Matti Kovler, DMA

Composition Instructor

Called by Steve Smith of the New York Times “a potentially estimable operatic composer in the making,” Matti Kovler is a Russian-born Israeli-American composer and creator of new music theatre works. Kovler’s music has been described as “intensely moving” and “by turns comic, mystical, warm, and searing” and has been commissioned by the Israel Festival, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Carnegie Hall. His orchestral works have been performed worldwide by the Israel Philharmonic, the Fox Studios Symphony (Los Angeles), the Metropole Orchestra (Amsterdam), the American Composers Orchestra (New York), the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and others.

Matti was a fellow at the TanglewoodAspen and Accademia Chigiana Festivals, a winner of two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards, and of the Theodore Presser Award. In September 2013 Matti was recognized by the Boston Foundation as one of the six winners of the 2013 Brother Thomas Fellowships, “no strings attached” $15,000 bi-annual awards designed to support 6 artists making outstanding contributions to their community through excellence in their craft.

Kovler has mastered a range of styles from folk and jazz to those steeped in the classical tradition, and brings these together in works of considerable dramatic scope. His musical influences include folklore research, improvisation, a deep fascination with Janáček and Bartók poly-modality and the cult writings of the French theatre philosopher Antonin Artaud. Somewhat reactionary to his Soviet upbringing, Kovler’s interest in bringing sacred texts or melodies from the Jewish tradition into a contemporary context was ignited by his teacher, renowned Israeli composer and ethnomusicologist André Hajdu.

In 2013-2014 Matti served as an Artist-in-Residence with the Northeastern University Hillel. In December 2013, in response to vandalism of the Menorah at Northeastern, Matti and students produced a music video starring American Idol’s Brett Loewenstern. Titled Suf-Ga-Ni-Ya (Hebrew for ‘donut’) the video culminates with an aerial shot of hundreds of dancing and chewing students forming a “live” human menorah on the Krentzman Quad, where the original vandalism took place. Featured on blogs and media outlets internationally, Suf-Ga-Ni-Ya was praised by the YouTube sensation BBC Radio’s Pat Condell, included in Top Ten Hanukkah Videos by and highlighted on the official website of the Jewish World Congress among others.

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