Rachel Matthews

Member since: 
December 1, 2012

Pianist and composer Rachel Matthews has made her home in Seattle for 15 years. Her performances have been described as follows: "compelling mastery and artistry" (Seattle Times); "thrilling chamber music performances" (Seattle Weekly); "[B]rilliant. Matthews enriched every phrase she played with a sure sense of.… style and technical finesse" (Winston-Salem Journal).

Matthews has performed around the United States, appearing at venues such as the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, and on the Accueil Musical series in Paris. As a concerto soloist, she has performed under the batons of conductors including Robert Spano, Peter Perret and Roupen Shakarian. She has held a winter residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and participated in festivals including Bowdoin, the Festival Tibor Varga in Sion, Switzerland, and the Taos Chamber Music Festival.

Rachel Matthews served for nine years as co-Artistic Director of the Foothills Chamber Music Festival, presenting chamber music performances each summer with principal players of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and other major American ensembles, and was Artistic Director of City Music, a now-dormant chamber music series in Seattle that donated 100% of single ticket sales to a variety of local environmental, social and educational nonprofit organizations.

Increasingly active in recent years as a composer, Rachel is winner of the 2010 International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition, as well as the first biennial Maurice Gardner Composition Competition. Her works have been heard recently at the International Viola Congress, the Iowa Arts Festival, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the San Francisco Conservatory, the Cottonwood Music Festival, Washington Composers Forum, and Pendulum New Music in Boulder, CO, as well as on radio stations around the country.

Rachel is recipient of grants and commissions including the American Composers Forum, 4Culture, and Jack Straw Productions' Artist Support Program, and she held a 2011 City Artist Grant from the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Her Voices of Trees for clarinet and piano was released in 2008 on the Origin Classical label, and a full-length disc of her compositions was released in April 2012 on Centaur. Various of her works are published by Ourtext and Comus Editions, both based in the UK.

Rachel Matthews is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and holds a doctorate in piano performance from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where she was recipient of the Irving Lowens Memorial Prize and the Peabody Career Development Grant. She maintains an active teaching studio in Seattle.

Strings Magazine Review - Nov. 2012

by Laurence Vittes

DREAMS: NEW CHAMBER MUSIC BY RACHEL MATTHEWS. Helen Callus, viola; Mikhail Schmidt and Ingrid Matthews, violin; Elizabeth Oakes, viola; Andrew Kolb, cello; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Rachel Matthews, piano. (Centaur)

At the opening of Rachel Matthews exquisite 11-minute sonata for viola and piano called "Dreams," violist Helen Callus realizes one of those miracles in which a new musical vision is defined- in this case, it's a sequence of exquisitely ethereal poetry in the viola's upper reaches.

Throughout the disc's 70 minutes, Matthews' beautiful writing for strings yields similar miracles, while her ability to write compelling endings, as when using trills in thirds to herald the last few minutes of the Piano Quintet, should make her music attractive to performers wanting to leave a good impression with their audiences about contemporary American composers.

Matthews catches echoes of Bach in her absorbing Partita for solo violin, a 20-minute tour de force played with pride and panache by the composer's twin sister Ingrid (music director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra). Ingrid perfectly conveys the miracle that Rachel brilliantly blueprints in having the fragile, vulnerable Sarabande (itself, an edgy take on a familiar form) segue into the Gigue, picking up speed along the way.

The playing is invested with the honesty that comes from knowing the music and the intimacy that comes from working closely with the composer (whose earnest liner notes are far outstripped by the music's raw emotional power). The sound, recorded in a studio in suburban Seattle, is strong and clear. - L V.