Composer and electronic musician Matt McBane returns to National Sawdust to present Topography, the “terrestrial companion” to 2022’s aquatic Bathymetry, written for cellist Ashley Bathgate and percussion sextet Mantra Percussion with an opening set from cellist Ashley Bathgate.

December 6, 2023
7:30 pm
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Composer and electronic musician Matt McBane returns to National Sawdust to present Topography, the “terrestrial companion” to 2022’s aquatic Bathymetry, written for cellist Ashley Bathgate and percussion sextet Mantra Percussion. The 45-minute piece evokes open spaces and natural landscapes through individual movements ranging from textural, ambient slow-movements, to pattern-based, contrapuntal fast-movements. Topography builds on the intersection of acoustic and electronic sounds that McBane introduced on Bathymetry, with the percussion “orchestra” consisting of both standard and found percussion instruments as well as analog synthesizers (played live), piano and drum set, all played by the six percussionists. Ashley Bathgate will perform an opening set featuring the world premiere live performance of Anuj Bhutani’s, On Letting Go and a performance of Kate Moore, Velvet (from Bathgate’s and Moore's album, Stories for Ocean Shells).

This concert is a co-presentation with WNYC’s New Sounds, hosted by John Schaefer, and will be recorded for broadcast on a future episode of the show.

About Ashley Bathgate, cello

American cellist Ashley Bathgate has been described as an “eloquent new music interpreter” (New York Times) and “a glorious cellist” (The Washington Post) who combines “bittersweet lyricism along with ferocious chops” (New York Magazine). Her “impish ferocity”, “rich tone” and “imaginative phrasing” (New York Times) have made her one of the most sought after performers of her time.

Bathgate was a member of the acclaimed sextet Bang on a Can All-Stars for ten years. In 2015 Bathgate gave the world premiere of What Moves You, a collaborative performance project with jookin’ dance sensation Lil Buck at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, NC, as well as the world premiere of a new Cello Concerto written for her by Kate Moore for the Gaudeamus Festival in Utrecht, NL. Subsequently, she released her debut album, Stories For Ocean Shells, featuring a set of works for solo cello composed by Moore, which was released in 2016 on Cantaloupe Music. That year Bathgate also commissioned the ‘composer collective’ Sleeping Giant to write ASH, a six-movement suite for solo cello. Both ASH and her latest album, 8 Track, featuring new multitrack works by Alex Weiser and Emily Cooley, as well as a new rendition of Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint, will be commercially released this coming season. Most recently, she premiered a new evening length work by Michael Gordon, House Music, at the 2018 Cello Biennale in Amsterdam, NL. 

About Mantra Percussion

Committed to honoring the past and expanding the future of percussion music, Mantra Percussion brings to life new works for percussion by living composers, collaborates with artists from diverse genres and styles, and questions what it means to communicate music with percussion instruments. Mantra Percussion engages new audiences by challenging the standard concert format through evening-length events that look toward a grander artistic vision.

Since forming as an ensemble in 2009, Mantra Percussion has been featured throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including BAM's Next Wave Festival, the Bang on a Can Marathon, Duke Performances, the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, National Public Radio, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the Drogheda Festival in Ireland, the Ecstatic Music Festival and the Ecstatic Summer Festival, Mass MoCA, and the Right Now Festival in South Korea.

About Matt McBane

Matt McBane is a composer, producer and violinist whose music draws on classical minimalism and avant pop; analog synthesizers and fiddle music; orchestras and found percussion; complex patterns and emotional nuance. He has been described as “a natural composer, a fresh voice” by the Los Angeles Times.

Matt’s newest album, ‘Bathymetry,’ is a composition for percussion and analog synthesizer with Sandbox Percussion (2022 Grammy nominees) and released November 2022 on Cantaloupe Music. ‘Bathymetry’ was selected as an album of the month on Bandcamp, and album of the year by the band Wilco, and was called “a musical and sensory journey like no other that has been offered in contemporary music recently” by Frédéric Cardin in PAN M 360. His next major project is an album-length composition, ‘Topography’ for cellist Ashley Bathgate and Mantra Percussion to be premiered in 2023.

Matt has written for ensembles including Wild Up, So Percussion, Aizuri Quartet, Bearthoven, Calder Quartet, and NOW Ensemble, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Brooklyn Festival, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Bang on a Can Marathon (NYC), Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), and many others. His music was featured in the 2022 Hulu/BBC show ‘Conversations with Friends.’ His 25-min suite for bluegrass string band, ‘Drawn’ was released on the Jake Schepps Quintet's album ‘Entwined’ which was called an album of the year by Colorado Public Radio.

Matt is the violinist and composer for his instrumental band, Build, which released two albums on New Amsterdam Records and has been described by New York Magazine as a “rocking post-classical quintet which takes inspiration from minimalist chamber music, instrumental rock, modal jazz, and more.” Matt was the Founder and Artistic Director of the Carlsbad Music Festival, widely known for its programming of “adventurous music by the beach” for which he was called, “a first-rate organizer with a broad range of musical interests” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times. He holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

Dec 6

Ashley Bathgate and Mantra Percussion premiere Matt McBane’s ‘Topography’