biography

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The music of Brooklyn-based composer Matt Frey creates intimately sentimental sonic worlds inflected with churning rhythms, minimalist-like textures, and extended moments of restless tension.

 

Frey’s vocal works—comprising song cycles, music-theater works, and opera—explore the interplay of text, drama, and music to make a palpable, instantaneous connection with an audience. In 2017, his short opera One-Eleven Heavy, dedicated to the victims of the 1998 Swissair crash, will be released as an EP album recorded with ensemble Hotel Elefant and featuring soprano Jenny Ribeiro and tenor Karim Sulayman.   Other major vocal works include the chamber opera The Fox and the Pomegranate, a parable-like tale of love and infidelity which won the 2014 Pellicciotti Opera Prize; the song cycle Wilde Songs, written for mezzo-soprano Kathie Kane; and the co-written oratorio Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities, commissioned by Contemporaneous in 2014.  Frey’s vocal music has been performed and workshopped across the U.S. and in Canada at festivals and programs including Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers, the Crane School of Music, Opera From Scratch, the New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, the John Duffy Composers Institute, and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.

 

Frey's instrumental music explores a more abstract approach to narrative, focusing on the concept of tension and release.  Often using harmonic or melodic inspiration from popular or electronic music to infuse his compositions, Frey’s music has been commissioned and presented by ensembles such as the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Synergy Percussion, the JACK String Quartet, the West Point Woodwind Quintet, the NYU Symphony Orchestra, Echo Chamber, andPlay, the Manhattan Wind Ensemble, and Washington Square Winds; and performed at venues including Roulette (Brooklyn), ISSUE Project Room (Brooklyn), 92Y TriBeCa (Manhattan), and the Bang on a Can Summer Festival at MASS MoCA.

 

With musical interests extending to performing (clarinet and piano), conducting, and arts management, Frey is also known as a curator and event producer through his activities as co-founder of the West 4th New Music Collective (W4), a cooperative of NYC-based composers.  He is a graduate of the Masters program in Music Composition at New York University and holds an undergraduate degree in Music Composition from Brooklyn College, where he studied with composers including Jason Eckardt, Douglas Geers, Joan La Barbara, Tania León, Robert Maggio, and Julia Wolfe. 


compositions

 opera/vocal with ensemble

          Wilde Songs (2017) 9’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano, piano, cello
  • Song cycle in three movements using text of Oscar Wilde (from The Importance of Being Earnest)
  • Written for/premiered by Kathie Kane, Potsdam, NY, May 2017

          One-Eleven Heavy (2014/rev. 2015 for chamber ensemble) 10’/14'

  • Instrumentation (2014): soprano, baritone, and piano
  • Instrumentation (rev. 2015): soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and chamber ensemble: 2 flt/2 clt/hrn/pno/perc/vln/vla/vcl/cb
  • Premiered by Opera From Scratch, Halifax, NS, Canada, Aug. 2014
  • Recorded by Jenny Ribeiro, Karim Sulayman, and ensemble Hotel Elefant, 2016

         Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities (2014) 16’

  • Some Ships, A White and Turbid Wake, and Lower Away (three movements of a co-written oratorio)
  • Instrumentation: 3 sopranos, tenor, baritone, and chamber orchestra: 111(sax)1/1110/2perc/gtr/pno/str
  • Premiered by Contemporaneous, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 2014

          What You Resist (2013) 7’

  • Instrumentation: contralto and baroque ensemble (soprano recorder, baroque violin, tenor viola da gamba, bass viola da gamba, harpsichord)
  • Premiered by W4 New Music, Brooklyn, NY, April 2013

         The Fox and the Pomegranate (chamber opera; 2011- in progress)

  • Projected runtime: 60 minutes
  • Instrumentation: soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and orchestra: 2222/2000/2perc/hrp/str
  • Winner of the 2014 Pellicciotti Opera Composition Prize
  • Excerpts performed at:
    • The Crane School of Music, Potsdam, NY, Nov. 2014;
    • Fort Worth Opera’s inaugural Frontiers Showcase, Fort Worth, TX, May 2013;
    • The John Duffy Composers Institute, Norfolk, VA, June 2012;
    • New York University, New York, NY, May 2012

         A Painting of Pollock (2011) 15’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano with finger cymbals, 1 percussion (vibes, crotales, gong, sus. cymbal, triangle, snare drum)
  • Premiered by W4 New Music, Brooklyn, NY, September 2011

 

orchestra

            Compression (2011) 8’

  • Instrumentation: 2(1 picc.)222/2210/timp/1 perc/hrp/str
  • Premiered by the NYU Symphony Orchestra, New York, NY, May 2011

            Chaconne (2010) 7’

  • Instrumentation: 22+bcl.22/2210/2 perc/str
  •  Read by the Brooklyn College Orchestra, Brooklyn, NY, May 2010

            Chamber Symphony (2000) 10’

  • Instrumentation: 2220/2000/timp/hrp/pf/3 perc/str
  • Performed by students of West Chester University, West Chester, PA, May 2001

 

large ensemble

          Three Teasdale Songs (2017) 21’

  • Instrumentation: string orchestra
  • Three movements inspired by poetry of Sara Teasdale
  • Commissioned and premiered  by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, March 2017

            Sample Music for Wind Instruments (2009) 5’

  • Instrumentation: large wind ensemble
  • Performed by:
    • The Brooklyn College Wind Ensemble, Brooklyn, NY, May 2009;
    • The Manhattan Wind Ensemble, New York, NY, May 2011

            North New (2001) 4’

  • Instrumentation: string orchestra

 

chamber ensemble

     

          Torque (2017) 15’

  • Instrumentation: flute, violin, cello, percussion (bongos, glockenspiel, tom-tom, woodblock, castanets)
  • Commissioned and premiered by Cadillac Moon Ensemble, 2017.

          . . . grows cold (2015) 2’

  • Instrumentation: percussion quartet: marimba, vibraphone (2), glockenspiel.
  • Commissioned and recorded by Synergy Percussion, 2016.

          #PUSH!!! (2013) 6’

  • Instrumentation: vln., vla., vcl.
  • Premiered by duo andPlay with Mariel Roberts, Brooklyn, NY, September 2013

          Pulling Anchor (2013) 4’

  • Instrumentation: vln., vla.
  • Premiered by duo andPlay, New York, NY, February 2013

          Anchor (2012) 1’

  • Instrumentation: solo violin
  • Premiered by Maya Bennardo, New York, NY, December 2012

          White Shirt  (2012) 5’

  • Instrumentation: flute, toy piano
  • Premiered by Yoobin Whang, New York, NY, December 2012

          Concessions (2013) 8’

  • Instrumentation: alto sax., guitar, violin
  • Premiered by ECCE at the Etchings Festival, Auvillar, France, June 2012

          Go On Longer (2012) 5’

  • Instrumentation: solo marimba 
  • Premiered by Sean Statser, 2012

          A Fundamental Groundlessness (2012) 7’

  • Instrumentation: fl., cl., pno, 2 perc., vln., vla., vcl., cb.
  • Premiered by the NYU Contemporary Ensemble, New York, NY, March 2012

          Procession (2011) 7’

  • Instrumentation: string quartet
  • Premiered by JACK String Quartet, New York, NY, May 2011

          Sums of Parts (2011) 6’

  • Instrumentation: woodwind quintet
  • Performed by:
    • NYU Woodwind Quintet, New York, NY May 2011;
    • West Point Woodwind Quintet, New York, NY, January 2012;
    • Washington Square Winds, New York, NY, 2013-2014 (multiple)
  • Recorded by Washington Square Winds, 2014

          Descent (2011) 8’

  • Instrumentation: 3 sopranos, 3 treble instruments (any), 1 bass instrument (any), piano
  • Premiered by W4 New Music, New York, NY, April 2011

          se nuance à l'infini (2011) 6’

  • Instrumentation: flute quartet 
  • Performed by Brooklyn College Quartet, December 2009; NYU Quartet, Brooklyn, NY, November 2011

          Canon Prelude (2009) 5’

  • Instrumentation: solo cello and electronics; or 8 acoustic cellos
  • Performed by:
    • Seth Woods, Brooklyn, NY, November 2009;
    • W4 New Music, New York, NY, June 2012

         Dance Suite (2008-09) 15’

  • Instrumentation: fl., cl., bcl.,vln., vcl., pf.
  • Performed by ConTempo, Brooklyn, NY, 2008/2009

          PentOcta (1999) 3’

  • Instrumentation: fl., cl.

         Rondo In C (1997) 4’

                        Instrumentation: fl., cl., hn., 2trpt. , cb., 2perc.

         The Emily Variations (1997) 12’

                        Instrumentation: clarinet quintet (4 cl., 1 bcl.)

 

songs/theater

          Sorry (2011) 1’

  • Instrumentation: soprano and piano
  • Text: D. H. Lawrence

          There Will Be Rest (2009) 5’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano and piano
  • Text: Sara Teasdale

          Waiting (2009) 5’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano and piano
  • Text: Becky Frey

          Sweater (2008) 6’

  • Instrumentation: alto and piano (rev. 2010 for mezzo-soprano)
  • Text: Becky Frey

          Antigone’s Lament (2008) 3’

  • Instrumentation: coloratura soprano and chamber orchestra or piano
  • Text: Sophocles

          The Party (scenes from the musical) (2004-05) 20’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, clarinet, piano
  • Text: Christopher Barnes

          Lamb to the Slaughter: A Musical in One Murderous Act (2004) 12’

  • Instrumentation: mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, piano
  • Text: Alan Gordon

          Alice (songs from the musical) (1998) 15’

  • Instrumentation: large (mixed) cast and piano
  • Text: Lewis Carroll

 

solo piano

          Almost to the Stars: Epic for Piano (2000) 12’

          12X12 (1999) 2’

          At Paget (1998) 8’

          Sonatina (1997) 8’ (in two movements)

          Renaissance (1996) 6’