctorate in composition at Cornell University in 2004, under Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky.