Composer Matthew Sergeant made his Asian début last month when Australia’s ELISION ensemble performed the première of ymrehanne krisos in Singapore.
Matthew, a Tutor in Composition at the RNCM, wrote the piece as part of a larger cycle of related musical works he’s been working on over the past 18 months as part of his PhD research at the College. Collectively entitled the eleven churches of lalibela (after the 11 rock-hewn church found at the UNESCO world-heritage site in Lalibela, Ethiopoa), the constituent parts of the cycle explore issues of corruption, erosion, distortion and disorientation as compositional strategies.
Talking of the début, Matthew said: ‘It’s quite overwhelming, but it’s certainly exciting to be taking my music overseas. It’s always interesting to see how the different demographic respond to my ideas.
‘Working with ELISION has been great because they are extremely committed to working closely with composers, so it’s been an exciting collaborative effort. This particular ensemble prides itself on this kind of relationship, and for me it really shows.’
In addition to his postgraduate studies, Matthew was an undergraduate at the RNCM between 2002 and 2006, studying with David Horne. Recalling this time, he said: ‘The RNCM transformed me from someone who just made music to someone who can call themselves a composer. I think the thing about the RNCM that makes that transformation possible, is the absolute paramount the composition department puts on live performance, which has been absolutely crucial to everything I’ve done. Relating that back to my current position, it would be impossible for me to work on a project like this without having that training during my undergraduate studies.’