Described as “…a guitarist of superb technical accomplishment and a musician of perception and style” (Dominion Post), Matthew Marshall is passionate about enhancing and expanding the repertoire of the classical guitar, particularly through music from his native New Zealand, exploring innovative approaches to playing and introducing unusual and intriguing music to the world.
“For an instrument and its music to evolve and for it to flourish, composers of every generation must write for it, and their music must be performed and heard. This is really important to me and I love exploring new musical ideas and experimenting with new techniques on the guitar – and of course encouraging others to do so too.”
In a performing and recording career spanning more than 30 years, Matthew has brought his unique interpretations and original musical personality to over 2000 performances on four continents and even from Iceland to Siberia and on to Easter Island! His work has also resulted in a series of highly praised recordings of solo, chamber music and orchestral music featuring his playing. His 2015 album Rhapsody on a Riff (Ravello Records, USA) was described as “Soft, moody, provocative. Over forty-five minutes of pure, resonant guitar playing.” (Babysue magazine, USA)
Enjoying diverse interests and a varied career as an award winning musician, academic leader and festival director (and keen auto restorer!), Matthew was born into an artistic family and began learning guitar at age 6 at the suggestion of his father.
“There was always music, dance and art in our home; my brother and sisters learned music and dance, my parents and extended family were dancers and Dad has always been very proud of his record collection! One of my first memories of the guitar was of listening to the Sandpipers’ recording of Guantanamera – and of playing it on our portable record player over and over (and over) again!”
Following his success in the 1988 TVNZ Young Musician of the Year Competition and the 1990 Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London, Matthew returned to New Zealand to establish a performing and teaching career that has since taken him around the world. Tours with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra followed along with solo and chamber music tours, recordings for radio, TV and commercial labels as well as master classes and teaching in New Zealand and overseas.
“This was a crucial time because I began to understand the importance of developing a point of differentiation from other guitarists and put a plan in place to realise it. I identify strongly with the highly distinctive music of New Zealand and during the nineties I worked with many composers and other performers to begin expanding the repertoire of guitar music written by New Zealanders – and this has remained a defining part of who I am and what I do as a musician.”
Matthew studied guitar in England, New Zealand and USA with John Mills, Gordon Crosskey, David Leisner and William Bower and has since balanced a busy performing and recording career alongside an award-winning teaching and academic leadership career. He commenced teaching at the Wellington Conservatorium of Music in 1991, succeeding the influential guitar pedagogue Ronald Burt as lecturer in guitar. He was subsequently appointed Head of the Conservatorium in 1996 and later went on to lead the Conservatorium in its merger with Massey University in 1999 and then during the formation of the New Zealand School of Music in 2006. He was then appointed Director of Music at Dartington College of Arts UK which ignited a long-held interest in multidisciplinary arts and alternative approaches to arts practice.
“Coming from an artistic family meant that I was always exposed to art in all its forms – music, dance, theatre, visual art and so on – and so it was always a natural thing for me to be involved in activities that combined these; often the boundaries were blurred, and this was always ok. My time at Dartington really reinforced this for me and it was inspiring to work with great people there who also shared similar approaches to their art.”
Matthew is currently Professor of Music at Southern Cross University Australia where he teaches music theory and guitar ensemble and oversees Honours programmes in the School of Arts and Social Sciences.
“It’s important to me as a music educator that I continue to perform and record – essentially doing what I’m teaching my students to do and thus being a role model to them. And the same applies for me as an academic manager: to lead by example and to encourage and celebrate the successes of others.”
“I have the best job in the world – I get to play music, teach music and inspire others through music!”