Matthew Ricketts (b. 1986, British Columbia) is a Canadian composer currently based in New York City. His music moves from extremes of presence and absence, from clamor to quietude, at once reticent and flamboyant. Matthew’s music has been noted for its “effervescent and at times prickly sounds” and “hypnotically churning exploration of melody” (ICareIfYouListen) as well as its “tart harmonies and perky sputterings” (The New York Times). He is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow.
His works have been performed internationally by JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Flux Quartet, the Fromm Players, Quatuor Bozzini, the Chiara String Quartet; vocalists Margot Rood, Ellen Wieser, Tony Arnold, Sharon Harms and Ekmeles; Yarn/Wire, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), Wet Ink, TAK, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, Ensemble Paramirabo, Argento Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Jean-Willy Kunz, Sara Laimon and Julia Den Boer, the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra (Robert Spano, cond.), Esprit Orchestra (Alex Pauk, cond.), the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä, cond.) and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano, cond.). Matthew was Composer-Collaborator-In-Residence at East Carolina University from 2016-2018.
In 2018 Ricketts’ multilingual opera Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest (written in collaboration with renowned Cree playwright Tomson Highway) opened the Montreal Symphony’s 84th season to great critical acclaim and went on to tour Indigenous communities throughout Québec.
Matthew is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony (2019), the Tanglewood Music Center (2018 Elliott Carter Memorial Fellowship) and the Aspen Music Festival (2017), in addition to the 2016 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Prize, the 2016 Jacob Druckman Prize (Aspen Music Festival), the 2016 Mivos/Kanter Prize, the 2015 Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award, a 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and eight prizes in the SOCAN Foundation’s Awards for Young Composers.
Active as a writer as well as a composer, Matthew has published articles, reviews, poetry and libretti, and has worked closely with authors and poets Lauren J. Rogener, Paul Legault, Christian Schlegel, Klara du Plessis and Tomson Highway on multiple collaborative projects. Other collaborative endeavors include recent works for dancer-choreographers Brendan Drake and Jennifer Nichols.
Matthew holds degrees in music composition and theory from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music (B.Mus. 2009) and Columbia University (DMA 2017). Matthew’s principal mentors include Brian Cherney, John Rea, Chris Paul Harman, George Lewis and Fred Lerdahl. He is currently a Core Lecturer at Columbia University.
Summer Line performed at the Calgary New Music Festival (October 2019)
Selected for the ECM+ Génération cross-Canada Tour (October 2020)
Premiere of new work for loadbang, April 2020 (NYC)
Premiere of Ember, commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, written for FLUX quartet, August 2 2019 (Santa Fe)
Awarded a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship
Awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, June-July 2019
Article in Lufthansa Magazine about Chaakapesh and the OSM’s tour of Northern Quebec
Podcast conversation as part of the Movers & Makers series available here
The Minnesota Orchestra performs Melodia (Piano Concerto no. 1), January 18 2019
“Situation” from Song Cycle featured on Scrag Mountain Music Festival (Vermont), January 11-13 2019
Invited to Bowling Green State New Music Festival for performance of Melodia (Robert Satterlee, piano), October 19 2018
Mivos Quartet gives the Canadian premiere of In Partial View (Vancouver New Music), October 19 2018