This evening composer/bagpiper Matthew Welch will present the premiere of his second chamber opera, Borges and the Other #2, the next installment in a forthcoming trilogy centered on the Argentine author, Jorge Luis Borges. This new opera, tying together interests in Scottish music, Balinese gamelan, Early music and Rock, will performed by his eclectic ensemble Blarvuster, with Welch conducting. Also featured will be the unveiling of his duo collaboration with choreographer/dancer Rachel Bernsen, with Welch performing on bagpipes and Bernsen dancing.
The music of Matthew Welch (b.1976) stems from a remarkably multi-faceted foundation. Matthew holds two university degrees in Experimental Music Composition, a BFA from Simon Fraser University (1999), and an MA form Wesleyan University (2001), studying with noted composers such as Barry Truax, Rodney Sharman, Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. His compositions range from traditional-like bagpipe tunes to electronic pieces, improvisation strategies and fully notated works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and orchestra. He has also taken part in a number of compositional collaborations with Indonesian Gamelan composer-performers in Bali and Java, performed in free improvisation contexts with numerable New York City improvisors, and played with art rockers in the Brooklyn underground. As a virtuoso of the Highland Bagpipe, he studied traditional music with Gold Medalist masters such as Colin MacLellan, Jack Lee, Angus MacLellan and Andrew Wright. Matthew also was a member of the four – time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, winning with them in 1999 and 2001. As an ambassador for the instrument, Matthew has premiered a number of new compositions written for bagpipes by contemporary composers. This involvement with a more diverse musical context has led him into an expansion of his instrumental array to include alternative bagpipe configurations, accordion and various saxophones. Indonesian Gamelan percussion music, both Javanese and more recently, Balinese, have been another focus of Matthew’s, which he has pursued throughout his academic career, with the New York Indonesian Consulate gamelans, and in Bali. Matthew appears on Anthony Braxton’s 10 [Solo Bagpipe] Compositions, 2000, and a few compact discs of his own music, Ceol Nua (Leo 336, 2002) highlighting orchestral and chamber works, Hag at the Churn (Newsonic 33, 2003), a collection of electronic concoctions and Dream Tigers (on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records’ Composer Series 8015, 2005) a program of ecstatic chamber music featuring his critically acclaimed string quartet, Siubhal Turnlar. His compositions for Balinese Gamelan Semara Dana are featured in his multi-media collaboration with Ikue Mori known as Bhima Swarga (Tzadik DVD edition 3007, 2007). The eclectic breadth of his interests in Celtic music, gamelan, minimalism, improvisation and rock also converge in compositional amalgams for his New York based ensemble, Blarvuster. ……”The Brooklyn-based composer leaps vast geographical distances, imagining statistically implausible musical melting pots that sound utterly natural…a composer possessed of both rich imagination and the skill to bring his fancies to life” – TimeOut NY “some serious bagpipe wizardry…as far as I can tell, Matt Welch must be the Eddie Van Halen of the bagpipes.” – Pop Matters