Sunday, April 27, 2014

A press release from 2011!

Contact: Matthew Coley
Phone: 847-867-1467


Matthew Coley, Percussion Soloist and Collaborator, didn't stop for a minute in 2011!

Iowa State University Lecturer in Percussion and Southwest Virginia native, Matthew Coley, has had an active 2011 with concerts all over the Midwest, Utah, and Europe. He also worked to release his second solo album, SOUVENIRS, at the top of 2012.

Beginning the year in 2011, Matthew was awarded a grant from the Iowa Arts Council to record a piece of music that was written for him by his longtime friend and collaborator, Bjorn Berkhout. Bjorn is a composer working in New York City and wrote "Running Towards Empty" for Matthew and his percussion ensemble at Iowa State University in 2010. Cory Hills, Matthew's Percussion Duo partner came to Iowa from Kansas to record "Running on Empty" with some members of the ISU Percussion Ensemble in January for the CD, SOUVENIRS. Also in January, Matthew and the ISU Percussion Ensemble performed for the crowd at the Octagon Center for the Arts Annual Opening Reception for their January National Exhibit.     

In February Matthew visited St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota to perform on their First Monday Electronic Music Series. In addition to collaborating with and performing music by SCSU professor, Scott Miller, he gave the first performance ever on a 4-octave bowed psaltery. This instrument was made for Matthew by James Jones, an instrument maker in Matthew's hometown, Bedford, VA. Also during February, he gave his second performance of John Mackey's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra" with the Chicago Metropolitan Orchestra, Russell Vinick, conductor.

In March, Matthew visited the University of Northern Iowa for a concert and master class, and performed a concert with the ISU Faculty Chamber Ensemble, BURN UNIT, in Martha Ellen-Tye Recital Hall, and was the featured marimba soloist at the Nebraska Day of Percussion. During this event the Omaha Percussion Ensemble perform Matthew's composition, "Journey for Solo Marimba, Piano, and Percussion Ensemble", at the evening concert.

During the summer, Matthew collaborated with local choreographer, Valerie Williams, on the glass music, dance, and video production, CLEARLY. They inhabited a store space with the CLEARLY exhibit in the North Grand Mall in Ames for rehearsals and community events/performances, and performed as a featured group at the Des Moines Arts Festival. ISU faculty, Keith Kutz and other glassblowers from the ISU Gaffer's Guild created several of the pieces for CLEARLY, as well as creative contributions from windchime maker, Nathan Ratliff, and artist, Hiromi Okumura. Soon after this, Matthew collaborated with Valerie for the second summer on her Kids' Co'Motion dance program, where he compiled, composed, and created all of the music for the three performances at the end of the three-week workshop.  

In August, Matthew was then a featured soloist on the Hungarian cimbalom and hammer dulcimer at the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival in Waterloo, IA, directed by Hunter Capaccioni. To wrap up the summer he traveled to Denmark to collaborate with percussionist, Ronni Kot Wenzell and publisher, Johan Svitzer on a Duo Percussion tour of Edition Svitzer publications. Matthew and Ronni performed in Odense, Aalborg, Humble, and Copenhagen, Denmark and Pitea, Sweden. While in Copenhagen they recorded a TV broadcast that was aired six times in September throughout Denmark.

In September, Matthew was very excited to be featured with the ISU Symphony Orchestra for his third performance of John Mackey's "Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra", Jacob Harrison, conductor. Matthew then traveled to Provo, Utah in October to perform a solo concert, begin a recording collaboration with composer, Neil Thornock, and present a lecture on contemporary music for the hammer dulcimer at Brigham Young University. Dr. Neil Thornock has written two pieces of music for Matthew, "Dulci" for solo hammer dulcimer, and "RIng the Heavens" for carillon and percussion ensemble.

Following this, Ronni Kot Wenzell and Johan Svitzer visited the US to continue their 2011 collaboration. Matthew and Ronni conducted master classes and performed concerts throughout the Midwest at Ballard High School, Huxley, IA; Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines, IA; ISU; Southeast Missouri State University; Jackson High School, Jackson, MS; Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis; and Millikin University, Decatur, IL. They finished up their tour with presentations and networking at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis, IN, and then traveled back to Ames with Danish composer, Andy Pape, to record the piece he was commissioned to write for the Duo Tour, "Five by Five".

Matthew finished up the year performing another CLEARLY installation with Valerie Williams at the Brunnier Art Gallery at ISU in December and sold his 5-octave Marimba One marimba of 8 years to West Marshall High School in preparation to get a new 5.5-octave marimba from sponsoring company, Marimba One. For a chance to catch this new 5.5-octave marimba in action, Matthew has a full concert schedule in late March and April of 2012, including a concert tour between UNI, ISU, and Drake with music faculty from those schools.

After the wide success of his first solo album, CIRCULARITY, in late 2010, Matthew eagerly anticipates the release of SOUVENIRS in early 2012. Here is what Jason Baker (MIssissippi State University Assisstant Professor of Percussion) had to say about CIRCULARITY in the September 2011 Percussive Notes Publication: “I found this CD to be one of the most enjoyable marimba recordings in recent memory due to its exciting repertoire, world-class performing, and extremely high production quality.” Both CD's were engineered by ISU faculty, Chad Jacobsen.

In addition to a wide traveling and performing schedule, Matthew most notably enjoys his time working and performing with the ISU Percussion Studio and Percussion Ensemble. The Percussion Ensemble at ISU performs a concert twice a semester. For upcoming events, CD's, and more information on Matthew or the ISU Percussion Studio please visit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weird Premieres

The first half of 2014 is proving to be particularly ripe with several "out of the ordinary" premieres. It started with plans, preparations, and all the necessary fixin's for a concert in February that was the premiere of the 2 flutes, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator version of Debussy's Bilitis, as well as Dexter Morrill's Fantasy for piccolo and percussion ensemble. The Iowa State University Percussion Ensemble was all poised to perform with the fabulous flutists, Scott Metlicka and Sonja Giles and then school was actually canceled! In a place where life doesn't skip a beat for 12 inches, even 16 inches of snow, we for real had a blizzard that closed school and canceled that concert. With schedules wedged together throughout the spring no future date could be set to make that concert happen, however some little bits of ideas have been forming to program the Debussy at the first Heartland Marimba Festival & Workshop this summer at ISU with 2 vibraphones, 4 marimbas, 2 glockenspiels, and narrator. In advance of the careless blizzard, Scott and I did get to premiere my composition Morning of Life for flute and marimba at other concerts in Iowa.

March and April are the "money" months, so to speak. On a 4,000 mile (that's 6,500+ kilometers) trip to Minot, ND and Edmonton and Regina, Canada I performed (so not actually a premiere) Neil Thornock's Illumination for solo chimes. Neil is the composer that has written me a carillon and percussion ensemble piece and a dulcimer solo. Some may not be surprised that he had composed a chime solo some years back, but I was extremely excited to be able to program a chime solo! I have just remembered that I neglected to mention Bjorn Berkhout's solo dulcimer work Torque that I premiered in January at ISU, which I also performed three times on the Canada tour. This "Great Tour of the Upper Prairie-lands" came about because of a fortunate rekindling of a friendship on Facebook. Angela Schroeder and I were at Northwestern University doing our Master's degrees together back in 2003 and she invited me to perform the Canadian premiere of Andrew Ardizzoia's Glass House Concerto for percussion soloist and wind ensemble with her ensemble at the University of Alberta-Edmonton.

Next up is the premiere of Steven Simpson's Images of Africa for dulcimer and six percussionists with the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Daniel Moore, director. The very next day is the premiere of Igor Iachimciuc's Rustic Sketches for Marimba and Contrabass Ensemble with the Chicago Bass Ensemble (Jacque Harper, director) and Leslie B. Dunner conducting. Both of these compositions I hope to perform many more times, and the process with the composers, directors, and ensembles has been added to the top of the list of great collaborations!

So far we have just covered January through March. April will bring the premieres of solo marimba works by Igor Iachimciuc and Neil Thornock. Respectively, Through flowers (Iachimciuc) and Fanfares and Quantasy (Thornock) will be premiered at the Wyoming Day of Percussion at Casper College and the University of Utah.

Taking some time to write this timeline of events puts many things in perspective. These projects and collaborations are something to be forever cherished and considered in the class of living dreams. The fortune contained in these experiences is too great to funnel into words, but I hope that many artists will be inspired to tackle the lot of their creative fancies and bring together more unheard-of collaborations.

A big thank you to Bjorn Berkhout, Scott Metlicka, Sonja, Giles, Neil Thornock, Angela Schroeder, Andrew Ardizzoia, Dexter Morrill, Jacque Harper, Chicago Bass Ensemble, Leslie B. Dunner, Daniel Moore, the University of Iowa Percussion Ensemble, Steven Simpson, and Igor Iachimciuc!