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Interview with Hub New Music

Written By Editor on 8/10/17 | 8/10/17

By Matthew Avitabile

This week we interview Michael Avitabile, a previously unknown relative of me (not my brother by the same name)! I didn’t realize it until we covered the Roxbury concert his group Hub New Music plays today Thursday, August 10th. He was kind enough to give us his time for this interview.

What are some of your biggest musical influences?

Discalimer: I listen to a lot of music and this list is definitely always growing and changing from day to day. In general, I think it's important for a musician to have a broad range of musical taste that spans outside his/her own genre. I can't exactly pinpoint how each artist has specifically influenced me or my group per say, but listening to music I like is an inspiring journey in itself. That said, I think it's important to go hear as many live concerts as possible - nothing can replace that visceral energy and feeling of community that comes from an exhilarating concert. Here are a few of my favorites.

eighth blackbird
Florence and the Machine
Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic (I grew up on those recordings and they made me want to be a musician)
The Punch Brothers
The Goat Rodeo Sessions [album]
The Cranberries
Belcea String Quartet
A Far Cry
My Brightest Diamond
Bela Fleck
Lady Gaga
Favorite composers: Bach, Ravel, Stravinsky, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Julia Wolfe, Steve Reich, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Philip Glass, Luciano Berio, Chris Cerrone, Robert Honstein, MIssy Mazzoli, Julia Wolfe, and any composer Hub is playing at the time.

Avitabile (second from left) and the group

How does it feel to play in the Catskills?

I've never actually spent anytime in the Catskills, so I'm very excited to be coming out for a concert. We're all in Boston, so it's always fun to get out of the city and go somewhere pretty - especially during the summer. With any city that Hub travels to, I'm always excited about the constant exchange of new things and ideas. For much of the music we play, the audiences haven't heard the pieces or may not even know the composers. It's always a treat to hear how audiences react to something they've never experienced before. On our end, a new city always means experiencing a new culture. Whether its a restaurant we go to, historic site we visit, or concert venue we play, it's always fun to be introduced to a new community even if it's only for a day or two.

Do you feel you play one genre or role or have a mix thereof?

Hub is definitely a classical music ensemble and we're all trained in that art. However, what's interesting about playing newer repertoire (all of the pieces we tour are written after 2000), is the diversity of influence in new music. We have composers who merge classical counterpoint with groove driven rhythms in pop music, or composers who use electronics, or test the limits of each individual instrument etc, and it's amazing how much that has opened my mind beyond what I was taught in school.

What is your favorite part of being involved with music?

So I have a bit of a round-about answer for this one. Outside of music, I'm a big food nerd and I absolutely adore that Netflix documentary series Chef's Table. One chef who I particularly admire is Dominque Crenn whose menus are these lyric poems that use food to tell a story. That whole concept was fascinating to me, and she always reiterated that coming into her restaurant was like coming into her home. There was something so powerful, warm, and deeply human about that, which immediately drew a comparison to music. As artists, regardless of the medium, I think its our job to connect with people and to make them feel something that transcends everyday life. In a way, a concert space is like a restaurant and the program is like a menu. The venue is essentially my home where I have opportunity to tell a story, to connect, and to take someone on a journey. That feeling of community building and of making people's lives better for a few hours is what makes me happiest about being a musician.

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