Regarded as “a composer possessed of both rich imagination and the skill to bring his fancies to life”, Matthew Welch studied composition with Barry Truax, Rodney Sharman, Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. Mr. Welch’s musical adventures and collaborative spirit have brought him to work with some of today’s most noted musical personalities, sustaining working relationships with experimental music staple Alvin Lucier and MacArthur recipient Anthony Braxton, his previous mentors, and a host of other esteemed artists, such as MacArthur recipient John Zorn, Bang on a Can Co-Director Julia Wolfe, Zeena Parkins, and Ikue Mori. His third disc of his own music, Dream Tigers (Tzadik, 2005), containing his critically lauded string quartet, Siubhal Turnlar, made both Time Out New York’s classical and non-classical top-ten CD lists for the year 2005.
Mr. Welch’s compositions run the gamut from traditional-like bagpipe tunes to electronic pieces, improvisation strategies and fully notated works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, orchestras, gamelans and other non-western instruments. Mr. Welch’s works have been performed and recorded by his own group Blarvuster, Ethos Percussion Group, the maverick Flux Quartet, The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, Ostravska Banda (Czech Rep.), the Avian Music Ensemble, Gamelan Dharma Swara and the Janacek Conservatory Orchestra (Czech Rep). Additionally, he has received commissions from the Ethos Percussion Group, Transit Ensemble, Percussia, Dither Electric Guitar Quartet, Odd Appetite Duo and the Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble. Mr. Welch has often appeared as a soloist or conductor with these groups.
As a virtuoso of the Highland Bagpipe, and celebrated by Indie rockers as “the Eddie Van Halen of the bagpipes,” Mr. Welch studied traditional Highland Bagpipe music with Gold Medalist masters such as James McIntosh M.B.E., Colin MacLellan, Mike Cusack, Jack Lee, Pipe Major Angus MacLellan, Andrew Wright and celebrated, repeat World-Champion Pipe Majors Terry Lee and Iain McLellan B.E.M. Mr. Welch was a member of one of the most internationally premier bagpipe bands of the last two decades: the six – time World Champion Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, and played with the band for their World Pipe Band Championship wins of 1999 and 2001 in Glasgow. Beyond the traditional use of the bagpipe, Welch has pioneered new techniques and materials in his own works that include the bagpipe and has premiered a number of new compositions written for bagpipes by living composers.
Indonesian Gamelan percussion music, both Javanese and Balinese, have been another deep focus for Mr. Welch, which he has pursued throughout his academic career and beyond with the New York Indonesian Consulate gamelans Kusuma Laras and Dharma Swara, and in-field studies in Bali. Mr. Welch has also taken part in a number of collaborations with Indonesian Gamelan composer-musicians in Bali and Java.
“The ensemble’s border-busting music is original and catchy,” the New York Times has said of Blarvuster, an ensemble Mr. Welch formed in 2002 to develop and perform a select area of his works. Mr. Welch’s breadth of interests in Celtic music, South-East Asian music, minimalism and other experimental music, improvisation and rock converge in amalgams composed specifically for his New York based ensemble.