About

Michael Matthews, composerInspired by the worlds of nature and literature, Michael Matthews creates music that compels the listener to step beyond the everyday to dwell for a while in images of paradox, to consider the ever-changing tapestry of life. Matthews has a deep love for the contemporary symphonic tradition and has established himself as a master of large-scale musical structures, motivic relationships and organic wholeness, all of which lie at the core of symphonic thought. The symphony is, for Matthews, both a vital form and a special challenge that allows for musical ideas to be carried between movements. Compositional influences include Beethoven, Mahler, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Schnittke and, more recently, Scandinavian composers Pettersson and Aho. Michael Matthews – Composer

Versatile in form and style, Matthews’ compositions include: Prelude to Macbeth – a work that captures the sense of strangeness, emotional intensity and violence that pervade the famous Shakespeare play; The Language of Water – a commission for the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra that treats each musician as a solo performer resulting in imaginative diversity of contrapuntal and textural possibilities for players and listeners alike;Particles of One – Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra – a two-movement piece that opens lyrically and moves into quick, sometimes motoric rhythm; and Concerto for Piano and Orchestra consisting of five movements, the second and fourth of which are cadenzas (the first for orchestra, the second for the soloist) – this dual-cadenza structure makes a statement about the equality of the partnership between the orchestra and the piano, while providing a sense of balance around the central slow movement.

Michael Matthews’ music has been performed in countries around the world. The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra premiered the newly commissioned work The Language of Water in September 2006. In July his work The Skin of Night was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia. October 2005 saw the performance ofAway, Tear Away at the prestigious Cervantino Festival in Mexico. In May of 2005 he oversaw the world premiere of his chamber opera Prince Kaspar, and also conducted the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of his Cello Concerto. In 2002 the world premiere recording of his Symphony No. 1 was released on TNC Records; Virko Baley conducted the Kiev Camerata Orchestra.

Matthews has been the recipient of numerous commissions and awards; in 2000 he held a Rockefeller Foundation residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy. In the summer of 1999 he was a participant in the Composition and Computer Music Seminar of the Bartók Festival in Szombathely, Hungary. His orchestral workTwo Interludes was awarded third prize in the 1997 du Maurier Arts Ltd. New Music Festival Canadian Composers Competition. In 1994 he became the first Canadian to receive a prestigious commission from the International Computer Music Association. He has also received Canada Council and Manitoba Arts Council grants, the Winnipeg Rh Institute award for interdisciplinary research, a residency at the EMS computer music studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and a prize in the Premio Musicale Cittá di Trieste, Italy for his orchestral piece The Wind Was There. He has worked at the Banff Centre, at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University and, most recently, at the Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras, in Morelia, Mexico, where he worked on a piece for piano and tape commissioned for pianist Duane Cochran. Michael Matthews – Composer

Recent performances have included:

  • Sky Rings (New York City Electronic Music Festival)
  • Sólo queda el desierto (Montréal – Montréal Chamber Orchestra)
  • String Quartet No. 4 (Mexico City – Arcano Quartet)
  • Six Poems of Novica Tadić (Mexico City – Foro Internacional de Música Neuva)
  • The Language of Water (Winnipeg – The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (Winnipeg – the Molinari Quartet)
  • Away, Tear Away­ (Mexico City – Foro Internacional de Música Neuva)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (Belgrade – 14th International Review of Composers)
  • Piano Quartet (Winnipeg – GroundSwell)
  • Away, tear away (Mexico City – Mexico City Woodwind Quintet)

Recent world premiers:

  • Sólo queda el desierto (Montréal – Montréal Chamber Orchestra)
  • Out in the Dark/Silva Myrtea (Winnipeg – Phoenix Collective)
  • Into Its Own Shadow (Morelia – Ensamble 3)
  • Altas Piedras (Morelia – Wendy Holdaway, Bassoon)
  • and the sky caught (Winnipeg – Trio ’86)
  • Flute Concerto (Mexico City – National Symphony Orchestra)
  • The bench of shadow (Winnipeg – The Quasar Quartet)
  • Night Music (Winnipeg – John Racaru and Carol Pollard)
  • Las Blancas Sombras (Winnipeg – Charlene Pauls and Ian Hodges, GroundSwell)
  • The Language of Water (Winnipeg – Manitoba Chamber Orchestra)
  • The Skin of Night (Ljubljana – World Saxophone Congress)
  • Violin/Viola Duos (Winnipeg – Oleg and Mikhail Pokhanovski)
  • Preludes (Winnipeg – Peter Vinograde)

Matthews is a conductor, a founding member of the chamber ensemble Thira and a founder and artistic director of the GroundSwell new music series. From 2002-2004 he was Composer-in-Residence with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Works available on CD are: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3, Miniatures (recorded by the Clearwater Quartet); Preludes and Bagatelles (recorded by Daan Vandewalle);  Symphony No. 1 and Out of the Earth (recorded by Virko Baley and the Kiev Camerata for TNC Records); In Emptiness, Over Emptiness (recorded by Therese Costes for the CDCM series on Centaur Records); Scattered Mirrors (recorded by Shirley Sawatzky on Adventures of Piano Woman); Of Time and Sky (recorded by Peter Vinograde on Two Canadian Masterworks for Piano); Fantasy (recorded by Victor Schultz on Jeté); Songs of the Masked Dancers (recorded by Thira on Passage Through Time); The First Sea (recorded by Lori Freedman for the CDCM series on Centaur Records); and Between the Wings of the Earth (recorded by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra for BIS Records). He has lived and traveled extensively in Asia, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean. Matthews holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Larry Austin. He has recently retired from a long career as Professor of composition at the University of Manitoba, and currently divides his time between Berlin and Montréal.