Seven Composers, Seven Countries

New York Times -- The MATA Festival, now in its 13th year, has always been nondogmatic, even antidogmatic. Its focus is young composers, never a monolithic bunch even when they share nationalities and musical backgrounds, and even harder to pigeonhole once you bring them in from around the globe, as MATA’s directors have always done.

The first full-length concert in this year’s festival, on Tuesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge, was aggressively international: its seven composers represented seven countries. But if you were listening for national styles or accents, you listened in vain. These composers were individualists, and their works tilted toward the experimental.

Two pieces stood out. Christopher Adler, the one American on the program, exercised his fascination with Chinese instruments, particularly the sheng (a mouth organ) and the guanzi (an oboe), in the invitingly sinuous “Serpent of Five Tongues” (2009). Using the sheng to produce a chordal backdrop — undulating at first, then more varied — against which the guanzi plays long-lined melodies. (Full Story)

Christopher Adler is associate professor at the University of San Diego.