Matt Welch update: Radio Operas 2/28+3/1 plus Switzerland

Dear Friends:
It’s been a while since my last update so a few goodies to share.
I just returned from Bern, Switzerland where I premiered two pieces as part of the Jazzwerkstatt festival. I got to work with an awesome ensemble called Proton, augmented by some stellar brass improvising solosists and drummer. It’s been a busy winter composing, and I’m happy to say I’m stretching out a bit which always brings excitement to the composing process. My program in Switzerland wed classical and improvising musicians, and I ventured into twisting Duke Ellington’s harmonic world through my filter in one of the pieces. Called “We Love You Madly,” it uses Ellington harmonies stretched in time and tainted with gamelan sounding alterations, and such a large ensemble was perfect for a kind of Brandenberg like concerto grosso, with emphasis on the three brass, Marc Unternaehrer on tuba, Lukas Wyss on trombone and Martin Eberle on trumpet. I had an awesome time and the show went very well!
I went to Bern a little ahead of time, to enjoy a brief residency to complete my radio opera, The Mutt, about skateboarder Rodney Mullen. My radio opera is an imaginary interview as documentary on inventive and perseverant skateboarding master, Rodney Mullen. I wanted to translate the motions and sounds of skateboards into a musical idiom, and so I recorded my board in the field for sound design and composed sections with metaphorical figures of counterpoint describing the spins of the board, foot to board orientation and jumps with landings. Also the surrounding music is somewhat based on a Dead Kennedys song, Ill in the Head. It’ll be acted/”spoken worded” by me, and the text is a mish mash of Rodney’s speeches re-imagined and set in fairly precise rhythmic notation to capture Rodney’s character. Rodney’s thoughts on achievement, creativity and self-renewal portray a fascinating and sensitive thinker. Joining me will be James Moore and Taylor Levine from Dither on electric guitars. The Mutt is on Feb 28 and March 1 in NYC at Abrons Art Center, along side 5 other unique blends of radio genres and opera as part of Experiments in Opera’s Radio Operas.

Radio Operas – February 28 & March 1, 2014
Friday February 28 & Saturday March 1, 2014
8 pm
Experiments in Opera returns to the Abrons Arts Center Underground Theater to premiere Radio Operas – a collection of six 10-15 minute works that explore a wide range of stories highlighting the composers’ interests in Modern abstractionism, science fiction, melodrama, satire, hallucinatory experiences, scientific discoveries, and pop culture icons.
These are not nostalgic homages to the radio plays of yesteryear. EiO’s Radio Operas are daring new operatic works created by some of the premiere experimental composers of today and designed specifically with this format in mind. Rather than prioritizing stage design and visual storytelling, these opera vignettes feature sound effects performed live by a foley artist, spoken text, music and singing and will rely on the imagination of the listener to create the image of the stories.
Featured works: ‘Ping’ by John King, ‘The Mutt’ by Matthew Welch, ‘Thomas Paine in Violence’ by Paul Pinto, ‘The Collector’ by Aaron Siegel, ‘I Need Space’ by Jason Cady and Ann Heppermann, and ‘These Walls Can Talk’ by Jonathan Mitchell.
Featured performers: Joan LaBarbara, Vince B. Vincent, Erin Flannery, Jamie Jordan – vocals; John King – viola and electronics; James Moore, Taylor Levine and Mary Halvorson – guitar; Matt Evans – percussion; Matthew Welch, Aaron Siegel – spoken voice; Karl Larson – piano; Jason Cady – modular synthesizer; Ed Herbstman, Dennis Pacheco, Annemarie Cullen, Kevin Cragg and Rebecca Robles – actors, and featuring Foley artist Steve Brush.
This inversion of standard operatic presentation will be made complete when the six featured works are recorded at the studios of Q2 Music for world premiere webcasts and on-demand streaming. Q2 Music will share one opera on consecutive nights Monday through Saturday at 8 pm during a special week in March.
Additionally, in partnership with, composers and collaborators featured on Radio Operas will take part in a free public discussion – Opera in Dialogue #2 on Saturday, March 1 at 5pm in the Abrons Underground Theater – exploring the ideas behind this innovative program.
The final event of the Experiments in Opera 13-14 season is the premiere production of Aaron Siegel’s Brother Brother which is based on the untold story of Orville and Wilbur Wright.
We need your support to help raise the last batch of funds to make this project happen.  All of the money will go directly to the performing artists and there are some fun gifts for all levels of support, including a Wright Flyer tattoo for as little as $10.
BROTHER BROTHER on May 2 & 3, 2014
Thanks again for all of your support!
Aaron, Matt and Jason

A Little Welch For Your June

Dear Friends, at the end of the summer I’ll be moving up to New Haven to study at Yale. I’m very excited to dive right in and compose a bunch of new music (time for which has been scarce for me these days). It has been an amazing ten years in New York, I can’t ever see how it won’t be a major part of my life in retrospect and continue to be so in the future. I’d love to see many faces this summer despite my reclusive disposition these days (don’t worry I’m not going far).


I have 2 performances coming up that I’d love for you to check out, so there’s a start!


During the first hour at the Bang on a Can Marathon (some where around 11ish-ish in the morning) my Double Concerto for Bagpipe, Piano and Percussion Ensemble – The Self and the Other will be performed by 8 percussionists from the Queens College Percussion Ensemble, Amanda Accardi on piano, myself of bagpipes and Michael Lipsey conducting. This piece is a doozey to assemble and it still feels in some kind of premiere mode even though it’s from 2004 (you can find a recording on my Tzadik CD Dream Tigers). The Queens College group performed this a month ago with me as part of their Spring program, and are now gearing up for the marathon. This work was written during an intense time of gamelan study and an intense time of reading Borges (“The Self and the Other” is a poetry collection of Borges). The magical yet erudite world of Borges motivated a similar fictional musical situation in myself, and many Borges inspired works have followed this one. At the Marathon we’ll present 2 out of the three movements. So come catch the many acts at the marathon, and come early to see this one!!!


June 19 – Bang on a Can Marathon – World Financial Center – Winter Garden 11am-12mid



June 29 – REDSHIFT Ensemble will premiere at Galapagos my newest composition (for violin, clarinet, cello and piano + tape) called The Favrile Opalescence. This piece is a year of ideas all wrapped up into one little package. As some of you know I have been subjecting myself to two years of intense counterpoint and harmony in private studies (which almost completely takes over the writing part of your life), and for a while have been getting addicted to Early music. This piece may perhaps be a sign of a new or further evolved compositional language for me – or this poor piece had to suffer some extreme multi-faceting on my part as I slowly wrote it and imagined the shapes of the lines along side many metaphorical streams of thought (the creative nebula of the idea really grew like an organism over the year). It is dedicated to my nieces Sophie and Camden in the spirit of new growth, but along with that are visits to chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright, stained glass, Tiffany glass’s opalescence, iridescence, the iridescence of blackbirds, bird sounds and songs in Alaska, wildlife land- and soundscapes, Kathy Turco’s “Birds of the North”, being cold (the part of this piece that made through this winter), the chromaticism of Gesualdo’s late madrigals, contrapuntal extension of Balinese kotekan (interlocking techniques), the shattering of a sound object (shards of which overgrown with ivy) and somewhere buried in there an original Welch bagpipe tune that is very asymmetrical with respect to convention . . . . . I thought if my ingredient mixing strategy to composing were to burst at the seams, this is it – I’m really curious to hear it, it’s gonna be totally weird in a way that is . . .


June 29 – REDSHIFT presents Arctic Sounds + Mivos Quartet @ Galapagos 7pm



and July, I’ll be around for hangs (no gigs, and we at Welch Industries like that idea for July)


also I’ll be publishing a number of chamber pieces over the rest of the year with the American Composer’s Alliance starting with my string quartet Siubhal Turnlar (also on my Dream Tigers CD)


hope to see you!




Blarvuster Reviewed in the Spring 2011 Signal to Noise Magazine

Bagpiper Matthew Welch released his striking debut Ceol Nua just past the age of 25, and followed it up three years later with Dream Tigers, one of 2005’s best. The multi-talented New Yorker’s work is marked by the exploration of intersections between incongruous ethnic musical traditions. As always, his cross-cultural collisions on Blarvuster sound both excitingly novel and uncannily natural. On the first six tracks, Welch’s bagpipes lead his sextet through verdant Celtic terrain, buttressed by a rock rhythm section and peppered with Indonesian flourishes. It’s Welch at his most straightforwardly melodic, the joyous arrangements fluidly serpentine, their beauty intricately woven like a Celtic knot. Welch’s debut as a vocalist, though, may provide the bumps in the road for some listeners. He sings wordless canntaireachd (a system developed to aid bagpipers in the communication of music without pipes at the ready), whose high pitch and nasal quality doesn’t mesh as well with the music as his bagpipes, though they add a nice bit of gristle to the smoother tracks. Blarvuster ends with Canntaireachd Masolah, a 30-minute Eastern-influenced opera in four movements. Welch’s canntaireachd meshes more organically this time around, and the music has a moody and mysterious air that communicates emotion with nary an understandable word. Welch’s music is equally appealing intellectually and aesthetically, and Blarvuster is another strong entry in an already impressive oeuvre.

– Adam Strohm

Blarvuster with Capillary Action @ LPR April 7

THURSDAY, APRIL 7th – LE POISSON ROUGE (158 Bleecker Street)
7:30pm doors | 18+ | $10


Hey friends! The cat’s finally out of the bag: Capillary Action is celebrating our CD release party on Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, April 7th.

April 7th marks the release of a record that has consumed every ounce of my life for the last 3 years (!) and I’m beyond psyched to share the fruits of my labor with y’all.

Matthew Welch’s Blarvuster will support. Seriously, folks, let’s make this a night to remember.


“Imagine Prokofiev re-arranging Red Krayola…Capillary Action offered the spectacle of virtuosity, with technical mastery of their instruments and a sophisticated understanding of melody and harmony.” – The Wire

Equal parts samba school density and Beefheartian primitivism; pure pop bliss and chamber ensemble precision, Capillary Action are an American musical ensemble that cannibalize a wide variety of sources to synthesize a cubist, confrontational take on classic pop forms. Led by composer/singer/guitarist Jonathan Pfeffer, Capillary Action’s music is typified by its frenetic pace, dense harmonies, broad dynamics, elastic rhythmic interplay, and confessional tone. Far from pastiche or collage, central to Pfeffer’s modus operandi is the challenge of eliminating the distinctions between chaos and clarity, art and pop, consonance and dissonance to communicate complex, ambiguous, and extremely personal experiences through song.

Since 2005, Capillary Action have maintained a staunch DIY approach to its operation, releasing music on its own Natural Selection imprint and sharing stages far and wide alongside Beirut, Dirty Projectors, Rhys Chatham, Shudder to Think, and Les Claypool, among others.



“The ensemble’s border-busting music is original and catchy. . . Blarvuster is worth sticking around for.” – The New York Times

Blarvuster is a chamber ensemble/rock band hybrid featuring Matthew Welch’s compositions & Welch on bagpipes, sax, and voice. In the infectiously ecstatic fervor of Blarvuster’s music, Scottish bagpipes, Balinese gamelan, minimalism, improvisation and rock converge in a labyrinthine, multi-textural sound.

Led by Matthew Welch, Blarvuster [Listen to sample tracks] has been a mainstay at New York venues including John Zorn’s The Stone, Issue Project Room, Zebulon, and The Cornelia Street Cafe and has delivered commanding commissioned performances at The Kitchen, MOMA’s PS1, Roulette, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (EMPAC), and The Western Front (Vancouver). Blarvuster, whose self-titled debut CD was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label (11/2010), presents a completely unique form of music played with extreme virtuosity and sensitivity by a stellar line-up of some of the brightest young musicians in New York.

Band members include: Leah Paul (flutes), who has worked with TV on the Radio, The Dirty Projectors, and Anthony Braxton and leads her own pop-band The Bridesmaids. Karen Waltuch (viola) has worked with Wilco, Beth Orton, The Walkmen, Jim O’Rourke, Tammy Wynette, and The Roulette Sisters. Mary Halvorson (guitar) is a veteran of the Anthony Braxton Trio and Anthony Braxton 12tet, and the leader of The Mary Halvorson Trio and Quintet. Ian Riggs (bass) has worked with Howard Fishman, Ethan Lipton, One Ring Zero, Hilary Hawke, Likeness to Lily, and The Lonesome Trio. Tomas Fujiwara (drums) leads his quintet Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up, and works in a duo with Taylor Ho Bynum and the collective quartet The Thirteenth Assembly.

Blarvuster Reviewed in the April 2011 Wire Magazine

Matthew Welch – Blarvuster – Tzadik CD 8077

“Of all those bagpipe playing singer/composer/improvisors we know, Brooklyn based Matthew Welch is by far the greatest, and Blarvuster is a characteristic leap of the imagination. The opening ‘suite’, played by a sextet including guitarist Mary Halvorson, folds Celtic dance steps into Indonesian modes with a funk backbeat, and Welch’s hollering vocals makes you truly believe that whole Celto-Indo funk fusion tradition has been around for years.”

– Philip Clark, The Wire

Welch Music Update March 2011

Hello all of you little bo-peeps and fluffy bunnies of the world… long time no email spam!

Hope everyone’s New Year has been going spectacularly now that we approach spring so soon….

I recently got back from an incredible 2-week trip trip to Switzerland, where I did a solo bagpipe show (Moods in Zürich), 2 free-improv gigs with Swiss-based Marc Stucki (tenor sax), Andreas Schärer (voice), Marc Unternährer (tuba) (in Bern and Lucerne with me on pipes and alto sax). Marc Stucki and I performed at the US Embassy in Bern along with a string quartet made up of very fine string players in Bern (Simon Heggendorn, Mara Miribung, Magdelena Dmitrova and Niklaus Vogel) performing selections from my string quartet Siubhal Turnlar. This trip culminated in a performance of my music in the Jazzwerkstatt-Bern festival, which was a spectacular event and I was very delighted to perform a piping solo, have the string quartet performed and to conduct a chamber orchestra of Bern residents with Geneva-based improv-harpist Julie Campiche in a performance of my harp concerto Self/Non-Self and Luminosity in the Bardo.

Switzerland is now one of my favorite places in the world! An incredible time.

Blarvuster’s Tzadik release from late november continues to trickle out into the world, with positive feedback – upcoming with a review in the Wire next month that I’ll share with you later, or stay tuned to Blarvuster’s new website

but more immediately, two of my pieces are being performed in NYC this month, and Blarvuster will be performing up in Boston (davis sq). stay tuned for more Blarvuster shows and upcoming information about my double concerto for bagpipe, piano and percussion ensemble – to be played at Queens College and the Bang-on-a-Can Marathon this June!

Sunday, March 13 · 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Christopher Adler solo Khaen tour – performance of my Ulrikke

Flushnik Studios — 698 Flushing Avenue, #1 —- Brooklyn, NY 11206

Featuring Christopher Adler on solo khaen (Thai/Lao bamboo mouth organ) performing: Sidney Boquiren, angel music; Matthew Welch, Ulrikke; Christopher Burns, Triangulation; Christopher Adler, Telemetry Lock; David Loeb, The Maltese Plaza in Fog, and traditional khaen improvisations

also a premiere of a new improv by Sidney Marquez Boquiren (piano) and Bryan Teoh (electronics).

Wednesday, March 23, 7pm Emily Manzo plays my House of Asterion

The Music With a View Series, curated by Kathy Supove.  Emily Manzo’s collaboration with filmmaker and visual artist Paul Rowley continues as they perform my solo piano piece House of Asterion (with live projections).

They’ll also do an excerpt from John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.  The evening also includes performances by Kevin Bourisquot and Aled Roberts.

@ The Flea Theater, 41 White Street (between Broadway and Church) NYC

March 24 8pm Blarvuster in Boston

Blarvuster with the Debo Band (9pm) @ Johhny D’s

17 Holland St — Davis Square — Somerville, MA

directly across from the Davis T-stop


Blarvuster featured on John Schaefer’s New Sounds on WNYC

Blarvuster was featured heavily on WNYC’s New Sounds with John Schaefer

PROGRAM #3146, Traditional Blend (First aired on 12/07/2010) — follow the link above!

Program notes:

Hear unexpected blends of traditional music on this edition of New Sounds. We’ll listen to selections from bagpiper/composer Matthew Welch’s band Blarvuster, an outfit that somehow pulls in Balinese/Indonesian gamelan, Celtic influences, minimalist licks, and a rock attitude to emerge with irresitible and unusual textures, both traditional and non.

Plus, we’ll hear from QQQ, a band who use the traditional Norwegian hardingfele (like a violin, but with twice as many strings and thinner wood.) Then there’s also music from Hemispheres, featuring vocals in the Persian tradition, along with music from Michael O’Neill, a Canadian bagpiper. His work that we’ll hear pulls in Australian digeridoo and percussion with those pipes. All that, and more.