Matthew Brown, PhD Composer
How would you describe your musical style and influences?
My music has been described as Impressionist and atmospheric. I don’t know if that’s the best way of summing it up or not. I’ve not really gotten as far as categorising myself but like the idea of composing for its own sake rather than for a brief, for example when composing for film. I’m more of a purist. Everything I compose feels very personal; an expression of myself. In terms of influences, I really enjoy listening to Debussy, Ravel, and some jazz influences like Duke Ellington. I also love listening to wind orchestra music; Holst and Vaughan Williams I really like.
How are you enjoying your studies?
I’m really enjoying the PhD. I live in Kent, so that can be a challenge being quite far away from Manchester but I’m able to come up to the city regularly. My main field of study is looking specifically as to what extent a composer can preserve their compositional voice when writing for different levels of wind orchestras. I am actually a violist but I’ve been interested in writing for wind orchestra for a very long time. My PhD supervisors are Adam Gorb and Paul Patterson; they are very expert in what they do and very much in sync with my interests. They’re very supportive and encouraging.
Why did you choose to study your PhD at the RNCM?
I studied my Masters at the RNCM from 2011-2013, with the same tutors that I’ve got now. I really enjoyed that experience. I made a lot of friends and kept in contact with them, so it’s great to still have some musical connections that I can make use of. I am studying my PhD part-time and expect to graduate in 2023. I prefer a slightly slower pace so part-time study is perfect. The RNCM in general is also a very friendly environment I think. Everyone always talks about the vibrant atmosphere here and I definitely agree with that.
What are some of your recent successes as a composer?
The City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra played a piece of mine last year. The Whittlesey Concert Band are going to perform something of mine at the end of this month. Leeds University Union Music Society Symphonic Wind Orchestra, a young student group, have also taken on a rather difficult work of mine. It’s always great to have my work performed and I hope for more opportunities in the future.
What would you like to do in the future?
I really like the idea of starting to teach composition. Especially once I’ve become expert enough at what I do. For the time being I will continue with my PhD, teaching violin and piano in Kent and keep pushing for more opportunities to have my work performed.