Matthew Owensby is a violinist, violist, and composer specializing in microtonality and historically-informed performance. He has a bachelor’s in violin performance and composition from Chapman University and a master’s in composition from SFCM and his works explore microtonality, mythology, Medieval music, and the cosmic horrifying dread of an implacable and uncaring universe.
Much of his compositional output merges elements of Medieval and Renaissance dance music with quarter-tonality and extended just intonation, including a just-intoned elaboration. Some recent examples include “La Quatre Estampie Roial” in Hark of the Merrows for brass choir, the quarter-tonal Idafect II for wind quintet which incorporates a forceful presentation of plainchant, and development of motivic material from “Lamento di Tristano” in the chamber concerto for bassoon and ensemble, Leanan Sídhe.
His compositions have been performed by the Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble (Variations for Alto Flute and Piano (2014)), the University of Würzburg Contemporary Music Ensemble (Fantasy on Souvent Souspire (2018)), and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music New Music Ensemble (Idafect (2014), Leanan Sídhe (2016)). His solo viola work, Malphas (2015), a study on realized Medieval dance melodies, has been performed in a masterclass with Caroline Shaw and subsequently at the Hot Air New Music Festival and the SFCM Viola Project all in 2015.
In addition, Matthew frequently performs both new compositions and pre-classical works. He has premiered works by Elinor Armer, Mason Hock, Scott Steadman, Jeffrey Gao, Michael Rosin, and numerous others. He has performed with the Riverside Lyric Opera, the Temecula Valley Symphony (previously Inland Valley Symphony), the Valley Center Symphony, the Univerisity of California Santa Barbara Ensemble for Contemporary Music, the Chapman University New Music Ensemble, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Baroque Ensemble, the Chapman Early Music Ensemble, and numerous musical theater orchestras throughout California.
He is currently commissioning an album of new works from emerging composers for violin or viola with or without electronics to be recorded and premiered in early 2020. Matthew is currently working on a new composition for voice, flute, viola, and harp on early Naturalist poems by H.P. Lovecraft.