In 2008, Matthew Peterson (b. 1984, Grand Forks, ND) left North Dakota for Sweden. Since then, the Stockholm-based freelance composer has explored frontiers of sound and expression in music featuring vivid orchestrations, rhythmic vibrancy, expressive clarity, and emotional depth. His expansive output ranges from a chamber opera based on Wisconsin court cases, to modern settings of sacred texts, to stunning orchestral soundscapes.
Matthew has been awarded the Fulbright Grant to Sweden, grand prize in the 2014 Uppsala tonsättartävling, the 2014 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Award, 2015 Minnesota Orchestra composer institute, two BMI student composer awards, the 2014 Fort Worth Opera Frontiers Festival award for chamber opera, and other grants, honors, awards and recognitions from: Svensk Musik, FST (Swedish Composers Association), ASCAP, Manhattan Beach Music, Third Angle ensemble, New Lens concert series, Opera Vista, North-South Consonance, Indiana University, Boston Choral Ensemble, National Opera Association, vocal ensemble Chanticleer, Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra, Forth Worth Opera, Vocal Essence, and St. Olaf College.
2015-16 features performances of And all the trees of the field will clap their hands (Västerås Sinfonietta, Dalasinfoniettan, and Jönköping Sinfonietta), Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant (Holland Symphony Orchestra, La Porte Co. Symphony), Näcken (violinist Claudia Schaer), and the world-premiere performance of Surgit Dorpatum in Tartu, Estonia (Academic Women's Choir of the University of Tartu). Recent commissions include a new work for Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble (Tumult and Flood) and Illinois Wesleyan University (January). In addition, Matthew will serve as guest-composer-in-residence at Northwestern University (Feb 2016) and Illinois Wesleyan University (March 2016). 2016-17 features performances by Göteborgs Symfoniker, NorrlandsOperan Orkester, & Svenska Kammarorkester, a feature on Stockholm's Waldemarsudde chamber music series, and the world premiere production of Voir Dire with Fort Worth Opera and Milwaukee Skylight Theater.
PERFORMERS & COMMISSIONS
Peterson’s music has been commissioned and performed by musicians and ensembles around the world. Performers of Matthew’s solo and chamber works include violinists Claudia Schaer, Madalyn Parnas, Alejandro Drago, Pasha Tseitlin and Ron Blessinger; saxophonist Stephen Page; pianists Kati Gleiser and Jon Jensen; percussionists Adam Cowger and Jon Hess; singers Sofia Jernberg, Laura Wilde, Eric Neuville, Sonja Tengblad, and Meaghan Dewald; and ensembles Freya String Quartet, InnoVox, New Music Conflagration, New Lens Ensemble Finasterra Trio, North/South Consonance, Boston Percussion Group, and Norrbotten NEO. His choral works have been performed by choirs and vocal ensembles including Chanticleer, Cantus Novus, and Vocal Essence.
Matthew has recently received commissions from Washington National Opera American Opera Initiative, Northwestern University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Academic Chamber Choir of the University of Tartu, Ron Ramsay, Freya String Quartet, percussionist Jon Hess and singer Sonja Tengblad, Boston Percussion Group, the St. Olaf Orchestra, Grand Forks Public Schools, saxophonist Stephen Page, pianist Kati Gleiser, and the St. Olaf Band.
With commissions and performances from orchestras and bands in the United States, England, and Sweden, Peterson is rapidly becoming known as a young composer of remarkable works for orchestra, band and large ensemble. Hyperborea (2011), commissioned by the St. Olaf Orchestra and recently performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, received the 2014 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize, an honor reserved for the best large ensemble score that has not received a professional premiere. And all the trees of the field will clap their hands (2013) won grand prize in the Uppsala chamber orchestra’s 2014 composer’s competition. Since the competition, it has been performed widely in Sweden and Estonia, and broadcast across the Nordic region on Sveriges Radio P2. Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant (2012), commissioned for the 2012 St. Olaf Christmas Festival, was broadcast across the U.S. on American Public Media’s Performance Today, and has been performed across the United States by orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony.
In 2010, Matthew’s Reflections on the Death of the Beloved (2009) for symphonic band, commissioned by the St. Olaf Band, was the first wind band score to ever receive the prestigious BMI student composer award. This piece, published by Manhattan Beach Music was also awarded runner-up for the 2010 ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize, and 2nd place in the 2013 Frank Ticheli composition competition. Peterson’s band works have been performed by the St. Olaf Band, University of North Dakota Wind Ensemble, Colorado State University Symphonic Band, and others.
Peterson and librettist Jason Zencka have collaborated on two award-winning chamber operas. Their first, The Binding of Isaac, received its premiere performance with St. Olaf College Lyric Theater in 2006, under the direction of Janis Hardy. The Binding of Isaac has been awarded the BMI student composer award and runner-up in the National Opera Association Chamber Opera Competition.
Zencka and Peterson's second collaboration, Voir Dire, was composed during Peterson’s 2008-09 Fulbright year. Voir Dire is based on and adapted from Jason’s experiences as a crime-reporter for the Stevens Point Journal (WI). Excerpts from Voir Dire have been performed in the United States and Sweden. The opera won the 2011 Opera Vista competition (Houston) and the 2014 Fort Worth Opera Frontiers Festival. It will receive 2017 productions by Fort Worth Opera, Milwaukee Skylight, and Symphony Space.
EDUCATION, RESIDENCIES & TEACHING
Peterson holds degrees from the Gotland School of Music Composition (artist diploma), Indiana University School of Music (M.M.) and St. Olaf College (B.M.). His former teachers include Sven-David Sandström, Per Mårtensson, Henrik Strindberg, Claude Baker, Justin Merritt, Timothy Mahr, and Mary Ellen Childs. He studied opera dramaturgy with Hans Gefors, and electronic music composition with John Gibson, Per Mårtensson, and Jeffrey Hass.
Matthew has been guest-composer-in-residence at University of North Dakota, Gotland Composer School and St. Olaf College, where he has presented chamber concerts of his own works, masterclasses, lessons, and seminars on topics including the music of Charles Ives, American Music 1950-2000, composition pedagogy for performers/non-composers, and the changing performance paradigms of new music. In March 2016 Peterson will hold a one-week residency at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he will hold seminars, lessons, and a chamber concert.
Peterson previously served on the faculty of the Gotland School of Music Composition (Visby, Sweden), where he taught notation and aural-skills, and as an Associate Instructor in music composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he taught notation and composition. Matthew is currently instructor in ear-training and composition at Lilla Akademien music prep school, and teaches a small private studio of students at his home on Lovö.