Canadian-Finnish composer Matthew Whittall (b. 1975) began his studies in Montreal. He earned degrees in performance and composition from Vanier College, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Stony Brook University, before settling in Finland in 2001. There he studied at the Sibelius Academy, receiving his Doctor of Music degree with honors in 2013. Whittall’s prolific output covers a wide variety of genres, particularly orchestra, voice, chorus, chamber and solo instrumental works, with occasional forays into electronics. His works have been commissioned and performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic, the Finnish Radio Symphony, the Helsinki Chamber Choir the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, among others, and have featured in festivals and radio broadcasts across Europe, North America and Japan. In 2013, his work “Dulcissima, clara, sonans”, a setting of poetry of Hildegard of Bingen for soprano and orchestra, won Finland’s highest composition award, the Teosto Prize.
Whittall’s music is marked by an attempt to fuse its various disparate influences – Old and New World, Western and non-Western, sacred and secular, classical, folk and popular – into a single, variegated expressive language, and by a use of extramusical imagery ranging from natural phenomena to poetry and landscape art. Upcoming projects include chamber works for the KAAÅS piano trio, Meta4 string quartet, as well as an orchestral commission for the Helsinki Philharmonic’s “Helsinki Variations” project. In August 2019, ten ensembles will premiere Whittall’s second string quartet, “Bright Ferment”, commissioned by the Banff International String Quartet Competition. The 2019-20 orchestral season sees the premiere by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra of a new work for baritone soloist, chorus and orchestra commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian forces. The piece will accompany the WSO and Toonkunstkoor Amsterdam on their tour of the Netherlands in May 2020. In 2019, Whittall was appointed Associate Composer with the UK-based Carice Singers, and will produce a new choral song cycle for them to be premiered in 2020.
Matthew Whittall lives in Helsinki, Finland. In addition to a busy schedule as a freelance composer and music writer, he teaches composition and orchestration at the Sibelius Academy. His work has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Fund and the Jenny and Antti Wihuri fund, among others. Most recently, he was awarded a five-year grant from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, beginning in 2018.