Discipline: Music Composition

Matthew Ricketts

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Brooklyn, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 2019, 2022

Matthew Ricketts is a Canadian composer, writer, and educator currently based in NYC. He is particularly interested in text, text-music relationships, and opera, but has also worked as a poet, scholar, and librettist. Matthew holds degrees from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music and Columbia University, where he served as core lecturer from 2017-2020. His principal mentors include Fred Lerdahl, George Lewis, John Rea, Chris Paul Harman, and Brian Cherney.

Matthew’s music has been called, “lyrical, contrapuntal, rhythmically complex, and highly nuanced” by The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he is noted for his “effervescent and at times prickly sounds” and “hypnotically churning exploration of melody” by ICareIfYouListen. The New York Times describes his music as having “tart harmonies and perky sputterings.”

He has written operas, orchestral music, chamber music, and solo works for a variety of different ensembles, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Philharmonic, the Esprit Orchestra, soprano Tony Arnold, pianist Julia Den Boer, Mivos and JACK Quartet, Argento, Talea, and Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne.

At MacDowell in 2019, he composed a song cycle Lunch Poems 2 on text by poet Paul Legault written with support from the Guggenheim Foundation. Ricketts also worked on music for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Halo, for two trombones and orchestra; premiered August 11 2019), and began a new commission for the ensemble loadbang.

During his residency in 2022, Ricketts primarily worked on two projects. He put the finishing touches on an evening-length dramatic song cycle, Unruly Sun, written in collaboration with lyricist/librettist Mark Campbell (scheduled to premiere December 1 in Montreal) and worked on composing new songs for mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb (in collaboration with lyricist/librettist Royce Vavrek) for a Kennedy Center recital (also slated for December).

Ricketts was recently awarded a major grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to further develop his projects with Royce Vavrek in the operatic/art song domain, including their operatic adaptation of "The Cremation of Sam McGee."


Van Zorn (formerly Kirby)

Matthew Ricketts worked in the Van Zorn (formerly Kirby) studio.

Constructed thanks to a bequest from Sarah L. Kirby, Kirby Studio was the last new building to be erected during Mrs. MacDowell’s leadership (1907-1951). The load-bearing masonry walls were laid by local mason Augustus Beaulieu atop a fieldstone foundation. A 1995 renovation preserved the brick fireplace with wooden mantel and…

Learn more