Born: June 19, 1980 Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor/leader
Composer Wes Matthews is steadily gaining wider recognition for his work, with music praised for “passion and subtlety, marked by an arresting sincerity” (Lisa Bielawa) and “startling introspection, masterful development, and tremendous beauty…that effectively questions rather than declares and breathes as eloquently as it speaks” (Andrew Nogal, American Composers Forum/Minnesota Public Radio). Performances of his piece Terraces (“promising…moody…delicately threaded” [Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe]) by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, in addition to performances of his Chronicle for solo alto flute at the 2008 Bang on a Can Festival at MASS MoCA and his Saxophone Quartet No. 1 at the Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam, are among recent highlights for the emerging composer.
Wes’ improvisation, noted for its “precise articulation” and “horror-movie music box feel” (Lucid Culture) and light-heartedly characterized as “precision stumbling” by master drummer Bob Moses, has been heard at venues across the East Coast. He has recorded a duo improvisation album with Mr. Moses and composes and performs regularly with groups like the avant-pop/free-improv-cabaret quartet Dollshot, whose upcoming studio recording features Matthews original The Trees (“a twisted pop song” [Lucid Culture-top 100 songs of 2010]).
A founding member of the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, Wes has attended artist residencies at the Wellesley Composers Conference and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where he took part in masterclasses and colloquia with composers Chinary Ung, Scott Wheeler, Mario Davidovsky, and Henry Threadgill. In 2007, Wes was selected to take part in the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute, where he participated in masterclasses with orchestra musicians and composer Aaron Jay Kernis.
Originally from Central Illinois, Wes graduated with honors from the Master’s degree program at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, studying privately with Lee Hyla and Anthony Coleman and attending Joe Maneri’s microtonal composition/improvisation course. During his time at the conservatory he received awards from the Japan Society of Boston, the Boston Microtonal Society, the BMOP/NEC composition contest, and the NEC Contemporary Ensemble Composition Competition. As an undergraduate at NEC, Wes studied composition with composer/trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and improvisation with Bob Moses. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.