Matti Kovler (pronounced Mah-tee Kovler) is a Russian-born Israeli-American composer, pianist, conductor, singer, and creator of new musical theatre works.
Kovler’s music has been commissioned by Tanglewood, the Carnegie Hall and the Israel Festival. His works have been performed worldwide by the Israel Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Ariel Quartet and many others.
“A potentially estimable operatic composer in the making” (Steve Smith, The New York Times) Matti is the grandson of the Russian operatic tenor and Yiddish singer Leonid Kovler. In his native Israel, Kovler was a founding member of the Ha’Oman Hai Ensemble under the direction of Andre Hajdu z”l focusing on contemporary interpretations of Hassidic Niggunim.
An advocate for redefining "Jewish musical theater” in the 21st century, over the past decade Matti created a substantial body of work intended to propel this genre beyond wallowing in a nostalgic past. Kovler is the artistic director of Floating Tower, a production company in music and theatre based in Brooklyn, NY. With a modular make-up of 27 multi-national actors/musicians, Floating Tower operates as a creator, producer and educator developing innovative content and new avenues for cross-cultural engagement. While most Floating Tower productions spring from a Jewish impulse they aim to speak to a universal audience. Since its founding in 2011, Floating Tower has created over thirty productions in the United States, Israel, China and Russia. Spanning from traditional to experimental, Floating Tower events have been staged at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to the Underground Collector, a 1000 sq. ft. art-loft in Moscow.
Kovler is also the founder of the JMT network, dedicating to extending Jewish musical theater beyond fiddler-on-the-roof and onward to the 21st century. JMT was launched in 2012 as part of CJP’s Boston PresenTense Fellowship.
An advocate for establishing bridges connecting Israeli artists studying in the US to their local Jewish communities, Matti believes in musical theater’s potential to serve as a “social glue” bringing together people of all ages, Jews as well as non Jews. Kovler was a recipient of the 2014 Chai in the Hub Combined Jewish Philanthropies Young Leadership Award for his work with the young Jewish and Israeli communities in Boston. Over the course of several residencies with various Jewish organizations in Boston (The New Center for Arts and Culture, Northeastern Hillel, BU’s Elie Wiesel Center) Matti has developed unique programming focused on engaging young Jewish people in contemporary Jewish culture outside the political discourse.
Among the most engaging projects were the Suf-Ga-Ni-Ya (Hebrew for ‘donut’), a viral music video in response to antisemitic vandalism at Northeastern university, and the musical installation Seekers of Light (with Iranian and Israeli musicians in the cast) presented as part of the MFA Hanukkah public-art event, drawing an unprecedented number of 2200 people to the MFA.
Among other accolades, Matti was a fellow at the Tanglewood, Aspen and Academia Chigiana Festivals, a winner of two consecutive national ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards, and of the Theodor Presser Award in Composition. In 2013 Matti was recognized by the Boston Foundation as one of the six winners of the Brother Thomas Fellowships, “no strings attached” $15,000 bi-annual awards designed to support artists making outstanding contributions to the Boston community through excellence in their craft.
Kovler is now based in NYC where he was accepted to be a member of the legendary BMI Lehman Engel Musical Workshop, the foremost training ground for new musical theatre, where the writers of A Chorus Line, Little Shop of Horrors, Avenue Q, and The Book of Mormon, among many others, learned their craft.