Detroit Symphony EarShot Classical Roots Readings Composer Spotlight – Composer Matthew Evan Taylor


Composer Matthew Evan Taylor

Find out in this Q&A with Miami-based composer Matthew Evan Taylor where he got the inspiration for his composition Three Glorious Days and how working with ACO has influenced him. Three Glorious Days will be read at the upcoming New Music Readings with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on March 9. 

American Composers Orchestra: What was the inspiration for your composition? How have you taken this inspiration and incorporated it into your work that will be read at the Detroit Symphony EarShot Classical Roots Readings?

Matthew Evan Taylor: “Three Glorious Days” was the nickname for the July Revolution of 1830 in France. That same year, Hector Berlioz finished Symphonie Fantastique. In Fantastique, Berlioz depicts that most French of traditions during revolutions–a character is beheaded by guillotine. That musical gesture is the basis for the structure of my Three Glorious Days.

ACO: Since you have been chosen to participate in these Readings, have you furthered developed your composition? How have you been preparing yourself and your work for the Readings?

MET: ACO sent our scores and parts to engraver Bill Holab. He made suggestions on how to make more professional material for the conductor and orchestra, which was very helpful. I also changed the instrumentation slightly. Three Glorious Days originally called for two harps, but for this reading I decided I’d like for one of the harp parts to be celeste instead. I’m looking forward to how that sounds live.

I am thinking of some questions concerning my career going forward, such as how to deal with all of the responsibilities that a composer has–searching for grants, maintaining your web presence, deadlines with ensembles.

ACO: During the readings your work will be workshopped with the help and guidance of Detroit Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin, mentor composers, and DSO musicians. What do you hope to get out of this experience? 

MET: The greatest gift I receive from mentors is advice. I’m looking forward to hearing objective assessments of my work. From the musicians, I always love to hear how to improve my notation to be able to communicate more clearly. From Mr. Slatkin, I’m anxious to hear what he has to say about composing for orchestra in the current climate, and how to build relationships with other ensembles.

ACO: Your composition will be read live to the public during the Readings. Is there anything about the piece that you would like the audience to know about before hearing it? 

MET: This was a fun piece to write and research. I learned some pretty surprising things about French history and the politics at the time. I should also mention that when I wrote this, September 2012, the presidential campaigns were heading into their final stretch. I found the rhetoric challenging the legitimacy of President Obama and the sustainability of the wealth disparity were strangely similar to the July Revolution. In both cases, there were promises of civility once there was a resolution (or election). But, in both cases, the same divisive language and posturing continued. Three Glorious Days reflects this desire for change and catharsis, but things still stay the same.

ACO: You will also taking part in the professional development workshops during the Readings. Is there anything specific that you hope you will learn from attending these workshops?

MET: I am really excited about the opportunity. I am interested in learning things that will help me sustain an active career, expand the scope of projects to pursue, and other opportunities available to musicians.

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