Peterson wins Washington International Competition

Matthew Peterson's November (Pas de deux) for string quartet has been awarded first prize in the 2018 Washington International Competition for Composition. 

His winning work will receive its world premiere performance by the Sunrise Quartet in the Kennedy Center Terrance Theater on Sunday June 24th, 2018 at 4PM. The composer will be in attendance.

Awarded 2nd prize was Semillas by Argentinian composer Pablo Borrás.

The Washington International Competition (WIC), established in 1950, is held for singers, pianists, string players, and composers. WIC competitions for singers, pianists, and string players are held each spring in annual rotation. The WIC composers’ competition, established in 1976, is held every 3 years for the composition of a string quartet, piano quartet, piano quintet, piano trio, or string trio. Through the authority of its judges, high musical standards, and the quality of young artists attracted, the WIC offers—both in the United States and abroad—a significant opportunity for young artists to step upward from the ranks of talented students to recognition as professionals.



Voir Dire premiere mentioned on NPR's "First Impressions"

NPR's First Impressions: A Guide to New Music in the New Season mentioned the upcoming world-premiere production of Matthew Peterson and Jason Zencka's Voir Dire:

"The courtroom drama Voir Dire, adapted from true stories by composer Matthew Peterson and librettist Jason Zencka, receives its world premiere at Fort Worth Opera April 23."





Washington National Opera commissions Lifeboat

Washington National Opera (WNO) today announced full programming details for the fifth season of the American Opera Initiative, its comprehensive commissioning program that brings contemporary American stories to the stage while fostering the talents of rising American composers and librettists. For the first time, all of the program's world premiere operas will be presented during an American Opera Initiative Festival weekend, January 13-15, 2017 in the Kennedy Center Family Theater. Three new pairings of opera composers and librettists- Frances Pollock and Vanessa Moody, Zach Redler and Jason Carlson, and Matthew Peterson and Emily Roller-will each offer new one-act operas, each based on a contemporary American story and inspired by the ideals often ascribed to President Kennedy as part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of President Kennedy. Two semi-staged concert performances of each opera will be presented on January 14, 2017. In addition, as previously announced, WNO will present the world premiere of a new hour-long work by composer Mohammed Fairouz and librettist Mohammed Hanif-The Dictator's Wife, based on Hanif's satirical play-on January 13 and 15, 2017.

"I'm excited to showcase four new American operas during our new festival weekend in January," said WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "I'm also proud that our commissioning program is a part of the Center-wide JFK centennial celebration this season. The creation of new opera-work that not only entertains but challenges and provokes new thoughts and ideas-is a fitting tribute to the legacy of President Kennedy and his inspirational ideals."

The three composer/librettist teams of the one-act operas will collaborate on their works with three distinguished mentors who have each enjoyed professional success with new American operas: composer John Musto (The Inspector, Later the Same Evening), librettist Gene Scheer (WNO's Moby-Dick, Cold Mountain), and conductor Steven Osgood (General and Artistic Director of Chautauqua Opera Company). The composer/librettist teams have been working with their mentors and advisors throughout the creative process, and a full collaborative workshop with all the composers, librettists, mentors, and cast members is scheduled for October 2016 in Washington.

"This season's American Opera Initiative Festival will bring a diverse and accomplished group of musical storytellers to Washington, and they all have personal and powerful tales to tell," said Michael Heaston, the departing program director of the American Opera Initiative and WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. "For our gifted young artists, this is an incredible opportunity to see firsthand how new operas are created and to work directly with the composers and librettists, as well as our remarkable program mentors. Since most of the operatic canon is centuries old, this is a rare opportunity indeed. As we all look forward to the workshops in the fall, the program will continue to flourish under the new leadership of Robert Ainsley, who will see this cycle of exciting new works to completion."

New one-act operas expand the American repertory

The three original one-act operas presented in two semi-staged concert performances on January 14, 2017 will each highlight a different aspect of American life and culture, and each has been inspired and informed by the ideals often ascribed to President Kennedy. These new works will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra conducted by Steven Osgood and will be performed in English. Following each performance there will be a Q&A session with the artists and creative team. Full casting for the three one-act operas, featuring members of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young.


Music by Matthew Peterson

Libretto by Emily Roller

Three refugees are stranded in an inflatable lifeboat out in the open ocean; they are the sole survivors of a shipwreck. After three days, tensions erupt between the strangers, who each fled the same conflict for different reasons. As their pasts are revealed, cooperation-and survival-seem unlikely. Lifeboat explores and challenges the ideals of courage, social justice, and service; can these ideals overcome major divides between people of different backgrounds and experiences? Can we all live in the same boat? A JFKC Commission.




Presentation of new Swedish Orchestra music at Malmö Live

Matthew Peterson's "And all the trees of the field will clap their hands" will be featured alongside nine other new works, as the Swedish Composer's Association (FST) and Swedish Royal Musical Academy (KMA) present the second annual "Presentation day for new Swedish Orchestra Music."

This year at the newly built concert hall Malmö Live, with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. June 2, 2016 they will perform 10 short works/excerpts for an invited public of conductors and music administrators, with the goal of enriching the Swedish orchestral repertoire.

There was great interest from both composers and orchestras. From 58 submitted works, a committee of two composers and two conductors have chosen the following: 

  • Anders Emilsson (f 1963) A ride into the wood
  • Kim Hedås (f 1965) RE:CAI:O
  • Daniel Hjorth (f 1973) SYMPHONY no 1 – ”Time Changes”
  • Reine Jönsson (f 1960) Den sorgsna vargen
  • Maria Lithell Flyg (f 1965) In and Out
  • Anna-Lena Laurin (f 1962) Persephone. Version II. For symphony orchestra
  • David Lennartsson (f 1973) Waves - a beautiful noise / wafted across
  • Jim O’Leary (f 1971) Sixty-three
  • Matthew Peterson (f 1984) And all the trees of the field will clap their hands
  • Jonas Valfridsson (f 1980) Temples of Kamakura – sats I. Engaku-ji

The chosen works were composed between 2006 and 2015, and will be performed in their entirety or 5-7 minute excerpts, conducted by Andreas Hanson. The goal of the project is to spread knowledge of newly written repertoire to the programming teams at Swedish music institutions, therefore exposing the Swedish citizenry to a greater musical diversity. 

2016's jury consisted of:

  • Michael Bartosch, conductor
  • Katarina Leyman, composer
  • Rolf Martinsson, composer
  • Marit Strindlund, conductor



"And all the trees of the field will clap their hands" reviewed in Sundsvalls Tidning

"John Frost grew up partly in Sundsvall. Shi-Yeon Sung is in the world elite of female conductors. But the surprise was the winner of Uppsala composer competition 2014: Matthew Peterson's "And all the trees of the field will clap their hands".

It is inspired by the prophet Isaiah, who said: "so is the word that comes from my mouth, it will not return to me empty." Matthew Peterson thought of echoes; he painted an unruly nature, snorting with life and power, making the echo into a compositional technique.

Here the echoes result in a piece that seems to sound in several horizontal layers, cut into parallel realities. It trembles like oscillating mirrors, vibrating in glittering threads; as if nothing is fixed and everything is just possibility, the innermost spirit of material. A fine-sounding, suggestive, innovative piece, which I hope the orchestra takes up again."

-Susanne Holmlund, Sundsvalls Tidning, Apr 18 2015 (translation by the composer)

"Johan fröst är delvis fostrad i Sundsvall. Shi-Yeon Sung finns i världstoppen av kvinnliga dirigenter. Men överraskningen blev vinnaren av Uppsala tonsättartävling 2014: Matthew Petersons "And all the trees of the field will clap their hands".

Den är inspirerad av profeten Jesaja, där det också sägs: "så är det med ordet som kommer ur min mun: det vänder inte fruktlöst tillbaka". Matthew Peterson tänkte på ekon; han målade en bångstyrig natur, frustande av liv och kraft och gjorde ekot till en egen kompositionsteknik.

Här verkar ekona som om stycket spelas i flera horisontella lager, klyvs i parallella verkligheter. Det dallrar som av svängande speglar, vibrerar som av glittertrådar; som om inget är fast och allt bara sannolikhet, som materiens innersta väsen. Ett skönklingande, suggestivt, nydanande stycke, som jag hoppas orkestern tar upp igen."

-Susanne Holmlund, Sundsvalls Tidning, Apr 18 2015



Föreningen Svenska Tonsättare elects Matthew Peterson

FST (Föreningen Svenska Tonsättare, Society of Swedish Composers) has elected composer Matthew Peterson to membership effective 2014.


The Society of Swedish Composers represents professional composers who are active in the field of contemporary classical music composition. It was founded in 1918 by some of the most renowned Swedish composers of the day – people like Kurt Atterberg, Hugo Alfvén, Oskar Lindberg, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, Ture Rangström, Wilhelm Stenhammar and others.

FST has today 366 members, of whom 343 are composers. The other members are either elected as associate members or as honorary members, meaning that in their professional lives they have in various ways supported and encouraged contemporary Swedish music.

FST’s objective is to look after the artistic, financial and social interests of its members, to help spread Swedish music nationwide as well as worldwide, and generally to promote Swedish musical culture.

Professional composers working in Sweden's contemporary art music scene can become members. For more information about election criteria, etc, please see this page (in Swedish only!) or contact the FST office.

You can listen to Swedish contemporary classical music at Composer’s Radio.

You can find composer biographies, books, scores and parts and more at Svensk Musik (Swedish Music Information Centre).