Paula Matthusen is a composer who writes both electroacoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. In addition to composing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. She has written for diverse instrumentations, such as “run-on sentence of the pavement” for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker noted as being “entrancing”. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered. Recent areas of creative inquiry include extensive field recording, which has led to compositions and sound projects in aqueducts, caves, and sites of historic infrastructure.

Her music has been performed by Dither, Mantra Percussion, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Brooklyn Rider, Metropolis Ensemble, Loadbang, New York New Music Ensemble, Splinter Reeds, the Scharoun Ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, The Glass Farm Ensemble, the Estonian National Ballet, GAHLMM, James Moore, Terri Hron, Dana Jessen, Kathryn Woodard, Todd Reynolds, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Lancaster, Anna Svensdotter, Nina De Heney, and Jody Redhage. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Caramoor Festival, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, the MATA Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, International Computer Music Conference and Dither’s Invisible Dog Extravaganza.

Matthusen performs frequently on live-electronics as well, and has been a featured composer and performer at Experimental Intermedia Festival (NYC), 9 Evenings +50 at Fridman Gallery (NYC), SPLICE Festival (Kalamazoo), BEASt FEaST (Birmingham, UK), Ultrasons (Montreal), and Salon Bruit (Berlin). She also performs frequently with Object Collection, and is involved in interdisciplinary collaborations such as the project between systems and grounds with visual artist Olivia Valentine for live-textile generation and live-electronics, and Kite Choir with artist Firat Erdim.

Awards include the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards, First Prize in the Young Composers’ Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship, a Van Lier Fellowship at Roulette Intermedium, the “New Genre Prize” from the IAWM Search for New Music, and the 2014 Elliott Carter Rome Prize. Matthusen has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Hambidge, ACRE, create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, VCCA, CMMAS, Konstepidemin, Copland House, Composers NOW Residency at Pocantico, the Hambidge Center,  and Loghaven. Matthusen completed her Ph.D. at New York University – GSAS and has taught at Columbia University, the TU-Berlin as the Edgard Varèse Guest Professor (through DAAD), the Slee Visiting Professor at University at Buffalo, and Florida International University.

Matthusen is currently Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where she teaches experimental music, composition, and music technology, and founded the Toneburst Laptop and Electronic Arts Ensemble.


“A pleasant surprise in the Sunday morning program [for the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music] was Paula Matthusen’s piece, ‘of memory and minutiae’ (2006), a plaintive, haunting setting of a Norwegian prayer that fragments further with each repetition.” —Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, 2009
“The whispering, scratching, plinking, and sighing of her run-on sentence of the pavement — for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics — has an oddly sad, entrancing effect, especially when the stream of noise coalesces into slivers of song.” —Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2004

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