Matthew Barley

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Matthew Barley
Born (1965-05-02) 2 May 1965 (age 54)
near Sheffield, United Kingdom
GenresClassical, Contemporary, Improvisation

Matthew Barley (born 2 May 1965) is an English cellist.[1] He is best known for his performances of core classical music,[2] improvisation, and contemporary music including electronics.


Matthew Barley was born in London and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the Moscow Conservatoire. He made his London concerto debut playing the Shostakovich cello concerto in the Barbican Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra, as finalist of the LSO-Shell competition. His first CD, in 2003, was The Silver Swan for Black Box was a compilation of pieces for multitracked cellos, all of which he recorded himself using pioneering techniques of layering voices without an electronic click. His next CD, Reminding, featured Soviet music for cello and piano, and was released on Quartz in September 2005.[3]

In 1997 Barley founded Between the Notes,[4] a performance and education group who work with music and other arts.[5]

In 2007, Barley was the music director and presenter of the BBC2 Classical Star series.[6]

As a soloist and chamber musician he has performed in over 50 countries, including appearances with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with conductors including Marin Alsop, Thomas Dausgaard, Tan Dun, Charles Hazlewood, Markus Stenz, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Ilan Volkov. He has performed at festivals in Lucerne, Schleswig-Holstein, Bonn-Beethovenfest, Hong Kong, Lanaudiere, Abu Dhabi, Krakow, City of London and at some of the world's great concert halls: London's Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Kumho Hall in Korea, Casals Hall in Tokyo, The Rudolfinum in Prague, and the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. A key aspect of his recitals is mixing repertoire in unusual ways, pairing Bach suites with jazz and improvisation. He is particularly interested in music with electronics, having commissioned works from many composers including Dai Fujikura, Peter Wiegold, DJ Bee, John Metcalfe and Jan Bang. He has given other premieres of pieces written for him by James MacMillan, Thomas Larcher, Detlev Glanert, John Woolrich, and Fraser Trainer.

In 2005 he toured Brett Dean’s ballet score One of the Kind (for solo-on-stage-cello and electronics) with the Netherlands Dans Theatre; in 2010 with the Basel Ballet and in 2012 with Lyon Ballet.

Barley has premiered several works including some commissions, by Pascal Dusapin, Thomas Larcher, James MacMillan, Dai Fujikura, Detlev Glanert, Peter Wiegold, Fraser Trainer,[7] Rand Steiger, John Metcalfe,[8] John Woolrich,[9] Dimitri Smirnov, and Deidre Gribben.

Barley's classical collaborations include with Matthias Goerne, The Labeque Sisters, Martin Fröst, Viviane Hagner and Thomas Larcher Non-classical collaborations have included with Avi Avital, Manu Delago, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Talvin Singh, Sultan Khan, Nitin Sawhney, Django Bates,[6] and jazz pianists Julian Joseph and Nikki Yeoh.[10]

In 2013 Barley toured the UK to celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, [11][12] performing 100 concerts and workshops throughout the year.[1]

Matthew Barley is married to violinist Viktoria Mullova.[13] They have three children: Misha Mullov-Abbado, Katia Mullova-Brind and Nadia Mullova-Barley and live in London. A major project of Barley and Mullova's called The Peasant Girl has seen over 40 performances worldwide. The programme features Barley's arrangements of gypsy and jazz as well as Bartók and Kodaly and has been recorded for CD and DVD on Onyx Classics.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Around Britten 2013[14]
  • Face to Face with Alex Heffes (Onyx 4050). One-on-one improvised duets with Alex Heffes; 2012
  • The Peasant Girl (Onyx Classics); With Viktoria Mullova and the Matthew Barley Ensemble; 2011[15]
  • Constant Filter (Signum Classics SIGCD207). Music by John Metcalfe; 2010[8]
  • The Dance of the three-legged elephants (Signum Classics SIGCD171). With Julian Joseph; 2009
  • The Silver Swan (Black Box Records BBM 1068). Multi-tracked cello; 2003
  • Reminding (Quartz QTZ 2032). 2005
  • Extraordinary Improvisations (FMR Records FMRCD234-0707). 2005
  • Knots (Black Box BBM1095). With Viktoria Mullova; 2005
  • Through the Looking Glass (Philips, 464 184-2). With Viktoria Mullova and Between the Notes; 2000
  • "Strings Attached" (Navras NRCD6004). Sarod and cello; 2003


  1. ^ a b Giles Masters, "The Week Ahead: Kontakion", The Oxford Culture Review, 28 November 2013.
  2. ^ Igor Toronyi-Lalic, "BBC Proms: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ilan Volkov/ Viktoria Mullova, Matthew Barley" (Classical music reviews, news & interviews), The Arts Desk, 19 August 2011.
  3. ^ Quartz Music. "Biography of Matthew Barley".
  4. ^ British Council Arts. "Between the Notes".
  5. ^ Christopher Morley, "Odyssey is a great Britten celebration", Birmingham Post, 6 September 2013.
  6. ^ a b Adam Sweeting, "Matthew Barley: addicted to innovation", The Telegraph, 26 June 2008.
  7. ^ Anchor Media City. "Music Nation".
  8. ^ a b Andy Gill, "Album: John Metcalfe, Matthew Barley, Constant Filter (Signum Classics)" (review), The Independent, 11 June 2010.
  9. ^ John Woolrich. "Four pieces for cello and piano".
  10. ^ Rachelle Thackray (29 January 2001). "Jazz with a jest at The Spitz". The Guardian.
  11. ^ 22 November: Matthew Barley at the Upper Chapel - Classical Sheffield
  12. ^ Rian Evans, "Matthew Barley – review", The Guardian, 29 September 2013.
  13. ^ Ivan Hewett, "Viktoria Mullova at Wigmore Hall, review", The Telegraph, 2 October 2009.
  14. ^ Chris |Payne, "In At The Deep End", Northern Soul, 23 September 2013.
  15. ^ William Dart, "Album Review: Victoria Mullova, The Peasant Girl", The New Zealand Herald, 8 October 2011.