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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Cellist Matt Haimovitz brings Bach to UA

Steph Mackinnon

Classical music simply has the ability to soothe the soul. It allows us to listen, learn and maybe even understand the world slightly better. Any Tucson resident looking to get their classical music fix should catch one of cellist Matt Haimovitz’s performances next week as he performs J.S. Bach’s six suites for solo cello, with each suite accompanied by an overture written by one of today’s great composers.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Haimovitz will perform three of the six cello suites, each at a different location around Tucson. Then, on Saturday, Jan. 14, he will return to the UA campus and perform the final three suites at Crowder Hall.

“For many years I have been interested in taking classical music outside the normal confines and presenting it in different ways,” Haimovitz said. “This cycle allows me to break up the series and introduce people to this music in an unexpected way where they might not come across it normally, and then sort of build up some momentum for the final part of the cycle.”

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The first performance will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the UA Bookstore. Then, Haimovitz will make his way to Hotel Congress for a 1 p.m. show, then finish up these sneak peek performances at 3 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, building up to the final performance the following evening.

He calls this series “A Moveable Feast,” inspired by the Ernest Hemingway book of the same name.

“Hemingway used this ‘moveable feast’ idea when describing and discovering Paris for the first time. Once you encounter that gorgeous city, it remains with you no matter where you go in the world,” Haimovitz said. “You will always carry Paris and that is sort of how I feel about the Bach cello suites.” 

“I feel like even if you have never encountered them, once you encounter them, hear them, engage with them, you always have this music with you basically,” he said.

Haimovitz worked with a different composer for each overture accompanying the suites, including Philip Glass, Du Yun and Vijay Iyer, and noted how working with each composer differed significantly.

“Working with these different people was a great experience, and having feedback from actual living people was definitely helpful,” he said. “When playing classical music, a lot of time is spent working with dead composers, and obviously I can’t ask them questions so it seems like I have to always play detective, so to have immediate feedback from these composers was incredible.”

He also added that each composer was different, with a different personality, a different working process and a different style of recording. Some were more laid-back than others, but each was very different in their technique, so it greatly benefited Haimovitz to have these exchanges.

“When people see these performances, I want them to be surprised by the range of the instrument and what it can do and to come out with a sense of the incredible wonder that is the Bach cello suites and that this could come out of the mind of a human being and the genius of that,” Haimovitz said.

Haimovitz has played cello for around 35 years, and he also mentors and teaches a small group of young cello players at McGill University in Montreal.

“It’s been wonderful to have this opportunity to see the next generation and the new responsibilities and new challenges they will face,” he said. “There is so much talent out there and I learn so much from them every day.”

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Haimovitz and his students even worked together to create an album which went on to receive a Grammy nomination.

“Matt will change the way people think about classical music,” Susan Holden, marketing manager for UA Presents, said. “When you leave a Matt Haimovitz performance, whether it be in a hall, a bookstore or hotel lobby, you will feel the joy, beauty and magic that his music brings.”

Tickets for Saturday’s Crowder Hall performance start at $15 with discounts available to students, seniors and military members. 

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the Centennial Hall box office. The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday’s sneak peek performances are free and open to the public.

“When it comes to doing what you love, don’t be discouraged. If you have something to say, just follow your path and your dreams,” Haimovitz said. “If you can’t live without it then by all means pursue it.”

Follow Jamie Verwys on Twitter.

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