[ in the press ]

Revamping the String Quartet: Matthew Barnson’s Sibyl Tones

I Care If You Listen | Danny Claybarnson_matthew_web

At some point, whether it be for reasons personal, professional, or purely psychological, most composers feel obliged to write a string quartet. Impressive is the composer who manages to unearth their own voice in such a largely excavated medium. Even more impressive is the composer who has the tenacity to develop that voice over the course of multiple works. New York-based composer Matthew Barnson has done just this, and his new album Sibyl Tones on Tzadik allows us to retrace his inventive excursions into a genre that is notoriously difficult to reinvent.


Published October 2, 2015
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[ alumni ]

Alumnus Matthew Barnson receives Guggenheim Fellowship

barnson_matthew_webComposer Matthew Barnson ’07 MM, ’08 MMA, ’12 DMA was named the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2015. He is one of only eleven composers to receive the honor.

In its ninety-first competition for the United States and Canada, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Fellowships to a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists. Fellows are active in the creative arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

The candidates, appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, were chosen from a group of over 3,100 applicants. Fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to their work.

Published April 20, 2015
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[ alumni ]

Matthew Barnson ’12 DMA joins faculty of Stony Brook University

barnson_matthew_webComposer Matthew Barnson ’07 MM, ’08 MMA, ’12 DMA has been appointed Assistant Professor of Composition at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The tenure-track appointment begins this fall.

Most recently, Barnson served as assistant professor of composition at Trinity College Dublin. He has also chaired the composition and theory department at New York’s Third Street Music School Settlement. MORE

Published June 23, 2014
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[ recordings ]

Matthew Barnson ’12 DMA releases ‘Sibyl Tones’ on Tzadik Records

barnson-sibyl-tonesUtah-born and New York City-based composer Matthew Barnson ’07 MM, ’08 MMA, ’12 DMA has released his latest CD, Sibyl Tones, on Tzadik Records.

The CD presents three original pieces for string quartet performed by the Arditti Quartet from London and the JACK quartet from New York City. Tzadik praises Barnson as a  “thrilling new American compositional voice.”

Barnson has studied at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Yale School of Music. At 34, the composer is the youngest recipient of a Barlow Commission from the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, and was a 2009 recipient of the Charles Ives Prize.

Published March 12, 2014
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Yale in New York presents “Serenade and Metamorphosis” in New York and New Haven

A past Yale in New York performance in Zankel Hall

The Yale School of Music and the Yale in New York concert series present “Serenade and Metamorphosis,” a program celebrating the tradition of the instrumental serenade. Concertmaster Ani Kavafian will lead an ensemble of fellow faculty as well as alumni and student string players.

The concert takes place in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Friday, April 12, 2013, at 7:30 pm. There will be a preview concert in New Haven on Thursday, April 11 at 8 pm in Morse Recital Hall.

The program pairs Richard Strauss’s Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings with a new piece for the same instrumentation written by YSM graduate Matthew Barnson’12DMA. This will be the world premiere of Barnson’s The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying, a work inspired by Jeremy Taylor’s masterpiece of the 17th-century English cult of melancholia and the sound of Gerhard Richter painting.

Strauss’s Metamorphosen, written in the concluding months of the World War II, is regarded as an elegy for the destruction wrought on Germany by the devastating bombing of Munich. The piece features the complex counterpoint that became a hallmark of Strauss’s compositions.

The concert will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s lush Serenade for Strings, a definitive piece of the late Romantic era. In addition to concertmaster Ani Kavafian, faculty violinists Wendy Sharp and Kyung Yu will also perform in the ensemble.

Yale in New York, led by artistic director David Shifrin, is now in its sixth season. Tickets from $15–$20 are available at the Carnegie Hall box office, online at www.carnegiehall.org, or through CarnegieCharge: 212 247-7800. Admission to the preview concert is free.

Published March 15, 2013
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Alumni garner faculty appointments

Thomas Novak ’91MM

Thomas Novak ’91MM was promoted to Provost at the New England Conservatory. Having served as Dean of the College since 2007, Novak will continue to oversee Conservatory faculty, curriculum, admissions, financial aid, student services, entrepreneurship, community partnerships, and relationships with performing groups and other conservatories in the U.S. and abroad. President Tony Woodcock said, “This is a testament to Tom’s tremendous commitment and significant contributions to NEC over the past ten years. Tom is an admired and respected leader and an indispensable member of my team. I look forward to his continued work and involvement in the school.”

A member of the NEC administration since 2001, Thomas Novak was hired as Performance Outreach Manager, but within a month, was appointed Acting Director of Admissions and, later that same year, Director of Admissions. In January 2003, his role was expanded to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid and Assistant Provost. Shortly after President Woodcock joined NEC in 2007, Novak was appointed to the position of Dean of the College. He has also continued to coach chamber music, often guiding NEC honors ensembles such as Quintet Royale. MORE

Published July 30, 2012
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Yale in New York announces 2012–2013, its sixth season at Carnegie Hall

“Many magnificent evenings of inventive programming.”
— The New York Times

Yale in New York, the concert series directed by David Shifrin, announces its 2013–2013 season. At the center are celebrations: of composers, performing artists, and musical forms.

Four concerts presented in Zankel Hall and Weill Recital Hall explore the deep, creative, and exciting collaborations that are the heart and history of the Yale School of Music, while paying tribute to a number of music icons. Highlights include:

• The Tokyo String Quartet, which has served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music since 1976, and embarks on its final tour as a Quartet.

• Star faculty members Ettore Causa, Peter Frankl, Ani Kavafian, Ole Akahoshi and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis celebrate the birth of Mozart.

• Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen is paired with the world premiere of a Yale commission by alumnus Matthew Barnson, also for 23 strings, capped by Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

• Composer and former Yale faculty member Paul Hindemith is feted on the 50th anniversary of his death by pianist Boris Berman and members of the Yale Philharmonia, with a program that features some of his lesser-known high-spirited early works.


Published June 15, 2012
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May 10th concert features Matthew Barnson’s three violin sonatas

The Yale School of Music presents a Doctor of Musical Arts recital featuring the music of Matthew Barnson on Thursday, May 10, 2012. This performance was rescheduled from January 26th. The program will feature Barnson’s three sonatas for violin and piano, as well as a work for solo piano.

The concert opens with Shattered Lines/Points of Horizon, composed in 2009. Barnson writes: “I began Shattered Lines/Points of Horizon as an abstract fantasy on French Baroque ornamentation, but the work evolved into what a listener might hear as a series of six or seven large-scale, highly elaborated ornaments.”

This piece will be performed by Taka Kigawa, whom the New York Times called a “formidable pianist [with] the technique and imagination to clarify the structure and musical syntax of difficult works.” MORE

Published April 24, 2012
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January 26th concert features Matthew Barnson’s three violin sonatas

“His work is fresh and arises from a distinct personality.”
– San Francisco Classical Voice

The Yale School of Music presents a concert featuring the music of Matthew Barnson on Thursday, January 26, 2012. The concert, which is Barnson’s Doctor of Musical Arts recital, will feature his three sonatas for violin and piano, performed by violinist Ari Streisfeld and pianist Jessica Osborne.

Streisfield is one of the violinists in the JACK Quartet, considered one of today’s “young, brilliant” groups by the New Yorker. Osborne, a graduate of the Yale School of Music, was praised by the Washington Post as a pianist “with a refreshing mellowness and poetic touch” after her debut with the National Symphony Orchestra.

The San Francisco Classical Voice calls Barnson’s work “fresh” and notes that it “arises from a distinct personality.” Barnson’s first violin sonata, written in 2008, takes inspiration from the composers Berio and Britten. Listen to a recording of the sonata on Barnson’s website.

“Fixity and motion were my two principal concerns in composing my second violin sonata,” writes Barnson of his two-movement piece from 2009. “If my piece were a city, it would have three subway lines that intersect in various places that allow the music to transfer and travel smoothly in various directions.” MORE

Published January 12, 2012
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