Matthew Brown is a composer and violist, born in 1985 in Canterbury, England. He learned to play the violin at the age of six, and began composing aged nine. A passionate cook, Matthew trained as a chef in Thanet College, specialising in Patisserie and Confectionary. In 2008, Matthew was the violinist in a musical comedy production by Minster Playhouse, directed by his Patisserie and Confectionary teacher, Scott Steele. Having completed his course at Thanet College, Matthew then began to study for a music degree at Canterbury Christ Church University, focusing on composition under Prof. Roderick Watkins. During his studies, he composed for many ensembles, including his acclaimed debut for wind orchestra, Encomium, which was performed in Canterbury Cathedral. In 2010, Matthew was commissioned to write a piano trio for the Canterbury Three Cities Association, which lead to two international premieres and six further performances including a performance by the Del Mar Piano Trio at the 1901 Arts Club in London. Matthew graduated in 2010 with a first class degree, winning the Cyril Philips Memorial Prize for outstanding commitment to the Music Department.
Matthew went on to study a Master of Music in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music under Prof. Adam Gorb and Paul Patterson, having been awarded a scholarship by the Richard Newitt and Radcliffe trusts. Whilst studying at the RNCM his string quartet ideas were workshopped and performed by the Mivos Quartet. His commission for soprano and piano, There Came a Wind Like a Bugle, was premiered at the Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival by Rhona Mckail and Yshani Perinpanayagam, and later performed at the RNCM. October 2012 saw the premiere of his one-movement work, Caelestialis, for Jessica Gillingwater (Soprano) and the RNCM Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carlos del Cueto. Towards the end of his studies, Matthew’s solo piano work Les Sons Recules was performed by Christian Dawson at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. Matthew graduated from the RNCM in 2013.
A keen violist, Matthew regularly composes for the instrument and takes part in Martin Outram’s annual Viola Day. In October 2013, Matthew was invited back to the RNCM for the premiere of his work for viola and orchestra, Three Illusions of Peganum Harmala, with soloist Paul Beckett. In 2014, Matthew went on to collaborate with his own string quartet, the Leon Quartet, for a commission, Sphagnum, which was performed to acclaim as part of the Deal Festival. Matthew’s duo for violin and viola, Chiaroscuro, was premiered by Arisa Ota and Martin Outram at St Gregory’s Centre for Music, and was later performed by Sophie Rosa and Paul Beckett in St John’s Baptist Church in Sandiway, where it was reviewed as “A texturally lucid and enigmatic work”.
In 2015, Matthew collaborated with pianist and composer Sam Bailey in writing for London’s Eating Sound series, where music is played in response to diners to create a unique experience. Matthew became a member of the Montrose Composers Collective, a group of composers who compose and often perform their own work. This has lead to collaborative composition projects, improvisations, and unique performances. Since joining, Matthew has occasionally plays in an additional string quartet with Flo Peycelon, Karen Jolliffe and Sarah Boxall. Together, they have performed in projects with the Montrose Composer’s Club, giving the premiere of Matthew’s Feldman inspired Piano and String Quartet at the Harbour Arm in Folkestone in 2016, and Sea of Tranquility for string quartet and accordion in 2018 – both with composer, pianist and accordion player, Aidan Shepherd.
The Leon Quartet joined forces with Lucia D’Avanzo-Lewis to give their own concert in the St Thomas More R. C. Church in West Malling, giving the premiere of Matthew’s single movement work for string quintet. The quartet also gave their own concert, “Festivals of Light”, at the Leicester Guildhall venue in the approach of Christmas 2016, which saw the premiere of two of Matthew’s recent works for string quartet: Song for the Lighting of the Chanukah Candles and Dance for the Festivals of Light.
Matthew has written two pieces for solo viola for Martin Outram’s solo performances as well as works for Martin’s viola ensemble for the Canterbury Christ Church University Viola Day. These include a set of variations on a theme of La Folia. In 2014 Matthew wrote a short work, Solitude After Dusk, which he has since adapted for string orchestra. In 2017 Matthew completed his multi-movement work for viola ensemble, Mass for the Wives, for the same ensemble with solo violin in the final movement (Karen Jolliffe). For both pieces, the viola ensemble of twelve violists was accompanied by cello (Emily Rossitter). The string orchestra adaptation of Solitude After Dusk has been performed by the Oare String Orchestra in Kent, the Keble String Orchestra in Oxford, the Elgin String Orchestra in Derby, and the Gerrard Sinfonia in Barnsley.
Matthew wrote his orchestral work, Beverley Meadow, for a Young Composer Workshop with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra. With generous support from the RVW trust, the CRSO then gave the work its first public performance in February 2017, conducted by Peter Bassano. In a review by Peter, he states: “Matthew Brown’s Beverley Meadow is a work inspired by the English countryside. Matthew’s subtle orchestration and sensitive changes of texture are beguiling.”
Matthew began a PhD in composition at RNCM in 2017, focusing on wind orchestra composition, with Adam Gorb and Paul Patterson as his supervisors, and Andy Harris as his director of studies. As well as writing Peganum Harmala for a large chamber ensemble, he has composed a Serenade for the Whittlesey Concert Band, which they performed in 2018. Matthew also created a version of Encomium for orchestra, which was performed at RNCM in autumn 2018 (almost ten years after the original wind orchestra version).