Vocal Area Network logo VAN Feature

An outsider finds a muse: Matthew Harris's new work explores women in love
by Franklin B. Tucker for Vocal Area Network
Posted May 30, 2006

When composer Matthew Harris accepted his most recent commission last year, he never anticipated it would lead to love at first sight. "I ... loved that you have a women's chorus conducted by a woman, singing texts by a woman and the music is by a guy!" said Harris, whose choral work, Women in Love, will be premiered by Amuse, the New York City-based women's vocal ensemble, on June 11th.

While he felt no qualms expressing poet Wendy Cope's ideas and emotions in his new song cycle, Harris acknowledged being a man added another layer of meaning to his new composition. "The title I chose, or borrowed, 'Women In Love,' suggests an outsider's perspective. A woman composer might have simply called the piece 'Life,'" said Harris. With "Women in Love," Harris -- who lives with his wife, Bonnie, and their children, Katie and Spencer, on Manhattan's Upper West Side -- continues to extend his artistic reach once again using the most primal and expressive musical vehicle, the human voice.

Harris' music encompasses a vibrant joyfulness -- at times bordering on humorous -- employing rich, broad harmonies and spirited melodic themes as if he was seeking to establish a new school of r