Skip to content

Recital Preparation

Brought to you by “I Fucking Love Science”.

Debut of Sound Narcissist


December 29th, 2013, 7:00pm
The Waypost – 3120 N. Williams, Portland
FREE, all ages


January 11th, 2014, 2:00pm
Private Residence – New York, NY
FREE, all ages

Mattie Kaiser, viola
Aaron Butler, piano

Classical Revolution PDX’s former ‘fearless leader,’ violist Mattie Kaiser, returns to Portland for her debut recital with pianist Aaron Butler. Kaiser and Butler formed the duo “Sound Narcissist” after Kaiser moved to New York City in March of 2013. They are eager to perform a program of works by old heroes, teachers, and friends.

Program to include:

Sonata No.1 for Viola da Gamba in G major, BWV 1027 (1720)

Variations of Light (1987)

La Bruxelloise from “Quatre Visages” for Viola and Piano, Op. 238 (1943)

Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911)

Viola Sonata, “The Dreams We Dream for the City of Roses” (2010)
(written for Mattie Kaiser, west coast premier)

The Revolution Beckons

Classical Revolution PDX – Photo by Ashley Mitchell

Brett Campbell has contributed a fantastic article on Classical Revolution for the San Francisco Classical Voice.

I’m so honored that he let me have the last word:

Kaiser thinks the movement’s greatest impact lies ahead. “Five years ago, I didn’t think it was going to have this kind of effect nationally, globally, at all levels of classical music performance. I’m optimistic. People who are within the mainstream classical music industry now have an understanding that the stodginess of classical music presentation for the last 100 years or so has to change.” Thanks in part to Classical Revolution, “everybody is aware of this now, and I’m pretty excited to see where it’s going to go.”

Click here to read the complete article.




Mister Helmet

“The most dangerous guests…? Semioticians, those people who drive the cars with the signs that say ‘wide load’ on the highway ahead of the truck that’s actually carrying the wide load, and classical musicians.”


See why Leo Daedalus is afraid of violists. (namely, me)






Classical Revolution – The Conference

My favorite question/answer phrase:
“How did you meet?”
“Classical Revolution.”

The amazing amount of friends, chamber ensembles, significant relationships, and backpacking companions that have come out of Classical Revolution is immeasurable. It just goes to show, the momentum behind this is no accident, Classical Revolution truly is a movement of like-minded amazing individuals coming together to change the system.

CR directors chamber jam at the Waypost. Photo by Gary Stallsworth.

Finding time to write has been an excruciating challenge ever since moving to NYC, and for a conference recap I am going to cop out and rely on my colleagues for their statements.

The following comes from the State of the Revolution article published by Brett Campbell on Oregon ArtsWatch on July 6, 2013.

About nine other directors from other Classical Revolution chapters met to exchange ideas and plan the revolution’s next phase. They shared success stories and concert models, fundraising strategies and outreach endeavors and more. CRPDX board member Michael Hsu, a composer and violinist, and executive director Christopher Corbell, a composer and multi-instrumentalist (as well as occasional electric-guitar thrashing Mozart impersonator) told ArtsWatch what they saw at the revolution.

American Idol Model?

Hsu said the conference gave him a national perspective on Portland’s revolution, which is distinguished from the others by, among other things, its theme events (like Decomposing Composers on Halloween and Bach-sing Day after Christmas) and Classical Jam sessions rather than prepared performances.

Leo Dadealus uses trusty Mister Helmet for his interview with percussionist, and the newest CR Director, Brian Calhoon of Boston. Photo by Gary Stallsworth.

Portland has recently added contemporary music to its menu, which could turn into a transformative development in contemporary music, yoking the organization’s democratizing of classical music to the creative element of new music, which not only gives composers an affordable way of getting their music performed much more frequently than before, but also connects CR’s younger, broader audiences to contemporary music, a nexus that could benefit both listeners (who gain access to the refreshing relevance of contemporary composition) and composers (who can reach a broad audience of general music lovers, not just the relatively narrow niche of classical music geeks, new music enthusiasts, and academics who generally populate new music concerts). It also prevents Classical Revolution from suffering the same museum mentality that’s slowly draining classical music of listeners and contemporary relevance. CRPDX also sponsors a composition competition in which composers write new works for string quartet.

But Portland’s isn’t the only chapter to embrace new music. “Phoenix has an interesting take on the competition contest,” Hsu explains. “They model after American Idol. They call it Comp Comp.” Rather than making every composer write a string quartet, as CRPDX does now, composers draw five names of willing instrumentalists out of a hat, and can throw out one of the names – producing a random instrumental combo for they have four weeks to write music. At the contest itself, each finalist’s work is played twice before a panel of judges sitting at the front of the stage, while the Classical Revolution president acts as MC/translator between performers, judges, and audience. The panel can criticize or offer advice to the performers, and at the end, the audience and judges vote, and the winners get to have their pieces performed by Classical Revolution that season.

The chapters in Phoenix and Chicago have also innovated in audience outreach efforts that Portland can learn from, including instrumental petting zoos, incorporating food trucks at outdoor events, and so on. And Chicago’s chapter brought musicians from Tunisia and performed with them in an east meets west concert.

CR Directors Allie Deaver-Petchenik of Chicago, Joseph Kluesener of Phoenix, and Laura Sabo of Cincinnati perform at the showcase concert. Photo by Gary Stallsworth.

The various chapters – nearing 40, including branches in Europe – are also organized in different ways, Hsu said. Portland and Chicago Classical Revolution are nonprofit organizations that hold periodic fundraisers and do public outreach as part of the nonprofit mission. Phoenix’s group, on the other hand, is a for-profit entity supported by a Tempe museum. “They’re in a sense freer by not having to worry about the bottom line, but at the same time, they’re tied to the history museum’s mission,” Hsu explained.

Which model is better? As with any adaptive response, it depends on local circumstances. “We agreed each chapter has its own model that’s going to work differently because of the different local culture and arts organizations in each particular city,” Hsu said. “That’s why we’re moving toward an open forum model, rather than dictating that ‘Classical Revolution should look like this everywhere.’”

Ellen Cockerham, Classical Revolution Richmond


Open Source

Hsu was referring to another hot topic on the conference agenda. Although groups at Classical Revolution’s stage of development often move toward uniformity, hierarchy, maybe even establishing a governing body, the directors seem to be embracing Corbell’s proposal to create an open source platform, hosted at, that will allow the various chapters to share arrangements, fundraising and promotional strategies, concert ideas and more on an ongoing basis, not just at these annual meetings.

“The second Classical Revolution conference delivered the biggest thing on my wish-list,” Corbell says. “I’m really happy that we were able to move away from insular, private communication and organizing toward a very transparent, open-source ‘bazaar’ model. We are in the early days of a soft launch of a website where the conference attendees will be trying out online boards, catching any configuration bugs and starting a few early discussions. Once the beta period is over, the site will be opened up to anyone who wants to collaborate and contribute to the movement–any individual or ensemble or organization.”

Corbell’s effort reflects how Classical Revolution suits the 21st century much better than many of its classical music predecessors. In a paper presented at an April conference at Lewis & Clark College convened by musicology professor (and one-time Portland rock musician) Marianna Richey, Stanford University’s Nate Sloan noted that “Classical Revolution is redrawing a centuries-old map of the musical city. Rather than classical music emanating from one sole beacon, the concert hall, a decentralized, rhizomic network of “serious sound” emerges throughout the city.” Sloan pointed out how old-line institutions like the symphony and opera tend to resemble mid-century Detrois’ top-down Industrial Age model, while Classical Revolution, born in San Francisco, reflects a more decentralized, Silicon Valley perspective.

This “let a thousand flowers bloom’ philosophy,” however, doesn’t mean that there’s no room for cooperation among chapters. The directors discussed the notion of Classical Revolutionaries touring to various other chapters’ cities, and possibly taking the Composers Competition national – with winners from different cities competing against each other and the winning entry getting played at the national conference.

Hsu came away with an encouraging impression of the state of the revolution. ”It’s very alive and growing very fast,” Hsu says. “A lot of these chapters just started in the last year or two and they’re already building a huge following and showing a huge commitment to it. It was so inspiring to see so many people who are just scraping by as musicians still dedicating their lives to bringing classical music to the community.”

Post-conference, pre-chamber jam nap time. Photo by Mattie Kaiser.


I’m about to turn 30.

My first instinct was to write everyone I know that lives on the east coast and invite them to a party that celebrates all things Mattie…. and then I realized that I had that party a few months ago.

When I left Portland my dearest friends threw me an amazing going away party. There was chamber music, speeches, baby ketten karaoke, and lots of general waypost-cocktail-induced merriment.

For the last week I’ve been reflecting on milestones and how we celebrate them. We throw huge birthday and new year’s eve parties, but how often do our lives actually change in those moments?

The milestones happen in-between birthdays.

I knew I had to do something huge before I turned 30. I knew I had to move to NYC. And now that I’m here, turning 30 just feels like another Sunday with homemade enchiladas.

But leaving Portland, leaving my best friends and family, changing careers, and going off into the unknown with everyone’s blessings… that is a celebration far more meaningful than a birthday bash!

Some of my favorite moments included…

PAYBACK. My mother demanded that I perform Bach at my own party, so I got her back by demanding that she sing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” for her karaoke debut.


TOASTS. The “fearless leader” elect – Christopher Corbell – put the whole bash together and started off the speeches.


SINGING & DANCING. The Dalcroze dorks got down to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”.

(click here the entire photo set, taken by the very talented Gary Stallsworth)


HEART-SHATTERINGLY-CREATIVE GIFTS. Like this amazing painting by my violin student, Alysse Kerr.


And the song “Our Hearts Belong to Mattie”  that Toby Loftus created and performed with Gulchin Tarabus. (while the assemblage sang along)


Oh Portland, if you think the homesickness hasn’t kicked in yet, you are beyond mistaken. I love and miss you. Thanks for throwing me such a great party!!! I’m loving my new life in New York and have settled in with all of the confidence that YOU gave me.

And you, New York City, I’m turning 30 on Sunday and you are most welcome to come over for homemade enchiladas.



This week I started my new job as Program & Travel associate at Opus 3 Artists. There has been a lot to learn and to adapt to in a very short period of time, including the following concepts:

Rush hour
Clocking in
Business Casual
Department Meetings
Windows Software
Casual Fridays
Weekends (SO EXCITING!)

Which you all know, is not exactly how I roll — but amazingly, I love it. Because my job is to assist the following world-class artists with their program and travel logistics:

Adele Anthony
Brooklyn Rider
Renaud Capucon
Hung-Kuan Chen
Barry Douglas
James Ehnes
Vilde Frang
Miriam Fried
Kahan Kalhor
Gidon Kremer
Kuok-Wai Lio
Gabriela Montero
Peng-Peng Gong
Gil Shaham
Kyoko Takezawa
Daniil Trifonov
Krystian Zimerman
Itamar Zorman
Vienna Boys Choir

Say, for instance, you’re going to check out James Ehnes with the Oregon Symphony next weekend, you can know that I coordinated a concise itinerary for James to help make that happen. There’s so much going on behind the scenes to make sure an amazing artist can just do his/her thing — now get out there and support them!


Success I am wooing

I had a blast mentoring students as part of being the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Project Jumpstart at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music last week.

One student, Malcom Cooper, has a talent for crafting poems on the spot based on random words. He wanted to create one for me so I gave him the following guidelines,

Words: Critic, Pigeons, Guidance, Afro

Topic: Transitions

Mood: Ecstatic

Within five minutes he recited my poem….

Moving and hustling
In a city so bustling
Taking guidance from signposts
Gliding on to feel fed

Contentment is cooing but
Success I am wooing and
Dangerous complacency
Going out of my head

With pigeons around me
No critics to confound me
I look up and above
Finding clear skies ahead

Like an Afro on Marley
I feel hearty like barley
Sitting here as I pause, peer
And worries I shed


And all I could do was clap with glee. Oh, hello there NYC!!


Arab Spring in Chicago

“Every person is a potential audience member, every space is a potential venue. With that mentality there are not enough musicians to go around.” 

Allie Deaver-Petchenik, Classical Revolution Chicago

Allie and I spent most of last week together at IU and gearing up for the Arab Spring concert at Classical Revolution Chicago. Allie is an amazing musician, organizer, and caretaker.  (as I learned while I was trying to die from the stomach flu) Allie organized a concert  featuring the music of young composers and musicians from Egypt and Tunisia who witnessed the revolutionary events known as “The Arab Spring” first hand. I had a blast getting to know “The Egyptians” as we fondly referred to them, Ahmed Hossam El-Din Derbala and Nour Ashour, who were visiting America for the first time.

Here’s a video of all of us performing the traditional “Lounga Nahawand” during the Arab Spring concert. I managed to forget that I had stomach flu long enough to stumble up to the stage for a solo, enjoy!


There’s nothing that brings strangers together like music, art, and is that a popcorn egg shaker?? Anthony Bruno, Ahmed Hossam El-Din Derbala and Nour Ashour prove that their game for the painting project.

"Untitled" by Mattie Kaiser

“Untitled” by Mattie Kaiser



















Exit Interviews

Classical Rev’s Mattie Kaiser: An Exit Interview

By:  - Oregon ArtsWatch

March 21, 2013

Last Friday, Classical Revolution stomping-grounds The Waypost hosted “Mattie Takes Manhattan,” an exuberant sendoff for violist and “fearless leader” Mattie Kaiser. During the evening’s karaoke, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” became “Our Hearts Belong to Mattie”. Sporting a too-sexy-for-symphony off-shoulder black dress and swearing like a sailor through her many farewell speeches, the irreverently passionate woman of the hour said goodbye—for now… 

Click to continue reading…

Conversation with Mattie Kaiser

By Jana Hanchett –

February 27, 2013

I talked with Mattie on February 7th at the intimate Kir Wine BarBecause of Mattie’s own life-changing experiences with classical music, she is dedicated to bringing classical music into everybody’s daily life. Deemed “our fearless leader” by Portland’s chapter of Classical Revolution, Mattie not only founded CRPDX, but she developed it into the first chapter to attain 501(c)(3) status. Check out CRPDX’s upcoming First Sunday @ The Waypost event on March 3rd and their Composer Project Competition on March 10th.

Click to continue reading…