Maya Beiser reflects on the world premiere of Provenance at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas

I remember asking myself whether audiences would be willing to sit and concentrate through 90 minutes of nonstop music. Originally I thought it better to separate the pieces by saying a few words about the connection I see in the multi cultural tapestry I wanted to present. But it felt somewhat contrived: I did not want to explain in words how each piece is related to all the others: I wanted the work to "explain itself ".

I never believed that music should be solipsistic: I knew early on in my career that I am taking a risk by insisting on always presenting new music. In most of my performances the audience has not heard any of the works before. While it has its positive angle, in that people come to listen with no preconceived notions, it carries the risk that while the audience is grappling with a new concept, the music and its subtle messages will be lost to the unfamiliarity.

And so an urgent task for me in every presentation is to communicate the subtext of the music, the meaning that it has for me in my own inner world.

Provenance is trying to remind us that at least musically we are not alien to each other. A group of people in New Haven can connect with ancient Jewish Ladino text, written before America was ever discovered by the same people who later expelled the Jews from Spain. Iranian music resonates proudly and eternally in Western ears, making the mullahs' message of hate so fleeting and inconsequential. The sounds of the desert in the lush New England landscape, and on and on. I did not want to explain it, I wanted it to be thrown into the ether and gathered by the minds of those who listen.

Experiencing the audience sitting in what I felt was rapt attention through 90 minutes of nonstop never heard before and mostly "alien"music,was the reassurance I needed that the music can deliver its subtleties.

As I'm getting ready for the New York premiere of Provenance at Carnegie Hall on October 30th, to the recording of a new album, and to take the project on tour both in the US and abroad, I feel confident that the music can carry its message purely and simply. I hope that as the listeners immerse themselves in the experience of Provenance, they will feel a sense of yearning for a harmonious future that is informed by this singular period in human history.

~ Maya Beiser New York City / October 6, 2008

p.s. one more thing I want to reflect upon, is the courageous support I received from Mary Lou, the director of "Arts and Ideas",. Mary Lou is made of that rare breed of presenters who are not afraid to be leaders and are willing to take risks in order to present new works. It's never easy to present and support a world premiere