Recently appointed head of EIT’s ideaschool, Professor Matthew Marshall is pursuing a long-held passion in taking New Zealand’s guitar music out onto the world stage.
The feted classical guitarist recently published two guitar pieces he commissioned from New Zealand composers. In June, he will play these works at a guitar festival in New York and also present a talk about what it is that makes this country’s guitar music unique.
“There’s a freshness to it,” Matthew explains, “and a willingness to experiment without being burdened by the history and culture of traditional European music.
“We are a geographically isolated nation, and New Zealanders may have had to look outwards in order to establish an identity. This is reflected in our experimental and individual musical works.”
Matthew is invited to perform at festivals around the world, and he says this is because our music is a little different to what everyone else does.
With that in mind, he recently established a company, Hatchet Music, for the express purpose of publishing guitar music by New Zealand composers.
“I work with the composers when they are writing the music and make it ready for publication.”
These efforts dovetail well with his role at EIT, which requires him to coordinate and promote academic research undertaken by ideaschool staff. The basis for his own research, he points out, is commissioning composers to write music for the guitar, and especially music that is representative of this country.
The two most recently commissioned pieces – Sultry, by Anthony Ritchie, a professor of music at Otago University, and Four Intermezzi, by Michael Calvert, a freelance composer based in New York but originally from New Zealand – were both written for solo guitar.
A print specialist, ideaschool lecturer Jerry Gull helped design the books while EIT’s reprographics department printed the copies.
“They’re small print runs,” says Matthew, “and libraries around New Zealand will buy a copy each. The music is also available online to download. The composer gets a cut and I cover my costs.”
Matthew’s summer break was something of a busman’s holiday as he worked on recording his 12th album. That too, is to be released worldwide, again with a view to gaining the kind of exposure he believes New Zealand guitar music deserves.