The Unbearable Lightness: a multimedia evening


December 8 at 8PM

The Unbearable Lightness: First Candle



Program Note

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The music of Russian-born Israeli composer Matti Kovler has been praised for its “emotive potency” (New York Times) and “bold colors of orchestration” (Boston Globe). Following the premiere of his opera “Here Comes Messiah!” (commissioned by Carnegie Hall) Kovler founded the Jewish Music Theater, a performance company aiming to explore the potential of this genre beyond its fiddler-on-the-roof stereotype. Recent projects included a premiere by the Israel Philharmonic and a collaboration with Theodor Tezhik (visual design for Cirque Du Soleil, Brian Eno) on a new opera.

Kovler has mastered a range of styles from folk and jazz to those steeped in the classical tradition, and brings these together in music of considerable dramatic scope, by turns comic, mystical, warm, and searing. His music embodies a sense of the theatrical, as is evident in the chamber, vocal and multimedia works presented in this composer’s portrait.

Featuring video-art inspired by the miracle of light by Oliver Simpson (UK / Canada), this performance coincides with the first candle of Hanukkah and marks Matti Kovler’s completion of the doctoral program in Composition at NEC. The free concert is produced in collaboration with the New Center for Arts & Culture and will be held in New England Conservatory’s Pierce Hall. The evening’s title refers to its centerpiece, The Unbearable Lightness, a work for seven double basses commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center in 2012.


Susanna Su, soprano,
Nicholas Rommel, boy soprano
Nathan Raderman, Robyn Cho, clarinet
Perry Tal, Kyra Davies, violin
Andrew Israel, viola
Oded Hadar, Jason Coleman, Daniel Mitnitsky, cello
Yi-Jung Su, bass soloist (The Unbearable Lightness)
Nate Martin, Chao Chen,
Nash Tomey, Ehud Ettun,
Kevin Garcon, Brian McAnally, double bass
Em Feeney, vibraphone
Amanda Romano, harp
Artem Belogurov, piano
Matti Kovler, conductor
NEC Vocal Ensemble: 
Adrienne Arditti, soprano
Nina Guo, soprano
Katie Seiler, soprano
Amanda Levi, alto
Amy Olson, alto
Katie Balch, alto

Live Video Installation: Oliver Simpson

Oliver Simpson is a new media artist from the UK, living in Canada. He is currently studying Computation Arts at Concordia University, Montreal, and previously studied Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Oliver now combines graphic design with the creative possibilities offered by interactive technologies, which he uses to explore the relationship between between sound and image. He recently performed live visuals at Mutek festival 2012 in Montreal, and has created music visualizations for the Quai Branly museum in Paris.