‘The Isambard Kingdom Brunel of contemporary music: master of great time machines, steamy with energy derived from pulse and from massive, surging harmony, and openly displaying their structural engineering, all finished with a craftsman's care.’ Paul Griffiths
Colin Matthews was born in London in 1946. He studied music at the Universities of Nottingham, and Sussex, where he also taught, and subsequently worked as assistant to Benjamin Britten from 1972 - 6, and with Imogen Holst from 1971 - 84. He collaborated with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony.
Since the early 1970s his music, ranging from solo piano pieces through four string quartets and many ensemble and orchestral works, has been played worldwide, with recordings on Unicorn, Virgin, Collins Classics, Deutsche Grammophon/Decca, Hallé, Naxos and NMC. From 1992-9 he was Associate Composer with the London Symphony Orchestra, writing amongst other works his 2nd Cello Concerto, for Rostropovich. In 1997 his choral/orchestral Renewal, commissioned for the 50th anniversary of BBC Radio 3, was given a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. His ballet score Hidden Variables opened the Royal Ballet's 1999/2000 season, and the large-scale ensemble piece Continuum was toured in Europe by the BCMG and Simon Rattle in 2000. Recent works include Reflected Images for the San Francisco SO, Berceuse for Dresden for the New York Philharmonic, Turning Point for the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and a Violin Concerto for Leila Josefowicz and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He was Associate Composer from 2001 -10, and is now Composer Emeritus, with the Hallé, for whom he completed his orchestration of Debussy’s 24 Preludes in 2007; Alphabicycle Order was premiered by the Hallé at the 2007 Manchester International Festival. Night Rides, commissioned by the London Sinfonietta was premiered in May 2011. No Man's Land, commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia in memory of Richard Hickox was given in the 2011 Proms, and Grand Barcarolle by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly in autumn 2011. Matthews' 4th String Quartet was written for the Elias Quartet in 2012; Traces Remain was commissioned by the BBCSO and first performed in 2014, and Spiralling by Spira Mirabilis at Aldeburgh in October 2014. The Pied Piper, a collaboration with Michael Morpurgo, was performed by the LPO in February 2015.
Colin Matthews is active as administrator of the Holst Foundation, chair of the Britten Estate, and is a founder trustee and Music Director of the Britten-Pears Foundation. He was a Council Member of the Aldeburgh Foundation from 1983 - 94, and retains close links with the Aldeburgh Festival and the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme, particularly as co-director with Oliver Knussen of the Contemporary Composition and Performance Course, which they founded in 1992. He was for many years a member of the Council of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, and a director of the Performing Right Society from 1992-5. Since 1985 he has been a member of the Music Panel of the Radclffe Trust. He has been a Council Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society since 2005, and currently sits on its Executive Committee. He is founder and Executive Producer of NMC Recordings, and has also produced recordings for many other major labels.
In 1998 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Nottingham, where he holds the post of Special Professor. He is currently Prince Consort Professor of Music and Fellow of the Royal College of Music, a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was a Governor from 2001-2008, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Composition at the University of Manchester. He was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in 2010. He was presented with the RPS/PRS Leslie Boosey Award in 2005, and was appointed OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to music.