Or Matias, music director of Preludes, reflects on his relationship to Rachmaninoff. Part 2 of 2.
When Or is not practicing or rehearsing with the cast he is somewhere in a nook of our rehearsal space reading Rachmaninoff’s biography and curiously highlighting passages that speak to him. I asked him how his research has deepened his relationship to the composer as well as to his music?
“Most recently, reading his biography has added an additional layer of kinship with Rachmaninoff the man. His whimsical artistic life, constantly shifting gears between composition and performance, paints a very similar picture to the artistic life I have been living for the past decade. Negotiating the various sides of the artist: the composer, the conductor, the pianist.”
I further asked him if he identifies personally with Rachmaninoff’s struggles as an artist and a musician.
“Yes, yes, yes. I hope it's not too bold to say that I see so much of me in his personality (or is it the other way around?). The struggle, the hard work, the criticism, the ecstasy, the depression, it's all there and familiar. There's a phrase in his second concerto that I think sums up my entire emotional connection with music. Rachmaninoff is the only composer who can make me cry.”
Finally, Or’s relationship to Rachmaninoff the composer extends to his counterpart on stage, Rach (played by Gabriel Ebert). Rachel Chavkin has worked intricately with both Or and Gabe to build a delicately layered relationship between these two characters. I asked Or about his experience in building one half of a unified character with another actor.
“Oh gosh. I don't think I've ever worked with an artist like Gabe (and on a side-note, I hope to work with someone like him on every production I do for the rest of my life). There is so much symbiosis between our characters. One expresses verbally, the other musically. Both emotionally. I think learning the push-pull of reliance is an ongoing process, and I can't wait to see where we land with it over the next few months.”
Everyone equally anticipates what this material will unearth for us tomorrow. But for now, “there is a path” of walnut raisin rolls, and chocolate and laughter, and broken pencils and Or playing at the piano as the room clears for the night.
Rachel M. Stevens is the Assistant Director of Preludes.